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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

March 19th, 2016
The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled this week that a private prison company can be held liable for three female inmates who were raped by a guard, The Associated Press' Morgan Lee reports. The Corrections Corporation of America was found liable for $3 million in damages. That award is on appeal to the Tenth Circuit. The federal circuit court certified a legal issue to the New Mexico Supreme Court on whether the prison operator could... Continue Reading
March 19th, 2016
Corporate giving to super PACs, including by "ghost" corporations, is breaking records this presidential election cycle, The Washington Post's Matea Gold and Anu Narayanswamy report. More and more legal entities are being formed right before they make six- and seven-figure contributions to super PACs: "Many corporate givers this cycle are well-established hedge funds, energy companies and real estate firms.... Continue Reading
March 18th, 2016
Kentucky Democratic legislators have passed legislation to try to maintain that state's Kynect health care exchange and its Medicaid expansion, the Courier-Journal's Tom Loftus reports. However, the legislation doesn't have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled state Senate. Republican Governor Matt Bevin is doing away with Kynect and shifting to the federal healthcare insurance exchange. Bevin is also asking for a... Continue Reading
March 17th, 2016
No surprise that the biggest news in the legal world is Merrick Garland's nomination by President Barack Obama to the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday. The Republicans in U.S. Senate are refusing to even give a hearing to Garland, who is the chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. But in the unlikely event that Garland gets confirmed to the Supreme Court, Robert Barnes, writing for the Washington Post, observes... Continue Reading
March 16th, 2016
Three former immigration judges have challenged the assertion by a Justice Department official that 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds can represent themselves in court and don't have a right to a lawyer in deportation proceedings, The Washington Post's Jerry Markon reports. The judges made their argument in a brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which is hearing an appeal on whether immigrant children are... Continue Reading
March 16th, 2016
The U.S. military has proposed historic changes to its justice system in the wake of concerns about the sexual assault of service members, ProPublica's T. Christian Miller reports. However, the proposed reforms don't address the power of senior commanders to decide whether to press charges, select juries and to vacate court martial convictions.  The changes would include the issuance of sentencing guidelines for... Continue Reading
March 15th, 2016
Reuters' Julia Edwards reports that President Barack Obama is likely to pick one of two judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit as his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. His selection has come down to Judge Sri Srinivasan, who, if confirmed, would be the first Asian American to serve on the nation's highest court, or Judge Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit. The announcement is expected as... Continue Reading
March 15th, 2016
For the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has come out against doctors prescribing highly addictive opioid painkillers, The Washington Post's Karoun Demirjian and Lenny Bernstein report. The nonbinding guidelines from the federal government recommend that doctors prescribe alternative courses of treatment before resorting to opioid painkillers to treat chronic pain. The guidelines have been developed in... Continue Reading
March 15th, 2016
President Barack Obama would sign a Freedom of Information Act reform bill that has passed the U.S. Senate, Politico's Josh Gerstein reports. The bill "calls for a centralized portal to request records from all government agencies and writes into the law a presumption of openness that the Obama Administration adopted by executive order when he took office in 2009," Gerstein reports. Freedom of information advocates have been... Continue Reading
March 2nd, 2016
An Alaska judge has ruled that state's governor had the authority to expand Medicaid, without legislative approval, to cover people between the ages of 19 and 64 who are not caring for dependent children, not disabled and not pregnant, and who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, The Associated Press' Becky Bohrer reports.  Legislators argued that the group is not a mandatory group to be covered... Continue Reading
March 2nd, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments earlier this week on whether former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille violated constitutional law when he ruled on a death penalty case in which he had been involved as a prosecutor, Philly.com's Jeremy Roebuck and Jonathan Tamari reports. Castille, when he was the Philadelphia district attorney, authorized prosecutors to seek the death penalty against ... Continue Reading
February 23rd, 2016
U.S. District Judge Mark Kearney of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has ruled that citizens don't have a First Amendment right to film police officers "absent a challenge to their conduct," The Legal Intelligencer's Gina Passarella reports. The issue is one of first impression and involves citizens whose cellphones were confiscated after they were filming or photographing police activity. One woman was a legal... Continue Reading
February 22nd, 2016
The California Supreme Court has ruled that a homeowner who lost her home to foreclosure can challenge the defective transfer of ownership of her mortgage, The Intercept's David Dayen reports. The court held that "'a homeowner who has been foreclosed on by one with no right to do so has suffered an injurious invasion of his or her legal rights at the foreclosing entity’s hands."' The homeowner'... Continue Reading
February 22nd, 2016
The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that judicial candidates can identify themselves as Republicans or Democrats, but identifying themselves as conservative or liberal "runs afoul of rules to keep politics out of judicial campaigns," The Associated Press' Bruce Schreiner reports. The court majority further said that a judicial candidate's declaration that he or she is a liberal or a conservative violates the state... Continue Reading
February 22nd, 2016
The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that a law firm submitted too broad of a records request for data about residences where children were found to have elevated levels of lead in their bodies, the Associated Press' Andrew Welsh-Huggins reports. The court ruled that Lipson O'Shea Legal Group's public records request was too specific and the Board of Health couldn't comply with the request without revealing the identity of the... Continue Reading

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