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Legal System

Grocery Workers File Union Democracy Lawsuit

Members seeking to transform the United Food and Commercial Workers have added a new weapon to their arsenal: legal action. Grocery workers Kyong Barry (Local 3000 in Washington) and Iris Scott (Local 1459 in Massachusetts) sued the UFCW April 19 over the undemocratic representation of members at the UFCW Convention, which takes place every five years. There are several charges, but the crux of the lawsuit is that delegates are apportioned across locals in such a way as to deny members equal voice. A favorable ruling would enable reformers in other unions to sue on the same basis. The UFCW is the fifth-largest union in the U.S. after the NEA, SEIU, AFSCME, and the Teamsters.

Corporate Social Responsibility Leader Convicted Of Funding Death Squads

In a landmark legal case, Chiquita Banana was convicted by a federal court in Florida of funding a paramilitary death squad, the United Self Defense Force of Colombia (AUC in Spanish), in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The AUC murdered thousands of workers and used Chiquita ports and boats to move cocaine and weapons. This is the first time a US corporation has been held accountable for committing human rights abuses in another country. Clearing the FOG spoke with Professor Terry Karl, who was an expert in the case, about what happened, how Chiquita will now work to cover up its misdeeds and the impact this case will have.

CUNY Encampment Felony Charges Could Set A Dangerous Precedent

Earlier this month, the Manhattan district attorney’s office dropped felony charges against nine pro-Palestinian protesters arrested at City College’s encampment on the fateful police raid orchestrated on April 30. Thirteen protestors, however, could still serve felonies, including up to nine years of jail. While organizers have faced legal threats nationally, CUNY students — who, in addition to being predominantly POC and working class, are consistently some of the most militant student intifada members — have been hit with the highest charges. This sends a message: when it comes to Zionist repression, the most vulnerable and most radical students will be the first to go. But the consequences of the CUNY 22 trial extend far beyond CUNY.

Judge Orders Railway To Pay Washington Tribe For Trespassing

Seattle, WA — BNSF Railway must pay nearly $400 million to a Native American tribe in Washington state, a federal judge ordered Monday after finding that the company intentionally trespassed when it repeatedly ran 100-car trains carrying crude oil across the tribe’s reservation. U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik initially ruled last year that the railway deliberately violated the terms of a 1991 easement with the Swinomish Tribe north of Seattle that allows trains to carry no more than 25 cars per day. The judge held a trial earlier this month to determine how much in profits BNSF made through trespassing from 2012 to 2021 and how much it should be required to disgorge.

Report: Climate Lawsuits Against Polluting Companies Are Increasing

A new report has found that climate lawsuits being filed against companies are on the rise all over the world, and most of them have been successful. The report by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) — Global trends in climate change litigation: 2024 snapshot — said that roughly 230 climate cases have been brought against trade associations and corporations since 2015, more than two-thirds of which have been filed since 2020. “Climate litigation… has become an undeniably significant trend in how stakeholders are seeking to advance climate action and accountability,” said Andy Raine.

Assange: I Broke The Law But The Law Is Wrong

Before Federal Judge Ramona Manglona on Wednesday at the court in Saipan, capital of the Northern Marianas, Assange pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to obtain defense information, a violation of the U.S. Espionage Act. “With this pronouncement, it appears that you will be able to walk out of this courtroom a free man,” the judge said. According to an account by Dow Jones news service in The Australian, Mangola asked Assange what he had done to violate the law. “Working as a journalist, I encouraged my source to provide information that was said to be classified,” Assange replied. “I believed the First Amendment protected that activity, but I accept that it was a violation of the espionage statute.”

Media Claims Of Hezbollah Weapons At Beirut Airport Trigger Lawsuit

On Sunday, The Telegraph published an article alleging that whistleblowers had informed them that Hezbollah was storing a range of missiles and explosives at the Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut, Lebanon. The report attempted to link this claim to the catastrophic Beirut Port explosion in 2020. However, the British media outlet has since retracted the original article and replaced it with another piece that covers Lebanese refutations of the allegations. An article published by The Telegraph, claiming it had acquired knowledge from unnamed sources about the presence of Iranian-made weapons being stored at Beirut’s International Airport, has triggered a lawsuit from Lebanon against the British media outlet.

Julian Assange Is Finally Free

Julian Assange has agreed to a plea deal with the United States. He left Belmarsh on Monday and is headed to Australia, WikiLeaks said. “He was granted bail by the High Court in London and was released at Stansted airport during the afternoon, where he boarded a plane and departed the UK,” WikiLeaks said in a tweet early Tuesday morning London time. Stella Assange, tweeted: “Julian is free!!!! Words cannot express our immense gratitude to YOU- yes YOU, who have all mobilised for years and years to make this come true. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.” Assange was released as a result of a plea deal with the United States, the BBC reported.

