Man Sues Prostitute for $1.8 Million Because of Poor Service

Hubert Blackman, a New York college student, is suing a Las Vegas escort service for poor service he received from a prostitute.

During a December vacation to Las Vegas, Blackman decided to order a stripper from Las Vegas Exclusive Personals. Blackman paid the stripper $155 for a lap dance, and another $120 to perform a sex act.

The following morning, Blackman called the escort service demanding his money back because he was unhappy with the services received. According to Blackman, the stripper only stayed for 30 minutes, rather than the agreed upon hour. He also claims to need medical attention for a condition related to the sexual encounter.

When Las Vegas Exclusive Personals refused to refund Blackman’s money, he went to the police for help despite the fact that prostitution in illegal in Las Vegas. Much to his disappointment, Las Vegas police threatened to arrest Blackman for committing an act of prostitution.

Upon returning to New York, Blackman filed a lawsuit against Las Vegas Exclusive Personals asking for his $275 back, as well as an additional $1.8 million for the “traumatic” events he endured. He claims it was the stripper who solicited the sex act, but also admits to knowing it was illegal at the time.

The escort company claims to offer only adult dancers, not prostitution.

Criminal Defense Attorney, Avery Appelman, ponders whether there was full disclosure between client and attorney in this case. “By filing this suit, Blackman is fully admitting that he broke the law,” says Appelman. “In effect, he’s completely exposing himself to prosecution. This is not a smart move.”

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Minnesota Man on Trial for 2 Counts of Assisted Suicide

MN man on trial for assisted suicidesFaribault Minnesota resident, William Melchert-Dinkel, is currently facing charges on two counts of assisted suicide that could land him in prison for 30 years.

The accused waived his right to a jury trial last week. The verdict will thus be handed down by Rice County District Court Judge Thomas Neuville. Melchert-Dinkel is pleading not guilty to both charges of assisted suicide, but does not dispute that the alleged events took place. The judge will take 20 days to pour over the 1,000 pages and 10 CDs worth of evidence compiled by the prosecution.

The prosecution alleges that Melchert-Dinkel convinced two people to take their lives through internet chats and email conversations. He supposedly outlined specific instructions on how people could kill themselves effectively, and even entered into fake suicide pacts with several people.

The two victims Melchert-Dinkel is accused of pushing to suicide are Kajouji, 18, of Brampton, Ontario, who jumped into a river in 2008; and Mark Drybrough, 32, of Coventry, England, who hung himself in 2005.

Melchert-Dinkel’s defense attorneys have argued that his acts are protected under freedom of speech, and that the victims were going to commit suicide with or without Melchert-Dinkel’s help.

“There is no doubt in my mind that in accordance with the statute and in accordance with the laws of our land … my client is not guilty of a crime,” Defense Attorney, Terry Watkins said. “I expect a not guilty verdict.”

The question at the core of this issue is whether or not Melchert-Dinkel’s actions and words fall under his right to free speech. It is similar to the ongoing prosecution against the author of the Pedophile How-To Book.

“Prosecuting people for expressing their written thoughts is always a sticky area,” says Criminal Defense Attorney, Avery Appelman. “Dinkel didn’t make these people kill themselves by threatening or intimidating them. He merely spoke with them in online chat rooms. Is this enough to convict a person of assisted suicide? Or is it constitutionally protected free speech?”

What do you think?

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Pennsylvania Abortion Doctor on Trial for Killing Babies and Mothers

Abortion DoctorDr. Kermit Gosnell, an abortion doctor practicing in Pennsylvania, is on trial for allegedly murdering newborn babies and their mothers using illegal abortion techniques.

Prosecutors called the Women’s Medical Society abortion clinic a veritable “house of horrors” filled with dead fetuses and body parts. The prosecution alleges Gosnell murdered seven babies born in the sixth to eighth months of pregnancy by severing their spinal cords with scissors. The district attorney denied bail to Gosnell because of the severity of the charges.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System began alerting authorities in 1999 to look into Gosnell after doctors saw several of his patients. Despite this, no action was taken against the good doctor for over a decade.

The newly elected governor of Pennsylvania has vowed swift justice against Gosnell, who is not a board-certified obstetrician or gynecologist. He also plans to investigate how exactly the system went wrong.

Gosnell faces seven counts of first-degree murder related to infant deaths, as well as a third-degree murder charge for a woman who overdosed on anesthetics prescribed by the doctor. In addition, Gosnell is being charged with infanticide, conspiracy, corpse abuse, corruption of minors, and solicitation. Six other employees of the clinic also face charges relating to the murders.

These are deplorable acts, but require a lot of difficult proof that the prosecution may not be able to obtain. Remember, a person is innocent until proven guilty. If there is not enough proof presented, Dr. Gosnell may not be convicted.

