August 14, 2013

Charles Oliver: Messiah grows in popularity

Charles Oliver

— • A judge has ordered Teamsters Local 727 to stop picketing Chicago-area funeral homes after finding that picketers had been harassing mourners. Union members had reportedly blocked people from leaving funeral home parking lots and used bullhorns to shout obscenities at them. The final straw seems to have been when the Teamsters disrupted a child’s funeral. Union members have been on strike against funeral home chain SCI Illinois Services Inc. since rejecting the company’s offer of a 9 percent pay increase for all members over the next two years.

• A SWAT team from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) raided  a Kenosha animal shelter and killed a baby deer the staff had named Giggles. Someone had brought the fawn to the shelter because they thought it had been abandoned by its mother. State law bans the possession of wildlife. DNR officials say the law also requires them to euthanize wild animals such as Giggles because of the potential danger they pose to humans.

• A Detroit Police Department commander accidentally emailed the bra sizes of several female officers to a large chunk of the department’s staff. The commander only meant to forward a message that bullet proof vests were available for officers who’d recently been fitted for them. He didn’t realize that an attached spreadsheet contained the officers’ measurements, including the bra sizes of all female officers. Two of the women have filed union grievances against the department and one has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

• An Illinois attorney is facing disciplinary action for writing his children into a client’s will. Steven Miner previously made headlines for helping his adult children sue his ex-wife for “bad mothering.”

• Tennessee Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew has ordered the parents of Messiah Deshawn Martin to change the boy’s name to Martin Deshawn McCullough. The boy’s parents had come to her to settle a dispute about which parent’s surname the child should carry. The name she ordered incorporates both surnames. The boy’s mother, Jaleesa Martin, is upset with the ruling. But Ballew is standing by her order. “The word Messiah is a title and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ,” she said. Ballew may be fighting an uphill battle. According to the Social Security Administration, Messiah was the fourth fastest-growing boy’s baby name in the United States in 2012.

• The New Mexico Supreme Court has warned lawyers and judges that they can’t bar citizens who don’t speak English from serving on juries. Michael Samora had appealed his conviction for murder and robbery, saying his rights were violated when the judge in his case dismissed a  Spanish-speaking juror who did not understand English. The court upheld the conviction, saying Samora’s lawyer should have objected during the trial, not after his conviction. But it cited a section of the state constitution that says an individual’s rights cannot be “restricted, abridged or impaired” because of the inability to “speak, read or write” English. That includes, the court said, the right to serve on a jury.

Charles Oliver is a staff writer for The Daily Citizen.