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Pizza, Parking, & Police:
A Story of Crusty Corruption

Pizza For Parking

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Pizza is one of the most universally enjoyed dishes and a food most people won’t turn down. An alleged story about the temptation to eat the baked dough topped with delicious proteins, cheeses and veggies ended up costing four officers their jobs.

Jeff Clegg is one of the officers who was fired.  Clegg claimed that employees of a pizza shop would park illegally and place menus visibly in their car window.  When a parking enforcement officer saw the menu, they were not to write a ticket.  If a parking ticket did happen to be issued, it was usually voided.

Clegg’s allegations also say that the officers didn’t write tickets to the employees for over two years because of the deal.  Apparently the parking enforcers would frequent the pizza shop so often that they were on a first name basis with the workers.  Some of the officers would even enter through the back and just grab their own meal!

The officers were in a situation where they could have issued 3 tickets a day to the pizza parlor’s problematic parkers, with each ticket having a fine of $25.  At first, $25 per ticket may not seem like that large of an amount.  Over the course of 2 years however, $75 in parking tickets each day would have amounted to over $19,000 in missed fines!

Following an investigation by a city official who’d heard about Clegg’s allegations about the parking-for-pizza scheme, Clegg and three other officers were fired.  Shortly after that happened, the pizza restaurant’s owner complained directly to the city in person about how upset he was about the officers being fired.  At the same time though, he denied that there was ever a free meal deal happening.

A second investigation was launched by a police agency, but no charges ended up being filed against the pizza parlor’s staff nor the 4 officers that had lost their jobs.

 

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Questions:

1) Keeping in mind that this deal could have cost the city up to $19,000 in missed fines, if charges had ended up being filed as a result of the investigations, what laws would the enforcement officers have been accused of breaking and what penalties might they face?

2) Keeping in mind that this deal could have cost the city up to $19,000 in missed fines, , what charges could be brought against the pizza restaurant owner, and what penalties might he be dealt?

3) Suppose the allegations were eventually proven to not be true though: Could the officers take action against the city for being fired over false accusations?   If you think they could, explain how you think the officers would benefit from suing the city – what would they get out of it?   If you don’t think they could, explain what makes you think they’re prevented from filing a case against their employers.


Be sure to provide full explanations for your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:
http://kutv.com/news/local/slc-parking-enforcement-officers-fired-for-taking-kickbacks-for-not-writing-tickets

Contributed by – J. Plummer

 

WHAT?!  IS?!  MEAT?!
Missouri Says Animal Flesh; Others Disagree

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When it comes to meat products, this is a major market within the United States. Not Counting Lady Gaga wearing a slab of red meats, Americans on average consume over 100 pounds of meat per year. But, what does meat have to do with law?

On August 29th, 2018, a Missouri law was passed to require that only products that come from slaughterhouses, once-breathing animals can be marketed as meat. Specifically, the law labels meat as something that is harvest from production livestock or poultry. The law is intended to inform the public on what exactly is in the product.

For instance, in cases in which plant-based products (soy, eggplant, etc.) are made into burgers, they cannot be labeled as such since they did not come from a slaughterhouse and were not “once-breathing animals.”

A similar bill is currently being reviewed within the Senate. The US Department of Agriculture is considering to establish beef and meat labeling requirements and to exclude products not derived directly from animals raised and slaughtered from the definition of “beef” and “meat”.

The reason for this law, on a federal level, is to better inform consumers and there are no labeling requirements currently for labeling beef or meat. The major concern is from a non-profit corporation from Montana called the “United States Cattlemen’s Association” and are concerned with the ‘synthetic products’ being introduced into the market and being marketed as ‘beef’.

The controversy over this case comes from people who consider plant-based products as ‘meaty’ or ‘soy roast beef’. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit say that this categorizing infringes on the First Amendment rights and prevents the clear and accurate labeling of plant-based and clean meat products. The plaintiffs claim that this is a way for them to stifle plant-based meats in grocery stores.

