​​​​​​​​​​The Latest Legal News & Industry Information

New York Tries to Take Away
Trump's Tax Return Lawsuit


     A pending lawsuit by New York’s attorney general carries the potential for a groundbreaking ruling on the extent of state authority over federal officials in the nation’s capital.
     The motion filed late last week asks for a lawsuit over President Donald Trump’s tax returns to be moved from Washington, D.C. to New York.
     It invokes authority under the state’s Tax Returns released Under Specific Terms ("TRUST") Act enacted last month.
     New York Attorney General Letitia James was responding to a lawsuit filed by Trump to block the state from releasing information about his tax returns to Congress, which is investigating the president’s personal finances.
     Trump has filed state tax returns in New York because of his large real estate holdings there.
     The president’s lawsuit says New York’s TRUST Act does not give the state authority, or jurisdiction, to cooperate with Congress as it investigates a federal matter.
     The law authorizes the state commissioner to turn over tax returns to certain congressional committees that request them. In this case, it is the House Ways and Means Committee.
     James argues that a court in Washington, D.C. has no authority to tell New York officials how to enforce their own law. Instead, a New York court should decide, she says.
     “Today’s motion argues what we’ve said from the outset — that this case has no place in the D.C. courts," she said in a statement. "While President Trump has spent his career hiding behind lawsuits, this premature suit will not move forward until the question regarding jurisdiction is settled. We look forward to making our case during oral arguments later this month.”
     So far, U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols has ordered the New York state commissioner not to turn over Trump’s tax returns until the jurisdiction dispute is resolved.
     The case is different from most choice of law -- or conflicting state law -- legal disputes because of the president’s role at the center of it.
     Choice of law disputes normally are decided by courts by weighing factors such as where the parties reside, where the dispute arose and where relevant actions were performed. Courts are supposed to give authority to the law of the state with the greatest number of connections.
     Trump’s attorneys argue that extending the New York law over the president in the case filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. would violate his First Amendment right to free speech.
     James disagreed, saying, "We maintain that the TRUST Act is constitutional and we will vigorously defend it.”
     The case is Trump v. Committee on Ways and Means, United States House of Representatives et al, No. 1:19-cv-02173 (D.D.C. Aug 9, 2019)

FBI Contractor Charged with Voyeurism
After Camera Found Under Woman’s Desk


     A Federal Bureau of Investigation contract employee is facing criminal voyeurism charges after allegedly putting a hidden camera under a female coworker's desk at the agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C. 
     The woman discovered the camera by bumping against it when she shifted her legs, making the camera fall to the ground, according to prosecutors.
     After picking up the camera, she handed it to coworker Joshua Green, who was confronted minutes later by another worker about how the camera could have been placed under the woman’s desk, prosecutors said in a criminal complaint.
     Green later admitted to investigators that he placed the hidden camera while the woman was on maternity leave. She said she had been wearing more dresses and skirts since she returned to work.
     Other employees verified that they saw Green, 30, under the woman’s desk last month.
     Green admitted purchasing the camera on Amazon.com with the intention of taking inappropriate photos of the woman, prosecutors said. His plot was largely unsuccessful after the camera stopped working.
     The criminal complaint said Green admitted to a “voyeurism fetish” that included a desire to take photos of young women.
     "The suspect advised that there may be images of people that he has taken unconsented pictures of stored on his personal computer, and that he uses personal computers to look at images (both clothed and nude) of girls under the age of 18," prosecutors wrote in their complaint.
     Their court filings say Green's personnel file showed he was accused of voyeurism previously and "inappropriate" photos were found on his personal computer.
     The FBI has declined comment on the case.
     For more information, contact The Legal Forum (www.legal-forum.net) at email: tramstack@gmail.com or phone: 202-479-7240.

