A Week - er, Month - in Review

In PA, a 17-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department has been held in solitary confinement for eight months - for invoking his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination by refusing to provide decryption passwords to allow federal prosecutors access to his computer.

He has not faced trial. He has not been arrested. But he is being indefinitely imprisoned for "civil contempt" by a federal judge, despite a state judge ruling that he “properly invoked the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination when indicating that he would neither perform the act of decrypting the electronic devices … seized by the Commonwealth, nor provide the passwords to the Grand Jury for the electronic devices.”

The NJ Senate and Assembly are opposing Governor Christie's "loosening" of gun laws to allow those facing serious threats to apply for a concealed carry permit and to permit shooters traveling to and from a range to fuel their vehicles and/or to relieve themselves.  These levels of freedom are apparently unacceptable and alarming to the state legislature, which is now crafting legislation - very likely to succeed - to roll back even those pathetic "reforms."

A WY man threatened with $16 million dollars in fines for not getting EPA permission to build a stock pond has won his case against the agency.  "Under the settlement, Johnson's pond will remain and he won't pay any fines or concede any federal jurisdiction to regulate the pond.  And the government won't pursue any further enforcement actions based on the pond's construction.... The only conditions...are that willow trees be planted around the pond and a partial fence installed to 'control livestock.'"

A federal judge has struck down Washington D.C.'s requirement to "show good reason" for a concealed carry permit.  "David Thompson, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said [U.S. District Judge Richard] Leon got it right in finding that the Constitution includes a right to carry firearms. 'The District of Columbia cannot parcel out Constitutional rights to a select few of its choosing,' Thompson said. 'That's not how the Constitution works in this country.'"

Federal judge Andrew Hanen has issued a stinging rebuke of Justice Department attorneys, ordering "practically all the lawyers in its main DC office to take ethics training for five years...." Hanen has accused Justice lawyers of intentionally misleading him in an illegal immigration case.  "The states were considering filing for an immediate injunction to stop Justice from implementing the Obama order. The lawyers assured Hanen in court that nothing would go ahead before February 2015, so there was no need. Then the department went ahead and 'legalized' 100,000 illegals — without ever telling the judge."

Several thousand students in one CO school district may have had personal data compromised due to a potential security breach.  However, the district Board is refusing to discuss whether vulnerabilities even exist, much less whether a breach has occurred, and made vague legal threats against the reporter bringing the issue to light - "[U]nderstand this, if people have found a security issue, and they are exploiting it, they are breaking the law.”

A NY man "was thrilled to obtain a Global Entry pass, which he hoped would let him skip Customs lines" when returning from overseas travel.  However, when the pass arrived, the data was correct - but it displayed someone else's picture. "They used my information and my file for someone else."

In CT, the IRS relented in their 3-year effort to seize over $68,000 from the owners of a family bakery and have returned the cash.  However, they are continuing to pursue criminal charges, bleeding the family's financial resources in what appears to be a punitive act.  The funds were originally stolen under federal civil asset forfeiture laws, after the agency declared the family had deposited cash amounts under $10,000 too often.  This is referred to as "structuring," itself a crime even when the funds can be proven to be perfectly legal.

A proposed NY bill would make it a crime to choose to leave an airport and miss your flight rather than be subject to "additional scrutiny" by TSA employees. If passed, you'll take your groping and like it - or face arrest.  "Sheriff Craig Apple said he proposed the measure at the urging of Bart Johnson, head of TSA security operations at upstate airports, who hopes it will become a model for other airports. It is co-sponsored by Democratic Majority Leader Frank Commisso and Republican Minority Leader Frank Mauriello. The law is intended to cover what Apple described as a soft spot in the current system that allows passengers to walk away without boarding their flights if security staff flags them for additional scrutiny."

NH made an effort to live up to its state motto of "Live Free or Die".  The House and Senate passed significant civil forfeiture reforms, requiring criminal conviction before assets can be seized and placing the burden of proof on the state rather than the accused.  Meanwhile, the New Hampshire Supreme Court reversed a 2013 administrative rule that required those applying for non-resident concealed carry permits to show proof of possessing such a license in their home state, something denied to most residents of places such as New Jersey and New York City.