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Mississippi's governor and attorney general will have to decide whether to challenge a federal appeals court ruling that is keeping the state's only abortion clinic in business.

A panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 Tuesday to block a 2012 Mississippi law that requires abortion doctors to obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

When Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed the law, he said he hoped it would end abortion in the state. In defending the law, state attorneys said women with unwanted pregnancies could always travel to other states. But the appellate judges ruled that every state must guarantee constitutional rights, including abortion.

Bryant, in a statement late Tuesday, said he was disappointed by the court's ruling.

"This measure is designed to protect the health and safety of women who undergo this potentially dangerous procedure, and physicians who provide abortions should be held to the same standards as physicians who perform other outpatient procedures," Bryant said.


Calif. meets first inmate target set by court

  Civil Rights  -   POSTED: 2012/01/04 03:24

California has met the first target set by federal courts to reduce its inmate population as a way to improve health care in the nation's largest state prison system, prison officials said Tuesday.

Federal judges ordered the state to reduce the population by about 10,000 inmates by the end of 2011, to about 133,000 inmates, as a means to improve the care of mentally and physically ill inmates. The population in the 33 prisons for adults fell to 132,887 as of last week's court-imposed deadline.

"Based on that number, we have met the benchmark," said Jeffrey Callison, spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. "It's gratifying to see that we have in fact made it."

The state is reducing its population mainly through a new law transferring responsibility for lower level criminals from state prisons to county jails.

The population is now two-tenths of a percentage point under the goal required by the courts. It means the state is on track to reduce the state's inmate population by 33,000, or 23 percent, over two years.

"Headline Civil Rights News" Series

  Civil Rights  -   POSTED: 2009/02/21 08:36

Justice for Women Stalked in the Workplace and Retaliation by Their Employers - The Law Offices of Dawn V. Martin

WaMartin v. Howard University and Alice Gresham Bullock, U.S. Supreme Court No. 08-204.


In 1997, Howard University Law Professor Dawn Martin was stalked on campus by a delusional serial stalker, Leonard Harrison. Despite instructions to Howard University from the Washington D.C. Police Department to implement and improve its campus security, Howard failed to take action, and instead, punished Professor Martin by refusing to renew her teaching contract. The story you are about to watch is the true story of Dawn Martin's 11-year Journey for Justice for her and all women who are stalked in the workplace. The National Organization for Women and The National Association of Women Lawyers join her cause.

When Prof. Martin was stalked by Leonard Harrison, he was searching for the physical embodiment of his "fantasy" wife -- a fictional female character in a book, written by the renowned civil rights Professor, Derrick Bell. Instead of following its own security procedures to ban Harrison from campus, Howard responded to Prof. Martin's requests for protection by refusing to renew her teaching contract. She sued Howard, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination and harassment, on the basis of sex/gender. Prof. Martin alleged that Howard permitted the stalker to harass her on the basis of her gender in her workplace. 78% of stalking victims are women. 54% of female murder victims reported their stalkers to the police before being killed by them. Prof. Martin further alleged that Howard retaliated against her by refusing to renew her teaching contract because she asked for protection from Harrison on campus.

The National Organization for Women (NOW) and the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL), joined by additional women's and victims' advocacy groups, filed an Amicus Brief in this case, stressing the need to protect stalking victims from employer retaliation. In this powerful TV documentary, Prof. Martin is joined by such esteemed leaders as Kim Gandy (President of NOW); Prof. Derrick Bell, a renowned civil rights leader and university professor; Roberta Wright, who wrote amicus briefs for NOW and NAWL; and Amos Sirleaf, a former Howard University Security Officer.

The Law Offices of Dawn V. Martin represents plaintiffs in civil rights, employment discrimination and personal injury/tort cases. The firm litigates to enforce the rights of employees who have been discriminated against on the basis of race, sex, national origin, religion, age or disability. Ms. Martin has also been featured on Sky Radio as part of its series on ¡°Salute to Women in Leadership,¡± as noted in TIME Magazine.


A single father is suing the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority for $200 million, claiming lead-contaminated tap water poisoned his twin sons as infants, causing them ongoing health problems.


The water utility between 2001 and 2004 hid elevated levels of lead from customers and federal authorities, plaintiff John Parkhurst of Capitol Hill claims in the lawsuit, which seeks class-action status. WASA failed to take steps to remedy the situation, omitted language from public education campaigns that would have warned people about the problem and continued to encourage residents to drink the water, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in D.C. Superior Court.

The complaint comes on the heels of a study that determined hundreds of D.C. children might be at risk of irreversible IQ loss, developmental delays and behavioral problems linked to the lead levels. The Children's National Medical Center and Virginia Tech research contradicts claims by D.C. and federal health officials who said in 2004 that although lead in city water was at record-breaking levels, they didn't find any measurable ill effects on public health.


New Jersey civil union law fails to protect

  Civil Rights  -   POSTED: 2008/02/20 08:26

A new state civil unions law has failed to ensure that same-sex couples in New Jersey enjoy the same rights as married heterosexuals, an official report said on Tuesday.

On the first anniversary of the law's implementation, the Civil Union Review Commission said some employers in New Jersey have refused to provide benefits to the partner of employees in a civil union.

New Jersey last year became the third state to pass a civil unions law after its Supreme Court affirmed that same-sex couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples, but left the state legislature to decide whether to enshrine those rights in an institution called marriage.

Lawmakers opted for civil unions, to the dismay of gay-rights activists who argued that true equality can only be achieved by allowing gays and lesbians to marry.

