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

February 17th, 2017
Here's a freelance piece I did today for the New York Law Journal about New York City's ground-breaking plan to use city funds to ensure that tenants earning less than 200 percent of the poverty level will have lawyers when facing eviction: New York City's plan to offer free counsel to low-income Housing Court tenants facing eviction doesn't mean tenants who fail to meet income requirements won't receive any help... Continue Reading
January 4th, 2017
It's not just the shape of the U.S. Supreme Court's jurisprudence that President-Elect Donald Trump will get to shape. The Economist reports that he will be able to appoint lawyers to 96 judgeships in district courts and 16 on the nation’s circuit courts. Russell Wheeler of the Brookings Institution projects that Trump appointments will lead to half of district-court seats being held by Republican appointees. This is... Continue Reading
January 3rd, 2017
The New York Times' Abby Goodnough and Robert Pear and The Washington Post's Kelsey Snell and Mike DeBonis both have pieces about how the Affordable Care Act is likely to endure to some extent despite the plans of President-elect Donald Trump and Congressional Republican leaders to repeal it. The Washington Post reporters note that "Democratic opposition and complex Senate rules mean that core pieces of the 2010... Continue Reading
January 3rd, 2017
The New York Times' Abby Goodnough reports that Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia and other hospitals serving poor neighborhoods face a financial crisis if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. President-elect Donald Trump and Republican Congressional leadership have vowed to do exactly that. The hospital industry predicts that "hospitals stood to lose $165 billion through 2026 if more than 20 million people lose the... Continue Reading
December 31st, 2016
Here's a reason to be hopeful about 2016 despite, among other things, the election of Donald Trump, the loss of several beloved celebrities and the intractable civil war in Syria. Innovations for Poverty Action's Annie Duflo and Jeffrey Mosenkis write that 2016 might turn out to have been one of the best years for humanity because the number of people living in extreme poverty and child mortality has been dropping... Continue Reading
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


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