Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Atty in Brandon Teena case dead after lighting self on fire in Brooklyn; won $80,000 negligence against Richardson Co., Neb.

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David Buckel, the lead attorney in a negligence suit against Nebraska's Richardson County in the Death of transgender Brandon Teena (born Teena Brandon), and a principle architect of the successful lawsuit legalizing same sex marriage in Iowa killed himself in Brooklyn's Prospect Park early Saturday morning via self-immolation in an environmental protest.
     In a typed note to New York's Daily News, Buckel wrote: "My early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves." He added that he hoped that his demise was "an honorable death that might serve others."
     Buckel won $80,000 in a case before the Nebraska Supreme Court after Brandon Teena's 1993 murder, the subject of the film Boys Don't Cry. From Wikipedia:
     JoAnn Brandon sued Richardson County and Sheriff Laux for failing to prevent Brandon's death, as well as being an indirect cause. She won the case, which was heard in September 1999 in Falls City, and was awarded $80,000. District court judge Orville Coady reduced the amount by 85 percent based on the responsibility of Nissen and Lotter, and by one percent for Brandon's alleged contributory negligence. This led to a remaining judgment of responsibility against Richardson County and Laux of $17,360.97. In 2001, the Nebraska Supreme Court reversed the reductions of the earlier award reinstating the full $80,000 award for "mental suffering", plus $6,223.20 for funeral costs. In October 2001, the same judge awarded the plaintiff an additional $12,000: $5,000 for wrongful death, and $7,000 for the intentional infliction of emotional distress.
From The Independent:
Lambda Legal applauded Mr Buckel for centring the organisation on the rights of LGBT+ youth. Camilla Taylor, acting legal director, said he had been at the forefront of a case, Nabozny v Podlesny, that was the first time a federal court ruled schools are obliged to stop the bullying of LGBT+ students. Mr Buckel was also a driving force on Lambda Legal’s work on gay marriage. In another case he led, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples and their children were harmed because they were excluded from the rights granted via marriage. When he first proposed filing a lawsuit for gay marriage in Iowa in 2005, it was legal only in Massachusetts.
From the Los Angeles Times:
     Sharon McGowan, director of strategy for Lambda Legal, recalled his influence on her career. "As a young lawyer at the ACLU, I learned so much from David Buckel, one of the giants of Lambda Legal with whom I had the honor of co-counseling a challenge to Nebraska's 'super DOMA.' This is heartbreaking news," she wrote on Twitter.
     By DOMA, McGowan was referring to the Defense of Marriage Act. That was the name of a federal law — and laws in some states — which forbade jurisdictions from recognition of same-sex marriages, including those that were held in states where such marriages were legal.

     Buckel in 2006 had described Nebraska's version of DOMA as "the most extreme of all the anti-gay family laws in the nation."
From the New York Times:
     When Mr. Buckel suggested filing a lawsuit for gay marriage in Iowa in 2005, it was legal only in Massachusetts.
     “It was considered a crazy thing to do because of the notion that Iowa would get to marriage equality before places like New York and New Jersey,” Ms. Taylor [Camilla Taylor, acting legal director at Lambda Legal] said.

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