A similar lawsuit was filed in Florida. A state law required milk product to be labeled as “skim milk” only if it had the same level of Vitamin A as whole milk. Dairy farmers begged to differ and sued, saying that their product was skim milk and should be deemed as such. Ultimately, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in the dairy farmer’s favor since the farm’s “use of the words ‘skim milk’ to describe its skim milk is not inherently misleading.”

 

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Questions:

1) What does the US Department of Agriculture do?

2) How do you feel the First Amendment does or does not apply to this case?

3) Should plant-based products be allowed to use the word ‘meat’ in their name, and why do you feel that way?

4) Missouri limiting what can be labeled as ‘meat’ is not the only example of ‘restricted speech’ on food products.  Either Federally and nationally, or even just in a single state, list one other example of food having law-based requirements about how it can be named and labeled (or alternatively, one kind of food label that has NO legal requirements, even though you think it should have some!)     

Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:

https://www.npr.org/2018/08/29/642937901/whats-meat-anyway-missouri-label-law-says-it-comes-from-an-animal-some-disagree?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20180829

http://www.uscattlemen.org/Templates/pdfs_USCA/2018-PDFs/2-9-18USCA-AMS-Petition-re-definition-of-beef-and-meat.pdf

Contributed by – J. Pennington

#Tagged #TaggedWithMeat

The Case Of the Missing Thumb

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A 2,000-year-old terracotta warrior from China had one of its thumbs stolen while in an American museum. The suspected thief was caught on camera sneaking into the warrior’s exhibit, taking a selfie with the statue, and then breaking off its thumb.  The camera then caught him pocketing the terracotta thumb and taking it.

Not important but also interesting:  the thief burgled the museum during an ugly0-sweater party being held there!

On the way home from the party, a suspect named Michael Rohana bragged to his friends about successfully stealing part of a warrior. A month later the FBI went to his house and questioned him which lead to the return of the missing thumb. As a result he was charged with multiple crimes including “concealment of an object of cultural heritage stolen from a museum” (meaning that he knew the thumb was stolen from the museum yet he kept it like it was his own belonging.)

The warrior statues were discovered by a Chinese farmer in 1974 but originally date all the way back to 209 BC.  Sculptures like the one that had its thumb stolen were created in order to protect the tomb of China’s first emperor. At the time of the theft, the statue was worth $4.5 million. Additionally China has to send two experts to the United States to try and repair the thumb.

Chinese officials and citizens are upset at both the museum and the United States for the lack of security for the sculptures and for failing to protect the warrior from harm. Users of China’s Facebook-like service Weibo left critical comments about the incident, including one user who noted that the warriors “are kept far away from the public” (in China) and asked “How come the sculptures in Philadelphia are not displayed inside glass cases?”

The man – Michael Rohana – made a quick decision to mess with the terracotta warrior’s display to try and impress his friends.  Now he has to face consequences starting with going to court, though he’s likely to face much worse than that!

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Questions:

1) Given the fact that the damaged item was originally worth $4.5 million and that the thumb portion of it was taken illegally, what are the lowest criminal charges or consequences the suspect can face (if they were charged in Nevada)?

2) The artifact was being borrowed while it was damaged.  If China decides to take action against the US, what court would the case be taken to (China’s? American Federal Court? An American State Court?)  and what charges could the US government face, if any?  If not the government, who would end up in court and why would it be a criminal or civil case (pick one or the other and explain why you chose that way)? 

3) Everyone know of someone (maybe even themselves) who’ve just done what the thumb-thief did: failed to think about the consequences and just quickly acted on an impulse.  What is something you saw – or even did – that could have resulted in a lot of big trouble all because you or that person you saw just didn’t stop to think, and then act?  What could the consequences have been?


Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:
https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/19/us/terracotta-warrior-thumb/index.html

Contributed by  – J. Plummer

Red is the new Black

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Fashion designers often have a unique distinction on their products- a look or style that they are known for- and Christian Louboutin (pronounced LOU-EEE-BOO-TAWWWWN)  is no exception. For over 25 years Louboutin has made the bottoms of his fancy dress shoes an unmistakable vivid red.  Now there is question of whether or not he can trademark the color. His company had even trademarked “the color red (Pantone 18 1663TP) applied to the sole of a shoe” (like the shoes in the picture above).

