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December 2005 Archives

Media outlets are reporting today that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will propose a $1 increase in the state's minimum wage (currently $6.75 / hour) during his State of the State address on Thursday, January 5.  According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Governor Schwarzenegger will propose increasing the wage to $7.25 / hour in September 2006 and $7.75 / hour in July 2007.  Learn more about the minimum wage at FindLaw's Employee Rights Center:

A Legal Debate Over 'Birthright Citizenship'

When Congress ratified the Fourteenth Amendment nearly 140 years ago, the children of illegal immigrants who were born  in the United States were given 'birthright citizenship.'  Attempts to revoke this legal entitlement recently came to a head in Congress, and according to immigrant rights advocacy groups and anti-immigrant organizations, efforts to change this provision are likely to remain.

California to End Automatic Racial Segregation of Inmates

California prison officials announced that starting in March 2006, they would end their practice of automatically segregating inmates according to race.

The decision was the result of a legal settlement in a series of legal challenges that started in 1995 when a California inmate sought to change the practice.

Judge Rules 'Intelligent Design' Teaching Unconstitutional

In a closely watched court decision, a federal judge ruled that a Pennsylvania school district's policy of teaching an 'intelligent design' ("ID")theory of biology was unconstitutional.  The U.S. District Court judge held that concluded that local school board officials, "who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy."

If the decision is appealed, the legal debate over teaching alternatives to evolution in public schools could go all the way the the U.S. Supreme Court.

December 15th is Bill of Rights Day

From freedom of speech to the right to a fair criminal trial, a number of fundamental rights enjoyed by all Americans can be found in the Bill of Rights. December 15th is Bill of Rights Day, an occasion to celebrate the fundamental freedoms guaranteed in the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and a time to encourage awareness of the role that the Bill of Rights plays in the everyday lives of all Americans. The links below (from FindLaw) provide in-depth information on the Bill of Rights.

Full Text and Annotations for Each Amendment in the Bill of Rights:

Judge Declares Mistrial in Vioxx Lawsuit

A federal judge in Houston declared a mistrial in the first federal Vioxx lawsuit against N.J.-based drug manufacturer Merck.

That leaves open the possibility for a re-trial -- a likely option given the potential liability and damages if the drugmaker were to lose.

Convicted Gang-Member's Bid to Stop Execution Fails

Last minute attempts by Crips street gang co-founder Stanley "Tookie" Williams to block his sceduled execution failed today when Calif. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger denied last minute clemency requests on Williams' behalf.

Williams was convicted in 1981 for the 1979 Los Angeles murders of four people.  Since his incarceration, Williams has gained noteriety for writing children's books and speaking about gang life.  Courts denied last minute appeals by Williams' lawyers over the weekend to halt his execution which is scheduled for Tuesday, December 13th.

Insurance Industry Announces "Top Safety Pick" Vehicles

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently announced a new "Top Safety Pick" award for vehicle performance in crash tests, and selected 10 passenger cars as winners of the award for the 2006 model year. According to the IIHS, "[t]he awards recognize car designs that afford the best protection for people in front, side, and rear crashes, based on performance in Institute tests."

More information:

December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness of DUI / DWI as a serious crime, and an opportunity to pay special attention to prevention of drunk and drugged driving on roads and highways nationwide. More information: