Greens Push for Medical Cannabis to be Legalised and Available as Early as 2016 Federally

Senator Richard Di Natale the Greens leader, announced yesterday that the bill to create a regulator for medicinal cannabis for certain conditions has been drafted and will be put before the Senate for a vote as early as November.

Both NSW andf VIC state governments had indicated their intent to legalise medicinal cannabis, a federal regulatory scheme was required to do this. Senator Natale commented, “We need national laws to make sure we can licence growers … that doctors can prescribe this and that the medication gets in the hands of patients who need it.”

If passed, there was “no reason” Australia could not begin importing medicinal cannabis and make it available for patients next year.

Health Minister Sussan Ley said the Turnbull government was “incredibly sympathetic” to the plight of those suffering chronic pain and illnesses “and we want to ensure they get access to the most effective medical treatments available”.

She further said, “We must ensure any therapeutic product, including medicinal cannabis, is not only a safe and effective treatment for public use, but also meets our strict international obligations safe-guarding its manufacture and distribution for medical purposes only.”

Read more about this story here (http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/medicinal-cannabis-could-be-legally-available-by-2016-20151012-gk6vnv.html)

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If You Can’t Stand the Tweet, Get Out of the Courtroom

In a case that could perhaps only happen in the south of Spain, a judge in Seville has sentenced a defendant to repeatedly tweet the judgement against him for a month.

Luis Pineda, a consumers’ rights organisation head, has been found to have defamed another consumers’ right organisation, Facua, via tweets. He was found to have used Twitter to claim that Facua’s spokesman, Rubén Sánchez, was corrupt, had stolen from members, and committed fraud. The judge found that Pineda had published “humiliating and insulting remarks” which “evidently harmed his honour.”

Accordingly, the judge sentenced Pineda to tweet the judgement for 30 days between the peak Twitter hours of 9am-2pm and 5pm – 10pm along with paying damages and erasing the defamatory tweets.

When asked by a Twitter follower when he would begin his 30 days, he replied, “nunca” (never). He also tweeted “Celebrating a judicial victory with a sentence that can be appealed is like celebrating a wedding during the engagement,” foreshadowing his intentions.

It’s difficult not to read the bizarre sentence and see a lot of sense and a hint of ‘playground’ justice. Funnily enough, when dealing with the punitive legal recourse, the general public’s reactions aren’t too far off Sevillian judges. Begging the question: is it the lawyers or the public that are out of touch?

For more, see: http://www.australasianlawyer.com.au/news/lighter-side-judge-sentences-man-to-daily-tweeting-206301.aspx

Another Law School Open for Business

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TOP Education Institute’s Law School was given accreditation by the NSW Legal Profession Admissions Board in April as a provider of legal education, and will begin teaching students in the first session of 2016.

With an admission ATAR of 85, the school is marketing itself towards those groups underrepresented in the legal profession. It will pay particular attention to attracting students from schools in Western Sydney.

The opening of the law school recently came back in to public discourse with an article published by Lawyers Weekly. There is growing concern amongst the profession and amongst graduates that this will produce an increasing oversupply of graduates in a jobs market already highly competitive. The article states:

“Law graduates are facing the toughest job market in more than two decades. One quarter of law graduates who wanted a full-time job could not find one within four months of graduating in 2014.

The total number of law graduates in Australia reached 12,742 in 2012, up from 6,149 in 2001. However, only around half of these graduates went on to be admitted as lawyers.”

The opening of yet another school of law is cause for growing concern in the industry and for recent graduates hoping to receive a highly sought after graduate position. However the school has sought to differentiate itself from other more-established legal education providers, by focusing on delivering students a highly practical degree, focused on skills training to ensure their graduates are market-ready on completion. This may just be enough for students completing their degree at TOP Education Institute to set themselves apart.

Only time will tell.

For more on this story please see http://www.lawyersweekly.com.au/news/17221-new-law-school-may-leave-grads-stranded

Locations of specialist domestic violence legal support units announced

Following the announcement earlier this week by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that a $100 million package would be used to respond to family and domestic violence through a Women’s Safety Program, today the Attorney-General’s department has provided specific details of what his portfolio’s $15 million will fund.

Attorney-General for Australia, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, appeared this morning on the ABC program, Insiders. When asked by host Barrie Cassidy whether he could provide further details on how that money would be spent, he responded:

“Yes I can Barrie. I think it’s emblematic of the new Government, that this is our first major announcement, although there had been much work done during the previous Government as well, to bring us, to put this into shape. Some $15 million, the $100 million of new money that was announced by the Prime Minister and Senator Cash last week, will be spent within the Attorney-General’s portfolio to fund twelve specialist domestic violence units within community legal centres in areas of Australia identified as being areas of particular need, and I’m announcing today the location of those areas.”

