News Roundup

Weekly Briefs: Same-sex marriage bill sent to Biden; lawyer pleads guilty after swinging belt caught on video

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Bill protecting gay marriage is sent to Biden

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a marriage equality bill Thursday that requires states and the federal government to recognize same-sex and interracial marriages that were legal in the states where they were performed. The Respect for Marriage Act, as the bill is known, also repeals the federal Defense of Marriage Act, an overturned law that denied federal benefits to same-sex couples. Late additions to the new bill protect religious organizations from having to provide services that support same-sex marriages. The bill is now awaiting President Joe Biden’s signature. (The Hill, Reuters)

Lawyer says he intended to scare but not hit girlfriend with belt

A former judicial candidate caught on video swinging his belt toward his girlfriend pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge that will be dismissed if he successfully completes a probationary period. Jason Kolkema, 51, a former judicial candidate in Muskegon County, Michigan, told the judge that he intended to scare but not strike his girlfriend. “I would say it was unintentional. I think when she raised her arm, essentially, the belt was out of range, but when she moved her arm up, protecting herself, that made contact with her,” Kolkema said. He lost his judicial race in November. (,

Federal Circuit won’t block judge’s quest for patent-funding records

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit refused Thursday to interfere with a federal judge’s order requiring a patent holding company, Nimitz Technologies, to disclose information about its links to a company that may be funding Nimitz Technologies’ infringement litigation. Chief U.S. District Judge Colm F. Connolly of the District of Delaware was seeking the information to determine whether the real parties in interest in the litigation were being hidden from defendants sued. (Law360, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Federal Circuit decision)

Michael Avenatti gets 14-year sentence for client thefts

Michael Avenatti, the suspended California lawyer who once represented adult film actress Stormy Daniels, has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for stealing millions of dollars from four clients and obstructing federal efforts to collect payroll taxes from his coffee business. He was also ordered to pay $10.8 million in restitution to the clients and the Internal Revenue Service. Avenatti previously received two sentences that total five years for stealing $300,000 in book-deal payments intended for Daniels and for trying to extort Nike. The 14-year sentence will run consecutive to the five-year sentence. (Department of Justice press release)

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