TIME Crime

Colorado Movie Theater Shooter’s Parents Plead for His Life

"He is not a monster. He is a human being gripped by a severe mental illness," James Holmes' parents said

The parents of the man accused of killing 12 people when he opened fire in a Colorado movie theater in 2012 are pleading that their mentally ill son be spared the death penalty.

In a letter published Friday in the Denver Post, Robert and Arlene Holmes argued that their son James has a “serious mental illness” and should be either imprisoned for the rest of his life or placed in an institution for the mentally ill, but not executed. “We have read postings on the Internet that have likened him to a monster,” the couple wrote. “He is not a monster. He is a human being gripped by a severe mental illness.

“We believe that the death penalty is morally wrong, especially when the condemned is mentally ill,” the added.

After multiple delays, jury selection for Holmes’ trial is scheduled in January. Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

TIME Law

Illinois Woman Files Trademark Application for ‘I Can’t Breathe’

The woman is not related to Eric Garner

An Illinois woman has filed an application to trademark Eric Garner’s dying words, “I can’t breathe” for use on hoodies and T-shirts.

Catherine Crump, 57, applied last Saturday for legal registration of the phrase that has become a rallying cry at protests across the country and has even been printed on t-shirts worn by celebrities like LeBron James.

Garner, an unarmed black man, died after being aggressively subdued by police officers in July. Video footage of his death shows Garner saying, “I can’t breathe” as a policeman grips him in an apparent chokehold. The words became a symbol of protests that began when a grand jury decided not to indict the police officer who tackled Garner. The officer, Daniel Pantaleo, has denied the move was a chokehold.

In her trademark application, Crump says she has been using the phrase commercially since August 18, one month after Eric Garner’s death. She told the Smoking Gun that she had not consulted with Eric Garner’s family before filing for the trademark but that she is not seeking to profit use of the phrase.

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TIME Law

Nebraska and Oklahoma Are Trying to Kill Colorado’s Buzz

By suing over Colorado's legalization of marijuana

Two neighbors of Colorado filed suit against the state on Thursday, claiming its legalization of marijuana has pushed some of the drug over state lines and asking the Supreme Court to strike the law down.

Attorneys general in Nebraska and Oklahoma allege that Colorado’s legalization violates the Supremacy clause of the constitution, which specifies that federal law takes precedence over state law. “Marijuana flows from this gap into neighboring states, undermining Plaintiff States’ own marijuana bans, draining their treasuries, and placing stress on their criminal justice systems,” the suit alleges, according to the Denver Post.

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said at a news conference that pot from Colorado has been turning up at Nebraska’s border, which has led to an increase in arrest and prosecutions. “Nebraska taxpayers have to bear the cost,” Bruning said, according to the Omaha World-Herald, adding that “federal law undisputedly prohibits the production and sale of marijuana.”

Kevin A. Sabet, President of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a bipartisan organization made up of mental and public health professionals, supports the lawsuit. “We support this action by the attorneys general of Oklahoma and Nebraska because Colorado’s decisions regarding marijuana are not without consequences to neighboring states, and indeed all Americans,” Sabet said said. “The legalization of marijuana is clearly in violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and is not implemented in a vacuum.” Smart Approaches to Marijuana, or SAM, seeks a “middle road between incarceration and legalization” in dealing with pot offenses.

Colorado Attorney General John W. Suthers said in a statement that he plans to defend the state’s marijuana laws in court. “It appears the plaintiffs’ primary grievance stems from non-enforcement of federal laws regarding marijuana, as opposed to choices made by the voters of Colorado,” he said. “We believe this suit is without merit and we will vigorously defend against it in the U.S. Supreme Court.”

TIME Immigration

Federal Judge Rules Against Obama’s Immigration Action

U.S. President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about immigration reform during a visit to Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nevada
President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about immigration reform during a visit to Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nov. 21, 2014. Kevin Lamarque—Reuters

Ruling has no immediate impact

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that President Barack Obama’s recent executive actions to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation is unconstitutional.

Judge Arthur Schwab of the Western District of Pennsylvania found the actions violated the constitution’s separation of powers, Reuters reports. The ruling has no immediate impact but will give fodder to Republican lawmakers, who have criticized Obama as overstepping his authority.

