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‘Less safe from gun violence’: Local politicos react to Supreme Court ruling that New York’s strict handgun restrictions violate the constitution

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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A U.S. Supreme Court decision released Thursday found New York’s strict handgun restrictions violated the constitution.

The 6-3 decision found that New York’s “proper cause” requirement for public carry violated law-abiding citizens’ constitutional rights to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self defense.

Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the court’s majority opinion in the case brought by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association. Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Neil Gorsuch, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined Thomas in the majority.

Kavanaugh delivered a concurring opinion joined by Roberts, and Justice Samuel Alito delivered a separate concurring opinion. Justice Stephen Breyer dissented in an opinion joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Mayor Eric Adams had been warning about the decision’s possible impact on public safety for months, and on Thursday, he called it “appalling.”

“The Supreme Court decision was keeping me up at night. It’s clearly reached the point where we won’t have any sleep,” Adams said of the decision brought against New York State Police Superintendent Kevin Bruen.

“We can say with certainty — this decision has made every single one of us less safe from gun violence. The decision ignores the shocking crisis of gun violence.”

Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul have said they intend to find ways to push back against the Supreme Court’s decision. The mayor pointed to a possible expansion of the city’s definition of “sensitive locations” where carrying a gun is banned.

Law enforcement joined Adams in condemning the Supreme Court’s decision. Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said the decision “should concern us all” as it could bring more guns to New York City’s streets, and District Attorney Michael McMahon called the decision an “egregious infringement” on New York’s right to decided its own laws.

“With this decision, the Supreme Court has drastically jeopardized the safety of New Yorkers and made the job of police officers, as well as all those serving in law enforcement that much more dangerous,” he said.

“Hindering New York’s strong gun laws, as this decision undoubtedly does, opens the floodgates for more firearms to be carried across our borders from out-of-state and puts innocent lives at risk.”

Under existing state laws, the concealed carry of a handgun is prohibited for the general public without a government-issued license that requires the person show proper cause for carrying the gun.

Sewell and Adams pointed out that system remains in place for the time being, and those not permitted to carry a gun in the city became automatically permitted because of this decision.

One person who has had trouble securing such a license is City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli (R-South Shore).

He said Thursday that the NYPD denied his license application despite him showing evidence of “documented credible death threats” when he filed last year.

“Being a conservative in New York City is not always popular and I’ve received more than one death threat in the past,” he said. “It’s absurd to think that I wouldn’t qualify.”

Borelli pointed to armed police details other politicians have access to in the city, including the mayor, Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Public Advocate Jumaanee Williams, as an example of the type of protection he sought.

The Minority Leader also derided the existing system because of the relative safe practices of legal gun owners when compared with those who carry and use illegal firearms.

He referenced a 2021 Daily News review of legal gun ownership in the five boroughs that found the city’s highest rates in neighborhoods covered by the 122nd and 123rd Precincts, which also have some of the lowest rates of gun crime in the city.

“I’m still waiting for someone to show me one instance of a licensed concealed-carry permit holder involved in a criminal shooting in New York City,” he said.

The NYPD’s licensing system also came under increased scrutiny in recent years as the source of some of the most blatant corruption in the city.

Since 2015, multiple officers in the department’s License Division have pleaded guilty to accepting bribes in exchange for pistol permits.

Still, the conservative-dominated Supreme Court’s decision didn’t sit well with some of Staten Island’s Democratic politicians.

State Sen. Diane Savino (D-North Shore/Brooklyn) said she plans to work with her colleagues in Albany to find a legislative solution in line with the second amendment needs and public safety.

“Today the Supreme Court turned the clock back a hundred years on public safety for large cities like New York,” she said. “The decision will have real life ramifications for dealing with the continuing challenges our NYPD and other Law Enforcement face in dealing with gun violence.”

New York’s permitting system dates back to the early 1900s, particularly a 1911 state law — known as the Sullivan Act, named for the state senator who sponsored it.

City Councilwoman Kamillah Hanks, who chairs her chamber’s Committee on Public Safety, said she intends to work with her legislative partners to counter the rulings impact.

