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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

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
May 24th, 2016
A federal judge has ruled that the city legislative districts in Cranston, Rhode Island, are unconstitutional because 3,433 inmates housed in the state's only prison are counted as city residents and allocated to a city ward, The Huffington Post's Cristian Farias reports. Each of the city's wards are divided into 13,500 residents each, but one ward includes the 3,433 inmates. U.S. District Judge Ronald Lagueux... Continue Reading
May 23rd, 2016
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed a bill making the state's nominating commission for Supreme Court justices subject to open records and open meetings laws, the Wichita Eagle's Bryan Lowry reports. The bill also requires the governor to disclose the names of applicants for the intermediate appellate court, the Kansas Court of Appeals, and will require the clerk of the Kansas Supreme Court to submit a list of lawyers eligible... Continue Reading
April 25th, 2016
The expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act has lowered the burden of medical debt for some low-income consumers, according to a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research. The study looked at the medical-debt collection balances referred out to debt collectors in areas with high populations of low-income patients. The study's authors' estimates "'imply a reduction in collection balances of... Continue Reading
April 24th, 2016
A showdown between bitter opponents of the Affordable Care Act and Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson has resulted in the state preserving its expansion of Medicaid, AJMC's Mary Caffrey reports. As a result, Medicaid will continue for 267,000 residents who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The expansion includes a waiver from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services with provisions to require... Continue Reading
April 3rd, 2016
The Kansas Supreme Court is under attack by conservatives, including Governor Sam Brownback, for its rulings overturning death penalty verdicts, blocking anti-abortion laws, and ruling in favor of public-school funding, The New York Times' Erik Eckholm reports. Those efforts include: A bill was passed by the Republican-controlled Senate to authorize the impeachment of justices if the court's opinions allegedly usurp the... Continue Reading
April 3rd, 2016
The New York Court of Appeals has ruled that a patient's family can continue their privacy lawsuit because the patient's death was filmed without their permission and aired on medical show, ProPublica's Charles Ornstein reports. The court greenlighted the plaintiffs' claim that doctor-patient confidentiality was breached, but the court rejected the plaintiffs' intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. “... Continue Reading
March 20th, 2016
The Montana Supreme Court has ruled that a plaintiff can pursue a lawsuit against the company that promised to help her with credit-card debt relief, the Montana Standard's Kathleen J. Bryan reports. The plaintiff alleges that Global Client Solutions used '“deceptive and fraudulent representations to solicit her participation in an illegal debt settlement plan.”' The Supreme Court held that the plaintiff's... Continue Reading
March 20th, 2016
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed several changes to that state's Freedom of Information Law in the state budget. Open access advocates are criticizing the changes, saying that one would make it "harder for litigants to win court awards of attorney's fees in cases where agencies disregard valid FOIL requests or had no valid reason for delaying compliance with the law" and the other would reject FOIL requests... Continue Reading

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