“It is the government that holds the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal cases,” says Criminal Defense Attorney Avery Appelman. “In this highly politicized era of prosecution, it is especially important to hold the government to their standard. Protecting all of our rights sometimes means protecting the rights of those accused of heinous crimes.”

Abortion is always a touchy subject. Do you agree with Mr. Appelman that those who allegedly commit heinous crimes should have their rights upheld and protected just as much as a law abiding citizen?

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18-year-old Baseball Prodigy, Delino Deshields, Arrested for DWI

Delino Deshields DWI18-year-old baseball rising star, Delino Deshields, was arrested last month in Athens, GA for Driving Under the Influence.

Police pulled Deshields over for driving the wrong way down a one way street. Deshields blew a BAC level of .094 and was issued a DUI as well as an underage possession of alcohol violation. The legal limit for those under the age of 21 is 0.02. Consequently, 18-year-old Deshields was way over the legal BAC limit. He was released on a $2,500 bond.

Deshields, the son of a former Major League Baseball player with the same name, was the Houston Astros’ number one draft pick last summer. This arrest puts a damper on the budding athlete’s status as a hot commodity.

“I take the responsibility of being a role model seriously and apologize to my fans, my community and the Astros organization, who continue to support my family and I during this unfortunate incident,” DeShields wrote in an apology on his Facebook page. “I look forward to putting this matter behind me and sincerely appreciate the respect of privacy during this personal matter.”

Under Minnesota law, the punishment for underage DWI is the same as it is for of age offenders. In addition, DWI violators under the legal drinking age are subject to a six month driver’s license revocation.

“Deshields makes a great point, that the collateral consequences of a DWI arrest can be disastrous,” says Criminal Defense Attorney, Avery Appelman. “Loss of educational and employment opportunities, family strife, and even the social stigma of a DWI arrest affect everybody regardless of fame or economic status.”

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Montana Jurors Refuse to Convict Man for Marijuana Possession

Legalize MarijuanaThe trial of Touray Cornell, a Montana man charged with distributing a small amount of marijuana, met with difficulties last month when jurors said they would have trouble convicting someone for such a small amount of contraband.

The man on trial has a harrowed past with a bevy of convictions and a reputation as a drug dealer. Even so, several jurors expressed difficulty in convicting a person for possession of only one sixteenth of an ounce of marijuana.

“If it was a pound or a truckload or something like that, OK,” said a potential juror. “But I’m not going to convict someone of a sale with two or three buds.” Several others immediately agreed.

“We’ve got a lot of citizens obviously that are not willing to hold people accountable for sales in small amounts, or at least have some deep misgivings about it,” said Judge Robert Deschamps. “And I think if I excuse a quarter or a third of a jury panel just to get people who are willing to convict, is that really a fair representation of the community?”

The sentiments expressed by these jurors represent an overall growing tolerance for marijuana. Many even favor legalization of the drug. Currently twelve states, including Minnesota, have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. In addition, seventeen states now have laws that allow for medicinal marijuana.

Thankfully for Judge Deschamps the case ended before trial. Cornell agreed to a felony conviction of distribution, for which he received a sentence of 20 years in prison with 19 suspended.

In Minnesota, sale of such an amount of marijuana is a felony offense punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000.

“The jurors in this case are saying that they do not agree with the existing marijuana laws in their state,” says Criminal Defense Attorney, Avery Appelman. “They are, in effect, trumping the law. It’s mutinous, but also glorious. It’s democracy at work.”

Would you have a problem convicting someone for possession of a small amount of Marijuana?

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Appelman Law Firm Attorneys Present on the Consequences of DWI at Normandale College

On February 8, 2011, the attorneys at Appelman Law Firm presented on the consequences of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) at Normandale Community College’s “Success Day.”

The presentation outlined the laws that constitute a Minnesota DWI, as well as the criminal, civil, and emotional consequences of receiving a DWI charge. The attorneys also investigated the rights and defenses for a person charged with a MN DWI.

The theme of this year’s “Success Day” was “Vision Possible – Navigating Your Future.” There were dozens of presentations ranging in topic from successful job hunting, to safe sex, to the consequences of drunk driving. This is the second year that Normandale has hosted the event.

The attorneys gave four separate presentations throughout the day to eager and interested students, staff, and members of the community. At each session, the audience was responsive, asking a plethora of questions about what actions to take when pulled over or arrested for DWI.

Avery has been presenting at Normandale and other colleges around the twin cities for several months now. Having a clear conception of the DWI laws and defenses is necessary for all MN drivers. That is why his presentations on DWIs are invaluable to the community as a whole.

Follow the Appelman Law Firm Twitter and Facebook pages for information on future speaking engagements.

