Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Aunt Jemima Heirs’ $3 Billion Lawsuit Against Pepsi, Quaker Oats Tossed by Judge

Aunt Jemima Heirs’ $3 Billion Lawsuit Against Pepsi, Quaker Oats Tossed by Judge

Aunt Jemima Pancakes
Quaker Oats
Judge dismisses claims of two men who claimed to be descendants of the woman who portrayed beloved syrup figurehead
Pepsi and Quaker Oats have just escaped a potentially sticky legal situation.
The two companies have been granted a dismissal in a lawsuit brought against them by two men claiming to be the great-grandsons of Anna Short Harrington, who portrayed syrup and pancake figurehead Aunt Jemima.
Dannez W. Hunter and Larnell Evans, Jr. filed suit against PepsiCo, the Quaker Oats Company and others in August, claiming that the defendants had failed to pay royalties to Harrington’s estate and stole Harrington’s pancake formula in an act of “industrial espionage.”

The pair had sought a total of $3 billion, with $1 billion of that in equity stocks.
But an order handed down by U.S. District Judge Edmond E. Chang Wednesday in Chicago flattened those claims like a pancake. Chang granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, which contended that Hunter and Evans had failed to state a claim.
“Plaintiffs do not allege that they are authorized to act as executors or administrators of  Harrington’s estate, or even that such an estate exists (or ever existed),” Chang wrote. “The only information about Plaintiffs’ connection to Harrington provided by the amended complaint is an account of how Hunter received a photograph (now lost) of Harrington from his grandmother and of Plaintiffs’ attempt to locate Harrington’s grave in Syracuse, New York.”

As TheWrap previously reported, Harrington took on the role of the pre-existing character of Aunt Jemima in 1935. In 1937, the company first registered the trademark for the brand. She was allegedly selected because of her own pancake recipe, which the company recreated for the mass market.
The lawsuit cited Screen Actors Guild residuals and standard policies in the entertainment industry regarding revenue statements, which neither Harrington nor her heirs ever received. It wasn’t until they uncovered in 2013 that Quaker Oats had trademarked Harrington’s likeness and picture in 1937 that the family determined that they were owed royalties. Harrington died in 1955.
But Chang found that the statute of limitations for Hunter and Evans’ claims had long ago expired.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

Man Convicted of Rape in Delhi Blames Victim

Man Convicted of Rape in Delhi Blames Victim

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Filmmaker on Indian Rapist’s Comments

Filmmaker on Indian Rapist’s Comments

Leslee Udwin, a British filmmaker who interviewed one of the men convicted of raping and killing a woman in a brutal 2012 gang attack on a New Delhi bus, said Mukesh Singh blamed the victim.
Video by AP on Publish Date March 3, 2015. Photo by Associated Press.

NEW DELHI — In the months after the death of a young woman who was brutalized and gang-raped on a moving bus in New Delhi in 2012, thousands of politicians, activists and ordinary citizens crowded India’s airwaves and its public spaces to say their piece about the crime.
But there was no comment from the six slight, ordinary-looking men accused of her murder. Whisked in and out of the courtroom past shouting crowds of journalists, they listened impassively to testimony and offered monosyllabic answers on the stand. Courtroom guards said they hummed Bollywood tunes under their breath. Their opinions were anyone’s guess.
Now, one of the men on death row for the crime, Mukesh Singh, has told a British filmmaker that the young woman invited the rape because she was out too late at night and that she would have lived if she had submitted to the assault.

“You can’t clap with one hand,” said Mr. Singh, who was convicted of rape and murder, though he denied taking part in the assault. “It takes two hands. A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. Boy and girl are not equal. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20 percent of girls are good.”