Like Mayor Adams, Hanks (D-North Shore) pointed to possible expansions to the definition of “sensitive locations” at the state level as a way to counter the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“I am outraged by the news of the Supreme Court ruling this morning. Our communities, time and time again, have been absolutely ravaged by the worsening gun violence epidemic, and the answer to that is not to allow even more unfettered carry of handguns,” she said. “One thing needs to be made definitively clear: we cannot allow our city to become the Wild West.”

In his concurring opinion, Kavanaugh pointed to 43 states that have “shall issue” license systems for people seeking permits that lay out objective requirements like mental health and background records checks.

He contrasted those with “may issue” systems in New York, five other states, and Washington D.C. that bring a level of subjectivity to their permitting process.

SOME LOCAL POLS APPLAUD THE DECISION

Assemblyman Mike Reilly, who retired from the NYPD as a lieutenant, applauded the Supreme Court’s decision for leveling the playing field.

“New York’s concealed carry law created a two-tiered system that was not equitable. New Yorkers who had the financial means, among other circumstances, were arbitrarily prioritized over others by government agencies and able to invoke their second amendment right,” Reilly (R-South Shore) said.

“[The Supreme Court’s] ruling will ensure that New Yorkers, and all Americans, are treated equally under the second amendment, just as our nation’s founders intended.”

Some of the Island’s other conservative elected officials countered claims that the decision would lead to more gun violence in the city by pointing to unrelated liberal policies.

While most crime has seen an uptick in the five boroughs, shooting incidents have seen an 11.5% drop year-to-date compared to last year, according to NYPD data updated on Sunday.

“They seem to have no problem allowing criminals to walk our streets with illegal guns, so it seems their outrage is misplaced when it comes to the Supreme Court’s decision affirming the right of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves at a time of skyrocketing crime,” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) said.

“The focus of our state government continues to be flawed. As I’ve said many times on the Assembly floor, they should concentrate their time and efforts on holding violent criminals accountable for their actions,” Assemblyman Mike Tannousis (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) said.

“The wave of gun violence we are experiencing in our city is generated by criminals who have no interest in seeking gun permits and little to fear from a justice system stripped of its power to make them face any consequences for their lawlessness,” City Councilman David Carr (R-Mid-Island) said. “Today’s Supreme Court decision vindicates the thousands of law-abiding citizens who simply want to protect themselves from these dangerous criminals by exercising their Second Amendment rights.”

Borough President Vito Fossella, State Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-South Shore), Assemblyman Mike Cusick (D-Mid-Island), and Assemblyman Charles Fall (D-North Shore/Brooklyn/Manhattan) did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.


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Angolan journalists continue to face criminal insult and defamation proceedings

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New York, June 30, 2022 – Angolan authorities should drop criminal defamation and insult investigations into journalists Escrivão José, Óscar Constantino, and Fernando Caetano and ensure that investigative journalism is not criminalized, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.

The three journalists each told CPJ that they are facing ongoing legal processes over criminal defamation and insult complaints about their work.

“The spate of spurious criminal defamation cases against journalists in Angola shows that politicians and powerful figures are allergic to public scrutiny and are taking advantage of colonial-era laws to criminalize journalism,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, in Johannesburg, South Africa. “Prosecutors must stop pandering to elites who want to keep citizens in the dark and should refuse to entertain such cases in line with a 2010 resolution by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights urging African Union members states to abolish criminal defamation and insult laws.”

Convictions for criminal defamation carry prison terms of up to 1.5 years and a fine set by a judge; insult convictions carry one year and a fine, according to the penal code and Nelson Custódio, a local lawyer who represents both Caetano and Constantino, and who spoke to CPJ via messaging app. CPJ has recently reported on several other criminal defamation cases against journalists in Angola.

On June 6, investigators with the police criminal investigation service in the capital, Luanda,  sent a summons to José, editor of the privately owned newspaper Hora H, and on June 13 they questioned him in relation to defamation and insult complaints filed by Bento Bento, the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) first secretary in the capital, according to news reports and the journalist, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.

Bento’s complaints stemmed from a March 29 report by Hora H’s affiliated online video outlet, in which José covered corruption allegations involving a land deal by Bento, José told CPJ. Authorities released José after classifying him as “arguido,” or a formal suspect in criminal proceedings, a necessary step to possibly being charged with a crime or arrested.

