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The Judge has grown weary of sulking in the shadows and letting the MeJDs and Chinaskis of Judged hog the limelight. Here you will find news about Judged, updates to our law firm rankings and the Judge’s daily ramblings. Want the real scoop? Check it out here.

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If ever there was a case to be made for steering clear of so called ''legal marijuana'', this is it. A North Carolina man was arrested this week for wrecking his father's Jaguar not once, but twice, while high on what he refers to as ''legal marijuana''.

It all began when 21 year old Richard Blanscet was watching a Dr. Phil program while smoking what's known as ''Wicked X Smoke''. Suddenly, Dr. Phil McGraw began speaking to Blanscet in what he refers to as a ''really high pitched voice''. He was told by Dr. Phil that an alien invasion was occurring outside his home and that he needed to save his girlfriend. Suddenly, Blanscet was up and out of the driveway, behind the wheel of his father's Jaguar, and driving at more than 100 mph in an effort to rescue his girlfriend, who he believed the aliens were after.

EMS, who'd been called to the home after Blanscet left, called police for backup. When Blanscet was on his way back home after not being able to locate his girlfriend, he says he saw the police, who he also believed were aliens, turning down the street towards his home. He immediately turned around and began driving at high rates of speed before taking a short cut through a cemetery. He'd already struck one emergency vehicle and soon, he wrecked his father's car again by attempting a left turn. The car, still operating at this time, soon sped away from that scene and eventually, he crashed the car once again when he drove it through a grocery store parking lot and as police reported, ''made the vehicle inoperable''.

He was arrested for felony fleeing to elude arrest, driving while impaired and resisting an officer. He was released after he was able to post his $2,500 bond. Now, Blanscet wants to warn others, though his warning is a bit twisted as well. He says the company shouldn't manufacturer the chemical if they're going to put out ''bad batches'' and says although he doesn't think teens should do it, he believes it's fine for adults. Even as he admits everything felt like reality to him, he says he sees no danger and simply wishes he hadn't bought a bad batch.

No comment from Dr. Phil, and no word on whether Blanscet even still has a girlfriend at this point. His parents, despite now having a Jaguar in the local junkyard, say they support his decision to speak out about his experience.


03-18-2011


This week, the Drug Enforcement Administration confiscated a drug used for lethal injections in Georgia. While the feds are not saying why the drugs were pulled, a former death row inmate had tried to get his execution stayed earlier this year. His efforts were unsuccessful and he's since been executed.


The drug, sodium thiopental, is part of a cocktail that's used in executions not only in Georgia, but around the country. It's been in short supply for many years ever since the only American manufacturer ceased making it. There were accusations made that the drug was being shipped from a ''fly by night'' manufacturer in the UK and that the drugs may not be pure or could be counterfeit. Link Pharmaceuticals, once located in the U.S., had been the supplier for the drug until it was purchased by UK drug maker Archimedes Pharmas.

Attorneys arguing for their clients throughout the state are saying prison officials are introducing the potential for cruel and inhumane punishment by using the sedative when they're not sure it's effective, legal or even these drugs are sodium thiopental. That argument is moot, at least for the short term because Georgia has halted all scheduled execution dates and won't be setting any new ones until the issue is settled.

In January Emmanuel Hammond, convicted for the murder of a preschool teacher from Atlanta, was executed after his lawyers were unable to secure a stay until the issue could be investigated. Those same lawyers argued they believe the drugs were counterfeit. The case made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was ultimately rejected.

John Bentigoglio, once a deputy general, approached the Department of Justice in February to consider launching its own investigation to ensure Georgia hadn't violated federal laws. He suspected the state was not registering its shipments of the sedative with the DEA. Bentivoglio is currently representing another Georgia death row inmate, Andrew DeYoung.

The Georgia Department of Corrections released a statement saying that it contacted the DEA, versus the DEA raiding them. The DOC claims it made initial contact and requested a regulatory review to ensure it was in both state and federal compliance.

The state has in its stockpile inventories of the drug with the Link Pharmaceuticals logo on it. The company hasn't put its name on those labels since May 2007. This means the four year shelf life expires in weeks, even if it is proven authentic.

Many states have no inventory of the drug and therefore haven't been carrying out executions. At least five states have used the UK firm in the past, though it's not clear if any of these states have the controversial drug maker's inventory in their respective possessions.

This has strengthened the arguments of those wishing to abolish the death penalty in its entirety. There's been no word on how long the investigation might take.


03-17-2011


A group of men associated with the drug cartel believed to be responsible for killing Federal ICE Agent Jaime Zapata have been arrested and at least one of them is talking.  Julian Zapata Espinoza, known in his drug cartel as “Tweety Bird” was captured on Wednesday and it didn't take long for him to start singing the details about the murder of one American Immigration and Customs agent and the injuries to another. 

