MONEY legal

Wall Street Executive Must Pay $18 Million In Sexual Harassment Suit

Speakers At The Hedge Funds Asia Summit Hosted By Bloomberg Link
Bloomberg/Getty Images Benjamin Wey, Chief Executive Officer at New York Global Group.

Benjamin Wey, CEO of New York Global Group, was accused of pressuring a female employee into sex and then firing her once he found out she had a boyfriend.

Wall Street CEO Benjamin Wey must pay $18 million to a former employee for sexual harassment, retaliation, and defamation, a federal court ruled on Monday.

The Associated Press reports that Benjamin Wey, the chief executive officer of investing firm New York Global Group, was accused of using his authority to coerce Hanna Bouveng into having sex on four occasions before firing her six months later. According to Bouveng, the firing occurred when Wey found another man in her $3,600-a-month Tribeca apartment that Wey had helped pay for.

Following Bouveng’s firing, the 25-year old Swedish native claims Wey tried to ruin her reputation by calling her a “street walker” and “loose woman” on his blog. Her lawyers also say Wey traveled to Bouveng’s new job at a cafe in Stockholm, Sweden, in order to intimidate her. “The message was: ‘Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I am going to find you and I am going to get you,” said Bouveng’s attorney during the trial.

Wey argued he and Bouveng never slept together and that the woman’s party-going lifestyle eventually led to her firing. However, the court found in favor of Bouveng and ordered the CEO to pay $2 million in compensation and $16 million in punitive damages.

Read next: Goldman Sachs Bans Interns from Pulling All-Nighters at the Office

TIME society

Why We Must Teach Law to Those Who Need It Most

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Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

At the Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project, we encourage families to join their loved ones' defense team

When I heard about the suicide of Kalief Browder, a teenager who was charged with stealing a backpack and served three years in brutal Rikers Island until the charge against him was dropped, I thought about the shared culpability of his death by the criminal court system.

Police may have racially profiled Browder and wrongfully arrested him; but a prosecutor decided to pursue charges on patchy evidence and drag the case out for years; a judge set bail at $3,000, a bar his family could not afford; a previous plea deal — when he thought he had no defense against a charge of stealing a truck for a joy ride — meant that he was put in jail when the backpack charge was leveled. No wonder so many people think it’s impossible to have their fair day in court. More than 95% of cases like this are resolved with plea deals.

While police in the streets or inhumane conditions in the prisons have been focuses of social justice movements, the machinery between arrest and incarceration — the courts — have remained a social justice blind spot.

In San Jose, California, where I’m from, families have started use the science of community organizing to penetrate the court system. Families who have loved ones facing charges meet on a weekly basis; support each other; and share knowledge about what helps defense attorneys and what sways judges and juries. They form a network behind the person who has been arrested.

It is a communal counterbalance to the isolation of the court system. At the Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project, we call the approach participatory defense — essentially encouraging communities to engage in the justice system, rather then waiting for the courts to do what it will with loved ones.

The essential agents of change don’t have to be lawyers or judges. Our meetings are facilitated by people who first came for help on their own cases or the cases of loved ones, volunteers who have transformed from isolated mothers watching their sons get chewed up by the courts to vocal navigators for other families.

As the director of a community center where we host the meetings every Sunday, I had no intention of getting involved in court organizing. When we started eight years ago, we were doing police accountability work. But we realized there was a common denominator among the people who came to our meetings: when facing a criminal charge, they needed a compass to help them harness community power to fight the charges. So we extended that community-organizing ethic to the court process.

The tangible impact of family and community participation on cases is undeniable. We have seen acquittals, charges dismissed and reduced, prison terms changed to rehabilitation programs, even life sentences taken off the table. When we tally up the original maximum sentencing possibilities against the “time served” from all of our cases collectively over six years, we see over 1,800 years of time saved.

One of the co-founders of the approach, Blanca Bosquez, started because of her son Rudy. Like Kalief, Rudy was 16 when he was arrested, charged with robbery based on a flimsy investigation. His backpack, which was stolen a year prior, was allegedly found near the crime scene. The prosecutor claimed that Rudy was the ringleader of a teenage robbery crew, but his mom knew this couldn’t be the case: Rudy was severely mentally delayed, had the mind of an 8-year-old, and required 24-hour care.

Blanca quarterbacked a community-wide penetration into the court system with her large extended family and friends. They gathered critical medical and school records showing Rudy’s mental challenges, packed every courtroom, offered testimony to the judge about Rudy’s care requirements and the role specific family members played in his well-being.