Mukesh Singh Credit Associated Press

The comments, released as part of a publicity campaign for the film, called “India’s Daughter,” were met with outrage in India, in part over why the filmmaker, Leslee Udwin, had been permitted to interview the defendant in jail.
B. S. Bassi, a Delhi Police spokesman, told reporters Tuesday that the police would move to obtain a restraining order against the broadcast of the film. He said statements had “been made about the late victim of a ghastly crime which transgress” the law.
Officials said the video violated four statutes in India’s penal code, including one against “intent to cause alarm in the public” and another banning acts “intended to outrage the modesty of a woman.”
The home minister, Rajnath Singh, demanded an explanation from officials at Tihar Jail, where Mukesh Singh is incarcerated, as to why they had allowed the interview while the case was pending appeal. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued an advisory on Tuesday, telling news channels not to broadcast reports about the documentary. But at least one major news channel, NDTV, said it intended to show the film.
The woman, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, had been to see “Life of Pi” with a male friend, and they boarded the private bus without realizing that it was off duty and that the six men aboard had been driving the streets in search of a victim. After knocking her friend unconscious, they took the woman to the back of the bus and raped her, then damaged her internal organs with an iron rod. An hour later, they dumped the pair on the roadside, bleeding and naked. The woman died two weeks later.
In the interview, for a film that will air Sunday on the BBC, Mr. Singh said the woman had provoked the deadly assault by resisting the rape.
“When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back,” he told the filmmaker, Ms. Udwin, according to a transcript provided by the BBC. “She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they’d have dropped her off after ‘doing her,’ and only hit the boy.”
In footage from the film, Mr. Singh tonelessly narrates the assault, saying that he heard the woman screaming for help but that his brother instructed him to keep driving as they “dragged her to the back” and “went turn by turn.” Afterward, he said, he saw the youngest of the assailants, who was 17 at the time, withdraw something from her body.
“It was her intestines,” Mr. Singh said. “He said: ‘She’s dead. Throw her out quickly.’ ”
He called the killing “an accident.”
Ms. Udwin, at a news conference in New Delhi, said the film crew had interviewed Mr. Singh for 16 hours and had seen no sign of remorse. “He is almost like a robot,” she said.
According to police records, the men divided the pair’s possessions: Mr. Singh took one cellphone, and Vinay Sharma, 20, took the other. Pawan Gupta took the man’s watch and 1,000 rupees in cash, a little less than $20. Akshay Kumar Singh took the woman’s rings. The juvenile was given a bank card and some cash.
Months before the trial, Mr. Singh’s brother, Ram Singh, hanged himself with his bedsheet in his prison cell. The juvenile defendant, whose identity has not been made public in accordance with Indian law, was sentenced to three years in a detention center, the heaviest sentence possible in India’s juvenile justice system. The remaining four men pleaded not guilty; they are appealing their death sentences.
Mr. Singh told the filmmaker that he believed the harsh sentences, instead of acting as a deterrent, would drive more rapists to kill their victims. “Before, they would rape and say: ‘Leave her alone. She won’t tell anyone,’ ” he said. “Now, when they rape, especially the criminal types, they will just kill the girl. Death.”

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Drew Peterson back in court in murder-for-hire plot

Editor's note:  This Shark believes clever Drew most likely dropped wife #4 into the bottom of an open grave in a cemetery awaiting another persons burial.  Lucius Verenus, Schoolmaster,
Drew Peterson back in court in murder-for-hire plot
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AP Photo/M. Spencer Green
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Timeline of the Drew Peterson case
CHESTER, Ill. (AP) -- The former suburban Chicago police officer convicted of killing his third wife and suspected in his fourth spouse's disappearance is returning to court on charges of trying to hire someone to kill the prosecutor who helped put him in state prison.
Drew Peterson was charged in February with soliciting an unidentified person to find someone he could pay to kill Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow.
The 61-year-old former Bolingbrook police sergeant has been in prison since being convicted in 2012 in Kathleen Savio's bathtub drowning death eight years earlier. His fourth wife disappeared in 2007.
The murder-for-hire charges were filed in Randolph County, where Peterson is an inmate at the Menard Correctional Center. Peterson will appear in court Tuesday.

Testimony begins in hearing on Judge Angela Stokes courtroom behavior

Testimony begins in hearing on Judge Angela Stokes courtroom behavior

Posted: Feb 26, 2015 1:31 PM CST Updated: Feb 26, 2015 2:22 PM CST

Mountain of evidence to be presented at disciplinary hearing for Judge Angela Stokes. (Source: WOIO)
Mountain of evidence to be presented at disciplinary hearing for Judge Angela Stokes. (Source: WOIO)
Judge Angela Stokes. (Source: Cleveland Municipal Court)
Judge Angela Stokes. (Source: Cleveland Municipal Court)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Opening statements in the disciplinary case against suspended Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Angela Stokes painted far different pictures of her work on the bench.  Attorney Robert Caligiuri of the Disciplinary Counsel told the three Judge panel, "When a person, any person walked into Judge Stokes courtroom 15C in Cleveland Municipal Court they walked into a different universe where rudeness, impatience, judicial incompetence, disrespect and disorder ruled the day." 

