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Legal News

My occasional take on important, cutting-edge or interesting legal news:

 

 

Legal News

March 16th, 2017
President Donald Trump has proposed a budget that would cut funding for programs that help poor, rural Americans, including access to free lawyers in civil cases, The Washington Post's Steven Mufson and Tracy Jan report. All funding would be slashed for the Legal Services Corporation, which funds legal aid agencies like the one that employs me. Funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps many... Continue Reading
March 12th, 2017
President Donald Trump promised on the campaign trail to "expand access to drug treatment, strengthen prevention options and address the scourge of drug addiction after hearing about many Americans' struggle with opiate abuse," CNN's Dan Merica reports. But the Republican health care plan Trump backs would end the requirement that states that have expanded Medicaid cover addiction-treatment services and mental health... Continue Reading
January 4th, 2017
It's not just the shape of the U.S. Supreme Court's jurisprudence that President-Elect Donald Trump will get to shape. The Economist reports that he will be able to appoint lawyers to 96 judgeships in district courts and 16 on the nation’s circuit courts. Russell Wheeler of the Brookings Institution projects that Trump appointments will lead to half of district-court seats being held by Republican appointees. This is... Continue Reading
January 3rd, 2017
The New York Times' Abby Goodnough and Robert Pear and The Washington Post's Kelsey Snell and Mike DeBonis both have pieces about how the Affordable Care Act is likely to endure to some extent despite the plans of President-elect Donald Trump and Congressional Republican leaders to repeal it. The Washington Post reporters note that "Democratic opposition and complex Senate rules mean that core pieces of the 2010... Continue Reading
January 3rd, 2017
The New York Times' Abby Goodnough reports that Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia and other hospitals serving poor neighborhoods face a financial crisis if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. President-elect Donald Trump and Republican Congressional leadership have vowed to do exactly that. The hospital industry predicts that "hospitals stood to lose $165 billion through 2026 if more than 20 million people lose the... Continue Reading
October 30th, 2016
Esquire's Charles P. Pierce comments that electing judges continues to be a bad idea--especially since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United that the government may not keep corporations or unions from spending money in support of candidates. The Brennan Center for Justice has documented that $3.5 million in TV and radio ads have been bought so far this year regarding state supreme court elections in 10 states.... Continue Reading
October 29th, 2016
In These Times' Stephanie Woodard had a piece earlier this month about how American Indians are killed by police at a rate higher than any other group in the United States. American Indians are 3.1 times more likely to be killed by police than whites. The next group that is most likely to be killed by police are blacks. But the amount of media coverage is much higher for blacks killed by police than for American Indians, Woodard... Continue Reading
October 29th, 2016
The Washington Post's Kim Soffen has a fascinating--and sad--analysis of how racial bias and gender bias affects the amount of money that plaintiffs can recover from lawsuits. This results from the use of models to determine how much a plaintiff has lost in future income and that include estimates based on someone's race and gender. This isn't just a reflection of the gender and racial wealth gap in the United States because... Continue Reading
October 20th, 2016
I continue to marvel at how the Pennsylvania courts always get ensnared in scandal. My law school commencement speaker--ex-Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane--has already been convicted of illegally leaking secret grand jury material to reporters, and I graduated in 2013. Several Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices who I covered when working for The Legal Intelligencer have had to resign due to scandal or have faced judicial... Continue Reading
September 14th, 2016
The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle's Gary Craig has highlighted an interesting legal question in the wake of a state assemblyman's suicide. Bill Nojay committed suicide before a federal criminal charge against him was unsealed. Now what? Can that charge be made public even though the criminal defendant is dead?  One local attorney said that, under the First Amendment, a criminal charge against a public figure like... Continue Reading
August 20th, 2016
A British programmer has developed a chatbot to help people find housing after being evicted and to prevent homelessness, The Washington Post's Karen Turner reports. Joshua Browder had already created an online robot for people to challenge their parket tickets in London and New York City. The DoNotPay bot now allows people to "easily file for government housing without paying a cent." One legal aid attorney, however... Continue Reading
August 19th, 2016
The Economist has an analysis of the legal consequences of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's increasing attacks on the media. The magazine notes that he has said he would open up libel law to make it easier for public figures to sue for defamation. But The Economist notes that U.S. Supreme Court rulings, including New York Times v. Sullivan, have made the protection of the freedom of the press "strong and well entrenched... Continue Reading
August 15th, 2016
As five Kansas Supreme Court justices face retention elections this fall, donations to groups involved in the retentions are not subject to the same disclosure requirements as in other types of elections, The Topeka Capital-Journal's Jonathan Shorman reports. As a result, it is nearly impossible to know who is fundraising the most. The Kansas Supreme Court has been the center of political fights in that state. Two years ago,... Continue Reading
August 15th, 2016
The City of London Police are embarking on a "radical" pilot project in which the details of fraud suspects will be shared with law firms so they can try to use the civil courts to seize the suspects' assets, The Guardian's Vikram Dodd reports. Questions are being raised on whether the profit motive for the law firms could damage the fairness of the process. Questions are also being raised on ... Continue Reading
June 20th, 2016
The judicial branch of government has become a flashpoint for political disagreement for the 2016 elections, whether it is federal judicial appointments or elections to state courts, The Kansas City Star's Dave Helling writes. Legal experts say "politicians have started turning virtually every race into a referendum on the courts, threatening public confidence in an independent, apolitical judiciary." For example, Helling... Continue Reading

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