Williamson County Judge Pleads Not Guilty

  A Williamson County Criminal Judge, Tim Wright was said by prosecutors to have sold seven guns to a known felon. He is said to have lied when purchasing the guns, claiming they were for himself when in fact they were not. Since Wright was elected in 2003 he has presided over misdemeanor drug and alcohol cases.
    Last Wednesday Wright was brought before a federal judge who made him surrender his passport, Concealed Handgun License, and all the guns in his possession. The judge also put restrictions on Wright's travel, lowering the extent of his movements to Travis, Hays, and Williamson county without authorization from the court. The accused has plead not guilty to these illegal arms charges.
    Wright was suspended by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct after these charges were filed and his suspension will continue throughout the duration of this case.

Boston Bombing Trial:
Sentencing Phase Begins

Jurors who convicted the living Boston bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, are now faced with deciding his fate. The jury will now have to decide whether to sentence Tsarnaev to the death penalty or life in prison.

A mass poll conducted before the verdict was announced found that just 27% of Boston voters and 38% of voters in the greater Boston area think Tsarnaev should face the death penalty. However, another survey conducted by SurveyMonkey for NBC News also conducted before the verdict was announced found that 47% if Americans favored execution while 42% favored life in prison. It is interesting that the people most affected by the Boston Marathon Bombings don't think Tsarnaev should be put to death. Although, when compared to the country as a whole, this could be due to strong partisanship in Boston.

Generally, Democrats are less likely to support the death penalty. Boston is significantly more Democratic than the rest of the U.S. as a whole. It can be noted that while democrats in the U.S. differed on the penalty by a 7% margin, Boston's democrats favored life in prison by a 23% margin. Republicans in Boston are reported to support the death penalty by a 21% margin whereas Republicans in the U.S. support the death penalty by a 45% margin.

While it is expected of the highly democratic city to not support the death penalty, the terrorist attack took place in the city and affected most people who live in it, so the continued preference for life in prison is not necessarily to be expected.

The penalty trail begins April 21st 2015.

Supreme Court Rules Mutual Pharmaceutical Co. Not Responsible for Blinding Woman

   Supreme Court ruling overturns verdict that Mutual Pharmaceutical Co. should be held responsible for a woman's disfiguration due to a prescription defect. Because the company copied the drug companies formula and provided the drugs warning label, the court decided in a 3-4 decision that they should not be held responsible. The reasoning behind this decision was that general drug makers are required by federal law to copy their brand name counter parts, which Mutual Pharmaceutical Co. did, so they are not at fault. This decision is a loss of $21 million dollars in compensation for Karen Bartlett, the woman who was blinded by the prescription.
    The drug Karen was blinded by was Clinoril, a generic version of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID). She was diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a rare reaction that can be triggered by certain medications and can result in death. Her reaction was caused by the prescription's sulindac, which eroded of 2/3 of her skin, led to scaring, lung damage, and left her legally blind.

    Karen now lives off disability that is a fraction of what she used to earn as a secretary. The loss of the $21 million dollar compensation has "ruined my life" according to Karen in an interview. A year after Karen's lawsuit, the Food and Drug Administration suggested changing all the labels of NSAIDs to more explicitly warn about the Stevens-Johnson syndrome possibility and its effects.

Teenager Must Continue Chemotherapy Against Her Will

  On January 8th, 2015 the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that Cassandra C.,  a 17-year-old with cancer, must continue her chemotherapy treatment against her will.

   Cassandra was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. With chemotherapy, oncologist say Cassandra would have an 85% chance of surviving whereas without undergoing chemo it is likely she will die in around two years.

  When Cassandra refused chemotherapy her mother supported her decision, later saying that she feels it should be Cassandra's choice whether or not to receive chemotherapy.  Her Mother, Jackie Fortin, believes that Cassandra is not going to die, and that the toxins from the treatment would just cause damage to her organs. In an interview with the Associated Press she stated, "(The toxins) are also killing her body. They are killing her organs. They're killing her insides. It's not even a matter of dying. She's not going to die." Cassandra and her mother then went on to search for alternate treatments. However, a judge ordered Cassandra to undergo chemo. After receiving two treatments Cassandra ran away from home and the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) had to intervene and place her under protective custody.

  The mother and child's attorney asked the court to consider the "mature minor doctrine" in Cassandra's case, basically explicit permission from a Judge to allow a minor to make medical decisions for themselves. However, Cassandra was considered to have proved she was not mature enough for decisions of this gravity because she had run away from home. The court has ruled that Cassandra must receive chemotherapy.

