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Maryland Consumers File Class Action Against Major Unlicensed Bail Bonds Company in Baltimore

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the law firm of Santoni, Vocci & Ortega, LLC, filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of two Maryland residents challenging 4 Aces Bail Bonds Incorporated’s (trading as Baltimore’s Discount Bail Bonds’ (“BDBB”)) alleged use of Maryland state courts while operating as an unlicensed bail bonds company profiting off money bail.

Updates from the Lawyers’ Committee

Blog November 8, 2018

Unlicensed, Baltimore-Based Bail Bond Companies Perpetuate Economic Inequality Along Racial Lines

The system of money bail in Maryland has led to the routine pretrial detention of criminal defendants — whom the law presumes to be innocent — solely because they cannot afford to pay the cost of pretrial liberty. For other defendants, their loved one’s contract with bail bond companies to secure their release, resulting in a cycle of inescapable debt. As a standard industry practice, bail bond companies charge a premium, a fee amounting to 10 percent of the total bail. These premiums are non-refundable, even if a criminal defendant appears in court or is not found to be guilty. As a result, family members and friends who sign bail contracts must pay the entire costs of the bail premium. To collect the premiums, bail bond companies often harass and file debt collection lawsuits against each co-signer. Because the vast majority of co-signers cannot afford attorneys to represent them in collections suits, judgments are […]

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Georgia to pick new elections chief amid voting rights debate

December 4, 2018

Reuters

(Reuters) – Georgia voters return to the polls on Tuesday to elect a new elections chief in a state where critics accused Republicans this autumn of exploiting the position to suppress minority voting rights. Republican Brad Raffensperger and Democrat John Barrow were forced into a runoff in the secretary of state race after neither candidate secured a majority of the vote in the Nov. 6 general election as required by state law. The contest has showcased the partisan divisions still rankling the state after its hard-fought governor’s contest, which saw widespread reports of voting problems during an election overseen by the Republican candidate, Brian Kemp, then secretary of state. Kemp’s narrow victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams, who sought to become the nation’s first female African-American governor, followed complaints of hours-long waits in heavily minority precincts, polling equipment failures and concerns about absentee ballots getting rejected under stringent rules that voters’ signatures exactly match the records on file.

Senate Advances Judicial Nominee Known For Weakening Black Voters’ Rights

November 29, 2018

The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON ― The Senate on Wednesday inched closer to confirming Thomas Farr to be a lifetime federal judge, despite strong opposition from civil rights groups and Democrats over his long career of trying to weaken black voters’ rights.

The Senate voted 50-50 on a procedural step to advance Farr’s nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Vice President Mike Pence came in to break the tie. Every Democrat voted against Farr, as did Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who is opposing all of President Donald Trump’s nominees until he gets a vote on a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller.

Farr’s final confirmation vote is expected later this week.

Civil rights groups and the Congressional Black Caucus have been trying to sink Farr’s nomination for nearly a year.

Mississippi’s Absentee Ballot Deadline Is Nearly Impossible for Many Voters to Meet

November 28, 2018

Mother Jones

Ahead of Mississippi’s runoff election for US Senate on Tuesday, a national civil rights group has sued the state’s governor and top election officials over stringent absentee ballot requirements that make it impossible for many voters to have their ballots counted.

Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democrat Mike Espy both failed to secure a majority in the November 6 election, triggering a runoff. But Mississippi county election officials didn’t begin sending absentee ballots out until Saturday, November 17, according to the lawsuit from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Many out-of-state voters received those ballots around Thanksgiving. Under Mississippi law, an absentee ballot must be notarized and received by county election officials by 5 p.m. on the day before Election Day.

The Asian-American case against Harvard: What to watch for

November 26, 2018

CNN

(CNN)The affirmative action case against Harvard brought on behalf of Asian-American students has entered an important second phase, as both sides face December deadlines for final submissions to US District Judge Allison Burroughs.

In the case first filed four years ago this week, the organization Students for Fair Admissions asserts that Harvard intentionally discriminates against Asian-American applicants, partly by giving them lower “personal” scores to lessen their chances of admission. At the root of the scores, the group contends, are stereotypes of Asians as “book-smart” and “one-dimensional,” “not personable.”
Harvard counters that the data evidence, considered at its fullest, reveals no Asian-American bias and that the challengers’ overall claim is “predicated on data-mining” that omits factors showing that Asian-American applicants fare well overall.

The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure equal justice for all through the rule of law, targeting in particular the inequities confronting African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities. The Lawyers’ Committee is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to enlist the private bar's leadership and resources in combating racial discrimination and the resulting inequality of opportunity - work that continues to be vital today.

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