Schwab had been addressing a case regarding a Honduran immigrant, Elionardo Juarez-Escobar, who pleaded guilty to re-entry in the U.S. He said he ruled on Obama’s actions because he believed Juarez-Escobar was eligible for relief under the policy.

A Justice Department spokesperson said Tuesday that Schwab’s ruling was “unfounded” and incorrect.

“No party in the case challenged the constitutionality of the immigration-related executive actions and the department’s filing made it clear that the executive actions did not apply to the criminal matter before the court,” the spokesperson said. “Moreover, the court’s analysis of the legality of the executive actions is flatly wrong. We will respond to the court’s decision at the appropriate time.”

TIME animals

New York Makes Tattoos and Piercings on Pets Illegal

Puppy Dog
Getty Images

Offenders could face up to 15 days in jail or $250 in fines

If you live in New York and were planning to get matching tattoos for you and your cat, think again.

Body art like tattoos and piercings on pet animals will soon be a crime across the state following a law passed on Monday, the Associated Press reported.

Assembly member Linda Rosenthal sponsored the legislation, which was signed by the state’s Governor Andrew Cuomo and will take effect in 120 days. “It’s simply cruel,” said Rosenthal, adding that unlike humans, animals do not have the ability to choose the pain that comes with body art.

The law does make exceptions for markings made for identification or medical reasons, but those only include preapproved letters and numbers.

Other than that, the governor’s office says, piercing your pooch could now get you up to 15 days in jail or $250 in fines.

[AP]

TIME Law

Court Rules Porn Actors in L.A. Must Wear Condoms

Despite industry pushback

Actors in pornographic films shot in Los Angeles must wear condoms while filming sex scenes, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, despite pushback from the multibillion-dollar industry.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a measure approved by Los Angeles County residents in 2012 — which mandated condoms during sex scenes and which industry lawyers claimed was a violation of the actors’ right to free expression — aided in the County’s bid to reduce the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases while still allowing for “adequate alternative means of expression,” Reuters reports. A lower court had previously upheld the law.

The 2012 measure also required that adult film actors be regularly tested for STDs; the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has previously said they are 10 times more likely than the general public to contract one.

[Reuters]

TIME Mexico

Mexican Government Votes to Ban Circus Animals

A tiger jumps through a ring of fire during a performance of the Fuentes Gasca Brothers Circus in Mexico City, June 22, 2014.
A tiger jumps through a ring of fire during a performance of the Fuentes Gasca Brothers Circus in Mexico City, June 22, 2014. Sean Havey—AP

Not certain yet whether President Enrique Peña Nieto will sign bill into law

The Mexican legislature has passed a bill to ban the use of animals in circus performances.

Mexico City has already passed a ban on using animals in the circus, along with six states. The legislature’s lower chamber voted Thursday to ban the use of animals, following an earlier vote by the Senate. The bill requires circuses to make a list of all their animals and make them available to zoos in case they want to take them. It also imposes fines for violation.

President Enrique Peña Nieto hasn’t said whether he’ll sign the bill into law.

 

 

TIME justice

Mark Wahlberg’s Victim Says the Actor Should Get a Pardon

The Vietnamese man a 16-year-old Wahlberg attacked says he wasn’t blinded in the assault

A Vietnamese man who was brutally attacked by a 16-year-old Mark Wahlberg in 1988 says that contrary to some press reports he wasn’t blinded in the assault and he believes the actor should receive a pardon.

“He did hurt me, but my left eye was already gone,” Johnny Trinh told the Daily Mail. “He was not responsible for that. I would like to see him get a pardon. He should not have the crime hanging over him any longer.”

In 1988, Wahlberg attacked and hurled racial slurs at Trinh and another man during an attempted street robbery in Boston.

Trinh, 59, says his left eye was blinded in a grenade attack while he was serving in the South Vietnamese army during the Vietnam War. After the war Trinh sought refuge in the United States.

Wahlberg, 16 at the time of the assault, served 45 days of a two-year prison sentence. After runaway success as an model, singer and actor, Wahlberg is seeking a pardon for crimes he committed as a juvenile.

[Daily Mail]

Read next: Mark Wahlberg Should Not Be Pardoned

TIME Crime

Columbia Law School Allows Students to Delay Exams After Grand Jury Decisions

If they are suffering from "traumatic effects"

Columbia Law School is letting students request final exam postponements if they are suffering from the “traumatic effects” of two recent grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York not to indict police officers in the deaths of unarmed black men.