José told CPJ that Hora H had sought Bento’s comment more than a month before publishing their story.

“Instead of any reply to our questions, Bento chose to intimidate journalists by using his political weight to sue us,” José said, adding that this was the 24th criminal defamation suit he had faced over his work. He said most of those cases were unresolved, and some had closed without a formal prosecution.

CPJ called Bento and contacted him via messaging app for comment but he did not answer.  

Separately, on June 20, a judge in the province of Kwanza Sul held a hearing in criminal defamation and insult cases against Constantino, a reporter for the Catholic Church-owned broadcaster Radio Ecclésia, according to news reports and Constantino, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.

That case stemmed from complaints filed by Morais António, the former president of the provincial electoral commission, over a 2020 report by the journalist about António’s resignation amid an alleged sex scandal, according to those sources. Constantino has been classified as arguido in that case since 2021, he told CPJ.

He said his court appearance in the case is scheduled for July 6, when he expects to learn whether he has been convicted. The public prosecutor had asked for the charges against Constantino to be dropped because of a lack of evidence, according to news reports and Custódio.

António told CPJ by phone that he believed Constantino “went beyond the facts in his reporting” and accused the journalist of failing to publish his reply to the allegations. Constantino told CPJ he stood by the reporting, which he said was based on António’s resignation letter.

António also filed separate criminal defamation and insult complaints against Caetano, a correspondent for the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Voice of America and the news website Club K in Kwanza Sul province, over a December 2017 report by Club K about alleged corruption in the management of the provincial electoral commission, the journalist told CPJ by phone. Caetano said he was notified of his status as arguido in the case in November 2021.

That 2017 report was published under someone else’s byline, and featured a photograph that was later reused in an unrelated report written by Caetano in December 2019, Caetano told CPJ. He said he was not the author of the 2017 report and had “no say” in the photo in the 2019 article, adding, “This is a good example of how easily journalists can get sued in Angola for next to no reason.”

António told CPJ that Caetano must prove that he was not the author of the 2017 report, as the photograph was the same and Caetano was the only Club K reporter in the province.

“If it is not him so who is it?” António said, noting that the 2017 article alleged that he had embezzled money.

Caetano had his first court hearing in that case in March, according to Custódio. The case was adjourned and a date for the next hearing had not been set by June 29, Custódio said.

Kwanza Sul public prosecutor Mário Sacuiema told CPJ in a phone interview that he could not comment on Constantino or Caetano’s cases, and confirmed that a date for Caetano’s next court hearing had not been set.


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CCOs and Execution of Compliance Certification: A Significant Risk? (Part III of III)

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CCOs, by definition, are careful and deliberate.  It comes with the profession.  As risk managers, CCOs are skilled in identifying, assessing and acting in a risk environment.

The impact of the new CCO certification requirement, however, presents serious risks that cannot be brushed off or ignored in the face of assurances that prosecutorial discretion will protect CCOs from misguided prosecutions.  Frankly, CCOs recognize that there is too much at stake, including their careers and their liberty interest. 

DOJ’s new requirement was designed and rolled out in good faith, in an attempt to bolster the standing of CCOs in the corporate governance landscape.  To address the potential negative reaction to the certification requirement, DOJ included an important provision in its Glencore FCPA plea agreement.

As set out by DOJ, a CEO and CCO would be required to execute the form Certification thirty (30) days prior to the end of the Independent Compliance Monitor’s Term, which in the case of Glencore is a three-year term.  Paragraph 10 of the Plea Agreement sets out the following important language:

Where necessary and appropriate, the Defendant will adopt new or modify existing internal controls, compliance policies, and procedures in order to ensure that the Defendant maintains: (a) an effective system of internal accounting controls designed to ensure the making and keeping of fair and accurate books, records, and accounts; and (b) a rigorous anti-corruption compliance program that incorporates relevant internal accounting controls, as well as policies and procedures designed to effectively detect and deter violations of the FCPA and other applicable anti-corruption laws. The compliance program, including the internal accounting controls system, will include, but not be limited to, the minimum elements set forth in Attachment C. The Office[r]s, in their sole discretion, may consider the Monitor’s certification decision in assessing the Defendant’s compliance program and the state of its internal accounting controls.

