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Archive for the month “February, 2016”

Chicago Puts the Breaks on Red Light Cameras

As my readers know, I have written extensively on traffic cameras, and the links to those pieces are listed below.  Traffic cameras come in at least two forms: red light cameras and speeding cameras.

So far, speeding cameras seem to be a relatively positive development in traffic control, and I, of course, will be keeping an eye on that issue.  Red light cameras, by contrast, are a much bigger issue.  I have been very vocal in my opposition to red light cameras on practical, legal, and, indeed, constitutional grounds.  I have summarized those grounds in the links below, especially the articles.

It now seems Chicago is the latest battleground for red light cameras and, as it seems to be the trend across the country, the red light camera program is losing ground there too.  Evidently Chicago is being sued for its alleged denial of due process to motorists who were allegedly caught by the red light camera program.  The Court hearing this matter has voided all of the red light camera tickets, which means Chicago is potentially on the hook to refund hundreds of millions of dollars to motorists.  Now, due to this ruling (which will likely be appealed), a class action law suit regarding these red light tickets is now in the cards.

You can learn more about the Chicago case here.

So, it seems that the tide is certainly turning and is now decidedly moving against the red light program, and this latest ruling, described above, is the next step in that process.  I like to think that my initial opposition to this program several years ago as published in Upon Further Review (see here) helped begin to turn the tide, but, regardless, I am happy to see this latest development.  The red light program is simply bad policy and the sooner it ends the better.


Blog Posts:


Check out Faye Cohen’s post to her blog Toughlawyerlady!


I have encountered several situations recently which have led me to think about how humans react when they encounter moral dilemmas. The first situation deeply disappointed and upset me. It involved the testimony of a witness. Trial lawyers in civil cases frequently encounter witnesses who they know are lying; witnesses who have “memory lapses” and allegedly can’t remember most things about the incident they have been asked to testify about; and witnesses who appear fearful about testifying to something which may cause him/her a problem. These witnesses make a choice to disregard the oath they take to tell the truth in favor of self-interest.

It is particularly difficult to break the almost lock jawed “company line” testimony that employees of a company provide because they are in fear of losing their jobs if they testify to the truth. Even former employees who have signed agreements not to disparage the company…

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Final Accommodation Rules Adopted For Religious Objectors To ACA Contraceptive Coverage

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

The Obama Administration on Friday released final rules on accommodating religious objections to the Affordable Care Act requirement for health insurance coverage of contraceptive services. (Full text of Rules and accompanying release). The final rules, which provide for the insurer or policy administrator to provide contraceptive coverage directly when the employer objects to providing coverage, apply to any non-profit that holds itself out as a religious organization and has religious objections to covering some or all contraceptive items or services.

The accommodation also applies to any closely-held for-profit business entity where “the organization’s highest governing body (such as its board of directors…) has adopted a resolution or similar action, under the organization’s applicable rules of governance and consistent with state law, establishing that it objects to covering some or all of the contraceptive services on account of the owners’ sincerely held religious beliefs.” The final rules define a closely-held entity as one whose shares or ownership interests are not publicly traded and where more than 50% in value of its ownership interests is owned directly or indirectly (e.g. through a corporation or trust) by 5 or fewer individuals or families.

On the important question of the type of notice an objecting non-profit or closely-held business must furnish, the final rules carry forward the procedures currently in place. As summarized by the adopting Release:

These final regulations continue to allow eligible organizations to choose between using EBSA Form 700 [and furnishing it directly to the insurer or third party administrator] or the alternative process consistent with the Wheaton interim order. The alternative process provides that an eligible organization may notify HHS in writing of its religious objection to covering all or a subset of contraceptive services. The notice must include the name of the eligible organization and the basis on which it qualifies for an accommodation; its objection based on sincerely held religious beliefs….; the plan name and type…; and the name and contact information for any of the plan’s third party administrators and health insurance issuers.

Health Affairs Blog has more on the new rules. A Friday press release from the Becket Fund continues to express strong opposition to the Final Rules. [Thanks to Mark Scarberry via Religionlaw for the lead.]

You can learn more about this issue here.

Conscience Rights of Clerks and Judges Become An Issue After Supreme Court’s Marriage Equality Ruling

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage, issues continue to arise regarding the right of state and county officials to refuse on personal religious grounds to issue licenses or perform weddings.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that in Hood County, Texas, County Clerk Katie Lang last week initially refused to issue a marriage license to Joe Stapleton and Jim Cato. On Monday the couple filed a federal lawsuit and less than two hours later Lang’s office agreed to issue the couple a marriage license.  However the couple’s lawyer says the lawsuit will proceed unless Lang agrees to issue licenses in the future to all couples, gay and straight.

