Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon is calling on legislators to return the discretion to set bail on certain crimes to the arraigning judges. He pointed to the inconsistencies in the new criminal procedure laws which went into effect January 1.“It should be a judge’s discretion to set bail,” Toulon said, for several crimes currently not covered by the new law. For example, an assault as a misdemeanor charge is not eligible to have bail set, with police now releasing defendants with a desk appearance ticket, except in cases where an order of protection is requested by the victim.Toulon believes that a judge, when considering such a charge, should be able to look at the defendant’s history. Does the defendant have a record? Is the person a recidivist?The sheriff listed some of the more egregious crimes over which he believes a judge should have some bail discretion: promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child, aggravated assault upon a person less than 11 years old, and criminally negligent homicide are just three he cited.Toulon sees the county jail as sometimes being the one place where drug addicts can get treated. Now in his third year as sheriff, he pointed to several initiatives undertaken by his department that offer hope to the hopeless. One such program is called Choose to Thrive. It focuses on women who have committed crimes while being victims of sex trafficking. The women are taught life skills like parenting, and they can, in turn, be helpful in identifying true sex traffickers.Another program is called Choose Your Path, which targets young men between 18 and 25, helping them find a new direction in life.Toulon also points to specific recent cases, where defendants were arrested and released multiple times. Often, these are cases in which the defendant is mentally ill.“Think about all the people who come before a judge, who can redirect the case to drug court, or veterans court, or youth court,” he said. Toulon pointed to several cases in a recent press release.“Lonnie Pernell, 23, of Centerport was in and out of the Yaphank Correctional Facility five times during November and December for criminal contempt in the first degree. Each time, he was released on his own recognizance under the guidelines of the new bail reform law,” he said.Pernell, Toulon added, is reportedly homeless, and “was arrested for continued intentional disobedience or resistance of the lawful order of the court by violating that court’s order. After each arrest he was released on his own recognizance just to reoffend again. In the past, the judge could have used this information to set a higher bail each time or even remand him tojail.” According to online court records, Pernell has been arrested almost a dozen times since November, sometimes twice in the same day.Another case is that of Dwayne Ross, 46, of Shirley. He was charged with strangulation, a felony, on December 10. A $20,000 bond was set and posted, and Ross was released. Two weeks later, he was charged with violating a court order of protection as a misdemeanor, and was eventually released. The judge in the case could not reference the strangulation charge in order to set bail. “The new law makes it clear: Mr. Ross must be released on his own recognizance, regardless of his criminal history or threat to the community,” Toulon email@example.com Share
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By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Henning GloysteinSINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices fell to near six-year lows on Monday as Japan’s economy contracted and producers in the United States added drilling rigs for a fourth straight week despite a recent rout in prices.Japan’s economy, the second biggest in Asia and No.3 in the world, shrank in the second quarter from a year earlier, adding to fears that slowdowns in Asia’s biggest economies will weigh on oil demand.U.S. crude, or West Texas Intermediate (WTI), for September delivery was trading 58 cents lower at $41.92 a barrel at 0712 GMT, close to more than six-year lows.Brent futures for October delivery were down 59 cents at $48.60 a barrel, still some way from their 2015-low of $45.19. The September contract expired on Friday.U.S. energy firms added oil rigs for a fourth straight week to the highest number since early May, data from energy services firm Baker Hughes Inc showed.The increase likely reflected how a period of stable prices earlier this summer, when U.S. oil traded above $60 a barrel, lulled some firms into stepping up spending.“The recent recovery in the oil rig count supports our expectation that U.S. producers can and will ramp up activity with WTI prices near $60 a barrel, given improved returns with costs down 30 percent,” analysts at Goldman Sachs said in a note to clients.Citigroup Inc lowered its crude oil price outlook citing weak market fundamentals, including an increased supply from OPEC and challenging demand growth in China and emerging markets.The Wall Street bank lowered its base case Brent price forecasts to $54 per barrel for 2015 and $53 in 2016 from $58 and $63 respectively.It also lowered its 2015 and 2016 price forecast for U.S. oil to $48 per barrel both this year and in 2016 from its prior view of $53 and $56, respectively.Oil producers in the United States will be granted an additional market outlet, after the Obama administration approved limited crude sales to Mexico for the first time.Despite limited volumes of about 100,000 barrels per day, the move toward freeing up trade will please U.S. oil producers, which say the restrictions force them to sell oil at below global market rates as the shale oil boom created a glut of light crude.But analysts at Barclays don’t expect the ruling to lead to the removal of a decade-old export ban. Rather, it may mark the last of a number of steps already taken as they expect the administration “to stress that its overarching position on a broad removal of the ban has not changed”.“We believe that this ruling means that – absent Congressional action – this administration remains reticent to approve a change to the law,” they said.(Editing by Joseph Radford and Richard Pullin)
