Order denying petition for Rehearing from the U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit

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Opinion of the District Court of Appeals for the State of Florida

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Carpenter v. Sirju-Kar Corp.

Landlord/Tenant Law

March 19, 2010

PLAINTIFFS moved for a preliminary injunction to prevent defendant Sirju-Kar from evicting them during the pendency of this action. The court noted plaintiffs have demonstrated through two eviction petitions defendants brought in Brooklyn Civil Court that the apartment shared by plaintiffs was subject to Rent Stabilization Laws and plaintiffs had an agreement with defendants to lease the premises. It rejected defendants' contention that the renting of rooms to individuals was part of the illegality that formed the issuance of the vacate order, thus, the laws did not extend to illegally converted units. The court found defendants benefitted from the illegal conversion and consented to it, in violation of the law, by permitting them to take place, subsequently forming their own entity to continue to benefit from the conversion. Hence, it found plaintiffs demonstrated a prima facie showing of a likelihood of success on the merits and would suffer irreparable harm if defendants were allowed to proceed with the eviction. Thus, plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction was granted.

Last Updated (Sunday, 21 March 2010 07:52)


Courtesy Cherry Simpson

Who Killed Lacey Claire Gaines?

David Lohr Contributor

(March 17) -- On the evening of Dec. 7, Lacey Claire Gaines, a 20-year-old mother of one, was found slain inside her Justice, Ill., apartment. Evidence found at the scene suggests that Gaines knew her assailant, but so far no arrests have been made.

Ever since, Gaines' aunt, Cherry Simpson, has devoted every waking hour to her niece's case in an effort to ensure that justice is served.

"I miss her," Simpson told AOL News. "I liked hearing her sweet voice say, 'Hi, Aunt Cherry. It's me. Lacey.' I wish I could hear that voice again."


Lacey Claire Gaines was found murdered in her home on Dec. 7, six days after her 20th birthday.

According to Simpson, Gaines was a sweet and polite girl who grew up in a lavish country home. During her teen years, her parents enrolled her in a private Lutheran day school. Through an exchange program at the school, Gaines was one of a select few students allowed to travel to France to help teach students there. According to Simpson, the following year, at the age of 15, Gaines made a return trip to France, after which she began to exhibit some semirebellious traits.

"She had come home with a tattoo of a large cross on her back," Simpson said, "Not long after that, she began dating a man who was 10 years her senior. Her new boyfriend had spiked hair, plugs in his ears that you could put quarters through and tattoos on his neck. They were a bizarre match for each other."

In 2007, Simpson's father died. When she saw Gaines at the funeral, she saw that she was pregnant.

"We felt my brother should have thrown [her boyfriend's] ass in jail for statutory rape, but her parents said they could not pick who she loved," Simpson said. "From there, it went from bad to worse. I sensed something was wrong, and not two months later, she called me up and told me that she was being abused. I asked her to talk to a pastor, which she did, and then she sought an order of protection."

Simpson said the ups and downs in the relationship continued. In 2008, Gaines transferred from the Lutheran school to suburban Grant Park High School. Then, on Jan. 2, 2008, she gave birth to a baby boy. Not long thereafter, she started to date a new boyfriend.

"He was a Hispanic guy, so he spoke little English," Simpson said. "She would put him on the phone to talk and would translate for me. She said they were in love."

In March 2009, the father of Gaines' child
petitioned the court for parentage and took a DNA test to determine whether he was the father. It was during this time period that Gaines moved into a Hickory Trace apartment.

"After she moved, I would only hear from her sporadically," Simpson said. "I was hopeful things were better for her."

On Dec. 1, Gaines celebrated her 20th birthday. Six days later, she was found brutally slain inside her apartment.

"My mother called and told me she was murdered," Sampson said. "Her current boyfriend found her covered in blood, with an electrical cord around her neck and a 4-inch gash across her throat."

At the time of the killing, family members were baby-sitting Gaines' son. Simpson said Gaines last spoke to her grandmother at about 3:30 that afternoon.

"She was supposed to go to the doctor and have an appointment," Simpson said. "She was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital at 7:19 p.m., so she was murdered sometime between 3:30 and 7."

Calls for comment to the Justice Police Department were not returned; however, Chief Robert Gedville has told
Desplaines Valley News that there was no sign of forced entry into the apartment, no evidence of sexual assault and no evidence of robbery, suggesting that Gaines knew her attacker. Gedville said it was an "isolated incident" and that neighbors should not be concerned.

"We have interviewed everyone we can and our (Southwest Major Crimes) task force has 30 to 40 detectives working around the clock to get this solved," Gedville said.

In an effort to bring in new leads, Simpson has taken it upon herself to run a campaign for justice in Gaines' case. She has set up a
Web site and a Facebook page devoted to the case, given national media interviews and reached out to several television shows, including "America's Most Wanted" and MSNBC's "The Squeeze," a true-crime reality show.

"The investigators told the producers of 'America's Most Wanted' that they are waiting on DNA test results," Simpson said. "The detectives told me the same thing when I spoke to them in February. They also said that they have a strong suspect, but they were waiting on evidence because the DA said they didn't have enough to prosecute."

It remains unclear on whom the police are focusing. Investigators are not talking, and family members have their own theories. Gaines' parents have not commented on the case to the media; however, detectives have allegedly told them that they are "as sure as they could possibly be" that the father of Gaines' child had "nothing to do with this crime."

Regardless of who is responsible, Sampson remains dedicated to her niece's case and will continue her search for justice.

