Major Breakthrough on Gun Control!

Prologue:  On December 14, 2012 , 20 year old Adam Lanza  entered The Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut  and murdered 20 six year- old first graders and six adults. He was shooting an AR -15 Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle and two semi- automatic pistols in the massacre.  The children were killed in two classrooms while others hid in closets and under desks.  Lanza had murdered his mother before he came to the school.

Sandy Hook parents’ actions over nine years:  As a result of this dreadful massacre of their children, parents   pledged to stop the manufacture of the rifles.  They worked tirelessly with lawyers to be able to sue Remington , the manufacture of the Bushmaster.  They learned that there was a federal law passed by Congress protecting manufacturers against such lawsuits.  The law was the result of the National Rifle Association (N.R.A.) lobbying  U.S. Senators and Representatives with a report card for each one on how they vote on guns.

The lawsuit they filed in Connecticut court focused on the marketing Remington used to attract buyers to the Bushmaster . Ads stressed the violence of combat.  A typical slogan was “Consider your man card reissued!”   Adam Lanza , a very angry disturbed man, had asked his mother to buy the guns for him.  He knew she would be able to do it easily and she did.

Lawyers argued that the message Remington was sending in their advertising was designed to attract young men who were loners with problems.  That they were looking for a way to be bold and attract attention.

The United States has witnessed too many mass shootings, but Sandy Hook had traumatized the entire nation.  Pictures of the twenty little boys and girls  were carried by hundreds of newspapers and shown on television for weeks.  President Barack Obama invited leaders of the group to the White House. They joined him in The Rose Garden later and spoke of their determination to pursue Remington until the case was won.  (I watched and remember them vividly that day, holding pictures of their children.)

Lawsuits take time to move up on a state system. Joshua D.  Koskof, one of the lawyers for the families said, “The victims’ families were not going to go away.”

March 19, 2019- Nine years later: The case had reached the Connecticut Supreme Court.  Koskof  had brought it up to the highest court in the state and had won.  He had said in his final argument, “Remington had never known Adam Lanza , but  they had been courting him for years.”

The New York Times headline: “Highest Connecticut Court Rebuffs Firearms Industry in a  Sandy Hook Lawsuit”   In a  4-3 ruling, the justices agreed with a lower court judge’s  decision to dismiss most of the claims of the families, but also found that the sweeping federal protections did not prevent the families from bringing a lawsuit based on wrongful marketing claims.  The court ruled that the case can move ahead based on a state law regarding unfair trade practices.”

Justices in the majority opinion wrote, “It falls to a jury to decide whether the promotional schemes alleged in the present case rise to the level of illegal trade practices and whether fault for the tragedy can be laid at their feet.”

Nicole Hockley, whose six year old son Dylan was killed in his first grade classroom said, “No one has blanket immunity. There are consequences.  We want our day in court to see why they do this, this way, and what needs to change.”

During the nine years, the families had received death threats and were harassed in different ways. However, they had been successful recently with their lawsuit against Alex Jones, the far right provocateur   who spread false claims about the massacre , including that the families were actors paid  in a plot to confiscate firearms.

Epilogue: Remington did not respond immediately. A trade organization representing the firearms industry said, “The decision today is at odds with all other state and federal courts…..”

In contrast, was a statement by Nora Freeman Engstrom, a law professor at Stamford University and an author of an amicus brief signed by law professors in the Sandy Hook case.  She said, “  The ruling showed that the ‘federal protections were not impenetrable.”  Joshua Koskof said, “This decision was a long time coming, but it was worth the wait.”

………………………………………………..Joyce S. Anderson

 

 

 

RICO Investigations: Could Trump Be Gone Before 20/20 Elections?

Prologue: Congress is the branch of our federal government that can hold impeachment hearings.  The Southern District of New York is  a federal court  that can investigate under RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Organization Act of 1970. RICO laid out “predicate” crimes of a corrupt organization involved in a conspiracy.  There were violent crimes such as murder, kidnapping, arson and robbery as well as obstruction of justice, fraud, money laundering and abetting illegal immigration.  Does the latter group sound familiar to you? In 1985, the Southern District, known as SDNY brought charges against the city’s five leading Mafia families.  Rudy Giuliani was the head of the Southern District at that time.

Michael Cohen Testimony:  Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, testified under oath in an open session on Wednesday, February 27 at the House Oversight Committee. He described what sounded like bank fraud, charity fraud and tax fraud, as well as suggestions of insurance fraud, obstruction of justice and suborning perjury. When asked by the committee members,  he gave names of members of the Trump organization who had been involved in crimes he had discussed.

Cohen had been labeled a “rat” by the president last year when he agreed to cooperate with investigators; “rats” are seen in mob and crime language as turning against the boss. They give evidence to the state about how the mob works.  In short, they cooperate by telling the truth, hoping to receive reduced sentences for their crimes.

Mr. Cohen said, “Everybody’s job at the Trump Organization was to protect Mr. Trump.  Every day most of us knew we were going to lie about something. That became the norm. “  He continued,  “Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates. Mr. Trump doesn’t give orders.  He speaks in code. And I understand that code.”

Current RICO investigations into the Trump Organization:  In December, there were seventeen  investigations into Trump Organization businesses. RICO allows federal prosecutors to place ten years of illegal activity into a single set of charges.  That would cover Michael Cohen’s ten years as his lawyer.

This could lead to charges that include family members who serve as advisors in the White House:  Donald Trump Jr. , Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, his son-in law. Donald Trump could be named as a co-indicted conspirator. This would raise the thorny question: Can a sitting president be indicted?

In addition, the charges could be made public for Congress and the public to consider as part of Impeachment hearings or re-election.

Finally, It is important to note that the RICO investigations have nothing to do with The Mueller Investigation into Russian Meddling in the 2016 Presidential Election.

Latest events:  The chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler,   demanded documents from the Trump Organization and the executive branch on Monday, March 4.  This would bring 81 members of Trump’s world in the White House and beyond to meet with the committee. The New York Times front page story, “A Path to Impeachment is Hinted in Demands.”  Nadler detailed a new investigation into possible obstruction of justice, corruption, and abuse of power by President Trump and his administration.

Nadler issued a statement, saying “ We will act quickly, assess the evidence and follow the facts where they lead with full transparency with the American people. This is a critical time for our nation, and we have the responsibility to investigate these matters and hold hearings for the public to have all the facts.”

Donald Trump was speaking to reporters at the White House and was asked about the new investigation by the Judiciary Committee. He said he would cooperate and repeated that there was “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia. “It’s a political hoax,” he said. “There’s no collusion. There’s no anything.”

Of course, The House Judiciary Committee will not be focusing on the Russia connection.  They will probe into every nook and cranny of the entire Trump Organization, the holdings and financial history including Donald J. Trump’s tax returns. They will finally be revealed after all these years of his evasion saying “After the audit.”

The committee members will search for obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power by President Trump and his administration during his campaign and while he has been in office.

Epilogue: The American people will watch TV, read  newspapers and learn the truth — in contrast to over ten thousand lies that Donald Trump has told since he became president.  If the findings of the Judiciary Committee lead to Impeachment in The House of Representatives, so be it .  They will certainly be of value to the Southern District of New York as they pursue RICO investigations.

Donald J. Trump could be gone from office before the 20/20 elections by indictment, resignation or impeachment/conviction .

Take your pick!

……………………………………..Joyce S. Anderson