In Massachusetts, the only state to have legalized same-sex marriage, the law prompted many employers to provide equal benefits to same-sex partners, the report said.

The panel of official and legislative appointees established as part of the law blamed the failure of some New Jersey employers to recognize civil unions on a federal law that allows self-insured companies -- an estimated 50 percent of all employers in the state -- to choose not to offer benefits to same-sex partners.

In addition, the federal Defense of Marriage Act says any federal statute or regulation that provides benefits to spouses applies only to partnerships between one man and one woman.

Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality, a leading gay-rights group in the state, said about 2,500 New Jersey couples have formed civil unions since the law was passed, and about a fifth have complained to his group that their unions have not been recognized by employers.


Civil Rights and Employment Discrimination

  Civil Rights  -   POSTED: 2007/12/02 02:24

The Cochran Firm is featured in an exciting, exclusive, in-depth and inside interview featuring some of the firm’s best trial lawyers, Brian Dunn and Randy McMurray, discussing 

Civil Rights and Employment Discrimination. They discuss the cases of Kevin Norwood v. City of Los Angeles , Joseph Ward-Wallace v. City Los Angeles and Paula Neiman v. Inspired By Media, Inc. Et Al. Messrs. Norwood and Ward-Wallace, both of whom are represented by the Cochran Firm, are Los Angeles firefighters who allegedly suffered racial discrimination on the job. Mr. Norwood alleges he was the victim of racial prejudice while he was in the Training Academy of the Los Angeles Fire Department, and unduly suffered as result of these actions. Mr. Ward-Wallace was also a firefighter with the City of Los Angeles who allegedly was the target of racial discrimination when he was assigned to his first fire station. Both he and Mr. Norwood have Caucasian wives, and both men claim this status motivated the acts of alleged racial discrimination against them at the fire department.

Ms. Neiman’s case involves a contract she signed concerning the creation of a script for an audio bible. She alleges defendants used her script to secure financing for this project and then told her the undertaking had been abandoned, when in reality the project continued with major celebrities committed to this endeavor.

Brian Dunn has handled many high profile police misconduct cases, including those of Reginald Denny and Geronimo Pratt. Mr. Dunn was also instrumental in prosecuting the litigation surrounding the tragic shootings of Tyisha Miller and Mario Paz, cases which not only brought multimillion dollar settlement awards to the plaintiffs, but additionally resulted in unprecedented changes in the departmental policies of the Riverside and El Monte Police Departments. He is a member of the State Bar of California and the State Bar of Nevada, and has practiced in the United States District Courts for the Central District of California, Eastern District of California, Northern District of California, and was recently admitted to the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada. Brian is a Member of the Consumer Attorneys' Association of Los Angeles and the American Trial Lawyers Association.

Randy McMurray has published articles and has been an invited speaker for Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Consumer Attorneys of California, Consumer Attorney Association of Los Angeles, Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles and Mealey Publications. He is also a member of the Langston and National Bar Associations, California Association of Black Lawyers, American Trial Lawyers Association, Consumer Attorney of California, Consumer Attorney Association of Los Angeles and Multi-Ethnic Bar Association. He is on the Board of Governors of CAALA, the Board of Directors of the Diversity in Law Foundation, served as an Associate Editor of The Advocate, the journal of the Consumer Attorneys' Association of Los Angeles and the Education Committee of Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles. 

Founded over 40 years ago by famed attorney, Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr., The Cochran Firm, as it is known today, has established itself as one of the premier plaintiffs' litigation and criminal defense law firms in the United States. With 20 offices located in 15 states, The Cochran Firm has brought together into one firm, a diverse group of some of the most highly-experienced and respected men and women dedicated to bringing quality representation for injured people, their families, and the ordinary citizen.

Named to The National Law Journal's Plaintiffs' Hot List, The Cochran Firm has been profiled as one of America's top plaintiffs' law firms. The Hot List is a compendium of the country's top 12 plaintiffs' law firms doing the "most to shape the law in America." In 2005, The Cochran Firm was named to The NLJ 250 list, The National Law Journal's survey of the largest law firms in America. Notably, The Cochran Firm held the exclusive position of appearing concurrently on both of these celebrated lists.

The Cochran Firm is the execution of Johnnie's vision to have "a diverse law firm which reflects society and is capable of handling cases throughout America." The attorneys and staff at The Firm are committed to upholding the standards of excellence set by its founding partner in representing all of their clients. You can reach the Cochran Firm at 323-931-9884, www.cochranfirm.com.  



The Iowa House Human Resources Committee on Tuesday approved SF427, a bill to extend the state's civil rights protections to gays and lesbians. The bill, which still awaits passage by the full Iowa House, was passed by the full Senate last week and would officially add gender identity and sexual orientation to the categories protected from discrimination in Iowa's civil rights code. If approved by the full House, the legislation would complement passage earlier this year of a bill to protect gay and lesbian students from harassment in schools. While Democrats support the measure, some Republican representatives expressed concerns about the scope of the protections offered. They worried how it may affect workplace ethics and increase employment lawsuits by giving businesses limited deference to set their own policies. Governor Chet Culver said he will sign the legislation if it passes.

Like many states, Iowa is struggling to refine its gay rights laws. Over the past few months, Washington Senate has passed a civil unions law, while Rhode Island and New Jersey have moved to recognize gay couple married in other states. Meanwhile, Indiana has joined a number of states in banning gay marriage and Hawaii has shelved its proposed civil unions legislation.


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