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web posted May 29, 2000

Dalrymple files $100 million civil rights lawsuit against Reno, Meissner

Donato Dalrymple, the man who saved 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez, is suing Attorney General Janet Reno and INS Commissioner Doris Meissner for allegedly violating his civil rights during the raid that removed the boy from the Gonzalez home.

Dalrymple filed a lawsuit asking for more than $100 million from Reno, Meissner and Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder.

The suit was filed on May 22 in federal court in Miami by Judicial Watch on behalf of Dalrymple. Judicial Watch is a judicial watchdog group that became active during President Bill Clinton's impeachment proceedings.

In his two-count complaint, Dalrymple claims federal agents conducted an illegal raid, and he alleges his Fourth Amendment rights protecting him against unreasonable search and seizure were violated.

The lawsuit states the government placed "substantial and complete restrictions on Plaintiff's liberty of movement" and that Dalrymple was "restrained by use of physical force...without probable cause or other legal justification."

The second count claims violation of due process under the Fifth Amendment.

Dalrymple was one of two fishermen who plucked Elian Gonzalez from the water last November.

The owner of a janitor service, Dalrymple visited the Miami relatives of the boy daily when Elian was in the temporary custody of his great-uncle.

During the federal raid to reunite father and son, Dalrymple tried to hide Elian in a bedroom closet before agents broke through the bedroom door and seized the boy from Dalrymple's arms.

Arkansas disciplinary panel recommends Clinton disbarment

President Bill Clinton's right to practice law in the state of Arkansas should be revoked because of "serious misconduct" in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case, a committee of the Arkansas Supreme Court recommended on May 22.

The state Supreme Court released the decision on May 22, although the panel made the decision on May 19.

The Southeastern Legal Foundation and U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright referred the Clinton case to the court's committee on professional conduct, saying the president lied under oath in the Jones case by denying he had a sexual relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

The president's private counsel, David Kendall, issued a terse response to the panel's ruling.

"This recommendation is wrong, and clearly contradicted by the president," Kendall said. "We will dispute it in a court of law."

Clinton gave a sworn deposition in the Jones case in January 1998. That deposition, coupled with the public revelation of the Lewinsky affair just days later, ignited a fierce firestorm that culminated in the president's impeachment by the House of Representatives in late 1998, and his subsequent acquittal in a Senate trial early in 1999.

A majority of the panelists who met to consider two complaints against the president found that he should be disciplined, the Supreme Court said.

"This action is being taken against (the president) as a result of the formal complaints ... and the findings by a majority of the committee that certain of the attorney's conduct, as demonstrated in the complaint, constituted serious misconduct," the committee said in the document released by the state Supreme Court.

The document was signed by James Neal, the committee's executive director, whose retirement from the panel also was disclosed the same day the recommendation was released.

The Lewinsky matter was brought up in the Jones case by Paula Jones' lawyers, who had sought to illustrate a pattern of alleged sexual misdeeds committed by the president.

Clinton insisted that he did not lie when he was deposed in the Jones case, arguing that his relationship with the one-time White House intern did not meet the standards of a sexual relationship as defined at the beginning of the Jones deposition.

"I have never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky," Clinton said in the deposition, though he admitted in federal grand jury testimony later in 1998 that he had engaged in inappropriate physical activity with Lewinsky.

Jones had accused Clinton of exposing himself to her in a Little Rock hotel room in 1991, a year prior to his ascension to the presidency. Her suit was dismissed in 1998 by Wright, who said Clinton's alleged behavior, while it might have been "boorish," would not have met the legal standard of sexual harassment.

Wright cited Clinton for civil contempt last year and fined him $90,000 for giving "intentionally false" testimony.

The foundation also has suggested that Clinton be disbarred for lying and for obstructing justice. Wright has not publicly suggested a penalty.

"This is a confirmation that the legal system will police its own, regardless of the position held by the attorney in question," said Matt Glavin, president of the foundation. "Remember, this is the first time in American history that a sitting president faced disciplinary proceedings."

Under the rules of the committee, the disbarment recommendation now goes to a Pulaski County Circuit Court judge in Little Rock for consideration. Should the judge rule in favor of disbarment, the president's case may be appealed to the state's Supreme Court.

The committee's recommendation followed a minor controversy the week before, when eight of the body's 14 members recused themselves from the proceedings, citing close ties to Clinton.

Still, the committee, whose members regularly meet in groups of seven, pressed on. Of the six who heard Clinton's case, five were said to be lawyers, while the sixth was a retired schoolteacher. Some observers speculated after the recommendation was issued that the president's lawyers would attack the recommendation as flawed, arguing that those who remained on the panel may have been hostile to the president.

Clinton had sought something no harsher than a letter of reprimand, the foundation said, citing Clinton's still-unreleased response to its original filing seeking disbarment.

