Monday, March 16, 2015

This is LONG overdue: College Brass to be Sued Personally Over Date Rape Accusations

Banzhaf finally does something really useful

 The costs to schools of dealing with allegations of date rapes and other campus sexual assaults, which may have already topped 100 million dollars, could skyrocket under plans announced this morning to sue nor only colleges, but also key academic administrators, for violating the constitutional rights of accused students.

The plans – and an explanation about how and why conducting expulsion hearings which do not permit accused students to cross examine accusers and others violates their right to Due Process under the U.S. Constitution – were revealed by public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

The controversial professor, “The Man Behind the Ban on Cigarette Commercials,” and “a Driving Force Behind the Lawsuits That Have Cost Tobacco Companies Billions of Dollars,” has also been called an “Entrepreneur of Litigation, [and] a Trial Lawyer’s Trial Lawyer.”

That’s because he helped develop and popularize many novel legal theories in addition of those related to tobacco. These include victories against food companies over the issue of fat (“The Man Big Tobacco and Now Fast Food Love to Hate,” and the lawyer “Who’s Leading the Battle Against Big Fat”), a leading Supreme Court decision protecting the environment, several novel law suits attacking governmental corruption, and over 100 successful legal actions protecting women from sex discrimination.

On this basis he announced at a press conference this morning at the National Press Club that “nobody can accuse me of being anti-woman, a men’s-rightist, or even a diehard conservative or libertarian.”

According to Prof Banzhaf, state schools considering dismissal of students charged with date rape or other sexual assaults must provide them with Due Process by assuring them of various procedural protections, including the right to cross examine adverse witnesses.

These fundamental rights cannot be taken away or abridged by the university, by any federal agency, or even by Congress, because they grow out of a constitutional principle and formula established by the U.S. Supreme Court. Moreover, entities and individuals – such as college presidents – who violate these rights can be sued in federal court, not only for monetary damages, but also for attorney fees.

The Supreme Court rule and formula provides that when people face serious losses based upon the finding of specific individual facts – whether that’s a loss of benefits, or of a job, or the loss of student status – the entity making the decision must adopt any procedural protection likely to help prevent an unfair loss of the benefit, unless it’s too expensive or otherwise too burdensome to do so.

Thus, in date rape situations, where there’s often no other evidence but his word against her’s, the accused must be able to use what Wigmore famously called “the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth,” cross examination.

In other words, the right to be able to cross examine is most vital when the only two witnesses to an event tell diametrically opposed versions of the same event – which is typical in date rape cases.

For example, in a case known as Donahue v, Baker, 976 F.Supp. 136 (N.D. NY. 1997), a rape charge against a male student hinged solely on whether a female had consented to the act of sexual intercourse which both agreed had taken place.

The federal court held that the accused had a constitutional right to cross-examine the complainant because the only evidence that the act had not been consented to was her testimony, and the determination of guilt or innocence therefore rested solely on her credibility.

This fundamental principle has also been recognized by several federal courts of appeals.

For example, in Winnick v. Manning, 460 F.2d 545 (2d Cir. Conn. 1972), the court said: “if this case had resolved itself into a problem of credibility, cross examination of witnesses might have been essential to a fair hearing.”

This principles was echoed only a few years ago in Flaim v. Med. College of Ohio, 418 F.3d 629 (6th Cir. Ohio 2005) where the appellate judges quoted from exactly the same statement of the law.

Several lower federal courts have also reached the same conclusion.

It’s unfortunate but true that universities often react more quickly and effectively to legal and other pressures than to fairness, reason, or logic, says Banzhaf. For too long they failed to act decisively to complaints of rape because of pressure from coaches and big donors, and concerns about their reputations.

Then they overreacted to legal threats from the federal government to begin expelling students accused of rape, even if they has to scrap most procedures providing fairness, Banzhaf argues.

So, to help counter, or counterbalance, this pressure from the federal government, Banzhaf said he planned to work with others to put college president and other administrators on notice that they must begin providing students facing dismissal for date rape the fundamental procedural protections required by the Due Process clause of the United States Constitution, or face potential legal liability.

If they refuse, he plans to help attorneys representing the student to “SUE THE BASTARDS” – with law suits being brought not only against the school, but also its responsible administrators.

They must understand that being sued in one’s individual capacity is very unpleasant and taxing, even if the university promises to reimburse the administrator for any adverse judgments.

Being named as a defendant in a law suit can affect a person’s credit rating where the notation can remain for many years, regardless of the outcome of the litigation.

Many such individuals may also find it necessary to hire their own attorneys, not completely trusting that university lawyers will give their interests the same priority as their employer’s.

Finally, they may have to submit to pre-trial discovery.

So, to protect both their own interests, as well as the interests of their college or university, Banzhaf and his colleagues hope they will reexamine their institution’s procedures for deciding cases of date rape claims to be sure that they provide the accused with all the Due Process to which he is entitled.

