justice


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Led Zeppelin has been found not guilty of copyright infringement over the band’s song “Stairway to Heaven,” following a two-day jury deliberation in the case, Reuters reports.

The trust of deceased songwriter Randy Wolfe, otherwise known as Randy California from the band Spirit, was seeking “millions of dollars and a third of the songwriting credit” for the eight-minute Led Zeppelin anthem from 1971.

In the trial, the lawyer behind Wolfe’s estate accused the Zeppelin band members of “selective memories and convenient truths” in their testimony regarding their knowledge of the Spirit song in question, a 1968 instrumental song called “Taurus.”

In his closing statements, Led Zeppelin’s attorney, Peter Anderson, said the plaintiff failed to present adequate evidence for the copyright claims of the passage in question — which Anderson claimed to be “a common descending chord sequence in the public domain.”

Anderson also argued that the case should have been brought to trial when Wolfe was still alive and Plant and Page would have been better able to recall the song’s creation.

“How can you wait a half century and criticise people … 45 years later for the delay you caused?” Anderson said. “They should have sued in 1972.”

It looks as if it was decided on a Summary Judgment.

Even if it had gone to trial, it would have been unlikely to win.

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The rate of convictions is the highest in at least 35 years, prompting concerns from lawyers and a politician about the justice system’s soundness.

Statistics New Zealand figures reveal more than 83 per cent of adults prosecuted in court last year were convicted. The rate has risen in 10 of the past 11 years, and in the past two years has been the highest since 1980, the earliest data available.

Former New Zealand Law Society president Jonathan Temm said despite appearing to indicate a healthy justice system, the conviction rate was actually too high, with people being convicted incorrectly.

“It’s heading the wrong way. Our level should be constantly around the 75 per cent mark, and anything over 80 per cent is a reflection that people are pleading guilty to things that in the past they would not have been convicted of,” Mr Temm said.

Whangarei lawyer Wayne McKean said the judicial system “heavily incentivises” defendants to plead guilty, affecting the conviction rate.

One reason was prosecutors over-charged defendants to increase their strength in plea-bargaining.

“If a defendant pleads guilty to the lesser charge they’ll withdraw the more serious charge,” Mr McKean said. “It elevates the risk to the defendant if he doesn’t accept it.

“I think that’s wrong, using more serious charges as leverage.”

The Law Society and the Criminal Bar Association had expressed concerns at police and Crown Solicitors laying “inappropriately serious charges” against offenders. The police acknowledged this occurred but said it was usually due to inexperience.

The rise in conviction rate coincides with the lowest number of people going through court nationwide since at least 1980. The figure has dropped almost 40 per cent since 2009 – from 127,000 prosecutions to fewer than 77,000 nationwide.

Labour’s police spokesman Stuart Nash said he was concerned about the sharp decrease. “It says to me that the police just haven’t got the resources to catch the bad guys.

“The last thing we want … is to have any sort of questioning of the validity of our justice system.”

Lawyer Stephen Ross said the downward trend in prosecutions was due to police cost pressures.

“It is a budget issue … There’s no doubt about that,” he said.

In a written response to NZME, police said their baseline budget had not been frozen, and their operating funding would increase $41 million a year over the next four years.

Police were making operational changes around the country “to serve their communities better”, but there had been no cuts in staffing.

A 2012 Ministry of Justice report stated a crime reduction target of 15 per cent between 2011 and 2017. But since 2011 prosecution and conviction numbers have fallen 28 per cent and 27 per cent respectively.

The Police Association said a police policy of warning offenders for low-level crimes had gone too far.

“Police have way overshot,” said president Greg O’Connor. “I don’t think anybody believes there are fewer people offending or that there’s less low-level offending taking place.”

He was unsure how the long-term effects of such warnings would balance out against the short-term gains.

“If you are the Government and want to … say the number of arrests have gone down and the number of court appearances have gone down, then yes, it’s a great policy.”

