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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 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
February 21st, 2016
How do you overcome the ax murderer taking care of Grandma problem? Lawyer Peter H. “Tad” LeVan knows a thing or two about that. A few weeks ago, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, sitting en banc, ruled that the state's ban on former convicts working in elder care was unconstitutional. LeVan gave me a recent interview about this litigation. It started with a challenge to the law's constitutionality on an... Continue Reading
February 21st, 2016
Wyoming legislators have rejected the expansion of Medicaid to 20,000 low-income Wyomingites, The Wyoming Tribune Eagle's James Chilton reports. Most legislators continued their opposition to the expansion, but Sen. Tony Ross, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, changed his mind "having looked at the potential savings and compared them to the state’s massive looming budget shortfalls." However, not... Continue Reading
February 20th, 2016
The International Business Times' Cole Stangler reports that 31 states in the U.S. don't have any legal protections for LGBT employees from being fired by their bosses. And things aren't getting better. "Less than a year after same-sex couples won marriage rights at the Supreme Court, and as public opinion becomes increasingly gay-friendly, efforts to extend workplace discrimination laws to LGBT people are struggling... Continue Reading
February 20th, 2016
The Washington Post's Sari Horwitz has an in-depth profile of the impact of Kansas' voting identification law, which is disenfranchising citizens who don't have documents to prove they are citizens. One veteran was purged from voter rolls even though he served in the U.S. military, pays taxes and owns a home. "There is a battle unfolding in Kansas over who can register to vote in the first place. Election-law experts say... Continue Reading
February 11th, 2016
A divided American Bar Association has passed a resolution to create model rules for states that want to license non-lawyers to provide legal services. On one hand, the measure would allow more states to follow the lead of Washington and Utah in allowing non-attorneys to help pro se litigants in some types of matters and in trying to close the access to justice gap. On the other hand, some lawyers, including the leaders of the ABA's Solo,... Continue Reading
January 26th, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court, 6-3, has ruled that class action defendants can't defeat lawsuits just by offering lead plaintiffs everything they sought to recover, The New York Times' Adam Liptak reports. That means companies can't pick off class representatives and thus defeat class actions. The plaintiff received unwanted text messages and sued under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The case is Campbell-Ewald Co... Continue Reading
January 26th, 2016
The Illinois Supreme Court has issued a ruling that could lead to more expert testimony on the unreliablity of eyewitness evidence, the Chicago Tribune's Dan Hinkel reports. The reversal of defendant Eduardo Lerma's conviction of murder was affirmed by the Illinois Supreme Court. The trial judge was found to have abused his discretion by barring defense lawyers from calling experts about the fallibility of eyewitness evidence. Continue Reading
January 26th, 2016
The scope of the power of the Consumer Finanical Protection Bureau is under challenge by a New Jersey lender, which is arguing the CFPB Director Richard Cordary illegally imposed a $109 million penalty against it, The Wall Street Journal's Yuka Hayashi reports. An in-house CFPB judge originally ruled that PHH Corp. took "kickbacks" from mortgage insurers and increased costs for mortgage borrowers. The CFPB says PHH... Continue Reading
January 26th, 2016
A conservative legislator in South Carolina has introduced a bill that would require journalists to register with the government in order to work in the state, The Post and Courier's Gavin Jackson and Schuyler Kropf report. The bill also would create requirements for South Carolina journalists before they could being work. State Rep. Mike Pitts, a Republican, said he introduced the bill because Second Amendment rights are demonized... Continue Reading

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