Rather then keeping him in jail while the case was going on, Rudy was released on home detention. Though he had only been in juvenile hall a few days, Rudy was visibly shaken. It was the first time he had been away from his mother since birth. He didn’t know how to use the knobs for the shower.

And while he was home, “Team Rudy” continued to press: they reviewed the police interrogation video, and “confession” to help their public defender. The officers and even the defense attorney initially knew nothing of Rudy’s mental challenges. Several times the officers asked Rudy if he was high because of a slurred speech that came from his condition.

Within weeks, Rudy’s felony-level charges were dropped. After this battle, Blanca thought other families should know how they, too, could do something to change the outcomes of their own cases.

As more families have engaged in this practice, we have seen patterns arise in where a family’s intervention makes the most sense. For example, after arrest, we ask families to write a statement about the incident and arrest, preserving any information that could be helpful to the defense.

In preparation for a bond hearing, we gather testimonials of community ties — essentially what that detained person has in their life, and the impact on that person and others if he or she had to be away during the adjudication of the case. Would jobs be lost? An elder left high and dry because a caretaker is gone? Supporters also share their role in ensuring the person attends court hearings. What we do is to strip away the mythology that people facing charges are islands, rather then people embedded in communities.

If a case is heading to trial, families are encouraged to review documents unearthed during the discovery process, such as police reports, to point out inconsistencies or false statements. If the aim is to reduce a charge or a sentence during the penalty phase, families create “social biography” packets, which arm the defense attorney with arguments about future prospects like housing, employment, or educational opportunities.

One of the most effective cases I’ve seen involved a single father named Carnell. He had pled guilty to a low-level drug charge, but because of prior convictions from a long-forgotten past, he faced five years in prison. His greatest worry about returning to jail was that his three daughters would be put in the foster system. We gave him a camera, and he took pictures of his typical day as a father — making the girls breakfast, taking them to school and after-school programs, helping them with homework. His defense attorney used the photo essay during the sentencing phase, and instead of prison, Carnell was sentenced to a six-month outpatient program so he could keep his family together.

Of course, we know there are limits to how much we can fight the court system’s default tool of incarceration. For example, if someone is found guilty of a charge with a mandatory minimum, a social biography packet won’t change that sentence. The judge has no discretion.

But what participatory defense will do is create a ground-up movement where people are “looking under the hood” of the court system, and seeing where change needs to happen. People see their own capacity — and their community’s collective capacity — to bend seemingly immovable institutions like the courts. While that is not a new concept, it’s a potent reminder how we truly are stronger together then alone. And case by case, we hope we’re building a movement that could one day end mandatory-minimum sentences.

Raj Jayadev is the director of Silicon Valley De-Bug, which hosts the Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project. Jayadev is a 2015 Ashoka Fellow. He wrote this for “Reimagining California,” a partnership of the California Endowment and Zócalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME legal

Here’s How Much Gay Marriage Could Add To The Economy

Friday's decision is worth billions

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 today in favor of legalizing gay marriage throughout all 50 states of the U.S. as well as in the District of Columbia. And the decision may prove to be an economic boon for business in the country.

In an article last year, the Washington Post estimated that the decision could prove to be a $2.6 billion economic windfall in the next three years when passed across the U.S. That figure, which was calculated by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, sees the majority of its money coming from states including California, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Washington, the publication reported at the time.

For example, California calculated that over 50,000 gay couples in the state were expected to spend about $400 million, along with $31 million in local tax revenue.

The wedding industry in the U.S. is estimated to be worth over $51 billion.

Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell, co-founders of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, discussed the ruling in a statement, but said the fight for equality is far from over. “The Justices have affirmed what a bipartisan majority of Americans have come to understand: the freedom to marry is a constitutional right that is guaranteed to all Americans.”

“While recognizing this as a victory, NGLCC and its 42 affiliate chambers across the country understand that the LGBT movement must harness this momentum to secure greater equality, especially nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Americans,” Nelson added in a statement.

“It’s unacceptable that hardworking LGBT business owners still be discriminated against in corporate and government supply chains and that LGBT people can still be fired from their jobs in 28 states, evicted from their homes, or denied service in restaurants and shops simply for being who they are,” he said.

More more on marriage equality from Fortune, check out this article on corporate America putting its weight behind legalization.

