Virginia’s Change to Democrat Control
Shows Marijuana Legalization is Likely


     Virginia’s attorney general convened a “cannabis summit” this week in Richmond to encourage state lawmakers to legalize marijuana.
     The summit was intended to capitalize on election victories by Democrats last month that brought Virginia closer to legalizing marijuana than any time in its history.
     The likelihood of Virginia joining the District of Columbia and Maryland with the change in laws would make the national capital region one of the nation’s most liberal jurisdictions for possession and sale of marijuana.
     Attorney General Mark Herring announced the cannabis summit in a statement that said, “The summit will focus on policy and will include experts from state attorneys general’s offices, state agencies and legislative operations in states where cannabis has been legalized, as well as cannabis policy experts.”
     Democrats won a majority in Virginia’s House and Senate last month for the first time in more than two decades.

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Eight-Year-Old Girl Strip-Searched
At Virginia Prison While Visiting Dad

     The Virginia Department of Corrections is investigating the recent strip search of an 8-year-old girl at the state prison in Dillwyn while she was visiting her father.  
     She was being accompanied by her father’s girlfriend when drug-sniffing dogs alerted guards to something suspicious about the woman and the girl. The woman was not the girl’s mother or legal guardian.
     A guard at the Buckingham Correctional Center told them they must strip or they would not be allowed to visit the inmate, according to a Virginian-Pilot newspaper report.
     The girl reportedly cried but complied with the strip search request from female guards, the newspaper reported. No illegal drugs were found on the girl or the adult.
     Virginia Department of Corrections officials acknowledged a strip-search of a child without a legal guardian’s permission violated its policies.

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MGM National Harbor Settles Lawsuit
Of Child Brain Damaged by Electricity


     The family of a child who suffered permanent brain damage when she grabbed an electrified handrail at the MGM National Harbor resort in suburban Maryland recently settled their lawsuit.
     Terms of the settlement were not announced in a Prince George’s County Circuit Court filing by the resort and the family of 8-year-old Zynae Green.
     The girl was injured last year when she grasped a lighted handrail that was improperly wired and installed, according to an engineer’s investigative report. The handrail was designed to be illuminated by 12 volts of electricity but instead carried 120 volts.
     The family was visiting the resort on June 26, 2018 to celebrate Zynae’s graduation from kindergarten. She was six years old at the time.
     The girl went into cardiac arrest when she touched the handrail. She was resuscitated by a Prince George’s County police officer but not before suffering traumatic brain injury.
     The Green family says they asked two security guards who were the first to arrive to perform CPR on the child. They said she appeared to be breathing normally and did not need CPR. The police arrived later.
     Zynae’s brother and a security guard also received shocks when they touched the handrail but it did not seriously injure them.
     Zynae is now wheelchair-bound and must breathe through tubes. She communicates through blinks and smiles, despite having been a good student before the accident.
     The lawsuit her parents filed against MGM, electrical contractor Rosendin Electric and construction company Whiting-Turner sought compensation to care for their daughter for a lifetime.
     It says construction workers were compelled to hurry to finish their work quickly to meet the scheduled opening date for the resort. It also says the hurry-up job sacrificed safety.
     The defendants blamed each other or circumstances they could not control in court filings. The court order signed by all the parties’ attorneys says the case is “fully resolved” after the settlement.




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D.C. in Brief

Book on Boston Marathon Bombs
Shows Lone Wolf Terrorism Rises

   A new book that reports on the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and trial of the convicted killer shows the attack was only an early example of more coming soon.
   Boston's Bloody Marathon uses the bombings by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother as an example of the lone wolf terrorism increasingly encouraged by Islamic extremist groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda.
   Lone wolves refer to terrorists who plot their attacks alone, usually with no organization to support them and no official links to violent groups. There is almost no way to know their next target until they strike. U.S. intelligence agencies call them perhaps the biggest terrorist threat to the United States and its allies.
   Boston's Bloody Marathon, by Tom Ramstack, is available on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.
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    The Legal Forum welcomes letters to the editor at tramstack@gmail.com, which will be published here.

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Latest News

Georgetown Basketball Players
Investigated for Burglary, Assault


     Washington, D.C. police are investigating three Georgetown University basketball players accused of assault, burglary and harassment.
     Meanwhile, a D.C. Superior Court judge has hit them with a restraining order to keep them away from two women who say the basketball players broke into their off-campus home Sept. 15.
     The students named in the restraining order are Galen Alexander, Josh LeBlanc and Myron Gardner.
     The university announced in a statement that LeBlanc has been booted from the basketball season for the rest of the season. The statement gave no details to explain his removal from the team, citing student privacy laws.
     Instead, it said that “we take student conduct issues very seriously. Alleged conduct violations are investigated and adjudicated by the Office of Student Conduct through a fair and equitable process.”

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Maryland Suburb Considers Cameras
That Monitor Activities of Drivers


     Civil rights advocates are raising alarms about a suburban Montgomery County, Md., proposal to install highway cameras that monitor whether drivers are using their phones, then fines the offenders.
     State law forbids drivers from talking on their phones or texting while they are driving.
     Montgomery County Councilmember Tom Hucker (D-District 5) is awaiting a reply from the state legislature on his request for permission to install the cameras.
     The cameras use artificial intelligence to identify not only automobiles but also what the occupants are doing. Police would have the option of reviewing video recordings from the cameras later.
     Montgomery County would be the nation’s first jurisdiction to use the artificial intelligence cameras on motorists.
     Officials from AAA, the Automobile Club of America, are raising concerns about the reliability of the cameras and the possible intrusion upon motorists’ privacy.
     Hucker says serious automobile accidents caused by drivers texting or speaking on their phones justify use of the cameras.
     The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration reported that in 2017, more than 56,000 crashes involved distracted drivers. Nationwide, 3,167 people were killed during collisions with distracted drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
     Using handheld phones is illegal in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. In Maryland, a first offense gets a $75 fine, then $125 for a second offense and $175 for each additional instance of texting or talking on the phone while driving.
     A leading manufacturer of the artificial intelligence cameras is Acusensus, an Australian company that recently expanded to North America.