How Appealing

Thursday, January 8, 2009

“Newly Democratic Michigan Supreme Court elects Kelly as chief justice”: Dawson Bell of The Detroit Free Press has an interesting news update that begins, “A sharply divided Michigan Supreme Court voted to elect Marilyn Kelly, a 12-year veteran of the court, chief justice today, ending ten years of Republican leadership on the court.”

Posted at 10:58 PM by Howard Bashman

“Challengers say U.S. no longer needs Voting Rights Act; High court considers whether to hear case”: In Friday’s edition of USA Today, Joan Biskupic will have an article that begins, “The question of whether America needs the Voting Rights Act now that a black man has won the presidency looms over a major appeal the Supreme Court is scheduled to consider in its private conference today.”

Posted at 10:50 PM by Howard Bashman

“Courthouse Security Still Found Lacking; Security is fragmented and uneven three years after court-related murders”: Pamela A. MacLean of The National Law Journal provides this report.

Posted at 10:35 PM by Howard Bashman

Disagreeing with the majority view, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit holds that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act does not apply to individuals: You can access today’s ruling, by a unanimous three-judge panel, at this link.

Today’s ruling reinstates a lawsuit brought by natives of Somalia “seeking to impose liability against and recover damages from Defendant Mohamed Ali Samantar for alleged acts of torture and human rights violations committed against them by government agents commanded by Samantar during the regime of Mohamed Siad Barre.”

Posted at 10:21 PM by Howard Bashman

“Solicitor-general nominee: impressive First Amendment resume.” Today at the First Amendment Center, David L. Hudson Jr. has an essay that begins, “President-elect Barack Obama’s nominee for U.S. solicitor general — Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan — has an impressive pro-First Amendment record of scholarship.”

Posted at 4:58 PM by Howard Bashman

“The Constitution does not empower the federal government to confine a person solely because of asserted ‘sexual dangerousness’ when the Government need not allege (let alone prove) that this ‘dangerousness’ violates any federal law.” A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has today declared unconstitutional 18 U.S.C. sec. 4248, a federal statute intended to allow the federal government to place in indefinite civil commitment “sexually dangerous” persons who have completed serving their federal prison sentences. You can access today’s ruling at this link.

In support of its ruling that the statute is unconstitutional, today’s opinion states:

At its core, the Government’s argument attempts to “pile inference upon inference” so as to “convert congressional authority under the Commerce Clause to a general police power of the sort retained by the States.” Lopez, 514 U.S. at 567. Were we to accept the Government’s logic, Congress could authorize the civil commitment of a person on a showing that he posed a general risk of any sexually violent conduct, even though not all, or even most, of this potential conduct violated federal law. This argument would convert the federal government’s limited power to criminalize narrow forms of sexual violence into the general power to regulate all sexual violence, including acts which violate no criminal statute. Congressional power does not reach so far.

The Fourth Circuit’s opinion states that the court is the first federal appellate court to address the constitutionality of this statute, a question that has “divided trial courts across the nation.”

Update: The Associated Press reports that “Court strikes down federal sex offender law.”

Posted at 4:17 PM by Howard Bashman

“Larry Craig dropping further appeals”: The Associated Press provides a report that begins, “A lawyer for former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig says they won’t ask the Minnesota Supreme Court to void Craig’s conviction in an airport bathroom sex sting.”

Posted at 12:05 PM by Howard Bashman

Allowing Wiccan Iowa state prison inmates a mere three hours to celebrate the observance of Samhain does not violate federal law, the Eighth Circuit rules: Isn’t it spooky that the main holiday of the Wiccan religion begins on the night of October 31st? In any event, you can access today’s Eighth Circuit ruling at this link.

Posted at 11:58 AM by Howard Bashman

“A federal prisoner seeks to recover from the United States for copyright infringement involving the government’s use of calendars he created as part of his assigned duties in prison.” So begins an opinion that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued today.

Before writing-off the case as some crackpot pro se prisoner litigation, you may be interested to know that attorneys from Covington & Burling represented the prisoner both on appeal and before the trial court. Moreover, it took a 34-page, single-spaced opinion from the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to reject the prisoner’s claims. Today, the Federal Circuit was able to affirm in a mere six double-spaced pages.

Posted at 11:40 AM by Howard Bashman

“Billion-Dollar U.S. Verdicts Vanish After Appeals, New Rulings”: Margaret Cronin Fisk of Bloomberg News has an article that begins, “The billion-dollar jury verdict has disappeared from U.S. courtrooms. For the second time in the past three years, juries in 2008 issued no awards above that amount, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.”

Posted at 11:25 AM by Howard Bashman

“Grave-digging case goes through motions; Judge hears arguments police had no ‘probable cause’ to stop the suspect”: Yesterday’s edition of The Telegraph Herald of Dubuque, Iowa contained an article that begins, “Late on the night of Sept. 2, 2006, Cassville Police Chief Brent McDonald investigated a report of an unoccupied, suspicious vehicle parked on a side street near St. Charles Cemetery. He found Alexander Grunke, of Mount Horeb, dressed in black, sweating. The discovery sparked an involved legal battle over grave-digging, spawning national attention and eventually reaching the Wisconsin Supreme Court.”

This blog’s recent earlier coverage of the case appears here, here, and here.

Posted at 9:12 AM by Howard Bashman

“S.F. Yelp user faces lawsuit over review”: The San Francisco Chronicle today contains an article that begins, “In a case that could chill free speech online, a San Francisco chiropractor has sued a local artist over negative reviews published on Yelp, the popular Web site that rates businesses.”

Posted at 8:47 AM by Howard Bashman

“Are Florida’s six-member juries constitutional?” Columnist Howard Troxler has this op-ed today in The St. Petersburg Times.

Posted at 8:25 AM by Howard Bashman

“Obama Pick to Analyze Broad Powers of President”: In today’s edition of The New York Times, Eric Lichtblau has an article that begins, “When Dawn Johnsen read a newly disclosed Justice Department legal opinion last April that blessed the president’s broad power to authorize rough interrogation tactics, she was outraged.”

Posted at 8:15 AM by Howard Bashman

“Obama’s Regulatory Czar Likely to Set a New Tone”: Today in The Wall Street Journal, Jonathan Weisman and Jess Bravin have an article that begins, “Cass Sunstein, a Harvard Law School professor who pioneered efforts to design regulation around the ways people behave, will be named the Obama administration’s regulatory czar, a transition official said Wednesday.”

And The Washington Post reports today that “Obama to Name Lawyer Friend To Regulatory Affairs Position.”

Posted at 8:00 AM by Howard Bashman

“Another shot at pay equity”: The Boston Globe today contains an editorial that begins, “Lilly Ledbetter, today an Alabama grandmother, was given star billing when she spoke to the Democratic National Convention last August.”

Posted at 7:58 AM by Howard Bashman

“No Charge: In Civil-Contempt Cases, Jail Time Can Stretch On for Years.” Today in The Wall Street Journal, Ashby Jones has an article that begins, “One can spend a long time in jail in the U.S. without ever being charged with a crime. It happened to H. Beatty Chadwick, a former Philadelphia-area lawyer, who has been behind bars for nearly 14 years without being charged.”

Posted at 7:55 AM by Howard Bashman