I wish there was a third box voters could put a cross in this Thursday. Ideally, it would say the following: “Remain – very reluctantly”.A few weeks ago, I was ready to vote Leave. There are still many reasons to vote Leave – the fact that the EU is anti-democratic being high up that list; the needless expansion; the seeming inability to embark on anything resembling reform; the fact that 28 countries will always act in their own self-interest; exhibit A: the UK – but over the past few weeks I have been having second thoughts.It probably began a couple of weeks ago when a GP, who is actually a Tory MP, which seems an oxymoron, said she was switching from Leave to Remain because of fibs, she said, being told by Leave about the NHS.It wasn’t that that got me thinking. It was what she – Sarah Wollaston is her name – said about, of all things, leaflets. This is what she said: “If you’re in a position where you can’t hand out a Vote Leave leaflet, you can’t be campaigning for that organisation.”When nine out of 10 economists polled say the UK would be worse off if we left then we do have to listenAnd I thought ‘hang on a moment, would I be prepared to hand out Vote Leave leaflets?’ when I was beginning to have doubts myself about the wisdom of voting to get out. Running away from something is one thing – and here most of the boxes were being ticked – but what are we running to? So, like Dr Wollaston, if I was a bit iffy about handing out leaflets, could I then vote Leave?Building has run a campaign for the country to remain in the UK. The magazine says it would be better for the industry to stay in the EU. To me, it makes more sense for this industry to stay than leave because of the impact on labour and inward investment which would undoubtedly be hit.On a wider scale, most of the debate-winning arguments put forward for staying in have been economic as well. When nine out of 10 economists polled say the UK would be worse off if we left then we do have to listen: it is not good enough for Leave to say that people are fed up with experts.That said, some of the claims by Remain have, frankly, been ridiculous and have no doubt hardened people’s attitudes to stick two fingers up to the establishment and cemented further their intention to vote Leave.Some of the claims by Remain have no doubt hardened people’s attitudes to stick two fingers up to the establishmentBut the economists – not George Osborne and his daily, dire warnings about financial implosion nor David Cameron’s suggestion a Leave vote would make war more than less likely forgetting that we didn’t join until some years after the 1957 Treaty of Rome – have won me round.So on Thursday, I’ll hold my nose and vote Remain because I think we’ll be worse off if we quit. Pure and simple.The appeal of Leave is still there for sure – and the irritation with the EU remains: it still has plans to expand even further and tie countries like Albania (with a GDP of $32bn) into an economic union with one mighty, dominant country at its heart, Germany and its $3.6 trillion GDP, which is just utter lunacy, like asking Rochdale to compete with Manchester United. No union among unequals is sustainable. And yet, and yet, and yet. For me, Remain has the trump economic card.The choice that is being put before voters seems to be stick with an unpopular status quo – and a vote for Remain followed by a return to no change – or pin our hopes on a barely sketched out alternative. The roundhead in me wins over the cavalier. This time, anyway.Dave Rogers, contributing editor, Building
A disproportionate number of black and ethnic minority (BME) barristers are subject to complaints and punished by their regulator – but the system itself does not discriminate, an independent report published today concludes.Research based on four years of Bar Standards Board data found BME barristers to be over-represented in the complaints process in relation to external complaints. White barristers are also more likely to have a complaint dismissed without disciplinary action, while BME barristers were more likely to have action taken against them.But a review of the data by external organisation Inclusive Employers found no apparent failings with the complaints procedure and no evidence that it was discriminatory.The review describes the process as ‘clear and balanced, with ample opportunity to seek advice and review decisions’.It adds: ‘From an equality and diversity perspective, our view is that the procedure itself is not at fault. This means that other factors, as yet to be identified, are causing the disproportions shown in the data.’The report puts forward a set of recommendations to improve the procedure, including equality and diversity training within three months of joining for all BSB committee members, training to take in ‘unconscious bias’ and a greater role for an independent observer to check on equality issues.Names of the subjects of complaints should also be withheld from the committee and a formal invitation sent to the Society for Asian Lawyers and the Society of Black Lawyers to meet in order to discuss the implications of the review.The outcome of the study echoes a similar analysis of SRA statistics, published in December 2011, which found no evidence of discrimination despite a similarly disproportionate number of regulatory actions against BME solicitors.Director of the BSB, Dr Vanessa Davies (pictured), said she was pleased that the complaints process had been endorsed. ‘To ensure that our systems are as fair and as robust as possible, we will be acting on the report’s recommendations to further improve existing processes including taking further steps to anonymise cases considered by the professional conduct committee.‘We make certain that all members receive the proper equality and diversity training upon joining the committee.’
