Killer of Meika Jordan Seeks Appeal

Over the past month, Canadians have heard a great deal about the death of Meika Jordan, who died of blunt force trauma back in 2011, in the news. The resurgence of her story comes with the recent attempt to receive an appeal by one of Meika’s killers (Marie Magoon) who submitted the request to the Supreme Court of Canada a few months back. The official tentative date for the hearing is October 6th, 2017, however it doesn’t look favourable for the charged. Meika’s father and stepmother, Spencer Jordan and Marie Magoon, were charged with second-degree murder back in March 2015 in Calgary.

According to the original official statement, Meika had received her injuries falling down the stairs but medical reports claimed differently, stating that her injuries were too severe to have been obtained by a fall. Further investigation revealed that Meika had been dragged up and down the stairs, thrown, burned on her hand, and had her head had been knocked against the floor. The stepmother then put in a call to Health Link to ask about treating the burn on Meika’s hand, which was transcribed and submitted as evidence during the initial proceedings.

The Appeal Court has recently concluded in agreement with the Crown that Magoon and Jordan are guilty instead of murder in the first degree –a unanimous decision from a panel of three justices, stating that “constructive first-degree murder was created for cases like this one”. They go on to say that the judge from the original trial had overlooked the factor that escalated the charge from murder in the second to murder in the first: the couple had unlawfully confined Meika on top of the charges of abuse, something that the original judge had dismissed, saying that she was essentially in the care of Magoon and Jordan and that in essence children are often confined when they are with their parents. Furthermore, the court ruled that Jordan and Magoon had no right to be with Meika, as she was supposed to have been with her mother on the weekend in which her ultimately fatal injuries occurred, but instead, in violation of a custody order, remained with her father through his own manipulations.

Currently, the possible revised sentencing should be life without chance of parole for 25 years after the appeal in October following a pattern of auto accident lawsuits. The Appeal Court has also dismissed the possibility of a cross-appeal by the couple who hoped to overturn their convictions. Both Meika’s mother and stepfather, Kyla and Brian Woodhouse, are upset at having to face the Appeal Courts again, having left before the preliminary appeal hearing had ended. With the long road ahead of them until the final stretch in October, Woodhouse was quoted saying that he doesn’t “think it will ever be over”. Find more information at Traut Firm’s Facebook page

Sanctuary Cities

Sanctuary CitiesUp until recently, the term ‘Sanctuary City’ was unknown to me. However, with action taken by Donald Trump since his inauguration as the President to withdraw funding from these cities, it seems to be a relevant topic of discussion for those as ignorant as I am. In the States, a Sanctuary City is any municipality (a city, town, etc.) that has individually decided to flout Federal Immigration Law and protect refugees and undocumented immigrants within their boundaries. These cities do this often by refusing to allocate funding or any resources to the enforcement of Federal Immigration Law as well as not permitting municipal employees or officers to inquire about an individual’s immigration or visa status. Although the Federal law does maintain that state and municipal officials may not withhold personal information in regards to immigration from other local, state, or Federal entities, Sanctuary Cities have found that if the information is not collected by local authorities, then it cannot be distributed.

recommended accident lawyer says any prominent American cities have adopted this concept of refusing to cooperate with the Federal government on Immigration laws including, but not limited to: Boston, Detroit, Seattle, Chicago, Baltimore, New York City, Dallas, and New Orleans (though the Mayor states differently, its stance is similar to other Sanctuary Cities and so is widely considered one). Although Trump has, in his first week as President, signed an executive order charging the attorney general’s office as well as the secretary of homeland security to withhold Federal funding from Sanctuary Cities, many of their Mayors are redoubling their efforts to protect immigrants residing illegally in the States, defending their stance to not assist Federal officials.

While many are arguing that this is a threat to national security, claiming that cities with such an ‘open-door’ policy attract criminality and undermine the enforcement and upholding of the law, studies have shown that there is no increase in crime rates in Sanctuary Cities. In fact, many supporters of the concept of Sanctuary Cities argue that refusing to ask residents about, or persecute them for, their immigration status, actually builds trust between the people and their municipal officials and actually encourages individuals, even those who reside in a city illegally, to report crime. Furthermore, if an illegal immigrant has been found to have committed a crime, they can still be detained, tried, and convicted for that crime regardless. However, those who oppose the Sanctuary City argue that the crime would have been avoided in the first place had said individual been removed, despite the numerous studies that show that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes compared to permanent residents.

Whatever the argument, it is clear that the United States is tightening its belt around its Immigration Laws, reducing the number of people who can enter the country and remain there without citizenship.

Trump’s Immigration Ban

Trumps Immigration Ban

Recent news has been rife with the changes dispensed by the Trump administration since the Presidential Inauguration just over a week ago. Perhaps the most controversial of the new legislation is the legal ban on immigration that was recently signed which prevents citizens of specified countries from entering the United States. This piece of legislation has been met wildly with criticism, with protests developing both throughout the online world and in the physical one, particularly at airports across the States where many have been detained and denied entry into the country.

Trump’s executive order halts all immigration and refugees from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and Syria, preventing them from entering the United States. This has resulted in a separation of families and friends with many detained at the airport unable to enter the country, and several others who currently reside in the states afraid to leave for fear of being denied re-entry. There seems to be a massive amount of confusion as to whether or not these restrictions are placed upon green-card holders or those who have dual-citizenship in the U.S. and one of the restricted countries –official statement says that the ban does not apply to green-card holders and yet there are a number of reported cases of green-card holders being detained indefinitely when entering the country.