Leader of ‘Nice Guys’ Prostitution Ring Gets Off with No Jail Time

John St. Marie, leader of the Minneapolis online prostitution ring known as ‘Nice Guys’ was given no jail time despite being convicted on three counts of promoting prostitution.

Minnesota ‘Nice Guys’ was a high-end online prostitution service that connected prostitutes to roughly 30 older men known as ‘Nice Guys’ who paid handsomely and treated the prostitutes well. The operation, which lasted for nearly three years, was helmed by St. Marie—a former assistant Hennepin County attorney. The ring was busted in June 2009 after long-term police stings at various hotels in the twin cities metro area.

St. Marie, 66, pled guilty to the charges last November and faced a maximum penalty of 15 years jail time for each count. So why no prison sentence?

St. Marie has a plethora of health problems, not the least of which is debilitating childhood polio. Consequently, the ex-ring leader is confined to a wheel chair. The no jail time conviction was a result of the high costs it would take to keep St. Marie incarcerated.

“The judge recognized the defendant’s medical conditions and the extreme costs required to keep him locked up,” says Criminal Trial Lawyer, Avery Appelman. “He made a fiscal decision that will ultimately save a lot of tax dollars.”

Read our Prostitution in MN blog series for more information on the laws and consequences of prostitution in Minnesota.

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Cyber-Bullying on the Rise in Minnesota

Cyber-bullying in MinnesotaIn our tech-savvy society, cyber-bullying has become a rampant problem. Instead of pushing and shoving on the playground, bullies now harass on the internet, hiding safely behind an anonymous veil.

Cyber-bullying is the repeated harassment of a person through an electronic medium, such as e-mail, text messaging, or social networking sites (Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc.). It is most common among children and teenagers who have easy access to these modes of communication at incredibly young ages. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, 43% of teenagers report that they have, at one point, been victims of cyber-bullying.

There are several forms of cyber-bullying. The first, and most common, is when a cyber-bully harasses a person via degrading texts, e-mails, or other electronic messages. Another type occurs when a cyber-bully steals a person’s identity (i.e. their Facebook or Myspace profile) and defames their character by acting inappropriately in the social media sphere. All forms of cyber-bullying are dangerous and detrimental to a person’s mental and emotional health.

Since it is still in its infancy, lawmakers are now struggling to pass effective legislation that prohibits cyber-bullying. Only a handful of states have passed laws that deal directly with cyber-bullying. Most states merely categorize it under existing harassment laws.

Minnesota law states that “Each school board shall adopt a written policy prohibiting intimidation and bullying of any student. The policy shall address intimidation and bullying in all forms, including, but not limited to, electronic forms and forms involving Internet use” (

This statute is well-intentioned but not very effective. Less than half of Minneapolis Public Schools currently have a written policy on cyber-bullying. Schools also refuse to get involved in incidents that occur after school hours, which is when most kids spend time online. Even when an incident is investigated, it is nearly impossible for school administrators and police to keep track of a student’s online activities because of the anonymity the internet provides.

“Our current laws are extremely insufficient regarding this issue in that they don’t deal specifically with cyber-bullying,” says Criminal Defense Attorney, Avery Appelman. “Lawmakers are doing our children a disservice by not including specific cyber-bullying laws in the legislature.”

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DWI Suspect Acquitted on Drunk-to-Keep-Warm Defense

A Missouri man was acquitted of a suspected DWI after claiming that he got drunk after he crashed his vehicle into a culvert, not before. The incident occurred in February, 2010. Thomas Drummond explained to the court that he had been driving home after a night out with friends when icy road conditions caused him to lose control and crash his car into a culvert.

According to Drummond, he was not intoxicated before the accident. However, he imbibed a considerable amount of alcohol to stay warm during the two hours it took for emergency services to arrive.

“It was the day before the Super Bowl and he had just done some shopping,” Defense Attorney Stephen Wilson said Monday. “It was 32 degrees or colder out and he had brandy in the car, so he kept warm.”

While Drummond’s defense held tight in this case, his logic was scientifically flawed. Contrary to common thought, alcohol does not keep you warm. It may create a feeling of warmth, but in fact it lowers your core body temperature. Thankfully for Drummond, his scientific knowledge was not on trial. His defense attorney merely had to prove that Drummond was not intoxicated prior to the accident. Thus, while Drummond’s actions were based on a misconception, they were not illegal.

This unusual defense tactic has been used before. Real Housewives of New Jersey star Joe Giudice took the same defensive stance after flipping his Ford pickup truck earlier this year. Giudice did not have Drummond’s luck, however. He received a fine of $864 and had his driver’s license revoked for a year.

“In Minnesota, this defense is known as the ‘Post-Driving Consumption’ defense,” says Criminal Defense Lawyer, Avery Appelman. “This is a good defense but requires a mess of proof including testimony by a forensic chemist.”

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