Veteran’s Trial To Highlight BAE Systems Inc. Complicity In Genocide

Endicott, NY – On Wednesday, June 26, 2 pm, in Endicott Village Court, 225 Jefferson Avenue, Jack Gilroy, an 89-year-old former machine gunner in occupied Austria, will tell the court why he was compelled to deliver a letter to weapons manufacturer, BAE Systems, and should not be convicted of trespass. Gilroy, a member of Veterans For Peace (VFP), will testify that he has written letters to public officials, given talks, voted for antiwar candidates and signed petitions, but the genocide continued, prompting him to try to meet directly with BAE Systems management to implore them to stop. “This case is not about trespass," Gilroy said.

Julian Assange Is Free, But Government Still Abused The Espionage Act

Defending Rights & Dissent welcomes the news that Julian Assange will go free for the first time in over a decade. For over five years, Assange has been confined to Belmarsh Prison in London, as he contested his extradition to the US. Prior to that, Assange spent seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy under what a United Nations Work Group deemed to be arbitrary detention.  On Monday, it was announced that Assange had filed a guilty plea in the US District of Northern Mariana Islands. Assange, who faced 17 counts under the Espionage Act and one count of conspiracy to violate the Computer Fraud And Abuse Act, pled guilty to single count of conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defense Information in violation of the Espionage Act.

Activists Win Landmark Ruling Over United Kingdom Oil Well Plan

Planning authorities should have considered the impact of climate-warming emissions in approving an oil well near Gatwick Airport, the UK's highest court says, a ruling activists say could profoundly affect new fossil fuel projects in Britain. Environmental campaigners had argued that planning permission to retain and expand the oil well site near London's Gatwick was flawed because it had not considered the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from the use of the oil. Supreme Court judges agreed by a narrow three to two majority, and quashed the planning approval which they said was unlawful.

Call For Action By Journalists Against Gag Rules After Key Legal Win

The Society of Professional Journalists is issuing a call to action for journalists to fight government restrictions on employee speech rights following what is believed to be the first time a journalist has won a legal settlement against gag rules on workers in public agencies. The settlement came in a suit brought by investigative reporter Brittany Hailer against the Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh for its rules prohibiting employees from speaking to the press or posting information on social media. After rounds of negotiations with Hailer’s attorneys, the county agreed in April that its employees and contractors “have constitutional rights to speak on matters of public concern when acting as private citizens and not purporting to represent the view of the [Allegheny County Bureau of Corrections].”

Webinar: Hands Off Uhuru ! Drop The Charges On The Uhuru 3!

"The Uhuru 3 are Omali Yeshitela, Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP); Penny Hess, Chair of the African People’s Solidarity Committee (APSC); and Jesse Nevel, Chair of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement (USM). In April 2023, the Uhuru 3 were indicted by the US Govt on bogus charges of being “agents of a foreign government” because of the Uhuru Movement’s over 50 years of work to advocate for the liberation and unification of Africa and forcibly dispersed African people everywhere. "The charges levied on the Uhuru 3 came nine months after the FBI and local police violently raided seven homes and properties of the APSP and Uhuru Movement in St. Louis, MO and St. Petersburg, FL on July 29, 2022.

A Jury Ignored A Judge And Stopped Climate Protesters Being Convicted

A jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court has resisted a judge’s invitation to convict six medical professionals, charged with ‘criminal damage’, after they broke windows at JP Morgan in July 2022, on the eve of the UK’s record-breaking climate crisis-induced heatwave. Despite more than two days of deliberations and the judge’s direction that they had no legal defence, the jury were unable to agree on a verdict. Just before lunch on Friday 14 June, the jury asked the judge whether a medical emergency could be a lawful excuse, by inference rejecting the prosecutor’s position that the action concerned not objective reality, but ‘political opinion and belief’. The judge told them that in this case it was no defence.

Judges Named For Assange Appeal

The judges in Julian Assange’s two-day appeal hearing on July 9-10 are the same who granted Assange a rare victory last month:  his right to appeal the Home Office’s extradition order to the United States. Justices Jeremy Johnson and Victoria Sharp granted Assange the right to appeal on only two of nine requested grounds, but they are significant: 1) his extradition was incompatible with his free speech rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights; and 2) that he might be prejudiced because of his nationality (not being given 1st Amendment protection as a non-American).
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