Day: April 23, 2019



CHICAGO — Two brothers who say they helped Jussie Smollett stage a racist and homophobic attack against himself sued the “Empire” actor’s attorneys on Tuesday, accusing them of defamation by continuing to insist publicly that the brothers carried out a real, bigoted attack on Smollett despite knowing that was untrue.

Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo said in a joint statement issued after their lawsuit was filed in federal court in Chicago that Smollett’s legal team has spread false accusations that have hurt their reputations and undermined their career prospects.

“We have sat back and watched lie after lie being fabricated about us in the media only so one big lie can continue to have life,” they said. “These lies are destroying our character and reputation in our personal and professional lives.”

In their lawsuit, the Osundairos contend that even after prosecutors dropped the charges against Smollett despite saying they believed they could prove the attack was a hoax, Smollett’s attorneys kept saying in interviews that the Chicago-born brothers “led a criminally homophobic, racist and violent attack against Mr. Smollett.”

“Mr. Smollett’s attorneys, faced with an outraged public, did not retreat after their success (in getting charges dropped). Instead, they doubled down the lawsuit states,” states the lawsuit, which names celebrity attorney Mark Geragos, fellow lawyer Tina Glandian and Geragos’ Los Angeles-based law firm as defendants.

In a joint statement, Geragos and Glandian called the lawsuit “ridiculous” and “a desperate attempt” by the brothers “to stay relevant and further profit from an attack they admit they perpetrated.”

“We look forward to exposing the fraud the Osundairo brothers and their attorneys have committed on the public,” they added.

Smollett, who is black and gay, has stood by his account that he was attacked in downtown Chicago early on Jan. 29 by two masked men who beat him, shouted racial and anti-gay slurs, poured bleach on him, and looped a rope around his neck. He said his attackers also shouted slogans in support of President Donald Trump.

At a news conference, the brothers’ lawyer, Gloria Schmidt, said that the Osundairos regret their involvement with Smollett and decided to tell the truth when confronted by investigators in mid-February.

“We’re going to make sure that the lies and malice attacking our city, our police department and my two clients are met with truth and healing,” she told reporters. The brothers did not attend the news conference.

Prosecutors have said that Smollett’s friendship with Abimbola Osundairo dated back several years and that Osundairo had served as a stand-in for a character named “Kai” on “Empire.” Ola Osundairo also appeared as an extra on the show, prosecutors said.

In their lawsuit, the Osundairos say the defamation by Smollett’s lawyers has caused the brothers “significant emotional distress” and made them feel unsafe and alienated from the local community. It doesn’t specify an amount of money they are seeking, but says it would be more than $75,000 in compensatory and damages, and other costs.

The Osundairo brothers, who are of Nigerian descent, testified before a grand jury days before Smollett was charged, saying Smollett paid them $3,500 to help stage the attack. They contend in their suit that Smollett took advantage of the their aspirations to have TV and movie careers.

“Mr. Smollett used his clout as a wealthy actor to influence Plaintiffs, who were in a subordinate relationship to him and were aspiring to ’make it’ in Hollywood,” the lawsuit contends.

The lawsuit also states that Glandian “inferred” during an interview on the podcast Reasonable Doubt this month that Abimbola Osundairo “engaged, at least briefly, in homosexual acts” with Smollett. The filing says that’s false, that Osundairo is heterosexual and to say otherwise could put him and his family in danger in Nigeria.

“Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Nigeria, which can result in 14 years of imprisonment,” the lawsuit asserts. “If the accused is married, the punishment is death by stoning.”

In the weeks after the alleged attack, police arrested the Osundairo brothers on suspicion of assaulting Smollett but released them without charges. A police spokesman said the two were no longer considered suspects and that investigators had new evidence after questioning them.

About a week after police questioned the brothers, Smollett was charged with felony disorderly conduct and accused of making a false police report about the attack. The Cook County state’s attorney’s office abruptly dropped the charges in March, angering the police and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who said Smollett had dragged Chicago’s name “through the mud” and that the decision to drop the charges was “a whitewash of justice.”

The city has since sued Smollett, seeking repayment for the costs of investigating the case.

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By The Wall of Law April 23, 2019 Off

Felicity Huffman

Felicity Huffman

Actress Felicity Huffman may now not go to prison for her part in the college admissions scandal.

Reports have surfaced this weekend that the former Desperate Housewives star could be hit with home confinement instead.

Unlike Lori Loughlin, the actress said she would plead guilty to the charges and issued a public apology.

She said: “I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done. I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions. I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community.”

And several legal experts believe that this strategy could pay off with a punishment of home confinement along with an electronic ankle monitor for the 56-year-old who lives in Los Angeles with her husband William H. Macy.

Prosecutors said Huffman paid $15,000 for a 36-year-old Harvard graduate to correct her 18-year-old daughter Sofia’s answers on the SAT, giving the girl a 400-point boost over a previous score.

The actress later discussed pursuing a similar scheme for her younger daughter, according to court records.

And this relatively small amount of money involved also helps cast her apart from some of the parents who bribed with a lot more money to gain their children prestigious spots.

One legal exert said: “A person with no criminal history with no serious criminal intent and a strong law-abiding background should not be sent to prison.

“I suspect her lawyers will do everything they can to highlight these points and keep her out of prison.”

Huffman is due back in federal court in Boston on May 21, 2019.