“A spokesperson for Police Minister Judith Collins said the higher conviction rate was a result of fewer prosecutions. The spokesperson said the rate of successful case outcomes – conviction, diversion and discharge without conviction – had been “relatively steady” in the last four years, increasing 1.2 per cent since the 2012/2013 financial year.”

Convictions

as a percentage of adults prosecuted in New Zealand

2015 83.2 per cent

2014 83.5 per cent

2013 82.7 per cent

2012 81.8 per cent

2011 81.7 per cent

2010 79.8 per cent

2009 78.5 per cent

Source: Statistics New Zealand

NZ after the US has the highest incarceration %.
There is a risk of course of pleading not guilty to the alleged pumping up of the charges, but given the grounds that have to be demonstrated on the Crimes Act provisions, if the prosecution are overreaching, plump for a bench trial where the Judge should understand and appreciate that the prosecution are overreaching.

Just in case you thought the Rule of Law applied, think again.

By AZAM AHMED and BEN PROTESS
A criminal investigation into the collapse of the brokerage firm MF Global and the disappearance of about $1 billion in customer money is now heading into its final stage without charges expected against any top executives.

After 10 months of stitching together evidence on the firm’s demise, criminal investigators are concluding that chaos and porous risk controls at the firm, rather than fraud, allowed the money to disappear, according to people involved in the case.

The hurdles to building a criminal case were always high with MF Global, which filed for bankruptcy in October after a huge bet on European debt unnerved the market. But a lack of charges in the largest Wall Street blowup since 2008 is likely to fuel frustration with the government’s struggle to charge financial executives. Just a few individuals — none of them top Wall Street players — have been prosecuted for the risky acts that led to recent failures and billions of dollars in losses.

Yet, in California, following the three strikes law, someone who is starving, steals a bit of food…life imprisonment.

Now I’m not advocating anything except justice, which is a tricky one, but so tricky that stealing a $1 billion dollars of investor money cannot actually be identified as theft? Now this chap wants to open a “Hedge Fund.”

In a Republic, where, the Rule of Law, provides for everyone being treated equally under/by the law, clearly, America, England, have long lost their way. Ford pardoning Nixon, the list is long, and just goes on and on.

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone, on the non-prosecution of Goldman Sachs, and you could add a long list, Mozillo of Countrywide, etc. to he list:

…they’ll (The Justice Department) take on somebody like Raj Rajaratnam, who stacked his illegal insider trades so brazenly and carelessly that his case almost reads like a finance version of Jeff Dahmer tripping over bodies in his Milwaukee apartment…Basically, if someone backs a dump truck up to the DOJ and unloads the entire case, gift-wrapped, a contrite and confessing criminal included, a guy like Eric Holder might, after much agonizing deliberation, decide to prosecute.

You know that look a dog gives you when you show it something confusing, like an electric razor or a lawn sprinkler? That’s the look federal prosecutors give when companies like Goldman wave their attorneys’ sanctifying opinions at them.

You can almost feel the relief emanating from Washington when these prosecutors decide against matching wits with the wizened 60 year-old legal Sith Lords from Harvard and Yale who’ve seen everything, know every judge by his or her first name, and in a trial would be basically bringing absolutely everything a lawyer can bring to the table, except consciences of course.

…the Holders of the world do not want to be creative when the targets are politically influential rich people. Instead, they use their creativity against Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, immigrant housekeepers, and guys who knock over liquor stores. They like to flex muscles against bank robbers, celebrity tax evaders (we can’t have Wesley Snipes on the loose!), truck hijackers, and drug dealers. As Gene Wilder would say, “You know – morons.”
Holder’s non-decision on Goldman is more than unsurprising. It amounts to an official announcement that the government is no longer in the business of prosecuting smart criminals. It’s pathetic. The one thing you pay any lawyer to have is balls, and our nation’s top attorney has none.

Which rather underlines the previous post highlighting the suicides. The bankers, almost to a man, through inept management, criminal actions, and just fucking stupidity, destroyed the financial system and their banks. Rather than face the consequences, prosecution, bankruptcy, removal from their jobs – they get bailed out by the tax-payer, given a free pass with regards to prosecution, and get paid even bigger bonuses.