Otherwise, like the tobacco companies and food companies and many others who believed they could never be held liable, they may be surprised when plaintiffs’ lawyers “Sue The Bastards.”


Lazy for a living: Why some millennials never need to work again

My grandparents were a part of the “greatest generation” and my parents’ generation ushered in the modern technological era, but it’s my generation—popularly referred to as the “Millennials”— that will bear the distinct mark of being the first group of Americans that never had to work, struggle, or strive to engage in any activities except those we personally enjoy.

Never before in human history has a group of people been given the astounding opportunities Millennials experience today. Many of us were born in the richest nation of the world, blessed with endless streams of knowledge thanks to the development of the Internet. We haven’t been drafted into a major world war, the vast majority of us have access to quality medical care, and more of us today are college educated than at any other time in America’s past.

But despite the numerous opportunities presented to Millennials, my generation also has the ability to choose to reject traditional nine-to-five work due to decades of policy changes and an unprecedented effort to redistribute American wealth. A savvy Millennial with a desire to avoid work at all costs can navigate the government’s bureaucracy, and without breaking a single law, can live the rest of his or her life without paying for anything.

“Of course you could live off of government services,” you’re thinking, “but who wants to live in a perpetual state of poverty?” That’s the insanity of the system. You no longer have to be poor to receive government services. All you need to do is go to graduate school.

When a student is enrolled in an undergraduate program, the student may only borrow a total of $31,000 for costs. The remainder of the costs must be paid by private student loans or by a parent’s federal student loans. If a student doesn’t have parents who are eligible to borrow, the federal government allows a student to borrow up to $57,500 for expenses.

Students are not required to pay any federal loans back while enrolled in school, and loans can be used to pay for living costs, including food, housing, and other necessary expenses.

The aggregate limits placed on federal undergraduate student loans prevent students from attending an undergraduate program forever, and most students’ parents are required to loan a portion of the expenses themselves, which also prevents endless borrowing by students.

All graduate students, however, are treated as though they are independent students, regardless of whether or not they still live with or rely on their parents. All graduate students are also eligible to borrow as much money as they need to cover a program’s “cost of attendance,” which includes money for necessary living expenses. Although each graduate program is responsible for determining how much loan money students are eligible to receive for living expenses, many programs allow students to borrow up to $20,000 per year on top of the cost of tuition and fees.

Because there are no set annual or aggregate borrowing limits for graduate students, they can continue to borrow loans from the federal government for as long as they want so long as they remain in some graduate school program. There are no limits to the number of graduate programs an individual can enroll in over a lifetime, and like federal undergraduate loans, graduate students do not have to pay their loans back until they are no longer enrolled at least half-time. This means graduate students are eligible to go to school forever without having to pay any of their own money.

While a student is enrolled and his or her loans are in deferment, which means the student is not required to make payments, interest continues to accrue. At some point, a student may want to leave school, and if the student has $500,000 of debt from 15 years of higher education, it would have been impossible in the past to survive without restructuring debt through the legal system. Fortunately for the lazy Millennial, the government has created loan repayment programs that make paying loans back easy or entirely unnecessary.

Federal income-based repayment plans, which are ordinarily only available to those with high levels of debt, allow students to make payments based on income. As a student earns more money, the payments get higher. If a student earns no money, however, the student is required to pay nothing.

This, of course, doesn’t mean debt disappears. Debt continues to accrue interest until it’s paid off, so surely this means a student will eventually have to pay back the loans, right? Wrong.

Any student’s federal graduate school loans, as well as qualifying federal undergraduate loans, are forgiven after 25 years of being in repayment, even if a student is using a federal income-based repayment plan and has never actually paid a dollar towards his or her education.

Meanwhile, an individual remains eligible for all other government services, including food stamps, free government cell phones, and Medicaid, even if a student is loaning out $20,000 per year or more for living expenses while enrolled in graduate school.

Loopholes like this one is just one example of many ways Millennials are able to live off of government services without actually having to deal with many of the problems normally associated with poverty. Programs like those mentioned above are well-intentioned, but the end result could be billions of wasted dollars that never get repaid and a 2008-like economic crash sparked by a popping student loan bubble.

It’s time to wake up America.


West Virginia House Passes Common Core Repeal Bill

The West Virginia House of Delegates voted to repeal Common Core standards on February 28, passing a repeal bill by a 74-19 vote.

“‘We can do better’ [than Common Core] is a constant refrain from parents, teachers, and legislators,” said Jim Shaffer, executive director of the Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia.

Shaffer said many West Virginians who oppose Common Core feel ignored by the state Department of Education.

“There's a real sense that the Department of Education in West Virginia is not listening,” he said. “West Virginia should exceed Common Core. We reject the idea of federal standards.”

Brittany Corona, a domestic policy researcher at The Heritage Foundation, said the bill also reflects pushback against the testing regimes developed by Common Core-aligned testing companies such as Smarter Balanced.

“Those are really the tentacles that are strapping in a lot of states right now,” Corona said of the testing consortia aligned with Common Core.