A national firm says it is growing the ranks of agile-working converts after finding office space was too often left empty. Browne Jacobson has tested new methods of working ahead of its move to new premises in Manchester later this year.The programme, dubbed ‘mogility’ by the firm, sees employees given flexibility where and how they wish to work, and follows the trend of other firms that have moved towards agile working practices.The firm revealed it opted to change after research found on any given day 30% of the desks were under-used. Karen WalkerKaren Walker, head of business operations at Browne Jacobson, said while the firm has grown in recent years, moving to larger premises every few years was ‘not a viable long-term solution’.‘We needed to start thinking smarter about how we could continue to deliver growth within our current footprint by adopting new ways of working.‘Mogility is about promoting flexibility and having the most productive working environment we can. It is recognising that not everyone works in the same way or wishes to be sat at the same desk, all day, every day.’If the trial is successful then agile working will be expanded to the firm’s offices in Birmingham, London, Exeter and Nottingham.The firm intends to significantly reduce the amount or paper stored on site, digitally scan all incoming post and reduce the amount of printing.Walker said many of the changes were prompted by staff themselves seeking out greater flexibility and remote working. ‘We recognise that a “one-size-fits-all” approach is no longer sustainable,’ she added. ‘Currently around one in five of our people across the firm work flexibly and with these changes we are hoping to increase those levels.’The Gazette yesterday reported that 800 lawyers have moved to so-called ‘virtual’ firms offering remote working.Analysts said traditional practices had started to respond by launching their own online platforms and through creating similar working environments as offered by the new breed of firms.
TOKYO suburban operator Keihin Express Electric Railway is testing electronic lockers at its stations. The lockers provide a range of services, including photo developing, laundry, and the sending or receiving of parcels. Credit card and locker content data is transmitted along the railway’s optic fibre network, completed in March.Customers must first register to use the lockers. They then select a service from a control locker, and place the item, along with an order form, in the locker. This is then collected by staff, and delivered or returned to the locker room as appropriate after processing. Users return to the station, pay by credit card and are told which locker their item is in for collection.The initial trials were at Misakiguchi, and later at Shinagawa, Keikyu Kawasaki and Amonono Yokocho. By November, a hundred different items or services were on offer through the lockers, and the railway plans to install the service at all of its stations from April. The service is available during the times when trains are running.
Friends and thieves Madison (Jessica-Jane Stafford), Gavin (Paul Danan), Parksy (Bradley Turner), Barry (Aurie Styla) and Alan (Haka Hussan) decide to pull off one last robbery but when it goes horribly wrong, they are forced to hideout in an old castle. Holed up in the grand building, the five start to experience spooky goings-on and they soon discover that the castle has plenty of secrets to uncover.Are We Dead Yet? Is the directorial feature film debut of actor Fredi ‘Kruga’ Nwaka. Aiming more for comedy than horror, the film features a large cast with plenty of familiar faces popping up briefly along the way including the likes of rappers Professor Green and Lisa Maffia, and Hollyoaks star Fabrizio Santino. The premise is a fairly solid one and once the initial set-up is out of the way and the five leads reach the castle, the film starts to find its feet a bit.Tonally Are We Dead Yet? is all over the place. It doesn’t lean into its comedy or horror elements enough so you’re left with something that doesn’t quite satisfy either. The overly large cast is problematic too as there are simply too many characters, which results in a lack of character development across the board. We never really get any sense of the kind of people the five leads are and that makes it hard to want to invest in them for a 94-minute film.Credit: Gridloc FilmsNwaka clearly has plenty of ideas but his lack of experience means that he tries to put them all into the film rather than focusing on the stronger strands. What starts as a film about five thieves soon turns into a group of ghosts who are stuck in the castle and spend their days scaring people. The focus between the two stories switches too often with lengthy scenes concentrating on the ghosts, who are the less interesting.Something else the film suffers from is a wild range of acting ability from the cast. You can forgive some of the shoddy performances from the extras but the main cast aren’t that great. Aurie Styla is head and shoulders above everyone else here, and his hilarious performance is one of the film’s saving graces. Paul Danan, best-known for his Hollyoaks days, is also solid. The rest of the cast, sadly just aren’t very strong.Are We Dead Yet? is a perfectly watchable film but for me, the story was too muddled and it was too long. There’s so much going on in the film that it lacks focus and the huge cast of characters leaves no room for any to be developed. Nwaka’s direction is solid enough and parts of his script are sharp but the film could have done with another pair of eyes to streamline it and play more to its strengths.Cast: Jessica Jane Stafford, Paul Danan, Hakan Hussan, Aurie Styla, Bradley Turner Director: Fredi ‘Kruga’ Nwaka Writer: Fredi ‘Kruga’ Nwaka Certificate: TBC Duration: 94 mins Released by: Gridloc Films