In 2012, his company filed a lawsuit against Dutch company Van Haren that had started selling high heels with red soles similar to his. Louboutin filed the lawsuit claiming that the shoes “infringed on his brand’s trademark for footwear”,   (meaning the red soles on fancy dress shoes).

The other company (Van Hare) was forced to stop selling their red-soled shoes after Louboutin sued them for trademark infringement.  However the brand’s lawyers weren’t having it, and fought the case until it reached the European Court of Justice (meaning the case was heard by several lower courts first).

Under European Union law, shapes typically cannot be trademarked (so the design of a shoe might not be able to be legally protected, but a specific logo of a company still could be).  According to a court official, Louboutin’s red soles are part of a shape (and not something like a logo).  Because of the rules about shapes, his request for trademark protection could be refused.

Fashion designers fighting over colors in court might seem very European, but America has seen its share of legal battles over colors too!  For example, in 2014 the United States Federal Court decided that AT&T was no longer allowed to use certain shades of pink after a lawsuit with T-Mobile.

AT&T had come out with a new service called Aio wireless that used a shade of plum in all of its advertising.  While it wasn’t the exact same color as T-Mobile’s better-known magenta, it was close enough for a lawsuit to be filed  by T-Mobile (and won).

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Questions:

1) No matter how the court case turned out, why should Louboutin be able or unable to trademark soles of shoes with a specific shade of red?  

2) What if Nike made a sweet pair of red-soled running kicks: Should Louboutin be able to sue Nike if they did that – why or why not?

3) After considering & answering #2’s question about Nike shoes, answer this: What if Nike released  a pair of red-soled running kicks and called them “Louie’s Batons” – as a way of saying Louboutin is wrong: almost like a protest to the lawsuit in Europe.  If they did that, why should they be allowed or not be allowed to sell the shoe in those circumstances?  


Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/06/business/christian-louboutin-shoes-red-trademark.html

Contributed by  – J. Plummer

 

 

Welcome to Volcano Land:
Your New Home (Maybe?)!

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Hawaii is known for a number of landscapes like beautiful beaches and volcanoes (including three active ones!) With one currently erupting there is a great chance that lava could reach the ocean. When it reaches the sea, the lava cools down and hardens creating more land called lava extensions.

This geological event leads us to a pretty interesting legal question: Since it was created by a natural event, who exactly owns this new land? Before we look for an answer, let’s get some background on where this debate began:

In 1955 a volcano called Kilauea erupted and created over 7.9 acres of new land. A local family purchased previously-existing land next to where the lava extension had formed. The new owners assumed that they had full rights to the recently created parts, and not just the initial land they purchased.   They even paid property taxes and planted trees on it!

Following an eruption in the same area in 1960, the issue of who the land really belonged to ended up being taken to court.   Hawaii’s State Supreme Court ended up ordering the land owners to leave the lava-extension, and then issued the land-rights for the lava extension to the state.

The court ruled that the land created by the volcanic activity was for the “use and enjoyment of all the people”; instead of only allowing one family or person to use the land as they please, everyone gets to use it!.

Since the court ruling established that land created by lava belongs to the state, that meant that all of the land created by Kilauea’s eruption in 1955 belongs to the state of Hawaii. As a result, it was not just the one family and their bit of land that was affected by the court case’s outcome.


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Questions:

1)  Do you feel like the court ruled the right way?  In other words,  should a person who lives near lava-created land have the first chance to purchase it from the state before the government can decide to do something else with the new property?  Would your opinion change if person wanting to purchase the lava-extended land lived in a house 20 feet away?  Would it matter how long they’d been there – say….6 months….or 20 years?

2) In consideration of the questions brought up in number 1 above, tell us why you think the court ruling is or is not good enough, and why there should or should not be specific-laws be created to manage lava extensions in Hawaii ?   Just for context (there is no right or wrong answer, so this isn’t a hint): There is A LOT of volcanic activity near Hawaii.  It doesn’t always create land, but it could.  How that fact influences your answer is up to you!