TIME Uber

Paris Taxi Drivers Burn Tires, Flip Cars In Giant Protest Against Uber

In its five year history, Uber has made a lot of enemies. Some of its fiercest may be in Paris.

Cabbies on Thursday blocked roads to and from Paris airports and disrupted traffic on a major highway in opposition of Uber’s service, which they say represents unfair competition.

AFP reported that cab drivers blocked access to three terminals at Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris’s main transportation hub, and they were converging on Orly airport and train stations in the city. French media reports also showed cabbies overturning cars and burning tires in protest.

Parisian cabbies have staged similar protests in the past, and on some occasions they’ve turned violent.

Though they severely disrupted travel on Thursday, demonstrators won the support of France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve who ordered Paris police to issue a decree banning the activity of UberPOP, which uses unlicensed drivers in private cars to undercut existing taxis, Reuters reports. He also told local police chiefs and prosecutors to crack down on what he said was a failure by Uber to pay social and tax fees in France.

In October 2014, a law in France placed a ban on putting clients in touch with unregistered drivers, but Uber has challenged the rule saying it was unclear and infringed on the freedom to do business.

According to Reuters, Uber spokesman Thomas Meister said Cazeneuve was over-riding the normal legal process. “The way things work in a state of law is that it’s for the justice to judge whether something is legal or illegal,” he told the news agency.

The protests ensnarled at least one celebrity on Thursday. Courtney Love tweeted that demonstrators attacked the car she was in and held her driver hostage.

Luckily, she managed to escape.

 

TIME legal

Uber: No Guns in Our Cabs, Please

Uber
Sergio Perez—Reuters The Uber ride sharing app is used in Madrid on Dec. 10, 2014.

Both drivers and passengers forbidden from packing heat

Feel free to hail that Uber vehicle for a quick ride across town, but please leave your guns at home.

That’s the latest message from the popular ride sharing startup, which recently updated its legal policy to prohibit the possession of firearms “of any kind in a vehicle” used for its service. The ban is for both drivers and riders, Uber said in the updated legal portion of its website. The change was first noticed by New Republic.

“Any rider or driver found to have violated this prohibition may lose access to the Uber platform,” the startup warned.

Uber isn’t the first, nor is it the last company to deal with the delicate balancing act of weighing in on gun rights. As Fortune has reported in several other cases, restaurants and retail chains in particular often find themselves in the center of the gun rights debate.

Panera Bread last year generated headlines when it said it wanted customers to refrain from coming into its restaurants with guns, even if they legally can. Basically, the company’s statement was essentially a “No guns, please” policy, as it wasn’t an outright ban. That stance is similar to what Starbucks , Target and Chipotle have said in the past, seeking to avoid angering either side of the U.S. gun debate.

This article was originally published on Fortune.com

TIME legal

The Silk Road Mastermind Appealed His Life Sentence

Trial Of Online Drug Marketplace Silk Road Founder Ross Ulbricht Begins
Spencer Platt—Getty Images Max Dickstein stands with other upporters of Ross Ulbricht, the alleged creator and operator of the Silk Road underground market, in front of a Manhattan federal court house on the first day of jury selection for his trial on January 13, 2015 in New York City.

Ross Ulbricht has been sentenced to life in prison

Ross Ulbricht, convicted ringleader of the drug trafficking website Silk Road, is appealing his conviction and lifetime sentence.

The appeal was submitted to the United States District Court in Southern New York on Monday, Motherboard reports.

Ulbricht was convicted by a Manhattan federal jury in February on all seven counts, which included narcotics and money laundering conspiracies. He was sentenced to life in prison last month, though federal guidelines stated he could have served as few as twenty years.

Ulbricht’s sentencing has sparked protests from proponents of Internet freedom, Vice notes, including movie star Russell Brand, who argued that Ulbricht was merely achieving the “American Dream.”

TIME Crime

Judge Grants New Trial in Death of Intern Chandra Levy

Ingmar Guandique chandra levy retrial
Jacquelyn Martin—AP In this April 22, 2009 file photo, Ingmar Guandique is escorted from the Violent Crimes Unit by police in Washington.

The defense lawyers had been saying that a key witness in the case gave false or misleading testimony

(WASHINGTON)—A judge has formally granted a retrial in the case of a man convicted of killing Washington intern Chandra Levy.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher on Thursday granted a motion for a new trial the case of Ingmar Guandique, who was convicted in 2010 of killing Levy.

Guandique’s attorneys had been pushing for a new trial because they said a key witness in the case gave false or misleading testimony. Prosecutors last month told a judge they believe the jury’s verdict was correct but that they would no longer oppose the new-trial request.

