News Roundup

Afternoon Briefs: Prosecutor killed in 'freak accident' in courtroom; lawyer accused of filing suits for nonclients

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South Africa prosecutor is killed in courtroom gun incident

A South Africa prosecutor was killed Monday when a gun being entered into evidence discharged and the bullet struck her in the hip. The incident that led to the death of Addelaid Ann Ferreira Watt has been described as a “freak accident,” caused when the gun fell. Police are investigating the actions of an officer who was supposed to make sure the weapon was not loaded. (People, the Times Live)

Lawyer charged with filing hundreds of ADA suits on behalf of nonclients

Federal prosecutors allege that a lawyer netted $930,000 in attorney fees by settling more than 300 sham lawsuits filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act on behalf of two people who weren’t clients and never authorized the litigation. Prosecutors charged 65-year-old Stuart Finkelstein of Davie, Florida, with mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, false declarations to a court, and obstruction of justice. (The New York Daily News, press release)

Law students take on tampon tax

Law students at two dozen law schools were planning to join in a protest of the so-called tampon tax Wednesday. The students planned to buy menstrual products in states that tax them and then send in claims for tax refunds. Thirty-three states currently tax such products. Fordham law student Mary Kate Cunningham is organizing the student protest. “It’s unconstitutional because it’s a government action that is solely on the basis of sex,” she said of the tax. (

Prison guards charged with falsifying records on night of Epstein suicide

Two prison guards in Manhattan have been charged with falsifying records to make it appear that they were conducting required inmate checks on the night that financier Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide. The indictment unsealed Tuesday alleged that the guards, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, browsed the internet and appeared to be sleeping on the night in question. Epstein had been charged with sex-trafficking underage girls. (The New York Law Journal, the New York Times, press release, indictment)

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