   Currently, Cassandra is being forced to undergo chemotherapy at Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford. Cassandra's diagnosis is not rare, as Hodgkin's is a cancer that affects 9,000 Americans every year. Every year, according to the National Cancer Institute, the illness claims around 1,100 patients. Oncologist that reviewed Cassandra's situation unambiguously agree that if Cassandra were to not receive chemotherapy, she would die.


Creighton Universities Academic Misconduct Policy

    Creighton Defines Cheating: The deliberate use or attempted use of unauthorized material in an academic exercise, including unauthorized collaboration with classmates.

All Creighton University graduate students are subject to the standards of academic integrity required by the University, and to the possible penalties for academic misconduct in course work. In addition, students must also observe any additional standards announced in writing by faculty members for particular courses.

Each faculty member is responsible for maintaining academic integrity in his or her courses and has the authority, using proper procedures and reasonable judgment, to determine whether a student has engaged in academic misconduct. The faculty member must decide whether the misconduct involves a less serious infraction, susceptible to resolution by informal methods, or a more serious infraction requiring severe and stigmatizing penalty, such as suspension and/or expulsion. Once the faculty member has made an initial determination of academic misconduct, he or she shall initiate the process explained below.

Step 1. Making an Allegation

The faculty member should make the initial determination of academic misconduct within ten days of the discovery of the infraction, if possible, and the entire process should be completed within 60 days.

In all cases of suspected academic misconduct, it is recommended that the instructor confront the student in person within five business days to discuss the allegations. Such allegations must be grounded in evidence retained by the instructor. If at any point during the discussion, the instructor accepts the student’s explanation of the alleged infraction, the process is terminated and the incident is dropped without further action.

If the instructor considers the infraction to be of a less serious nature, the instructor may elect to resolve the issue by means of informal methods such as warning, counseling, additional assignments or grading. If the instructor considers the infraction to be of a more serious nature requiring a severe and stigmatizing penalty, the instructor may recommend suspension, probation, expulsion or other action commensurate with the seriousness and circumstances of the misconduct. The instructor is strongly encouraged to visit with their graduate program director and/or department chair, and the Graduate Dean when considering a course of action. The instructor shall provide a copy of the Academic Misconduct Policy to the student. The instructor should provide written notification, including a proposed resolution or penalty, to the Dean of the Graduate School, the student’s major advisor, the student, the student’s graduate program director and/or department chair. The Dean will respond in writing, confirming the resolution or penalty suggested by the faculty member. In cases of less serious infractions, the student may be reprimanded by the instructor(s), and the Graduate School can send letters of reprimand with the threat of dismissal should there be any further occurrence. Such informal methods shall not be considered to be severe or stigmatizing. Confidential records of authorized actions shall be kept by the Graduate School.

The letter to the student shall inform the student of his/her right to appeal the charge, and should include a copy of this policy. The Assistant Dean of the Graduate School will notify the Registrar, if appropriate, to prevent the student from dropping the course, thereby evading a grading penalty. The faculty member shall preserve any evidence that might be needed by the Academic Hearing Subcommittee in the event of an appeal by the student.

If the student admits to the allegation, the authorized resolution or penalty is imposed.

Step 2. Notification and Meeting with the Chair

If the student denies but instructor maintains the allegation, the instructor shall notify the program director as soon as possible that s/he has accused the student of academic misconduct and how the student has responded to the allegation. The instructor and the student should meet with the Program Director/Department Chair, preferably together, to discuss the allegation. The function of the Program Director/Department Chair is to serve as a mediator who can take a fresh look at the issue.

If the instructor and/or the Program Director/Department Chair become satisfied that the student did not commit the alleged offense, the instructor withdraws his or her accusation and all records of the accusation are removed from the student’s records. No further action is taken.

If the student admits to committing the alleged offense during or after this meeting, then the instructor shall impose an appropriate disciplinary penalty.

After the meeting with the instructor and the Program Director/Department Chair, if the student does not admit to committing the alleged offense, then the instructor may unilaterally impose an appropriate disciplinary penalty.

Step 3: Appealing a Charge of Academic Misconduct

The student shall have the right to appeal a charge of academic misconduct. The student must file a written request for an appeal hearing with the Graduate Dean within 10 business days of notification. A student who appeals an academic disciplinary action to the Dean is permitted to continue in the program with the same rights and responsibilities as other students, pending the outcome of the appeal, unless there are reasons relating to the physical or emotional welfare of the student or others, or reasons involving the safety of persons or property.

Upon notification of a hearing request, the Graduate Dean will appoint a three-person Academic Hearing Subcommittee from among the members of the Graduate Board. This subcommittee shall conduct an initial fact-finding investigation, gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses to determine the facts. The investigation shall include a statement from the faculty member, describing the situation and action, a statement from the student including reason for the hearing request, and all statements by witnesses. The Graduate Dean shall circulate the statements to subcommittee members, noting that confidential items must be kept in a secure location. The subcommittee shall also obtain any additional information requested by the faculty member, the student or subcommittee members. If requested by the subcommittee, the Assistant Dean of the Graduate School shall provide the subcommittee the record of academic misconduct of any student requesting a hearing. Copies of all items of evidence should be sent to the instructor and the student or, if the evidence cannot be copied, the Graduate Dean should arrange for the evidence to be inspected by these parties at a convenient time. All evidence and information relating to a case of alleged academic misconduct shall be held in confidence by the instructor, the student, the Program Director/Department Chair, the Graduate Dean, the Academic Misconduct Subcommittee, the members of the Graduate Board, and any other employee of the University who is involved with the case.

All evidence collected by the Academic Hearing Subcommittee will then be provided to the members of the Graduate Board, with the exception of any individuals who have a clear conflict of interest in the case. Upon reviewing the evidence, the members of the Graduate Board have a right to request any additional information they feel will be useful in deliberating the case. When the Graduate Board is satisfied that further inquiry will not turn up any new material, a hearing will be scheduled. If feasible, the hearing should be scheduled within 30 calendar days of the Academic Hearing Subcommittee’s notice of a hearing request. Graduate Board members who have a clear conflict of interest in the case will not participate in the formal hearing. Hearings will be held in closed session and will be electronically recorded. Accidental erasure or destruction of the tapes, failure of the recording equipment and/or poor quality of the recording will not be grounds for appeal. The instructor and the student shall attend the hearing. Witnesses may be present at the hearing only during their own testimony except with the permission of both the student and the Graduate Dean. Legal counsel for the student and/or the University may be present at the hearing in an advisory role. Legal counsel shall not function as an advocate.

The student shall have the right to state his or her case, to offer explanations and interpretations of each item of evidence and testimony, and to ask questions of the faculty member and witnesses. The faculty member may offer interpretations of the evidence and testimony and ask questions as necessary. Each Board member may ask questions. The proceedings of the hearing are to be confidential and are not to be discussed outside the hearing.

In adjudicating a student’s appeal of academic misconduct, the burden of proof lies on the instructor to show a preponderance of evidence that the student committed the alleged offense beyond a reasonable doubt.

The members of the Graduate Board shall discuss the case in closed session as soon as possible after all evidence has been gathered by the Academic Hearing Subcommittee. A vote is taken whether to uphold the faculty member’s initial determination of academic misconduct. When a faculty member’s recommendation of suspension or expulsion is involved, the Graduate Board also votes whether to uphold that recommendation. No votes in absentia shall be counted. The Graduate Dean will act upon the recommendation of the Graduate Board and notify the student, the faculty member and other necessary parties of the results of the determination. The Dean’s ruling is final, subject only to the student’s limited right to appeal the ruling to the University President. If the Graduate Board determines that the faculty member acted improperly or mistakenly in his or her initial determination of more serious academic misconduct, it may recommend that the Graduate Dean expunge the notice of academic misconduct or attach a letter of explanation to the notice. The Graduate Board may support the recommendations of the faculty members and/or include other penalties. While the Graduate Board may not impose grade alterations based on the content of a student’s work, it has the authority to uphold the grade sanctions recommended by the faculty member if the student is found to have engaged in academic misconduct. The Graduate Dean’s notification letter shall direct the student to the Office of the President should he or she want to appeal the decision. The Graduate School will retain the various documents and records used as evidence in the case. If the Graduate Board does not support the instructor’s allegations, all grade penalties shall be eliminated.

The student has the right of appeal to the President if and only if the Graduate Dean has imposed a serious disciplinary penalty, that is, suspension, expulsion, or request for withdrawal from the University. The appeal must be in writing and must be filed within 10 business days of receiving notification from the Graduate Dean. The President will review the Graduate Board’s recommendation and may uphold the decision, reverse the decision, modify the decision and/or penalties, or refer the case back to the Graduate Board. In any case, the decision of the President is final.

If the student is found not to have committed an act of academic misconduct, then the Dean shall expunge the student’s permanent academic file of all documents relating to the alleged offense and shall direct the instructor to expunge his or her files of any documents relating to the alleged offense.

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