Jaime Zapata was murdered while his partner, Victor Avila, also with ICE, was wounded on February 15th as they traveled on a Mexican highway on their way back to the United States. Espinoza said his gang mistakenly believed the SUV the federal agents were traveling in as one that was similar to those driven by rival cartels. The federal vehicle had diplomatic plates that identified it, though Espinoza says they didn't see them. Mexican law prohibits American law enforcement from traveling with weapons.

The agents noticed they were being followed and then one of the two vehicles passed the agents and cut them off, at which time, up to ten gunmen exited both vehicles and began their brutal assault.

It's also believed the gunmen were looking to steal the vehicle, too, though Zapata and Avila managed to escape. This is the second time in recent months cartels have opened fire on Americans and then claimed mistaken identity. Even as the violence continues to escalate, it is rare for American law enforcement agents to be attacked, though recent events may be affecting that trend. While it's never entirely safe to travel near the Mexican/U.S border, the past several years have resulted in brutal killings of Americans and Mexicans.

The second federal agent, Victor Avila, was returned to the United States with a gunshot wound in his leg. It is believed he is recovering in a California hospital. President Obama congratulated the agencies involved with ensuring the arrest of Espinoza and six other gang members. Meanwhile, ICE Director John Morton released his own statement which read, in part, ''...we are encouraged by this action and appreciate the efforts by Mexico to bring Special Agent Zapata's killers to justice''.

No word yet on what those arrested will eventually be charged with, though Espinoza was picked up on charges related to a 2009 incident.



02-26-2011


The mixed messages out of the DC area apparently aren't enough to keep the new Congress from attempting to shape the gun laws...again.

Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican and Mike Ross, an Arkansas Democrat, have teamed together to again present the ''Second Amendment Enforcement Act''. Many say it's a mirror image of what was introduced last year. The goal is to ease the burden for DC residents who wish to own firearms. Due to countless obstacles, the bill never passed. It would have ''repealed the D.C. semiautomatic gun ban, restore the right of self defense in the home, authorize DC residents to purchase firearms and ammunition, repeal overly-restrictive registration requirements and ensure that firearms may be transported and carried for legitimate purposes''.

If this latest effort is allowed to move forward, residents would have far fewer obstacles should they decide to purchase guns within the city. Interestingly, a full 80% of those residents believed controlling ownership takes precedence over Constitutional rights. During the time of the poll, taken in early 2008, those same residents approved the then-current gun laws, which prohibited handgun ownership. That said, seven months later, when it became legal for DC residents to own handguns (for the first time in four decades) close to 1,500 permits were issued.

The National Rifle Association supports these latest efforts. Chris Cox, the top lobbyist for the NRA says the high fees and ''almost insurmountable mountain of red tape put into place by the DC mayor and city council makes it near impossible for the average DC resident to have a firearm in their home to defend themselves.''

According to the Violence Policy Center, the mid-Atlantic region, which includes the DC area, has the highest percentage of folks who want a law that bans the possession of handguns. More than 50% say they support such a law. By contrast, the southeast region of the U.S. ranks lowest. Only 27% support such a ban. Further, only 11% of people along the mid-Atlantic region own a gun while again, the southeast region ranks highest at just below 29%. These numbers reveal the divide on this important issue.

Eleanor Homes Norton, a Democrat district delegate, said today, ''They underestimate our residents if they think this city will tolerate autocratic rule from Congress any more than the Jordan and Ross districts would tolerate dictatorship from Congress on local matters.

And so the debate continues.


02-15-2011


It was bound to happen; one of Dr. Phil's controversial guests was going to pay a high price at some point. Turns out, Jessica Beagley is that guest. The 36 year old mother was seen forcing hot sauce in her seven year old son's mouth and then forcing him into a cold shower for misbehaving in school. Her son was adopted from a Russian orphanage and his new mother said he was deeply troubled and she felt as though these harsh punishments were the only way to get his attention. She called them punishments, but Alaskan authorities call it child abuse.

She was arrested this week on charges of child abuse. Her attorney pleaded not guilty for his client in court on Friday. His statement to the press included, ''She has not done anything that would warrant a criminal charge for child abuse; if she hadn't showed up on Dr. Phil, there wouldn't be anybody saying anything about it''. She has her supporters, too. One blogger in Alaska said she ''would characterize her as more of a disciplinarian rather than an abuser''.

One adoption specialist in Alaska defended the mother and said the only way she could get help from Dr. Phil was to submit a controversial video - and that's exactly what she did. Producers built hype for the upcoming episode for weeks until finally, anyone who had seen it became outraged and ready for blood the day the show aired. Beagley insists that she only wanted help for her troubled son.

The show, titled ''Mommy Confessions'' was heavily advertised with the following:

Jessica, a mom of six, sent Dr. Phil a home video so disturbing it brought his wife, Robin, and many audience members to tears. Could you be dealing with deep feelings of hostility when you discipline your children? Dr. Phil has advice

Dr. Phil McGraw, host of the Dr. Phil show, has not released a statement. Information on this week's arrest can be seen here.

No court date has been set, but one's for sure: the hype building now is sure to overshadow anything Dr. Phil's producers could have built.


01-29-2011


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