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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

December 20th, 2015
A record number of American cities have enacted efforts to protect LGBT rights, the Christian Science Monitor's Jessica Mendoza reports: "The Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) 2015 Municipal Equality Indexfound that 32 million people now live in cities with explicit and comprehensive equal-rights policies." However, the report notes that protection from discrimination in employment and transgender rights still needs much,... Continue Reading
December 20th, 2015
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act has celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, Indian Country Today Media Network's Rick Kearns reports. The law allows American Indians to repatriate ancestral remains, burial objects and other sacred ceremonial objects from the archives of museums. There may be as many as one million indigenous ancestral remains and cultural objects internationally, the director of the ... Continue Reading
December 20th, 2015
Virginia Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe once again suggested Virginia expand Medicaid in his latest budget proposal, but House Republican leaders immediately rejected the plan, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. The plan would have used a tax on hospital revenues to generate Virginia's share of the costs of the expansion. Continue Reading
December 17th, 2015
An Arkansas legislative task force has backed Gov. Asa Hutchinson's efforts to get federal waivers from some rules for Medicaid, The Times Record's John Lyon reports. Hutchinson wants waivers like requiring people with incomes of 100 to 138 percent of the federal poverty level to pay premiums and referring "unemployed, able-bodied beneficiaries" to work training before he would agree to maintain the Medicaid... Continue Reading
December 17th, 2015
Koch Industries, the funding powerhouse behind many conservative causes, and President Barack Obama's administration are continuing to push for criminal reform, The Washington Post's Juliet Eilperin reports. Both sides have agreed that a proposed change to white-collar prosecutions should be jettisoned if it will imperil sentencing reform in Congress. The change would require prosecutors to prove that defendants "... Continue Reading
December 17th, 2015
The U.S. Supreme Court, 6-3, has rejected another class action. This time, the majority of the court ruled this week that a class action cannot proceed against DirecTV over early-termination fees because those fees have to handled by private arbitration, The Washington Post's Robert Barnes reports. The majority opinion, written by Justice Stephen Breyer, struck down a California law that makes class-action bans in... Continue Reading
December 14th, 2015
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill that would have required government agencies to obey a 90-day limit to appeal court decisions in favor of people requesting information under New York's Freedom of Information Law, The New York Times' Jesse McKinley reports. However, the governor issued an executive order that essentially reversed his veto of the bill, setting a 60-day window for a legal response by government... Continue Reading
December 13th, 2015
Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn is close to issuing guidelines that would suggest that police interrogations--from start to finish-- be recorded, The News Journal's Jessica Masulli Reyes reports. The reason for the move is because advocates say recording interrogations helps avoid false confessions. Advocates also said the guidelines should be made mandatory by stating prosecutors wouldn't use statements obtained from non-... Continue Reading
December 13th, 2015
James Beck, a defense lawyer with Reed Smith, blogged on Friday about the first time that an appellate court has held that a claim that a brand-name manufacturer were negligent in the design of its drugs has been preempted because it would be impossible for the drug company to comply both with federal regulations and state tort law. It's the first appellate authority to recognize impossibility preemption of a design defect case against... Continue Reading
December 13th, 2015
Small-scale breaches of patients' medical privacy are going unpunished because officials at the federal office for Civil Rights focus on voluntary compliance as the remedy, ProPublica's Charles Ornstein reports. Many people also cannot turn to their own lawsuits for redress. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act doesn't allow for a private cause of action, and states vary on how much protection tort law... Continue Reading
December 13th, 2015
The historic climate change deal by 196 governments to cut greenhouse gas emissions almost wasn't because of one misplaced word, Politico's Andrew Restuccia reports. On Saturday, lawyers for President Barack Obama's administration found that the text of the agreement had been changed from saying that wealthier countries "should" set economy-wide targets for cutting greenhouse gases to "shall" set... Continue Reading
December 12th, 2015
South Dakota Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard and conservative Louisiana Democratic Governor-Elect John Bel Edwards have come out in favor of the expansion of Medicaid in their states. JR Ball, a columnist for Nola.com | The Times-Picayune, notes that Louisiana is on track to become the second state in the Deep South to adopt Medicaid expansion. Republican legislators, who control the Louisiana Legislature, have sharply... Continue Reading
December 11th, 2015
On a personal note, I'd like to share news of an event my family has organized in honor of our mother, Laura Elliott-Engel. I was always so proud of Mom for getting sober at the age of 28 and then spending the rest of her career helping people recover from addictions herself. We are holding a showing of It's A Wonderful Life in the Olean, New York, community where she was the executive director of the Council on Addiction Recovery... Continue Reading
December 10th, 2015
The hotel chain Wyndham Worldwide Corp. has settled data breach charges with the Federal Trade Commission, Reuters' Jonathan Stempel reports. The case was precedent setting because it was a test of the FTC's power to regulate data breaches as unfair or deceptive trade practices. In the settlement, Wyndham must "establish a comprehensive information security program designed to protect cardholder data including... Continue Reading
December 9th, 2015
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin is facing misconduct charges because he exchanged emails with images of nude women and jokes that were demeaning to religious groups, women and minorities, The Inquirer's Angela Couloumbis, Craig R. McCoy and Mark Fazlollah report. The Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board said those emails had the appearance of impropriety and brought the court into disrepute. Attorney General... Continue Reading

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