The school’s interim dean, Robert E. Scott, announced the policy in an email, the New York Times reports, and a spokeswoman acknowledged that a small number of students already had their exams pushed back. Scott said he consulted with the university’s administrators to approve the policy, which he added is in accordance with the school’s procedures for accommodating students who are experiencing trauma during exam periods.

MORE: Behind the Video of Eric Garner’s Deadly Confrontation With New York Police

“The grand juries’ determinations to return non-indictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases have shaken the faith of some in the integrity of the grand jury system and in the law more generally,” Scott wrote. “For some law students, particularly, though not only, students of color, this chain of events is all the more profound as it threatens to undermine a sense that the law is a fundamental pillar of society designed to protect fairness, due process and equality.”

The announcement of the policy follows a letter written by the Columbia Law School Coalition of Concerned Students of Color, and posted online, addressing the school’s faculty and administration. “Our trauma will be present with us on exam day, our trauma is inhibiting us from sleeping at night, and our trauma is ever-present among the words in our textbooks,” the group wrote. “We are now asked to use the same legal maneuvers and language on our exams this Monday that was used to deny justice to so many Black and Brown bodies.”

Former Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson was not indicted in the August shooting death of Michael Brown, sparking nationwide protests against police brutality. And NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, who put Garner in an apparent chokehold, was not indicted in the July altercation that resulted in Garner’s death.

[NYT]

TIME Startups

5 Places Where Uber Is Fighting for Its Life Right Now

An illustration picture shows the logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone next to the picture of an official German taxi sign in Frankfurt, September 15, 2014.
Kai Pfaffenbach—Reuters

New Delhi's ban against Uber is just one fight the ride-sharing service is engaged in

Ride-sharing service Uber is one of the most well-funded startups ever with a value of $41.2 billion. It’s war chest will come in handy as it does battle with local governments around the world.

New Delhi’s Transport Department has banned Uber after one of its drivers was accused of raping a passenger, challenging Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s ambitions to expand in developing countries. The driver, Shiv Kumar Yadav is suspected of driving a woman in her late 20s from Delhi to a seculed spot Friday night and assaulting her. A subsequent physical examination showed signs of a “fierce sexual assault and rape,” the New York Times reports.

Uber did not carry out background checks on Yadav, register his residential address, nor register his vehicle as a cab or install a GPS in the vehicle, which is required for commercial taxis, New Delhi police said. “We will do everything, I repeat, everything to help bring this perpetrator to justice and support the victim and her family in her recovery,” Kalanick said in a statement.

It’s not the first time that Uber drivers have been accused of sexual assault, and in San Francisco and Los Angeles, district attorneys have accused the ride-sharing service of misleading customers into believing they ban drivers who have ever committed criminal offenses.

And it’s also not the first time government authorities have banned Uber. The ride-sharing service has faced bans at one point or another in cities across the world, and many disputes with authorities remain unsettled. Here are five of the many places where Uber is facing government pushback—right now.

In Portland, Ore. Uber began operating illegally on Friday night and could face penalties, according to the city’s transportation bureau, including $1,500 for being caught the first time, $2,500 for a second offense and $5,000 thereafter. Portland isn’t happy: the city’s transportation commissioner Steve Novick said, “They think they can just come in here and flagrantly violate the law? This is really amazing. Apparently, they believe they’re gods.”

A court challenge against Uber in the Netherlands resulted this week in an injunction against the ride-sharing service, with a court saying the company can’t work with drivers who don’t have a license. Licensed taxi drivers, and drivers who don’t seek payment, can still drive for the service.

Uber has always faced a tough market in Germany, where the standard taxi cab is a Mercedes-Benz luxury sedan and Uber fancy cabs don’t stand out. And in September, courts in Berlin and Hamburg ruled the company did not comply with German laws and officially banned the service from using unlicensed taxi drivers.

Toronto authorities argued last month that Uber is “jeopardizing public safety” and is getting ready to fight the ride-sharing service in court.

Nevada issued a statewide ban against Uber last week, with a court arguing the company operates like a taxi business. Uber halted operations in the state.

Read next: Uber CEO Promises to Make Company ‘More Humble’ As it Raises $1.2B

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