A Trump official has since given an official statement, claiming that this ban on immigration is a “massive success story”, despite reports and protests to the contrary. In the capital of the United States, thousands have gathered to protest against the ban and over one thousand have congregated in New York’s Battery Park with even more protests scheduled to take place across the country in cities such as Baltimore, Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Boston, Boise, Chicago, Detroit, and San Francisco. As a result of the protesting, the Federal Court for the Eastern District of New York has issued an emergency stay of the deportation of immigrants from the aforementioned countries, preventing the government from sending these individuals back to their home countries because it would cause them “irreparable harm”. It is so far unknown if those who this ban affects will have to remain in detention until a substantive ruling is made. This ruling from New York was on a habeas corpus petition filed on January 28th on behalf of two men, Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, who were not permitted to enter the States after arriving at the JFK airport.

With pictures and videos covering the internet and almost every form of social media revealing the struggles of immigrants and refugees, the swarms of protesters, and the clusters of volunteer lawyers working pro bono to help, one thing is abundantly clear –this latest piece of legislation is spreading fear and chaos across the globe and it will take some time before there is an end to it.

California Gender Bill

California Gender BillWith tumultuous changes occurring politically and legally in the United States, California seems to be fighting to maintain a more Democratic stance in an increasingly Republican country. In a recent course of action, the state has proposed the bill SB 179, which would add the option of a third gender on legal government documents such as a driver’s license or a birth certificate. Essentially, the bill, proposed by senators Toni Atkins of San Diego and Scott Wiener of San Francisco, allows for a third gender on official documentation so that those who identify as non-binary would be able to state as such.

Furthermore, the proposed bill will streamline the process for any individual wishing to alter their stated gender on any legal documents –no longer requiring the written confirmation of a registered physician ensuring treatment of gender transition while also allowing those who are younger than 18 years of age to apply for a legal change of gender on their documentation. Instead, as stated in the official legislation, an individual seeking a change of gender on their birth certificate would submit an application to the State Registrar and undergo an affidavit attesting that they simply seek to match their official documentation with their gender identity and not acting for fraudulent purposes, under penalty of perjury. This is a triumph for the LGBTQ community and a beginning for greater rights for the Transgender, Intersex, and non-binary people of California. While there is no word yet on what the official non-binary marker will be on documents like a driver’s license, there is suggestion to use the letter ‘X’ alongside ‘M’ and ‘F’ for male and female, respectively, as is done in both Australia and New Zealand.

The proposal of this new bill that will aid in the removal of the numerous bureaucratic hurdles in place against transgender and non-binary individuals –contrasting majorly with states that continue to argue over the rights of transgender individuals to use public bathrooms, including student use of school bathrooms. Some would argue that, as everyone from police officers to the federal government rely on the accurate depiction of individuals on their driver’s license, that this bill puts the community at risk, allowing for people to exploit discrepancies between legal documents. However, Senator Wiener stated, “as the LGBT community — but especially the Trans community — is under assault in this country, California needs to go in the opposite direction and embrace the Trans community and support the Trans community and modernize these laws”. The response from the LGBTQ community has been positive: Jo Michael, an advocate with Equality California stated in an interview that “as a person who identifies as transgender and is non-binary, this piece of legislation is important to [him] on a personal level” and that “for the first time, Californians could have accurate gender markers that truly reflect who [they] are”.

While the bill was only proposed on January 24th, the attitude concerning it remains hopeful as California makes a more equitable stand for its residents.

Inability to Maintain Privacy in Sexual Assault Case

Judge Wendy Matheson, of the Ontario Superior Court, made the finding that the “deemed undertaking” was broken in a sexual assault case when two Toronto lawyers exchanged hundreds of papers of information relevant to the case. The complainant, a young woman, asserts that she was sexually assaulted by the defendant on two occasions, once in Waterloo, Ontario and once in Toronto. Furthermore, she is asking around 1.5 million in damages from both the defendant and the University of Youth Criminal Justice ActWaterloo for failing to have proper security systems in place to prevent the assault. While the defendant has so far been acquitted in Waterloo, the trial in Toronto has been adjourned to next month, although it is a wonder on how the court will proceed with the case now that there has been such a breach of information. The trial falls under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, as the complainant was less than 18 years of age at the time of these incidents, making this exchange of personal information even more serious.

Because of the nature of these documents (and the fact that they were shared without notice to the court, the woman or her legal counsel), the court and all legal representation involved must examine the possibility of impeachment, meaning the bringing into question of the use of these documents as evidence in the case, as per the Rules of Civil Procedure. According to Matheson, “The Rules of Civil Procedure have acknowledged that plaintiffs remain entitled to some measure of protection of their privacy and are entitled to limitations on the use of their discovery evidence outside the proceedings for which the discovery was compelled”, meaning that the passing of information with notifying the court, as was the case, violates not only the privacy of the individual but also make the information less likely to stand in a court of law. “The plaintiff/complainant’s documentary productions comprised hundreds of pages of documents. They include extensive private information,” stated Matheson in a ruling. The documents in question were later reported to contain medical records, counselling records, medical test results, photographs, and even academic records and grades of the complainant.

“The moving party argued strenuously that notice would defeat the possible impeachment in this case. I understand that the defendant would prefer the element of surprise,” continues Matheson’s ruling. “But even in the criminal context, the element of surprise is not available to the defendant/accused when seeking access to this type of record.” This means that because of the necessity for privacy for those who claim to be victims of sexual assault, the unauthorized distribution of information will for those involved to consider the breach of privacy first as the trial continues in February which will likely prove in favour of the plaintiff over the defendant.