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He used played video of Stokes berating an attorney in the following exchange, 'I am tired of this nonsense, you are out of order. You are out of order counsel. I gave your client a break by only ordering two days of this sentence into execution.'
The question before the Disciplinary Council is whether the behavior is abusive enough for Judge Stokes to be removed from the bench.
The strategy of Judge Stokes defense team seems to be that all the things the Disciplinary Council cites in it's complaint against her were secretly collected by Presiding Judge Ronald Adrine and his predecessor Judge Larry Jones and were part of a plot to get her off the bench.
Attorney Paul Daiker claims, "The evidence will show that Judge Adrine recruited and rewarded a number of individuals willing to bear false witness against Judge Stokes."
Judge Jones was the first witness saying he tried many times to have her correct her courtroom behavior saying, "It would work for two weeks, three weeks."  He says his concern was her treatment of others.  He cited several examples "leaving the court house at 6 o'clock, 7 o'clock, 8 o'clock and again it's unfair to them and also as I indicated it's unfair to the public."
Stokes law license is currently suspended temporarily. The panel hearing testimony will make a recommendation to the Ohio Supreme Court who will make a final decision.

Prospect Park Residence owner to pay $750,000 in death of ‘kung-fu judge’

Prospect Park Residence owner to pay $750,000 in death of ‘kung-fu judge’

The Brooklyn Paper
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The embattled owner of a Park Slope assisted-living facility will pay $750,000 to the estate of a beloved Brooklyn judge, known for holding a black belt in karate, thanks to a settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit.

The suit claimed that Prospect Park Residence owner Haysha Deitsch was running a sham facility staffed by unlicensed nurses when Judge John Phillips stayed there, and that severe neglect led to his death at 83 in 2008.
The settlement is a grim victory, according to the lawyer representing Phillips’s nephew, Samuel Boykin.
“No one’s cracking open champagne bottles,” said John O’Hara, a close friend of Phillips who delivered a eulogy at the judge’s funeral.
The out-of-court settlement came a week before the scheduled start of a jury trial in which Boykin was seeking $40 million in damages. In a complaint, Boykin and O’Hara accused the facility of failing to provide Phillips with a diabetic meal plan during his eight-month stay, keeping him in an unheated room in the dead of winter, and preventing friends and family from visiting him by citing a fictional court order, all the while lacking the required license to operate an assisted-living facility.
A 2012 inspection of the facility found that Deitsch was providing services to dependent and memory-impaired patients without the proper license to do so, a crime punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 for every day a facility continues to operate.
According to the lawsuit, Deitsch claimed for years that confining Phillips was justified by a court order, but was never able to produce the order. With no assisted-living license and no court order, Deitsch was nothing more than a landlord illegally isolating an elderly, vulnerable man, O’Hara said.
The settlement closes the long, sad saga of the so-called kung-fu judge, a landlord and popular civil-court judge elected without the support of the Brooklyn Democratic machine. Phillips was famed for demonstrating martial-arts moves from the bench, where he served for 17 years. He owned property in Bedford-Stuyvesant at a time when many — including Phillips — were nervous on the neighborhood’s crime-plagued streets, and he turned his Slave Theater into a hotbed of civil-rights activity in the 1980s.
Phillips was an opponent of former District Attorney Charles Hynes, and O’Hara, another foe of Brooklyn’s erstwhile top lawman, has long accused Hynes of railroading Phillips into state care and allowing court-appointed guardians to loot his estate.
Backing up O’Hara’s claims, a Los Angeles tax firm submitted a letter in court describing the ruinous impact of lost assets and rental revenue from Phillips’s properties, which were auctioned off one by one. According to a preliminary investigation by the firm, the judge’s estate lost between $20 million and $30 million from the time Hynes committed Phillips to guardianship in 2001 until his death in 2008.
In 2008, a state panel disbarred Emani Taylor, Phillips’s guardian from 2003 to 2006, for stealing $328,000 from the judge’s estate.
O’Hara claimed Deitsch agreed to the settlement in order to avoid a trial that would have unearthed unsavory details and political connections.
“Deitsch confined Phillips because Hynes told him to, but they are never going to say that,” he said. “I never got an answer to how he was able to confine him without a court order. We got $750,000 instead.”
A lawyer for Deitsch did not return requests for comment.
Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz

Monday, March 2, 2015

Chicago-area woman convicted of toddler's murder

Editor's note: Your ProbateShark believes Mike should be a "Mensch" and give Melissa chance for freedom.  Lucius Verenus, Schoolmaster,

'48 Hours' features Chicago-area woman convicted of toddler's murder

'48 Hours' raises questions in Melissa Calusinski's murder conviction at a Chicago-area child care center
Convicted murderer Melissa Calusinski claims innocence in toddler's 2009 death on 48 Hours'
A Chicago-area woman convicted of killing a toddler by slamming him to the floor at a child care center tearfully said during the "48 Hours" news show Saturday that she was coerced into confessing to the crime after spending nearly 10 hours in an interrogation room.
Melissa Calusinski is serving a 31-year prison sentence for the murder of 16-month-old Benjamin Kingan, who was under her care at a Lincolnshire day care center. Workers at Minee Subee Daycare Center called for help after the Deerfield toddler became unresponsive in January 2009.
"I would never hurt a child," Calusinski said on the show.
When asked why she confessed to becoming frustrated and throwing Benjamin to the floor, she said. "I've never been in this situation ever. I didn't even know what was going through my mind."
The show, titled "Blaming Melissa," questioned the length of time Calusinski was interviewed by investigators and whether Benjamin had suffered a prior brain injury that could have caused his death.
Calusinski's family members and Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd were among those interviewed who raised questions about medical evidence and police techniques.
Calusinski was 25 when she was convicted in 2011. She had no criminal background and showed a low IQ, according to court records. A state appeals court declined to reverse her conviction last year, finding nothing wrong in the investigation.
Lake County State's Attorney Michael Nerheim, also interviewed for the show, said he reviewed the case shortly after taking office at the request of Calusinski's defense lawyer.
He declined to ask an internal panel to investigate the case for possible retrial, saying he sees no new evidence to present to a jury.
"Last night's show essentially was a rehashing of the defense theory at trial in an hourlong TV show," Nerheim said in a phone interview. "The jury heard all of this … and convicted her."
He added: "Not only is there a confession … but that confession is supported by evidence."
The child's parents, Amy and Andy Kingan, declined to be interviewed by "48 Hours," Nerheim said.
One argument presented by defense attorneys is that an expert witness in the case revised his conclusion after Benjamin's autopsy.
Lake County's coroner, Rudd, who at the time was newly elected to office, reviewed microscopic evidence and determined there was a prior injury. As a result, the expert witness, forensic pathologist Eupil Choi, agreed that he made a mistake and signed an affidavit, admitting that he overlooked another injury prior to the day Benjamin died.
"I just couldn't believe what I was seeing," Rudd told the television show. "I was shocked, stunned."
But Choi said the new evidence would not change his conclusion that Benjamin died from a "catastrophic" head injury the day of his death, Nerheim said.
"Dr. Choi did not change his opinion at all," he said. Benjamin would have had to suffer a significant new injury to cause the amount of bleeding in his brain that caused his death, he said.
Questions also were raised about the interrogation techniques used by investigators with the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force. Calusinski, interviewed off and on over a 10-hour period, changed her story several times under questioning by police.
"That is not a confession. That's a bunch of lies." Calusinski said on the television show, while reviewing videotapes of her confession.
"It was like mentally exhausting for me. A child just died. It takes time to heal."
Task force commander George Filenko was one of the investigators who questioned Calusinski throughout the day.
On Saturday, he said he did not plan to watch the show because he believed it would be biased toward Calusinski's defense.
"They never attempted to interview any of the police officers" involved in the case, he said.
A "48 Hours" producer called him once several months ago, and asked him if he was comfortable with the interview he conducted with Calusinski. He said he responded yes, but added that there were no follow-up questions.
Filenko said during the 10-hour period when Calusinski was being held, investigators spent much of that time checking with forensic scientists on whether any of the various scenarios she presented were plausible.
At one point, they brought in a toddler-size chair from Minee Subee and asked Calusinski to use a teddy bear to demonstrate what happened to Benjamin, he said.
"We followed the letter of the law," Filenko said Saturday. "I value what I do. I swore an oath. I don't take shortcuts."
After his election in 2012, Nerheim pledged more transparency and formed an independent review panel on the heels of several wrongful conviction cases in Lake County. He said he would revisit the Calusinski case if new evidence surfaced.
"Believe me, if there is new evidence, I'll review it," he said. "I respect the jury's decision, and I am not going to second guess the jury's decision."
Twitter @LisaBChiTrib