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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

September 5th, 2015
When Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis went to jail rather than issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, her argument that doing so would violate her religious beliefs highlighted the issue of whether people must obey the law and go against their religious faith. The Washington Post's Robert Barnes and Katie Zezima report that legal experts said that Davis was on shaky ground in citing her religious beliefs when she was a public... Continue Reading
September 4th, 2015
Dan Lear, director of industry relations for Avvo, writes on The New Normal Blog that lawyers need to move beyond "access to justice" initiatives to close the legal services gap because they are "entirely ineffective." He also notes that, under the traditional access to justice model, clients get one-on-one attention from attorneys, but this is inefficient. Moreover, some clients of modest means can afford to pay something... Continue Reading
September 4th, 2015
Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know Law allows public records to be photographed, rather than requiring that photocopies be paid for, The Allentown Morning Call's Paul Muschick reports. Appeals officer Kathleen Higgins said that banning photography of public documents would be like banning someone from taking notes about public documents.   Continue Reading
September 4th, 2015
President Obama's administration has proposed a plan to ban discrimination against transgender people in the health care system, the Associated Press reports. The regulations would expand "insurance coverage for gender transition and prohibit health care facilities from denying transgender people access to restrooms that match their individual gender identity." Public comment is being accepted until November 6, including on... Continue Reading
September 3rd, 2015
There is a bill being considered in India that would create monopoly rights over traditional knowledge and classify it under intellectual property law, The Hindu's T. Nandakumar reports. R.S. Praveen Raj, a former examiner with the India Patent Office, said codifying formulations based on Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Yoga could mean they would be shared in a database with the European Patent Office and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office... Continue Reading
September 3rd, 2015
The Federal Aviation Administration has approved a company's request to operate 324 drones for "aerial data acquisition," which has prompted concerns from privacy advocates, Vice News' John Dyer reports. Jeramie Scott, national security counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told Dyer "'right now there are virtually no laws to address the commercial use of drones to collect massive amounts of data on... Continue Reading
September 3rd, 2015
Conservative commentator Bill Kristol recently suggested the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito enter the Republican presidential race, which prompted Scott Bomboy, writing for the Constitution Daily blog, to write about the long history of Supreme Court justices getting active in electoral politics. For example, John Jay, the nation's first chief justice, ran twice for the governorship of New York without resigning. Justice Arthur... Continue Reading
September 3rd, 2015
Lawyer Donald Scarinci, opining on the PolitickerNJ site, writes that the 2016 presidential race is really about which party will be in power to appoint a new Supreme Court Justice. But he notes, with the current polarization of politics, that the next president won't be able to select an ideological twin for the court. "Like those before them, the ultimate nominee will likely be an excellent jurist whose views on significant... Continue Reading
September 2nd, 2015
Manhattan Justice Peter Moulton, who is presiding over New York City's asbestos cases, has refused to halt all asbestos litigation while a new case management order is negotiated, The New York Law Journal's Ben Bedell reports. Moulton has called for a reexamination of the case management for asbestos cases, and he appointed a committee of plaintiffs and defense lawyers to negotiate the new order. The defense bar argues that the... Continue Reading
September 2nd, 2015
The federal government is trying to coax banks into making more mortgage loans to risky borrowers by assuring them that minor mistakes on mortgages won't result in penalties, The Wall Street Journal's Joe Light reports. The Justice Department has been claiming in several lawsuits that there have been mistakes by banks in loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, resulting in billions of dollars of penalties and lenders making... Continue Reading
September 2nd, 2015
Climate negotiators are working to finalize the technical aspects of a climate change deal, and they must form the legal structure of the deal as part of that, Responding to Climate Change's Megan Darby reports: "The ultimate goal is a deal this December setting out how countries will cooperate to decarbonise their economies, prepare for the impacts of climate change and support the developing world in both endeavours." Interim... Continue Reading
September 1st, 2015
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that sex offenders can't be banned from living near parks and schools, The Boston Globe's Michael Levenson reports. The court said those restrictions are like the eras in American history in which American Indians were removed from their lands and Japanese Americans were interned during World War II: "'Except for the incarceration of persons under the criminal law and the... Continue Reading
September 1st, 2015
The Alaska Supreme Court ruled that the state's Medicaid expansion could proceed today, Alaska Dispatch News' Tegan Hanlon reports. Governor Bill Walker expanded Medicaid over the objections of legislators, who argue they need to approve the expansion for it to be legal. The underlying lawsuit over the issue will still proceed because the court's order was about whether a temporary restraining order would go into place. Continue Reading
September 1st, 2015
The California Senate has just passed a bill that would restrict drones from being flown over wildfires, Los Angeles Times' Patrick McGreevy and Melanie Mason report. Other measures are being considered to restrict drone flights over prisons, schools and homes. For example, there is a bill on the governor's desk that would "criminalize the act of operating an unmanned aircraft system less than 350 feet above ground over private... Continue Reading
September 1st, 2015
The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an emergency application by a Kentucky clerk against having to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her religious objections, CNN's Ariane de Vogue and Jeremy Diamond report. The high court refused to stop a lower court ruling while clerk Kim Davis' appeal is pending. Davis' lawyers argued that her "'conscience forbids her from approving a (same-sex marriage) license... Continue Reading

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