Legal Briefs

Posted on 20 Jul 2006 at 6:14pm
By Staff and Wire Reports

Gay columnist remains off job in dispute with newspaper; legal action possible

A month after he ignored orders from his editors and appeared in a gay pride parade, a columnist at The (Allentown, Pa.) Morning Call remains off the job.

The columnist, Frank Whelan, was handed a two-day suspension but has remained off the job since mid-June, using vacation time that ran out Friday. His attorney told Editor and Publisher, a trade magazine, that discussions are underway to enable Whelan to return with dignity.

If the discussions collapse, the attorney said, Whelan has three options for legally challenging his suspension.

Editors said Whelan violated the newspaper’s conflict-of-interest policy by appearing with his partner as a grand marshal in Allentown’s gay pride parade because it is a political event. They also said they learned of Whelan’s involvement only when they received a press release two days in advance promoting the parade. Whelan said he did not consider the event to be political or controversial.

City to appeal award to ex-policeman who complained of anti-gay remarks by officers

The city of Santa Barbara is appealing a $431,000 award to an ex-policeman who said the Police Department wouldn’t rehire him because he complained about anti-gay remarks by fellow officers. A judge and jury concluded that not rehiring Ruben Lino in 2003 amounted to retaliation for his complaints. Superior Court Judge Thomas Anderle last week denied the city’s motion for a new trial and upheld the jury’s April 30 judgment.

“It’s disappointing the city would waste taxpayers’ money defending this case further, as opposed to allocating those resources to public safety where they are desperately needed,” Lino said.

Boardinghouse for homeless appeals award for discriminating against lesbian

A boarding home for mentally disabled homeless people in San Jose, Calif., said it would appeal an order requiring it to pay $8,200 in damages for discriminating against a lesbian.

Nora Jensen, now 30, moved into the New Beginnings home in April 2003, according to the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Commission. Jensen said she mentioned to manager Juanita Prunty that she had recently broken up with her domestic partner. Prunty replied that homosexuality was an abomination. Prunty also prohibited Jensen from using the women’s bedroom before 8 p.m. in an attempt to decrease the chances that Jensen might engage in sexual activity with another woman.

University ordered to recognize group that excludes gays, condemns homosexuality

Southern Illinois University last year revoked the official status of an on-campus Christian student group. Officials said the group, the Christian Legal Society, violated the university’s nondiscrimination policy because it prohibits gay men and lesbians from joining.

A federal appeals court last summer granted a temporary order that required the university to recognize the group, pending litigation.

On Monday, a three-judge panel of the federal Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled 2-to-1 to affirm that decision and send the case back to the trial court to determine whether the university violated students’ rights to free speech and equal protection.

Man indicted in ’92 slaying of Taunton city planner after sexual encounter

A Taunton, Mass., man who is already serving a sentence for manslaughter has been indicted in the 1992 killing of a gay Taunton city planner. Timothy Imbriglio, 35, was indicted July 13 on a first-degree murder charge in the death of Gerald Rose.

District Attorney Paul F. Walsh Jr. said police matched DNA found in Rose’s house to Imbriglio. Walsh said investigators believe Rose may have been killed during a gay sexual encounter. Rose was found dead of strangulation in his house. Walsh said investigators began to focus on Imbriglio as a suspect in Rose’s killing because of evidence preserved in another case. Imbriglio is in prison after being convicted of manslaughter in the 1976 killing of an elderly man from New Bedford, Mass. The man met Imbriglio several times at rest stops. He was also killed by strangulation.

Hawaii Supreme Court justice honored for opinion favoring same-sex marriage

As author of the Hawaii Supreme Court’s 1993 ruling in Baehr v. Lewin, one of the first gay marriage cases to be heard, Justice Steven H. Levinson will receive the “Allies for Justice Award” from the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association.

The award will be given at the annual convention of the American Bar Association on Aug. 4 in Hawaii. The award also recognizes what the law association called Levinson’s outstanding commitment to civil rights for all Americans.

Court awards Michael Jackson’s former advisor $900,000 in civil dispute

SANTA MONICA, Calif. In a split decision on July 14, a civil court jury awarded a former Michael Jackson adviser $900,000 far less than he claimed in the money dispute and awarded the pop star $200,000 in his cross-complaint.

F. Marc Schaffel originally sued for $3.8 million, but his claims were later reduced to $1.6 million, and his attorney ultimately asked the jury for $1.4 million in commissions, unpaid loans and expenses before deliberations began on July 13.

Jackson’s attorney had said Schaffel owed the pop star $660,000 before the pop star fired the associate in November 2001 after learning of his past as a producer of gay pornography.

The trial delved into claims involving work Schaffel did to produce two videos aired on Fox that were intended to rehabilitate Jackson’s image in the aftermath of a damaging documentary, and claims involving “What More Can I Give,” an ill-fated Jackson song intended to raise funds for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, July 21, 2006.

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