“This is the latest of many different measures of pushback across the nation,” Corona said. “It's ultimately parents and local leadership that are pushing back against Common Core. Every child is unique and has their own needs. The people who best understand those needs are those closest to the students, namely parents and local leadership.

State Senate Education Committee Chairman Dave Sypolt (R-Preston) sent a corresponding bill to a subcommittee. The subcommittee will study the bill and report to the full committee in the near future.

“Common Core is not something that came out of nowhere,” Corona said. “It is largely an extension of the same flawed logic we've seen since the '60s. It's further centralization of education. Two of the bigger and more beautiful things about the pushback against Common Core is that it is mostly parent-driven and is allowing states to be innovators in their own right. They are coming up with their own ways to push back, whether by executive order as in Louisiana or a legislative measure like in West Virginia.”


My public school had a real social mix, but now only the mega-rich can afford the fees

UKIP leader Nigel Farage reports from Britain:

As I neared the end of my time in the early 1980s at Dulwich College, the south London public school, I was told by my Careers’ Master that I should aim for a job as an auctioneer.

J. G. Dewes – a former English cricketer who opened the batting for Middlesex in 1947 and for England against Australia in 1951 – must have spotted that I was quite ballsy, probably good on a platform, unafraid of the limelight, a bit noisy and good at selling things. All of those traits were identified, nurtured and promoted at Dulwich College. I owe that school an enormous debt.

It looked and felt like one of the great classical public-school institutions such as Westminster School or Eton College. But Dulwich was different. During the 1940s, under a Labour government, the college began a scheme called 'the Dulwich Experiment’.

The scheme was devised to educate able children from poor backgrounds, where their school fees would be met by the local authorities. My first impression of the Dulwich Experiment hit me in my first full year at the school in 1975. The social mix was quite extraordinary. There were boys like me – white, middle-class, whose fathers worked in the City – but there was also a huge number of boys who had won scholarships and bursaries covered by the local authorities.

It wasn’t just the ethnic mix. Because Dulwich is a south London school with very few boarders, unlike most public schools, it attracted boys from all over London and parts of the south-east.

I remember my first class quite vividly. Sitting on one side of me was the son of the chief executive of a global company, who was enormously rich. They had a huge house in Farnborough Park in Kent, with staff. On the other side of me was a boy who would become a good friend and whose father was a coal merchant in Penge, also in south-east London.

Exactly twenty-five years after me, my eldest son went there. It was in many ways even better for him. The quality of the teaching was much higher – in my day a number of the teachers were terribly good old chaps and they had had a good war, but were hardly cutting-edge teachers.

There is another vital difference. When my son was there, the social mix was entirely different from my day. When Sam reached the sixth form, he was the boy who came from the poorest family by far. When I was at Dulwich, rich families had holiday homes in Salcombe or Cornwall. When Sam was there, rich families had holiday homes with yachts in St Lucia. The change reflected how the professional rich – the lawyers, fund managers and accountants – had become massively, massively richer over the last twenty-five years.

And there was no boy in Sam’s year whose father was a coal merchant in Penge because successive governments, after I left, began to take away the local authority grants to pay for able, poor kids to go to Dulwich. The college did try to build its scholarship system up, but could not get the numbers to the previous scale because of the cost. In reality, Dulwich just could not match the sheer volume of money that was coming from the government. Now, the government spends the same amount of money to send kids to schools where they achieve far less of their true potential.

The grants system started to go under the Tories but Labour did nothing to fight for it either. What I see in the comparative experiences of the school for me and Sam, I see replicated in what happened to British society over the last twenty-five years – a shocking widening of the class system, where the rich have got a lot richer and the poor are robbed of opportunity to attain their best. As a country we are underselling ourselves.

Dulwich also taught me how to mix with people. I can genuinely go up to anyone and have a conversation with them regardless of their background. To be fair, the City also helped with that. I look at other politicians and see how awkward they are around people they don’t know. The likes of Cameron and Clegg have only ever mixed with a very narrow social stratum of society. I think that is also why people find it difficult to pinhole me – am I posh or not? They just don’t know.

Having the benefit of a Dulwich schooling really helped form my views on education. Getting rid of the grammar school system was a wicked thing to do; selective schools help kids from poor backgrounds achieve higher levels of attainment. For decades, the grammar school was one of the most effective vehicles of getting poor children out of poverty and making something of themselves.

The lack of a state system of selective schools has created a terrible apartheid of those given opportunity and those who only get opportunities if they are extremely lucky.

I remember visiting Dulwich just after the 2010 European elections. My old headmaster – David Emms – was there. He had long taken the view when I was at school that I was bloody-minded and difficult. He always saw that I was a wind-up merchant and wrote in my leavers’ report that the school would never be quite the same without me, in an 'upside-down sort of way’.

But he also told me often that he had tremendous confidence in me. That day, visiting the school twenty-five years later, he told me he had voted for me in the 2010 European elections. That meant a lot.


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