DOJ’s last sentence in Paragraph 10 contemplates that the CEO and CCO may, in their discretion, may consider the Independent Compliance Monitor’s certification, in reaching their own determination as to the state of the Company’s compliance program. 

Another significant consideration is the language of the CEO and CCO certification itself — which states that “such anti-corruption compliance program is reasonably designed (emphasis added) to detect and prevent violations of the [FCPA] and other anti-corruption laws throughout the company’s operations.”

In effect, CEOs and CCOs  can rely on the Independent Compliance Monitor’s certification and the limitation on its certification that the compliance program is “reasonably designed” to detect and prevent violations of the FCPA.

Even with these positive factors, however, CEOs and CCOs will need to design and implement an appropriate procedure to document their respective due diligence and analysis of the Company’s compliance program.  This consideration, at first glance, appears to be straight-forward but could quickly unravel into difficult issues.

A CCO should be able to rely on and document any internal and external reports, assessments, and reviews of the Company’s compliance program conducted as part of the remediation effort.  DOJ clearly contemplates that a Company’s compliance program over a three-year monitorship period will undergo significant change and improvement.  By definition,  a CCO will be intimately involved in this process.

The CCO’s ability to rely on these reports, assessments and reviews may require a personal review and evaluation to justify such reliance.  CCOs need to evaluate when a further examination of a specific report may be warranted.  In this situation, a CCO may have to devote and document follow-ups to specific issues flagged in the report, assessment and review.  CCO will inevitablye face difficult situations where reliance on a report may not be completely justifiable.

A further complication may arise when a Company subjects its compliance program to a robust testing and evaluation by an outside party.  in these circumstances, an independent test of an enhanced compliance program may require a CCO to review the test results carefully with a questioning eye.  This process may, in turn, delay the CCO’s certification or even raise further issues requiring analysis and review.

The risks presented by even these obvious situations are even more troublesome given the legal risks posed by acknowledgement that a “false” certification would constitute a violation of the False Statements and Obstruction of Justice criminal statutes, 18 U.S.C. §§1001, and 1519, respectively.  By conceding the issues of “materiality” under 18 U.S.C. §1001, and “tangible record” under 18 U.S.C. §1519, a CCO may be setting him or herself up for a criminal prosecution where the issue may not rise to a criminal violation.

CCOs have enough problems in the corporate governance world.  On balance, it is difficult to maintain that the CEO and CCO certification requirement is a net plus for CCO stature in the corporate governance landscape.

Given the controversy surrounding this issue, I fully expect there will be more discussion between the CCO community and DOJ.  After all, DOJ’s most important ally in the corporate world is the CCO — and DOJ should avoid any negative impact on such a critical ally.


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First election in Caricom this year brings change

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Grenadians this week began living under a new government following general elections late last week that saw a government which had won all 15 seats in the previous two elections suffer an electoral meltdown, losing nine of those parliamentary slots as the New National Party (NNP) heads into the opposition.

The Caribbean Community’s first major elections for this year mean that attorney Dickon Mitchell, 44, has been sworn in as Grenada’s new prime minister replacing long-serving Keith Mitchell—no known relation—after becoming party leader just last October.

Clearly tired and worn out by Mitchell and the NNP, Grenadians decided to give the fresh-faced attorney and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) a chance to run the mini archipelago that also includes Carriacou and Petite Martinique for the next five years.

Keith Mitchell and Mia Mottley of nearby Barbados were the only two leaders in the 15-nation bloc whose governing parties had held every single parliamentary seat and had run their countries largely without any opposition in an atmosphere of peace. In the case of Grenada, Mitchell had done it three times in the past 20 years but voters say they have had enough of nepotism, corruption, a weak economy and other problems besetting the country.

Dickon Mitchell was sworn in at the weekend as the nation’s ninth prime minister and immediately warned about a possible purge of the public service of hundreds of political appointees.

“Under my leadership I intend to break that vicious cycle of nepotism. The key criteria will be merit in particular as it relates to the government service in all aspects including the police, nurses, teachers and doctors. We need to run our country based on merit, hard work, the desire and willingness to overcome and to find solutions to the challenges that face us. We will not move forward or prosper as a people on the sole basis for job selection, promotion, for the award of contracts on party loyalty or personal loyalty,” he told a weekend forum.


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