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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

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
January 18th, 2016
The Huffington Post's Melissa Jeltsen has a feature about how women often have to choose between leaving partners who are abusing them and having housing. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families. Jeltson, who focused her piece on New York City, reports that there are going to be 683 city-run units where families can stay indefinitely. "... Continue Reading
January 18th, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week on whether Puerto Rico has the legal authority to try two gun dealers for allegedly illegal firearm sales after they plead guilty in federal court, USA Today's Richard Wolf reports. The Obama administration has taken the position that Puerto Rico, as a U.S. territory, can't do so. But the Puerto Rico constitution gives the territory autonomous self-government. A majority of... Continue Reading
January 16th, 2016
The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office is arguing to the U.S. Supreme Court that a former member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did not need to recuse himself from hearing death penalty cases that he signed off on as the city's top prosecutor, The Legal Intelligencer's Lizzy McLellan reports. In the appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court, former Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille approved the decision to... Continue Reading
January 16th, 2016
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has rejected the argument of the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity and the Thomas More Law Society that their First Amendment rights were violated by a California law requiring them to turn over their list of donors to the California attorney general, Election Law Blog's Rick Hasen reports. The groups said they should be exempted from the law because disclosure of their... Continue Reading
January 15th, 2016
Goldman Sachs will pay $5 billion to settle both federal and state inquiries into its sale of "shoddy mortgages," AP's Ken Sweet reports. The sum includes $1.8 billion in mortgage forgiveness and refinancing, $2.39 billion in civil penalties and $875 million in cash payments. The deal is with the U.S. Department of Justice, the New York attorney general, the Illinois attorney genearl and other regulators. Continue Reading
January 13th, 2016
Poynter's Benjamin Mullin has a piece about how 2016 could be the breakout year for drone journalism because the FAA is slated to issue new rules about the commercial use of drones: "It will be a watershed development for American photojournalism writ large, one that will put relatively inexpensive aerial photography, videography and airborne sensors in play for journalists across the United States." The most common use will... Continue Reading

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