That is not capitalism. That is Socialism. Where the top feed off of the bottom. The Socialists love to push out endless propaganda, claiming that this is the result of capitalism, but when presented with the arguments, simply avoid the questions and challenges, erecting Straw Men, etc.

What could possibly cause this? The answer is that American football is in very, very serious trouble.

2,450 players have now filed 89 concussion related law suits against the NFL and Riddle Athletics (helmet manufacturer) . All of the State cases are being referred to Federal Court.

I’m no expert on this topic. I follow (among others) ESPN and NFL Concussion Litigation. I have recently talked with four attorneys (none directly involved – all sue for a living). The cut to the chase question for the lawyers was:
“Will there be financial awards?”

Four out of four were quick to answer:
“Yes.”

This will make for an interesting legal case.

I suppose the starting point would be a contract [certainly at the Pro level, & probably at the College level too] The contract would obviously have to address the physicality of the sport and the potential for serious injuries/death from participation.

Without a doubt, the protective clothing/padding, contributes to the speed/strength of collisions/tackles. In rugby, where there is minimal/none of protective padding, the collisions are at lower speeds and impact power. There are still injuries/concussions, but they are I would guess less common frequent. That must therefore open another door as to prescribed/proscribed uses of the equipment.

Then there is the whole area of injury during the game, diagnosis, and management of the player. I read the book “Don’t worry it’s just a bruise” written by an NFL team doctor, and the level of drug useage etc employed to keep key players on the field, and the entire culture around that playing injured. Motorcycle racers ride injured all the time, break a few bones in an off during a practice round, back on for the race: this is not simply an NFL problem, you are dealing with tunnel vision athletes, and as such, very often they may require protecting from themselves, particularly in the case of a concussion where cognitive function will be impaired, and responsible, informed decisions cannot be made.

Ultimately, assuming that the draconian measure of an outright ban, or withdrawal of various participants does not end the game, insurance coverage would seem to be one avenue that could be explored. Of course the issue immediately that comes to mind would be “pre-existing conditions.” Where current players have been playing since grade school, all the way through to pro-level, the insurance risk becomes far higher, and of course, ultimately the insurance would have to commence at the start of the football playing career, in the PeeWee leagues, and be maintained continuously through the playing career.

Tail risk would be a major issue for the insurance companies, someone who played through say College, and developed problems say ten years later, attributable to football injuries. This would be a major stumbling block.

Of course, the game could retrogress as far as protective clothing is concerned. Make the padding far less protective, thus reducing the speed of collisions: remove helmets, return to the leather protective headgear, this will remove the current trend of tackling with the head as a weapon. All you lose are the slo-mo replays of hits that lift people into the air and popping off helmets etc.

Either way, it will be interesting to follow this case and see how it all plays out.

Jeffrey Kleintop, Chief Strategist at LPL Financial, is out with his latest research piece, a look at who the buyers and sellers are for US stocks this year.

It’s basically foreigners and corporations buying their own stock in the plus column, while insiders and regular investors are on the minus side.

Some charts of the net buyers from his report:

Here are the foreign buyers of US stocks, they purchased a net $10 billion worth in Q1 according to data from the US Treasury:

So CEO’s who control the Corporate cash-flows, use these cash-flows to push up the share price, and then sell their personal holding, gained through Option grants, into the rising share price. The CEO’s ultimately, are rarely the original entrepreneur, they are basically managers. They are as a class, fucking useless. Their ethical base is on display for all to view.

As one employment dispute case finally ends, although, that may still be a little premature as we still await the Judge’s final decision, another case opens. This is again another employment case revolving around harassment.

I have been in communication with the Human Resources manager. The last company, First Security had an HR manager that was an arrogant fool. This Company, yet another Security Company, has another HR manager, female this time, that again demonstrates the complete arrogance towards their stated ‘greatest asset’ their workforce. Well I have progressed this case to mediation via the Dept. of Labour far more quickly than the last case, so I dare say we’ll be heading to Court that much quicker as well.

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