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Cultivated Compendium is my periodic round-up of important, cutting-edge or interesting legal news as well as some of my original reporting and musings.


 

News and Reporting

October 30th, 2016
Esquire's Charles P. Pierce comments that electing judges continues to be a bad idea--especially since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United that the government may not keep corporations or unions from spending money in support of candidates. The Brennan Center for Justice has documented that $3.5 million in TV and radio ads have been bought so far this year regarding state supreme court elections in 10 states.... Continue Reading
October 29th, 2016
In These Times' Stephanie Woodard had a piece earlier this month about how American Indians are killed by police at a rate higher than any other group in the United States. American Indians are 3.1 times more likely to be killed by police than whites. The next group that is most likely to be killed by police are blacks. But the amount of media coverage is much higher for blacks killed by police than for American Indians, Woodard... Continue Reading
October 29th, 2016
The Washington Post's Kim Soffen has a fascinating--and sad--analysis of how racial bias and gender bias affects the amount of money that plaintiffs can recover from lawsuits. This results from the use of models to determine how much a plaintiff has lost in future income and that include estimates based on someone's race and gender. This isn't just a reflection of the gender and racial wealth gap in the United States because... Continue Reading
October 21st, 2016
Here is my piece just published by the Connecticut Law Tribune about a new pro bono program aiming to help close the access to justice gap: The power of the internet is being harnessed to make it easier for low-income Connecticut residents to access legal advice, and to make it easier for pro bono attorneys to volunteer to help people who can't afford to pay for attorneys. Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut is one of the... Continue Reading
October 20th, 2016
Here's a recent piece I wrote for the Connecticut Law Tribune about reforms to that state's power of attorney law: Sweeping changes have been made to Connecticut's power-of-attorney law, including making it harder for banks to upend the wishes of people who do estate planning by rejecting power-of-attorney forms. Reforms to the law came into effect Oct. 1. Leaders in the Connecticut field say this is the first time the law... Continue Reading
October 20th, 2016
I continue to marvel at how the Pennsylvania courts always get ensnared in scandal. My law school commencement speaker--ex-Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane--has already been convicted of illegally leaking secret grand jury material to reporters, and I graduated in 2013. Several Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices who I covered when working for The Legal Intelligencer have had to resign due to scandal or have faced judicial... Continue Reading
September 14th, 2016
Here's a recent piece I wrote for the Connecticut Law Tribune about a bizarre scenario: a litigant suing for alleged personal injury has been charged with perjury because he allegedly falsely claimed his mother had died in order to excuse his absence from court. Sometimes, you can't make the world of law up. *** An Arizona man sued Dollar Tree Stores, alleging that he fell due to a hole in the floor of one of the chain's... Continue Reading
September 14th, 2016
The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle's Gary Craig has highlighted an interesting legal question in the wake of a state assemblyman's suicide. Bill Nojay committed suicide before a federal criminal charge against him was unsealed. Now what? Can that charge be made public even though the criminal defendant is dead?  One local attorney said that, under the First Amendment, a criminal charge against a public figure like... Continue Reading
August 28th, 2016
Here is a recent piece I wrote for the Connecticut Law Tribune about the limits on liability for mass shootings: The debate over guns usually brings to mind the Second Amendment and legislators passing laws about background checks and keeping guns out of the hands of people on the terrorist watch list or with mental health problems. An event last week at the American Museum of Tort Law in Winsted highlighted the role of tort law in... Continue Reading
August 20th, 2016
A British programmer has developed a chatbot to help people find housing after being evicted and to prevent homelessness, The Washington Post's Karen Turner reports. Joshua Browder had already created an online robot for people to challenge their parket tickets in London and New York City. The DoNotPay bot now allows people to "easily file for government housing without paying a cent." One legal aid attorney, however... Continue Reading
August 19th, 2016
The Economist has an analysis of the legal consequences of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's increasing attacks on the media. The magazine notes that he has said he would open up libel law to make it easier for public figures to sue for defamation. But The Economist notes that U.S. Supreme Court rulings, including New York Times v. Sullivan, have made the protection of the freedom of the press "strong and well entrenched... Continue Reading
August 15th, 2016
As five Kansas Supreme Court justices face retention elections this fall, donations to groups involved in the retentions are not subject to the same disclosure requirements as in other types of elections, The Topeka Capital-Journal's Jonathan Shorman reports. As a result, it is nearly impossible to know who is fundraising the most. The Kansas Supreme Court has been the center of political fights in that state. Two years ago,... Continue Reading
August 15th, 2016
The City of London Police are embarking on a "radical" pilot project in which the details of fraud suspects will be shared with law firms so they can try to use the civil courts to seize the suspects' assets, The Guardian's Vikram Dodd reports. Questions are being raised on whether the profit motive for the law firms could damage the fairness of the process. Questions are also being raised on ... Continue Reading
August 15th, 2016
Here is a freelance piece published last month by the Connecticut Law Tribune: Vacant, foreclosed homes have become a bane in many neighborhoods in the United States. There are currently 896,913 properties in some stage of foreclosure in the United States, according to RealtyTrac. The impact of vacant, foreclosed homes is affecting Connecticut too. Two homeowners in Wyndham County have been living through the experience of having a... Continue Reading
June 20th, 2016
The judicial branch of government has become a flashpoint for political disagreement for the 2016 elections, whether it is federal judicial appointments or elections to state courts, The Kansas City Star's Dave Helling writes. Legal experts say "politicians have started turning virtually every race into a referendum on the courts, threatening public confidence in an independent, apolitical judiciary." For example, Helling... Continue Reading

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