Subsequently, in a Media Release issued today, those locations have been announced.

South-West Sydney, NSW;

the Dubbo region, NSW;

North-East Melbourne, VIC;

the Mallee region; VIC;

priority locations within Brisbane and the Gold Coast, QLD;

Townsville, QLD;

North-East Perth, WA;

the Kimberley, WA;

Elizabeth, SA;

North-West Tasmania;

Alice Springs, NT; and

Canberra, ACT.

Additional funding will be provided to establish health justice partnerships between a local hospital or health care centre and the new domestic violence units at:

Brisbane and the Gold Coast, QLD;

North-East Perth, WA;

Elizabeth, SA; and

Alice Springs, NT.

For the full media release please see:
http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.au/Mediareleases/Pages/2015/ThirdQuarter/27-September-2015-Locations-for-specialist-domestic-violence-legal-support.aspx

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Redress – What the PM should say about Child Abuse Redress

turnballpmThe Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse have recently delivered a report on how to achieve redress in a systemic and unified way across Australia. The obvious upshot of their reports is to ensure that resolution by restitution may be made available in a way that is equally delivered and universally available across the country – without any worry as to which state you may be in or which regulatory regime may be in issue.

But the report requires leadership from political power sources to deliver on its promise to victims and survivors (including their friends and families) across the nation. In truth, only federal politics has sufficient scope and ambit to achieve it and it should be done as part and parcel of a national response to the issue.

The Royal Commission is the first step in a national level approach. To devolve the benefit of its considered opinion down to a state by state approach is to take one giant leap backward while seeking to make two steps forward. The Royal Commission must be seen as the first brick in a wall that is going to continue needing building and effort to create the sort of protections and resolutions for victims of abuse the country over.

The Federal Government famously eschewed the opportunity to participate in a cooperative and positive way when it declined to endorse the approach of the Royal Commission to the issue of redress when it was being considered in oral submissions. Since then, evidence has been given by survivors of how the Government’s own response and short-shrift written submissions pained them for the apparent callousness with which they were perceived by the government.

While people rush to tweet memes about how having a new PM means it’s time to change your smoke alarm, perhaps there will be some out there who have sufficiently overcome their indignation over the political intrigues of the day to invest some of their moral outrage in encouraging our new Prime Minister to depart from the folly of the past and stand forward in a defiant posture on the issue of redress. Prime Minister Turnball could ensure his re-election if he stood up and said something as simple as this:

“I have spoken before about the need for Australia to be a place of respect for women. But now I speak to the children of Australia. Those that were abused as children and carry the hurt and pain across the generations. We have heard your stories. And to those that care for them, we hear you and admire the witness you continue to bare. And to those children who are out there right now, wondering how to escape a cycle of violence and exploitation – I’m looking to you.

Today I say that this government declares a state of emergency on child abuse. I care about drug use, I care about domestic violence, but I care most for those that cannot care for themselves and this government will stand against any person who sexually abuses a child, and any institution that harbours that person will be required to pay for it. I have appointed a committee of exemplary individuals to implement the findings of the Royal Commission, both now and going forward and I will make it my pledge to this nation, that as Prime Minister I will deliver on redress and safety for children, both in our present, and in our long and tragic past. In this way, I hope to end the long years of suffering and greet all those who have waited for so long with the acknowledgement and the respect that is their due.”

A simple speech, one that I wrote in three minutes. Not too hard to say. Certainly worthy of an Australian Prime Minister. Or for that matter, any minister or elected representative. It must surely stand to get them elected. Who would disagree with this? It would be a matter of pan-lateral support.

Now is the time to move forward on those poor children. To find them and lift them up out of poverty and disenfranchisement. Otherwise the legacy of the Royal Commission will be nothing more than a collection of headlines about wayward cardinals. The people of Australia deserve so much more.

In the meantime, it will fall to CLAN and bold organisations like them to try to move the debate forward and seek a worthy response to the most righteous of issues.

Aaron Kernaghan.

Happy Birthday to You

Happy Birthday

In a highly anticipated ruling today, one of the world’s most recognisable songs, ‘Happy Birthday to You’, has been brought into the public domain after US District Judge George H King ruled Warner/Chappell Music did not own a valid copyright to the song.

Two years ago Warner/Chappell, the music-publishing arm of Warner Music Group, had a class action lawsuit filed against it by several artists. Brought in 2013, these artists claimed that ‘Happy Birthday’ was not under copyright and should be free for anyone to use.