3)  What about the government though?  Hawaii’s State Supreme Court ruled the land was created for the “use and enjoyment of all the people”.  Based on the wording of the court ruling, should the government be allowed to sell the new land to a business or individual, or should it be forced to use the land for a park, community center, or something along those lines?  Tell us what you think and why you feel that way.

Be sure to provide full explanations for your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:
https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/ywen3y/who-owns-the-new-land-created-by-a-volcano-in-hawaii-kilauea-big-island

 

Contributed by – J. Plummer

ATM Stolen From Courthouse:
Criminals Cash Out on The Law!

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Thieves in one Texas community attempted to steal courthouse ATMs three times in just one week!  During the third attempt, thieves used a stolen pickup truck to smash the back door of the courthouse, attached some sort of strap to the ATM and dragged the machine out of the building.

It is unknown if the suspects who stole the ATM on the third attempt were behind the previous two incidents, but the timing is certainly suspicious.  Whether they were the same people or different ones, the people behind each of those incidents will face serious consequences once they are caught!

If the thieves had taken the time to think about their actions or if they’d been fortunate enough to know some basic things about the law, they’d realize the risks that come with getting caught involved with these heists are ridiculous!

Very few criminal charges result in a trial for the defendant.  That means the accused rarely has a chance of being acquitted (being declared ‘not guilty’ of the crime he or she has been charged with).   That’s because trials are expensive and don’t guarantee an outcome.  Most of the time, lawyers for both sides will negotiate a deal to avoid a trial and to guarantee they get the best outcome they could hope for if things did not go their way in court.  In criminal cases, a lot of time that can mean the person being charged still ends up going to prison, they just go for less time than they would if they had been found guilty in a trial.

One of the tools a prosecutor has to motivate defense teams to negotiate is their ability to ‘stack charges’.  In the ATM story, you might think “Ok, the thieves will be charged with stealing the ATM”.  It’s not that simple though!

Consider all these things that we already know about the ATM theft incidents:

– The thieves stole a truck to use for the ATM theft

– The thieves used a stolen truck to commit the ATM theft

– The thieves were trespassing in the courthouse after hours

– The thieves broke into a property

– The thieves damaged a property

– The thieves broke into a courthouse, which may interfere with courthouse proceedings

– The thieves damaged a courthouse which may interfere with courthouse proceedings

– The thieves used a vehicle to intentionally damage a courthouse

– The thieves stole the court’s property

– The thieves stole an item worth thousands of dollars

– The thieves stole an ATM, which can also be considered a form of bank robbery

– The thieves may have spent the money in the ATM

Those aren’t just 12 facts about the case – they are 12 possible charges that could be filed against a person for one criminal incident. That means the person would be charged with 12 crimes from the one event!  That also means the defendant would face 12 different punishments if they were found guilty of each charge!

Don’t forget: Thieves had attempted to steal ATM’s from courthouses in the area 3 times that week!  If someone was convicted on all of the charges for just one of those incidents, an angry judge could sentence them to spend what would likely be the rest of their lives in prison.  If they were found guilty of all the crimes related to all 3 ATM incidents that week,  things might be even worse for them!

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Questions:

1: What is the minimum punishment a person could receive from the state if they were found guilty of all 12 charges for one incident, if it happened in Nevada?

2: What is the maximum punishment a person could receive from the state if they were found guilty of all 12 charges for one incident, if it happened in Nevada?

3: What is the maximum punishment a person could receive from the state if they were found guilty of all 12 charges for all three ATM incidents, if they happened in Nevada?

4: What federal laws were broken by the ATM thieves, and what is the maximum federal punishment they could receive?

5: If the thieves were caught and found guilty of all charges related to the final robbery in Nevada’s state court, and then they were found guilty of all the possible federal charges in Federal Court, what is the maximum penalty they would face?

Be sure to provide full explanations for your answers.  For more details, you can read the articles this piece was sourced from here:
http://abc7chicago.com/thieves-target-texas-courthouse-atm-for-3rd-time-in-a-week/3365855/

Contributed By- J. Plummer

‘Your Government’ Sent You a Follow Request.
Do You Accept?

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China’s government has begun to implement a system that ranks its population with a score based on their ‘social credit’.