Clinton has been a lawyer for more than 25 years and taught at the University of Arkansas law school. He has not practiced actively since the early 1980s, in the two years that lapsed between his first and second terms as Arkansas governor.

NRA's Heston re-elected to unprecedented third term as president

As Charlton Heston won an unprecedented third term as president of the National Rifle Association, he said his top priority was to ensure Al Gore's defeat in this year's presidential election.

"I intend to dedicate my remaining time as president of the NRA to ensure that the Second Amendment is safe from Al Gore and all those who threaten it," he said after he was unanimously re-elected on May 22 to serve another year.

Heston, who said he supports Republican George W. Bush, hinted that he might consider running for the NRA presidency again next year, when the convention moves to Kansas City. Previous NRA presidents have been limited to serving two one-year terms.

Also re-elected was executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, the organization's highest-ranking paid officer.

Heston's re-election concluded the NRA's 129th annual convention, where a record turnout of 52,000 gathered to discuss gun politics, attend educational seminars and view displays by more than 300 exhibitors.

During the four-day convention, one of the organization's aims was to respond to the Million Mom March held a week earlier in Washington, where demonstrators urged stricter gun controls.

The NRA showcased its own mothers, who argued that good parenting, gun-safety education and self-defense are valid alternatives to more gun-control laws.

The convention also welcomed the nation's largest gun maker, Smith & Wesson, although the reception was mixed because of its deal with the government to put childproof locks on its pistols. NRA leaders and other gun makers criticized the deal, and some members shunned Smith & Wesson's exhibit.

And with the presidential election looming, the nation's largest gun lobby says an intensified debate over guns, constitutional rights and public safety has galvanized its membership.

The NRA says 1 million members have joined in the past year -- 200,000 in the last six weeks -- increasing its total membership to 3.6 million. Heston predicted the group will reach 4 million members by Election Day.

Heston said he was heartened by the record turnout at the convention in Charlotte, which opened on Friday. The previous record was 41,000 two years ago in Philadelphia.

"I think President Clinton's point of view on firearms has united a lot of people," the 75-year-old actor said. "He didn't realize that would be the case."

Heston said the message from the NRA's convention was simple.

"Let's put it this way, the Second Amendment is alive and well," he said with his signature clenched-teeth smile.

Hargrove is 'scabbing,' striking CAW workers say

Buzz Hargrove, president of the Canadian Auto Workers union, is being accused of organizing scab workers at the powerful union, which is in the midst of a strike by its support staff.

The CAW's 92 administrative workers set up picket lines on May 22 at union offices across Canada.

The workers, secretaries and clerks who are almost all women, are seeking the same pension benefits as senior union officials, known as staff representatives, who earn nearly twice as much as the support workers and are nearly all men.

Hargrove has said he will not cross the picket line and is working out of his Toronto home.

However, Bob Dury, spokesman for the support workers' union, said that Hargrove has told the staff representatives, who belong to a different union, that they should also work out of their homes.

"As far as we are concerned that's scabbing," Dury said in an interview from a picket line at the CAW headquarters in Toronto.

"[ Hargrove] is the boss and you have to look at it as if the president of General Motors started doing [car] assembly [work] out of his house."

The strikers are so angry at Hargrove that they have handed out bulletins with his cell phone number, urging people to call him and complain. "We want people to tell him to get back to the table and negotiate with these women: Quit dictating."

Hargrove declined to discuss the issue when contacted on his cell phone.

Dury criticized Hargrove for failing to negotiate. He said there have been no talks between the secretaries and the CAW, the largest private-sector union in Canada, since May 17 and no meetings are scheduled.

"When you have one union negotiating with another union, especially the CAW, you would think that it wouldn't come to something like this," he said. "Right now, the CAW does not want to talk, they have refused to talk."

Dury said pension improvements are the only issue in the strike. He said the workers initially asked for a pension plan similar to the plan covering staff representatives.

"That was totally rejected out of hand and they wouldn't even talk about it," he said.

He said the workers then asked for a pension comparable to the plan Hargrove recently negotiated for support staff at the three major automakers.

The CAW "said no to that, their support staff aren't worth it," said Dury, who works for the Office and Professional Employees International Union.

"When you have an organization like the CAW that believes they are better than everybody else and whatever they say we have to accept, it's not right." he said.

"It could end up in not a very friendly set of negotiations."

Over the weekend, Hargrove said he offered the support staff the same pension as the autoworkers but that the secretaries demanded a better deal.

"We can't budge," Hargrove said. "They're the highest paid and they have the most time off. This is just about more."

The support workers earn about $42,000 a year and do largely administrative tasks such as secretarial, research and payroll, Dury said.

Staff representatives, who negotiated contracts on behalf of CAW members with their employers, earn between $75,000 and $80,000, he said. Hargrove earns around $100,000 per year.

This is the first time the CAW's support staff have gone on strike.

However, it is not the first strike by CAW employees. In 1994, the staff reps went on strike for two weeks before agreeing to a three-year contract.

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