The Legal Forum welcomes letters to the editor at tramstack@gmail.com, which will be published here.

ACLU Accuses National Guard of Abuse
Against Protesters with Helicopter Tactic


     The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit last week against the federal government for the way low-flying National Guard helicopters were used to disperse protesters near the White House in 2020. 
     The plaintiff was a protester who says her eyes and skin were strung by debris when one of two helicopters flew as low as 45 feet over a crowd. Protesters described the wind kicked up by the helicopter blades as being like a tropical storm.
     The National Guard was joining with police to disperse the demonstrators as they protested racial injustice after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd. Police near the White House fired rubber bullets and pepper spray at them during the June 1, 2020 confrontation.
     The plaintiff, Dzhuliya Dashtamirova, 25, of Baltimore, says she continues to suffer anxiety and insomnia because of the incident.
     “My eyes and skin were burning from all the debris flying everywhere,” Dashtamirova said in a statement released by the ACLU. “I couldn’t see anything. It was terrifying and felt like a warning to people who believe in racial justice that if we say things the government doesn’t like, it will use the full force of the military against us.”
    Continue Reading

Legal Briefs


We Could Use Your Help

     Thousands of DC residents need a lawyer, but can’t afford one. They could be illegally evicted from their homes, lose custody of their children, experience domestic violence, and more, all because they lack legal representation. 
      You could make a difference. By making a donation to the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, you will provide free, high-quality, zealous legal representation to low-income DC residents. Click the photo above to make a donation today. 
      Your support could prevent homelessness, domestic violence, hunger, or family separation. In fact, if just 10 people who see this ad give $28 to Legal Aid, it will be enough to staff an experienced attorney at the courthouse for a day.
      That way, DC residents like Keith King (pictured above) can get the legal representation they need to win their cases. As Mr. King put it, if it wasn’t for his Legal Aid lawyer, “I would have been homeless again.”
     Here is the link to the Legal Aid website for donations: https://www.legalaiddc.org/donate-to-legal-aid/

     For more information, contact Rob Pergament at Legal Aid at rpergament@legalaiddc.org




Deputies Charged with Murder
In Death of Mentally Ill Man


     Seven Virginia sheriff’s deputies and three hospital workers were indicted by a grand jury Tuesday on second-degree murder charges in the death of a patient at a mental health facility.
     Prosecutors said the man, Irvo Otieno, 28, was “smothered” to death by deputies when he became disruptive during the intake at Central State Hospital in Richmond.
     The incident was captured on video that Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill described as “extremely clear, extremely alarming.”
     Police encountered Otieno after getting a call of a burglary and observing him picking lights off a private lawn. His family described it as a mental health crisis.
     A Crisis Intervention Team put him under an emergency custody order after observing signs of possible mental illness in him. Virginia law allows qualified persons to place someone under an emergency custody order if there is evidence they might hurt themselves or others as a result of mental illness.
     Police took Otieno to a local hospital, where he became “physically assaultive towards officers,” police said. They arrested him on three counts of assault on a law enforcement officer, disorderly conduct in a hospital and vandalism.
     Otieno was first transferred to the Henrico County Jail West then Central State Hospital.
     “The events of March 6, at their core, represent a tragedy because Mr. Otieno’s life was lost,” Henrico County Sheriff Alisa Gregory said in a statement.
     The seven police officers involved were placed on administrative leave. They are scheduled to appear before a grand jury on March 21.


     