New Halfway House for Northeast D.C.
Faces Deadline to Resolve Problems


     The U.S. Bureau of Prisons is scrambling through regulatory hurdles to open a new halfway house in Northeast Washington before another one closes Oct. 31.
     The new halfway house planned for 3400 New York Ave. NE is running into stiff opposition from local residents concerned about security.
     Prison officials say that unless they resolve the dispute, prisoners at the Hope Village halfway house at 2844 Langston Pl SE will have no place to go when it closes at the end of October. It is the only halfway house for men in the District of Columbia.
     The Bureau of Prisons last year gave the nonprofit Core DC a five-year, $60 million contract to operate the new halfway house for 300 men.
     Opposition arose from a D.C. Council member and a real estate developer, who backed out of a deal to lease property for the facility. In February, the U.S. Government Accountability Office recommended that the Bureau of Prisons reconsider its selection of a site for the new halfway house.
     Hope Village also challenged the contract award to Core DC, saying the old halfway house does not need replacement.
     Some residents of the neighborhood near the National Arboretum say they are concerned the new halfway house will suffer some of the problems that Hope Village is accused of allowing.
     The alleged problems include allegations by inmates and prison reform advocates that Hope Village provided substandard care and security. The advocacy group Council for Court Excellence said in a 2016 report that Hope Village failed to assist residents in finding jobs.
     Hope Village also has been criticized for failing to prevent resident escapes, some by convicted felons.
     Nevertheless, Mayor Muriel Bowser and some D.C. Councilmembers say the new halfway house is needed.
     Council member Robert C. White Jr. (D-At Large) recently wrote a letter to the Bureau of Prisons recently saying that “we cannot lose the opportunity” for the new halfway house “that the District’s returning citizens have been asking for and needing for so many years.”
     For more information, contact The Legal Forum (www.legal-forum.net) at email: tramstack@gmail.com or phone: 202-479-7240.

Priest Convicted of Sexually Abusing
Girls at Sacred Heart Church in D.C.


     A Washington, D.C. Catholic priest was convicted Thursday of sexually assaulting two girls from his church.
     Urbano Vazquez was accused of groping and kissing the girls at Shrine of the Sacred Heart Church in Northwest D.C. between 2015 and 2017. They were then nine years old and 13 years old.
     He was found guilty in D.C. Superior Court on all counts of felony second-degree child sexual assault with aggravating circumstances and one misdemeanor of sexual abuse of a child. He faces as much as 45 years in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 22.
     Federal prosecutors Sharon Marcus-Kurn and J. Matt Williams said during the trial there was a delay in the case because the girls felt embarrassed about telling anyone.
     The then 13-year-old said Vazquez touched her thigh inappropriately during confession. The nine-year-old said she was groped in a bathroom.
     “He was brazen,” Marcus-Kurn said during closing arguments. “He got a thrill out of doing that during the Mass services, behind closed doors.”
     He was able to prey upon the underage girls partly because his job as co-pastor gave him influence and trust at the church, the prosecutors said.
     Vazquez took the stand in his own defense to say he did nothing wrong. He described his work at the church but said he never was alone with the girls.
     Vazquez’s attorney, Robert Bonsib, told the jury during closing arguments that the 13-year-old changed her story, indicating “the evidence in this case doesn’t add up.” After the conviction, he said he plans an appeal.

New D.C. Law Seeks to Protect Privacy
Of Crime Victims’ Home Addresses


     Crime victims and controversial policy advocates are gaining a new right to privacy under legislation approved by the D.C. Council.
     The Address Confidentiality Program will allow them to omit their home addresses from voter registration files, Department of Motor Vehicles databases and tax records.
     Now, they are available to anyone through inspections of public records or Freedom of Information Act requests.
     The local law is designed to protect victims of domestic abuse, human trafficking, sex crimes and persons who help them, many of whom are lawyers. Others who could shield their addresses are employees of reproductive health organizations and domestic violence shelters.
     D.C. residents can participate through a request to the Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants.
     They also must provide evidence they are crime victims or that they work in a qualifying organization. The proof can be an affidavit, police report or note from a doctor.
     After getting certification from the city agency, the resident’s address would remain confidential for three years. The confidentiality could be renewed in two-year terms afterward.
     The D.C. Board of Elections is participating with its own program that gives voters a new option to have their home addresses kept either fully or partially confidential.
     Maryland and Virginia have similar programs but the new one in Washington, D.C. is more pervasive.


800 4th Street SW, No. N517   Washington, DC 20024
Phone: 240-421-6395   E-mail: tramstack@gmail.com