At least $251 million needed to mitigate South Sudan crisis The recent influx of refugees increases the total number to 417,000 South Sudanese people who have been displaced by civil conflict and famine since December 2013. Image courtesy: UNCHRAn internal inquiry says the United Nations refugee agency has misspent millions of dollars on Africa’s largest refugee crisis, including paying for what became a parking lot at the Ugandan prime minister’s office.The report by the U.N.’s internal watchdog says about $11 million alone is being spent on a recount of the South Sudanese who poured into Uganda, to weed out potentially hundreds of thousands of “ghost refugees.”More than a million South Sudanese fled to neighboring Uganda after fresh fighting broke out in July 2016, causing a scramble by the U.N. and other humanitarian actors to help them find food and shelter.Uganda has been praised internationally for welcoming refugees but has faced scrutiny over corruption in the process.U.N. refugee and Ugandan spokespeople did not immediately comment.Related UN envoys warn crisis could endanger millions in South Sudan UNICEF warns of worsening South Sudan refugee crisis
South African minister recovers from COVID-19 24,000 South African health workers contract COVID-19 South African military’s health officials deployed to fight COVID-19 FILE PHOTO: A health worker checks a man’s temperature during a door-to-door testing in an attempt to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Umlazi township near Durban, South Africa, April 4, 2020. REUTERS/Rogan Ward/File Photo FILE PHOTO: A health worker checks a man’s temperature during a door-to-door testing in an attempt to contain the coronavirus disease outbreak, in Umlazi township near Durban, South Africa. REUTERS/Rogan Ward/File PhotoSouth African Health minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize on Monday reiterated his support for healthcare workers receiving the necessary equipment and being enabled to operate in a safe environment to discharge their duties during the COVID-19 pandemic.Mkhize made the comments during a webinar on “empowering doctors to flatten the COVID-19 curve and ensure real recovery.”“It is our duty to honour the sacrifice of our healthcare workers by ensuring their protection. The matter of the safety of health workers must be taken seriously. It is important for us to say ‘No PPE No Work’”, he said.Health worker unions and employees have previously complained of health facilities not doing enough to protect front-line workers, an issue that Mkhize had previously acknowledged.In April, the main health workers’ union, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU), threatened to take the government to court over shortages of PPE which, it argued, will endanger the lives of health workers.Surges in infections, shortages of staff, unsafe environments and a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been blamed for the increases in infections among health workers in South Africa.More than 27,000 healthcare workers have been infected with COVID-19 while at least 240 others in South Africa have died after being infected.According to statistics from the ministry, nearly 80 percent, or more than 21,000, of health workers infected with COVID-19 were workers from the public sector.Earlier this month, the ministry launched an investigation into reasons why the country’s healthcare workers were increasingly contracting the coronavirus while discharging their duties.South African authorities are also investigating government departments for corruption over irregularities in coronavirus-related tenders worth 5 billion rand ($290 million).Despite the challenges they faced, Mkhize thanked the health workers for putting their lives on the line in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most disruptive global events in history.“I must express my deep appreciation to all health workers who have really been the most able champions in this fight. Your passion, commitment, diligence and love for science has not only made my job so rewarding, but it has truly been the highlight of my career.”Figures from the World Health Organisation indicated that the African countries with the highest number of infections among health workers are South Africa, Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Kenya.South Africa has so far recorded a total of 611,450 infections and the total number of deaths is 13,159 while the total number of recoveries is 516,494, as of August 24.Related