Thoughts on Kemerovo

This horrifying tragedy deserves all of our sympathy and prayers. It also deserves a thorough investigation. While there should be no rush to judgment as the authorities analyze the evidence, criminal charges would be considered if  laws were violated with respect the building’s compliance with fire and safety codes , or if there was criminal negligence. For example, if water sprinkler systems or fire-resistant walls and ceilings were required but not utilized, there could be  consequences for the owners and others. In a U.S. case fifteen years ago, after 100 people died in a night club fire, the owner was sentenced to four years in prison for criminal negligence that contributed to the tragedy.

 

Read more about Kemerovo here: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-43552165

NUNBERG STILL USEFUL IN MUELLER PROBE

NUNBERG STILL USEFUL IN MUELLER PROBE

You may question former Trump aide, Sam Nunberg and his reliability as a witness in the Russia investigation. I believe Nunberg is still useful despite his recent outbursts.

Robert Mueller’s team can make use of whatever documents Nunberg has and shouldn’t dismiss him entirely. His behavior is unpredictable, so if the special counsel wants his cooperation, they need to advise him to get a lawyer and calm down after the multiple meltdowns he’s had so he’s a more dependable witness.

Learn more here.

MANY CONSEQUENCES FOR INDICTED RUSSIAN NATIONALS

MANY CONSEQUENCES FOR INDICTED RUSSIAN NATIONALS

Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals today for interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. I believe this is a win for supporters of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

There’s something for both sides in these indictments, but there’s plenty of upside here for the Trump team: a clear signal from the Mueller team that they’ve found zero campaign collusion. Director Mueller also took an important step to protect our election system for the future. The Russian meddling has to stop, and these indictments will certainly help.

The 37 page indictment alleges Russia interfered with the 2016 U.S. election illegally, but nothing in the indictment points to Trump campaign collusion and there is no allegation that the operation had no impact on the results.

While Russian defendants charged today will never be extradited from Russia, there are still important consequences. This puts these defendants in the Interpol database, so they won’t be able to travel to dozens of countries with U.S. extradition treaties – they would be subject to arrest and detention at foreign airports. That hits hard. Banking and other business relations with individuals outside of Russia will become exceedingly difficult for the defendants.

While the investigation will continue concerning obstruction, I believe that the framework for examining those issues has now been transformed.

Thoughts on New York Times Report on Trump’s Order to Fire Mueller

Thoughts on New York Times Report on Trump’s Order to Fire Mueller

President Trump’s desire, even with initial planning, to fire Special Counsel Mueller, is not by itself the crime of obstruction. People being investigated from time to time request the removal of a prosecutor based on alleged bias and that effort has not been prosecuted as obstruction. Ordinarily, obstruction centers on false statements, falsification, destruction of evidence, or misconduct with witnesses such as attempting to secure false testimony, trying to prevent testimony or other forms of witness tampering.

Moreover, removing Mueller would not stop the investigation which involves dozens of prosecutors and agents for whom another highly competent leader would be found.

Even so, the reported information, if true, holds perils for President Trump. It could certainly be evidence of an intent to suppress the truth which, if coupled with other obstructive events, could add to a case of obstruction.

Further, if Trump does submit to questioning, either before the grand jury or in an FBI interview, he will be asked about this and if there are false denials, then a traditional case of obstruction could be developed based on any false statements.

Read the New York Times article here.

 

Florida Dems May See Unintended Consequences in Vote on Felons Voting

This Fall, Florida’s voters will be able to vote on whether 1.5 million felons voting rights should be restored. Democrats may not have considered that their support for this amendment may backfire when it comes to Republican voter turnout.

If approved by 60 percent of voters, the amendment would restore voting rights to Floridians with felony convictions after they fully complete their sentences, including parole or probation. –Orlando Sentinel

Democrats could win the 60 percent vote needed to pass this amendment, but it’s not going to be easy. There are certainly good reasons to support restoring voting rights to most felons who have paid their debt to society, but the politics of this could backfire. Meanwhile, opposition to the measure, fueled by Republican voters, could harm Democrats in this year’s critical state races.

Coffey believes that with Florida’s known slim margins in elections, Democrats need to thoughtfully consider the outcome of every move they make leading up to this vote.

 

 

My Legal Reaction to Jeff Session’s on Marijuana

The Department of Justice (DOJ) clearly can reverse its non-enforcement of federal law and begin immediately to arrest sellers and distributors of marijuana irrespective of state laws. Because this would have such dramatic consequences for many who have relied on past practices of non-enforcement by DOJ, the Feds would logically give prior warning even though they are not legally required to do so. And they would presumably- either locally or nationally- establish criteria prioritizing states without medical marijuana laws before launching raids in states where it is a firmly established and widely accepted business.

But the US laws remain on the books for AG Sessions to prosecute aggressively if he so chooses. Many, if not most, federal judges and prosecutors will lack enthusiasm but must still follow the law. Meanwhile, many voters, especially Millennials otherwise bored with current politics, will be energized to oppose these measures.

The marijuana issue was a sleeping time bomb during the 2016 elections getting scant attention as Millennials and others who care about the issue assumed nothing could change so they could ignore it, complain about both candidates and do little about the election. Many may awaken abruptly from this slumber.

Read the Forbes article Coffey is quoted in here.

The Virginia House Race

With the latest controversy around the Virginia State House election recount, I believe everyone should just trust the process.  Virginia law states that in the event of a tie, the state Board of Elections will draw lots to determine the winner.
This election is remarkable with so much on the line for Democrats who want to reshape the political power structure in Virginia. The recount was done lawfully, and the judicial panel awarded an additional vote to Republican Delegate David Yancey which tied the race. This is just another reminder that one vote can change the outcome of an election.
Coffey often comments on election law and currently serves as the Chair of the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission for South Florida.
For more information on the Virginia House Race, click here.