The Chinese social credit score is similar to a financial credit score – it moves up or down depending on the behavior of the person being scored. The program is already being piloted for millions of Chinese citizens, and China’s government hopes the system will be in place for all of its citizens by 2020.  The program was first announced in 2014.  According to a government document, the system is meant to support the national ideal that “keeping trust is glorious and breaking trust is disgraceful.”

Any number of actions can impact a person’s social credit score in China’s program like trying to ride a train without a ticket, smoking in a non-smoking area, lingering in public spaces without explanation.  Those are all reasons someone’s social score might be lowered, and they may seem reasonable – but there are other reasons that seem more troubling.

Whether someone buys unnecessary items, the amount of time they spend playing video games, what they post on social media, and if they spread what the government deems to be fake news are also sources of social score point reductions.

If you’re not already familiar with the Chinese Government’s definition of ‘fake news’, Google ‘China Government Tiananmen Square State News’, find a reliable source to learn from, and read an article or two about it.  Then, think about their social scoring system again. (Spoiler Alert: If the Chinese government doesn’t like a story, they just delete it and can arrest the person who wrote it)

Refusing military service can also have a negative effect on your score.

If someone happens to get a bad social credit score, they could face barriers such as restricted travel. Meaning if your score is low enough you could be prevented from buying domestic flight tickets and business-class train tickets. You could also be barred from enrolling in higher education, unable to continue your studies and may not be able to enroll your kids in private schools.

Think about that: If you’re a straight A student that plays a lot of video games, you could be barred from enrolling in higher education because of how much you enjoy gaming – despite your good grades!

Having a good social credit score can also provide rewards like speeding up travel applications, receiving discounts on energy bills and even getting more matches on dating websites! Some citizens in China claim that the system has already made people’s behaviors improve.

 

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Questions:

1)  If a system like China’s ‘social credit score’ program were to be implemented in America by the US Government, how would the program violate or not violate American citizen’s constitutional rights?  

2) Constitutional rights aside, why would you want to live or not live in a country with a social scoring system?  

3)  If you were forced to live in a country with a social scoring system, what protections would you put in place to make sure everyone was treated fairly by the system?  For example: If someone proposed points should be awarded to people that participating in sports, would that be fair to a quadriplegic? Should quadriplegics get bonus points? Is that fair for people that just don’t like sports?   This sounds challenging, but in the context of the questions above, pretend that somehow the system could be made to be fair: what are the first 3 steps you would take?

Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:
http://www.businessinsider.com/china-social-credit-system-punishments-and-rewards-explained-2018-4 and here: www.wired.co.uk/article/china-social-credit

 

Contributed by- J. Plummer




Thank you for letting us watch the civil case!  It was cool because it was a real case and not one played out. I had a lot of fun watching the other kids act out a session.  Thank you for your time.

- Kaylie [Hewetson Elementary - Grade 5]

Project Real
2020-12-11T20:39:35+00:00
Thank you for letting us watch the civil case!  It was cool because it was a real case and not one played out. I had a lot of fun watching the other kids act out a session.  Thank you for your time. - Kaylie [Hewetson Elementary - Grade 5]

My favorite part of the fieldtrip to the courthouse is when I got to play the part of Ron. I got to go on the witness chair and speaking. I helped Potter to be not guilty. Thank you for the great opportunity.


- Johnathan M  [Harmon Elementary - Grade 4]
Project Real
2020-12-16T21:47:04+00:00
My favorite part of the fieldtrip to the courthouse is when I got to play the part of Ron. I got to go on the witness chair and speaking. I helped Potter to be not guilty. Thank you for the great opportunity. - Johnathan M  [Harmon Elementary - Grade 4]

Thank you for letting us experience court for the first time.  It was the best experience ever, thank you for everything. You really made me think about being a judge. Thank you


-Mina L [ Twitchell Elementary - Grade 5]

Project Real
2020-12-16T22:04:09+00:00
Thank you for letting us experience court for the first time.  It was the best experience ever, thank you for everything. You really made me think about being a judge. Thank you -Mina L [ Twitchell Elementary - Grade 5]
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