Space Force General Demonstrates
New Liabilities from Orbiting Debris


     A military briefing to Congress last week underscored a recent National Aeronautics and Space Administration warning about emerging damage and liability risks. 
     Space is getting congested with satellites and cast-off equipment, making a collision or catastrophic fall to earth increasingly likely.
     NASA and international space agencies say new laws and treaties are needed to avoid the kind of damage that is unavoidable without them.
     General B. Chance Saltzman described congestion in space as one of the obstacles the U.S. Space Force faces as it plans for a shift in defense strategies.
     He spoke to the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces about why the U.S. Space Force recommends “Proliferated LEOs” as the preferred strategy for confronting Chinese and Russian threats.
     Proliferated LEOs (Low Earth Orbit) refers to putting large groupings of small satellites into low earth orbit over U.S. adversaries. The current strategy relies on a few large satellites in higher orbits.
     As China and Russia develop sophisticated anti-satellite systems, the high-orbit satellites are easy targets, said Saltzman, who is chief of space operations for the U.S. Space Force.
     “More satellites creates a targeting problem,” Saltzman told the strategic forces subcommittee.
     He acknowledged the strategy could lead to more space congestion.
     “We’re getting close to 100 launches a year,” Saltzman said.
     Last month, NASA deputy administrator Pam Melro recommended to the National Space Council that it develop space regulations that would avoid "future barriers" to space exploration. The barriers could include orbiting debris that interferes with space flights.
     About 9,000 satellites orbit Earth. The number is projected to surpass 60,000 by 2030, largely as a result of proliferated LEOs.
     In addition to working satellites, the orbit below 625 miles is strewn with unusable hardware, debris from previous collisions and old rocket parts. About 100 tons of debris that is not tracked by radar is in orbit, risking more collisions.​



D.C. in Brief

About Us  

The Legal Forum is a nonprofit news service for the Washington area's legal community that also offers attorney job listings as well as amicus briefs and grant information for charitable organizations. If you have questions, please Contact Us

Senate Bill Would Require
Cameras in Supreme Court


     A bill introduced in the Senate last week would require the Supreme Court to televise its hearings.
     Senators who introduced the bill said it would help to ensure transparency and better public understanding of how the court operates.
     “Rulings made by Justices in our nation’s highest court impact the lives of every American, regardless of zip code,” Sen. Dick Durbin, R-Ill, said in a statement. “We see an ever-apparent interest for the American people to be able to witness the highest court’s proceedings, from seemingly routine sessions to oral arguments in high-profile cases like Dobbs and Bruen, for example.”
     The Dobbs case Durbin mentioned eliminated the federal right to abortion. The Bruen case expanded gun rights.
     Durbin is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was joined in introducing the bill by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.


.

Power the Civil Rights Work of Our Time

     Each day members of our community are experiencing wage theft, the effects of gentrification, discriminatory policing, collateral consequences, marginalization in schools, and barriers to public accommodations. 
     We fight alongside people facing the effects of gentrification like Amira Moore. Our work empowers the people and communities who need it most, “We can do more than we think. There’s a path to equity, we just have to step to it.” –Ms. Moore
     For more than 50 years, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee has been on the frontlines of the fight for civil rights in our community. We deploy the best legal talent, we tackle the tough cases, we fight, and we win. 
     Our work is as important today as it has ever been. Through your support, you can play a role in creating justice for thousands of marginalized members of our community. Together, we will dismantle injustice and pursue lasting change.
     Join us! Donate & subscribe: https://www.washlaw.org/support-us
     Volunteer with us: https://www.washlaw.org/get-involved/
     For more information, contact Gregg Kelley at Gregg_Kelley@washlaw.org​

SEC Seeks Court Order in Investigation
Of Chinese Cyberattack Against Law Firm


     A Securities and Exchange Commission investigation of a Chinese cyberattack is being opposed by some of Washington, D.C.’s biggest law firms.
     The SEC says it is trying to investigate the extent of 2020 cyberattacks in the United States, such as the one that penetrated computer servers of Covington & Burling and 298 of the law firm’s corporate clients.
     The law firm says it seeks to protect the confidentiality of its clients by refusing to turn over the information.
     The dispute in federal court coincides with an SEC proposal last week of more stringent cybersecurity rules for corporations, particularly in the financial industry.
     In one set of 2020 attacks, the Chinese government is accused of compromising data of pharmaceutical companies doing COVID-19 research to steal their data on vaccines, treatments and other intellectual property.
Continue Reading

Letters to the Editor


800 4th Street SW, No. N517   Washington, DC 20024
Phone: 202-479-7240   E-mail: tramstack@gmail.com

Latest News