Levy’s 2001 disappearance created a national sensation after the 24-year-old California native was romantically linked with then-U.S. Rep. Gary Condit.

Condit, a California Democrat, was ultimately ruled out as a suspect.

TIME Social Media

Supreme Court Throws Out Conviction for Facebook Threats

Facebook
Dado Ruvic—Reuters

Recent Supreme Court ruling defines when an online rant is free speech, and when it becomes a criminal threat

In a closely-watched case about free speech online, the Supreme Court on Monday overturned by a 7-2 margin the conviction of a man whose online rants landed him in prison.

The case involved Anthony Elonis, a Pennsylvania man who used Facebook to make a series of violent rants against his wife and others, often citing the rapper Eminem and using hip-hop lyrics. He claimed his rants did not amount to “true threats,” and that his comments were jokes and a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment.

The court sided with Elonis, finding that simply using a reasonable person standard was inadequate for conviction; instead, prosecutors must show that the writer in question actually meant the words to be threatening.

“Federal criminal liability generally does not turn solely on the results of an act without considering the defendant’s mental state. That understanding “took deep and early root in American soil” and Congress left it intact here,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts for the majority.

The case attracted widespread interest because it required the court to define limits on when internet speech can become illegal. Free speech advocates argued that criminalizing Facebook rants could create a chilling effect by restricting the sort of everyday hyperbole people engage in all the time; others pointed to situations like GamerGate, which involve system online threats against women, to argue criminal restrictions can be appropriate.

In the Elonis ruling, however, Chief Justice Roberts declined to set down sweeping policy statements about free speech and internet. Instead, he decided the case in a more narrow, legalistic fashion by noting that the law in question did not explain what mental state should be required for conviction.

In a stinging rebuke, Justices Samuel Alito disagreed with Roberts’ approach, saying the Court chose to duck a difficult issue.

“The Court’s disposition of this case is certain to cause confusion and serious problems. Attorneys and judges need to know which mental state is required for conviction […] This case squarely presents that issue, but the Court provides only a partial answer,” wrote Alito in dissent, adding that for lower courts, “This will have regrettable consequences.”

Justice Clarence Thomas joined Alito in dissent. You can read the opinion below.

Elonis Free Speech

This story will be updated shortly

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Transportation

Setback for Uber as South Korea Bans Private Taxis

The Uber Technologies Inc. application and logo are displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s and iPad Air in this arranged photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg via Getty Images The Uber Technologies Inc. application and logo are displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s and iPad Air in this arranged photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.

It's the first country to introduce a nationwide prohibition

In a largely symbolic move that appears to be aimed directly at Uber’s cheap UberX service, South Korea passed legislation on Friday banning unlicensed drivers from providing taxi services — becoming the first country to institute a nationwide prohibition of the practice.

According to Reuters, the bill is a blanket ban on private taxi services but lawmakers who pushed the bill did so citing UberX, a service that matches commuters with individuals using their personal cars as a taxi.

Uber already pulled UberX out of Seoul in March because of backlash from the taxi industry and local authorities. But the company still maintains a presence via UberTaxi (matching passengers with licensed drivers) and UberBLACK (which can be used by the disabled, elderly and foreigners).

[Reuters]

TIME legal

FCC Chairman Wants Subsidized Internet for the Poor

Phone service has long been subsidized

Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission approved net neutrality rules to regulate the broadband Internet as a utility, treating it the same as it does telephone networks.

On Thursday, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is expected to reiterate high speed Internet’s status as a public good when he introduces a plan to ensure that even the poorest Americans have access to broadband Internet.

Wheeler will announce changes to the $1.7 billion subsidy program created by the Reagan administration in 1985 that currently provides low-income Americans with affordable landline telephone service. Twelve million households participate in the program called Lifeline, which was expanded in 2008 to cover the cost of cell phone service. To be eligible for the program, households must have an income at or below 135% of the federal poverty line or must receive Medicaid or food stamp benefits.

The 2008 expansion of Lifeline boosted enrollment, but that increase coincided with a rise in abuse of the program, as some households received more than their one allotted subsidy. Wheeler’s proposal will give recipients a choice between phone service, Internet access, or a combination of both, according to The New York Times.

In 2013, the Pew Research Center found that only 54% of people making less than $30,000 annually had broadband services versus 88% of those earning $75,000 or more.

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