"I love my niece very much," Sampson said. "I feel I am speaking for Lacey. She would want the killer found and the truth to come out. She would want her baby and family to be safe and to have peace. I may be the only one who is capable and not afraid to speak out and ask for help in solving Lacey's murder."

Cook County Crime Stoppers is offering a
$1,000 reward for information about Lacey Gaines' killing. To report information, call the Crime Stoppers' hot line at 800-535-7867.




Last Updated (Sunday, 21 March 2010 07:52)


Judge Thomas Porteous impeached by U.S. House of Representatives

By Bruce Alpert, Times-Picayune

March 11, 2010, 11:57AM

District Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. was photographed on Capitol Hill during a House task force meeting considering his impeachment. With him on Nov. 18 was Candice Lemons, left, a paralegal with the Ober / Kaler law firm.

WASHINGTON - The House of Representatives Thursday unanimously approved the four articles of impeachment against New Orleans Federal Judge Thomas Porteous.

The first article, approved by a vote of 412-0, found the judge had engaged in misconduct by not disclosing his relationship with a lawyer in a federal case involving a Jefferson Parish hospital.

The three subsequent articles were approved by votes of 410-0, 416-0 and 423-0.

He is the 15th judge found to have committed "high crimes and misdemeanors," the Constitution's criteria for impeachment and the second such vote in the last 20 years.

"Our investigation found that Judge Porteous participated in a pattern of corrupt conduct for years," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chair of a House Task force that reviewed the accusations against Porteous.

"Litigants have the right to expect a judge hearing their case will be fair and impartial, and avoid even the appearance of impropriety," Schiff continued. "Regrettably, no one can have that expectation in Judge Porteous' courtroom. We hope the Senate will schedule the trial expeditiously, so that we may prove our case and remove him from office."

Summary of all four articles of impeachment

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., said he has been part of many House investigations into improper conduct by federal officials but has never seen the "overwhelming and blatant corruption we have before us today."

"Judge Porteous is one of a kind and it is time for him to receive his comeuppance," Sensenbrenner said.

Thursday's session began with an unusual procedure, a "call to the House," which requires members to assert their presence in a roll-call vote to certify their attendance so that they can hear a reading of the four articles of impeachment recommended by the House Judiciary Committee in a January 27 session.

The matter will now go to the Senate, which will likely appoint a committee to conduct a trial. The full Senate would then vote on whether to move him from office, an act that requires a two-thirds vote. Only eight judges in U.S. history have been removed by Senate vote.

The four proposed articles of impeachment accused Porteous of taking money, expensive meals and other gifts from lawyers and a bail bond company with business before him and making false statements in a personal bankruptcy filing.

Though much of the "improper conduct" occurred when he was a state judge, the Judiciary Committee decided he had an obligation to disclose his actions during his nomination and confirmation process in 1994. He was appointed to the U.S. District Court in New Orleans by President Bill Clinton.

In concluding that Porteous committed "high crimes and misdemeanors," the Judiciary Committee accused the judge of engaging "in a pattern of conduct that is incompatible with the trust and confidence placed in him as a federal judge."

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, said impeachment is needed "so that the Eastern District of Louisiana can once again provide the citizens a justice system free from corruption."

House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., said "it's a sad day" when the House finds a public official has "betrayed his office." Conyers spoke one day after his wife, Monica, a former Detroit City Council member, was sentenced to 37 months in prison for her guilty plea to a single bribery charge.

Porteous' lawyers have maintained that he made some personal mistakes - all a result of problems with gambling and drinking. But they insist he handled all cases before him professionally and without bias, despite any friendships and his acceptance of free meals and other gifts from some lawyers who appeared before him.

Porteous attended some of the five days of hearings conducted by a House Judiciary Committee task force that reviewed the evidence against him. He did not speak, but his lawyer, Richard Westling, was allowed to ask questions of witnesses, including two lawyers and two executives from a bail bond company who all admitted providing gifts to the judge over many years.

One witness, Jefferson Parish attorney Robert Creely, said that his firm received special court appointments from Porteous, when he was a state judge in Jefferson Parish, and was asked to return some of the proceeds back to the judge.

Only 14 judges previously have been impeached by the House. The last was Samuel Kent of Texas in June, 2009. He was accused of sexual assault, making false and misleading statements and obstructing and impeding an official proceeding.

Kent resigned before the Senate scheduled a trial.

Porteous, 63, continues to receive his $174,000 federal judicial salary, but has been barred from hearing cases until September 2010. If the Senate doesn't vote to remove him from office or he doesn't resign, Porteous would be able to resume hearing cases in September.

In May 2007, the Department of Justice submitted a complaint of judicial misconduct to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. The Department said that it decided not to prosecute Porteous - partially because charges on some accusations against the judge occurred far back enough to run afoul of statute of limitations rules.

But the Justice Department said that its investigation "indicates that Judge Porteous may have violated federal and state criminal laws, controlling canons of judicial conduct, rules of professional responsibility and conducted himself in a manner antithetical to the constitutional standard of good behavior required of all federal judges."

The Justice Department complaint concluded that "the instances of Judge Porteous' dishonesty in his own sworn statements and court filings, his decade-long course of conduct in soliciting and accepting a stream of payments and gifts from litigants and lawyers with matters before him, and his repeated failures to disclose those dealings to interested parties and the court all render him unfit."

In 2008, the Judicial Conference of the United States voted unanimously to refer the matter to the House for possible impeachment action, citing substantial evidence that Judge Porteous repeatedly committed perjury, willfully and systematically concealing information. It also moved to take the maximum punitive action against the judge, suspending him from hearing cases for two years "or until Congress takes final action on impeachment proceedings," though it could not and did not seek to take away his judge's salary.

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