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By The Wall of Law April 23, 2019 Off

McCain vs. Melanson: Divorce vs. Annulment

McCain vs. Melanson: Divorce vs. Annulment

Family Law Services

There could be some major financial implications if Eleanor McCain’s marriage annulment gets granted by Toronto courts. The frozen food heiress is attempting to prove marriage fraud with the help of her lawyer, stating that she was bamboozled into saying vows to her current husband, the notable Jeff Melanson of the CEO of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Claiming that Melanson carefully withheld his true nature, McCain seeks to annul the marriage in an effort to protect the fortune she amassed as a professional singer and child of the late Wallace McCain who co-founded McCain Foods Limited. According to court documents, Melanson is asking for more than $5 million in funds he feels entitled to.

Because of a questionable prenuptial agreement that was put in effect back in April of 2014, the couple and their lawyers are fighting a difficult battle. While Melanson believes he should also be privy to property value increases on the marital home, McCain further argues that the marriage was extremely brief. In fact, the union came to a crashing halt in January of 2015, just nine months after it started.

According to her own statements, McCain alleges she was betrothed until false pretenses and thus the brevity and tumultuousness of the marriage was a direct result. She went on to explain to the courts how she believes Melanson married her for financial gain, especially since he was facing worrisome administrative drama and countless harassment charges during his time at the Banff Centre. His immediate acceptance of a new job at the TSO shortly after the wedding is being cited as evidence to support McCain’s assumption.

McCain’s desire for an annulment is likely due to fact that annulments are much more cut-and-dry than traditional divorce proceedings. Regulated by stricter and more defined statutes, annulments are typically granted to couples only when it’s proven that the capacity to marry was inadequate.

This could include things like:

Certain factors contribute to the validity of any court decree, including marriage. As such, the couple’s assets are not picked apart as fervently, if at all, when the union is annulled. For McCain to succeed at doing that, she will have to prove to the courts that her betrothed had committed a fraudulent act.

Furthermore, McCain’s lawyer is arguing that the fraud originated from there being no free and enlightened consent on the plaintiff’s part. He told local news sources that his client wouldn’t have ever married Melanson had she known his real character. Considering fraud is a form of criminal deception that’s typically used for financial gain, McCain’s soon-to-be ex husband could lose his cash and his freedom if lawyers push the case in that direction.

Fortunately for Melanson, however, his lawyers contend that McCain was a fully competent adult when she said her vows. If McCain gets what she wants, Melanson’s defense will land on deaf ears and he will walk away without a dime. If Melanson gets his way, McCain will be forced to fork over millions for a whirlwind romance with a terrible ending.

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By The Wall of Law April 23, 2019 Off



LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May faced renewed pressure Tuesday from her restive Conservative Party to resign as lawmakers returned to Parliament — and to Brexit wrangling — after an 11-day Easter break.

Britain’s European Union exit, long scheduled to take place last month, has been delayed as the government tries to win Parliament’s backing for a divorce deal. The bloc has given Britain until Oct. 31 to ratify an agreement or leave the 28-nation EU without a deal to smooth the way.

Most economists believe that a ‘no-deal’ Brexit would plunge Britain into recession as customs checks would likely be installed at U.K. ports and tariffs imposed on trade between the U.K. and the EU.

Talks on striking a compromise Brexit agreement are set to resume between May’s government and the main opposition Labour Party. But several days of talks earlier this month failed to produce a breakthrough, and there are few signs the gap between the two sides is closing.

Anger is growing among pro-Brexit Conservative lawmakers and officials over the delay to Brexit and May’s bid for compromise.

Pro-Brexit Conservative lawmaker Nigel Evans said calls for May’s departure are “growing into a clamour” and she should resign “as soon as possible.”

“I believe the only way we’re going to break this impasse properly is if we have fresh leadership of the Conservative Party,” Evans told the BBC.

Many Conservative Brexiteers think May should be replaced with a more staunchly pro-Brexit leader, such as the former foreign secretary, Boris Johnson. But May survived a no-confidence vote among party colleagues in December, and under Conservative rules she can’t face another challenge until a year has passed.

Some Conservative lawmakers are discussing whether the rules could be changed to allow a new vote on May’s leadership.

May has said she will step down once Parliament has approved a Brexit deal. But lawmakers have rejected the agreement she struck with the bloc last year three times.

Justice Minister Rory Stewart, a May loyalist, said changing leader would not solve the fundamental problem: the British public, and its politicians, are deeply divided about whether to leave the EU, and on what terms.

“The problem is not the prime minister, the problem is Brexit,” Stewart said.

“It’s nothing to do with the individual; it is that people disagree deeply over Brexit.”

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By The Wall of Law April 23, 2019 Off

UK’s May under fire as Parliament returns from Brexit break

LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May is facing new pressure from her restive Conservative Party to resign as lawmakers return to Parliament — and to Brexit wrangling — after an 11-day Easter break.

Britain’s EU exit, due to take place last month, has been delayed as the government tries to win Parliament’s backing for a divorce deal with the bloc.

Talks on a compromise agreement are resuming Tuesday between May’s government and the main opposition Labour Party. But there are few signs the gap between the two sides is closing.

Anger is growing among Conservative lawmakers and officials over the delay to Brexit and May’s bid for compromise.

Pro-Brexit Conservative lawmaker Nigel Evans says calls for May’s departure are “growing into a clamour” and she should resign “as soon as possible.”

The Associated Press

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