According to the Toledo Blade, in Toledo, Ohio on Monday a same-sex couple who were issued a marriage license ran into delays when they went to the office of the judge on duty to perform marriages for that day.  Municipal Court Judge C. Allen McConnell’s bailiff told them that McConnell does not do “these types of marriages.” However, after a 45-minute wait, another judge, William M. Connelly, Jr., performed the ceremony for them.

In Kentucky, court clerk Casey Davis who objects on religious grounds to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples has come up with a creative suggestion. Davis wants state law amended so couples can obtain marriage licenses online.  AP reports that Davis has asked Gov. Steve Beshear to call a special session of the legislature to amend the law to allow the online procedure.  According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Beshear for cost reasons has rejected the idea of a special legislative session on marriage issues, even though House Speaker Greg Stumbo favors it. ”

You can learn more about this issue here.

NEARFest Posts, Reviews, and Programs Roundup

This post is in my series regarding the North East Art Rock Festival (NEARFest), more about which you can find here.

I have written several posts regarding NEARFest over the years.  Those posts include reviews of eleven different Festivals with photographs from each.  In addition, those posts will also hopefully soon include twelve different Festival programs.

Given my large number of posts about the Festival, I thought it would be easier and convenient if I consolidated all the posts into a single post with links to each for people to click on and read; so, to that end, I have done that below.

Please take the time to peruse these links!  Enjoy!

NEARFest Reviews (photographs are included on each page linked below!):

NEARFest Programs:


Ecclesiastical Abstention Doctrine Prevents Suit Over Catholic Health Care Directive

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“In Means v. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, (WD MI, June 30, 2015), plaintiff sued for negligence claiming that policies promulgated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and adopted by Catholic Health Ministries, the sponsor of a health care system, resulted in her receiving improper information and treatment for a condition that led to a miscarriage.  She was not informed of the serious risk to her health if she continued her pregnancy after a membrane rupture and was not informed of the option of terminating her pregnancy.  A Michigan federal district court held that it lacked jurisdiction under Michigan’s long-arm statute over USCCB. It held that the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine precludes it from adjudicating the claims against the other defendants:

Plaintiff has not sufficiently demonstrated that Michigan law recognizes a duty to a patient by a sponsor of a hospital network….  Even if Plaintiff could articulate a cognizable legal duty, the Court could not adjudicate the elements of breach and proximate cause because it necessarily implicates the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine… which prevents the Court from interpreting religious doctrinal texts. Plaintiff has not presented a way for this Court or a jury to analyze CHM’s duty, breach, or causation without reference to the text of the [Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services], which are an expression of Catholic doctrine.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

Can You See the Light?!

Here is an article by Adam S. Bernick, Esquire who is of counsel with my firm.  This article was originally published in Upon Further Review on January 22, 2015, and can be seen here.

Law Office Video: James W. Cushing, Esquire, on Pennsylvania Custody Law

My law firm, the Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C., has established a YouTube channel which you can see here.

We are in the process of creating videos to upload to our new YouTube channel and hope to post a new video once per month.

We hope our viewers can be edified by the information we convey.  Please contact us with your legal needs!

Here is the link to our previous video:

Here is our latest video:


Writing songs: make us feel it

Here is the latest post by Angela and Daz Croucher to their blog A.D. Croucher! They are up-and-coming young adult authors. Check them out!

A.D. Croucher

Every writer knows that if you want to write a novel, you have to read a lot of books. And not just in your genre — you have to venture into all of the categories of your kindle. It’s the same for songwriting. In order to understand the craft of putting a song together, you first need to expose yourself to as much music as you can. Keep listening until you can hear the musical and lyrical structures of the nearly countless variations of songwriting out there. And then listen some more.

Whether it’s pop, which currently tends to have simpler, more repetitive lyrics over intense production, or rap, which usually focuses on telling a story over production-heavy loops and beats, or country, which almost entirely tells stories via vivid imagery and hooks, sometimes with a stripped-down sound, sometimes with arena-ready production gloss, you’ll learn the many nuances of songwriting from all…

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5th Circuit Rejects RFRA Challenge To Contraceptive Mandate Accommodation For Religious Non-Profits

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“In East Texas Baptist University v. Burwell, (5th Cir., June 22,2015), the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Obama administration’s rules that allow religious non-profits to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage mandate by certifying their religious opposition and either notifying their insurer or plan administrator of their opposition, or furnishing the Department of Health and Human Services with the name and contact information for their insurer or administrator.  In either case, the insurer or administrator must then offer coverage directly.  Plaintiffs argued that this accommodation still violates their religious freedom rights under RFRA.  The court disagreed, saying in part:

Although the plaintiffs have identified several acts that offend their religious beliefs, the acts they are required to perform do not include providing or facilitating access to contraceptives. Instead, the acts that violate their faith are those of third parties. Because RFRA confers no right to challenge the independent conduct of third parties, we join our sister circuits in concluding that the plaintiffs have not shown a substantial burden on their religious exercise.

Slate reports on the decision.”

You can learn more about this issue here.


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