Under the ruling, ‘Happy Birthday to You’ is no longer subject to copyright and artists seeking to publically perform it no longer need to pay a licence fee to use it.

Originally written by sisters Patty and Mildred Hill, the song has been the subject of numerous copyright claims over the years. Accordingly, District Judge King examined the song’s long history finding that the copyright originated with the Hill sisters’ publisher, the Clayton F Summy Co, later known as Birch Tree, which was acquired by Warner in 1988. Summy Co. obtained registrations to ‘Happy Birthday’ in 1935 according to documents filed with the Court.

In the 43 page ruling District Judge King stated:

“Because Summy Co. never acquired rights to the Happy Birthday lyrics, Defendants, as Summy Co.s purported successors-in-interest, do not own a valid copyright in the Happy Birthday lyrics.”

Whilst those who have the song sung at private birthday gatherings have rarely been at risk of a lawsuit, whenever the song is used for commercial purposes Warner has enforced its copyright rights. It is estimated they have taken $2 million in royalties each year.

For a full link of the ruling, please see:

http://www.shadesofgraylaw.com/media/00065570.pdf

Stanford Tops List Of World’s Most Innovative Universities

A Bay Area university in the heart Silicon Valley innovation is being recognised as the top innovative university in the world.

How many universities out there can truly claim to be innovative in both teaching methodology, curriculum, experience for students and student outcomes – outside of sciences that is? There needs to be innovation campuses the world over which overhaul and bring vision and clarity to the ancient academic pursuits of the arts and the law. Time to change.

Source: Stanford Tops List Of World’s Most Innovative Universities

Basic Income?

Relax, I am not talking about Basic Instinct (the 1992 Crime Thriller starring a scantily clad Sharron Stone). I am talking about the idea that every citizen is paid a basic income from the government, regardless of whether they work or not.

The idea is similar to that of unemployment benefits, however would apply to all citizens. Like unemployment benefits, it’s meant to make sure every person in society can meet basic living standards. But it differs, in that there is no work requirement or means test — meaning you could have a job and pocket the $30,000 cash on top of your wage, or not work at all and live off the $30,000 alone.

Just when you thought to yourself “yeah right!”, consider these examples. It is already being trialed in the Netherlands with 300 residents of the town of Utrecht among a number of Dutch pilot sites, while the Indian government has also embraced the idea, and previous small-scale experiments have been hailed as great successes. Switzerland is even due to have a referendum on the idea next year!

But what about the inevitable inflationary effect of everyone having money? Writing in Medium, basic income advocate Scott Santens, provides two real-world examples where that proved not to be the case: Alaska in 1982, and Kuwait in 2011. In both cases, inflation actually decreased after the government introduced a partial basic income to citizens.

So there it is, a far fetched but perhaps not crazy idea. Maybe it’s creators just watched season three of House of Cards and copied the “America Works” program or maybe that’s where their creators came up with their ideas….What was that phrase I wrote about recently, “life imitates art”……

For the full article click here.

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Death Row Cowboy – Last Minute Reprieve for Condemned Man

In a plot out straight out of a Hollywood movie, death row inmate Richard Glossip had just finished eating his last meal of pizza and fish and chips and was just moments away from his fate when the phone call staying his execution came through.

Glossip was twice convicted of ordering the 1997 killing of his boss Barry Van Treese, who owned the Oklahoma City motel where Glossip worked. His co-worker, Justin Sneed, was convicted of fatally beating Van Treese and was a key prosecution witness in Glossip’s trials. Glossip has always maintained his innocence claiming that he was framed.

What makes this story even more riveting is the man that prosecuted the case, Bob “Cowboy” Macy. Macy has been referred too as the hard-nosed lawyer who, before his death in 2011, cleaned up Oklahoma. He put 54 men in front of a needle to die for their sins, including a 16 year old boy.

“Cowboy” grew up with nothing — he didn’t go to university and his parents lived in a house without running water until he was 18 — but he forged a career for himself doing the work others wouldn’t. He grew up in Indianapolis, the son of a truck driver and his wife. He had four brothers and the family didn’t have two pennies to rub together. He joined the United States Air Force in 1956 and went to the University of Oklahoma where he studied law. He found a job with the city’s police department and was sworn in as District Attorney in 1980.

In another twist straight out of a movie, during one of Glossip’s trials his own lawyer performed so poorly that he lost his licence to practise as a result. On the other side of the courtroom, “Cowboy” Macy was merciless.

However, his current lawyers say they have new evidence, including a signed affidavit from another inmate who claims he heard Sneed admit he set Glossip up.

All is not over in the story though as Glossip’s execution has been re-scheduled for 30th September this year.

For the full article click here.

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