Archive for the ‘Courts’ Category

fuller-mugshotWe previously discussed the arrest of U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller in Alabama for misdemeanor battery of his wife. Now members are raising the possibility of impeachment if he does not resign despite the absence of a conviction on the misdemeanor. Rep. Martha Roby (R., Alabama) is citing a rather novel source of extraconstitutional precedent: the NFL Ray Rice case.

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article-charlize8n-5-0307We previously discussed the bizarre case of Faulkner County Circuit Judge Mike Maggio who was identified as an anonymous commenter known as “geauxjudge” in a an an interesting controversy in Arkansas where Maggio was was outed from online sites. Maggio previously apologized and withdrew from a race for the appellate court. The controversy raised the question of whether such comments should be a subject for ethical discipline and whether judges should have the right to comment anonymously on such sites. Now Maggio has been permanently removed from the bench for his discussion of a confidential adoption of a child by actress Charlize Theron. He agreed with the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission about the lifetime ban. However, the Arkansas Supreme Court rejected the recommendation because it included Maggio being suspended with pay until the end of the year when his term expires.

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210px-flag_of_washington_dcsvgThis afternoon, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs will hold its hearing on whether to accept a new state into the Union: New Columbia. While I was asked if I could testify on S. 132, I will be traveling today to Newport News to Christopher Newport University for a long-planned debate with John Yoo on presidential powers. I have written a long academic publication on the status of the District of Columbia and testified at the prior hearings on allowing for voting representation of District residents. See Jonathan Turley, Too Clever By Half: The Partial Representation of the District of Columbia in the House of Representatives, 76 George Washington University Law Review 305-374 (2008). Since I will not be able to appear, I thought that I would re-run my earlier column on the proposal. Before Congress embraces the path to statehood, it should give the original concerns of the Framers (and some new ones) full consideration. I have long argued that a constitutional amendment is the best way to give residents a vote in Congress. Statehood raises a myriad of difficult issues but regardless of the reform (whether statehood or an amendment simply allowing for a representative in the House of Representatives), this should be a decision that is submitted directly to the American people as a whole. I am troubled (as I was in 2007) by the effort to push this through Congress to avoid such a vote (as well as the cloud of partisan politics that continue to swell around the issue).

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220px-911report_cover_HIGHRES

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw) Weekend Contributor

In light of the recently observed 13th anniversary of the events on 9/11/01, I read an article this week that caught my eye.  According to reports, there is a 28 page section of the 9/11 Commission report that has never been released publicly and remains secret to this day.  Indeed, Congressmen must go through numerous security reviews before they can read the document in a secure room in Washington, D.C.

What kind of secret and clandestine information can be found in such a guarded document?  Since it is top-secret, we can only go by the reviews of people who have read the report.  What is found in that report may surprise you in light of its level of secrecy. (more…)

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

gavel2washington-flag-sealIn an unusual and historically unprecedented outcome, Washington’s Supreme Court held the state in contempt for the legislature failing to provide a clear plan in funding public education by the school year 2017-18 pursuant to the McCleary ruling the court handed down in January of 2012.

According to documents the court in McCleary v. State, 173 Wn.2d 477, 269 P.3d 227 (2012) unanimously affirmed a declaratory judgment of the King County Superior Court finding that the state is not meeting its “paramount duty … to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders” under Article IX Section 1 of the state constitution. The court initially deferred to the legislature’s chosen means of discharging its constitutional duty, but retained jurisdiction over the case to monitor the State’s progress in implementing by 2018 the reforms that the legislature had recently adopted. Pursuant to its retention of jurisdiction, the court has called for periodic reports from the State on its progress. Following the State’s first report in 2012, the court issued an order directing the State to lay out its plan “in sufficient detail to allow progress to be measured according to periodic benchmarks between then and 2014.

The legislature failed to meet the courts demands for production of evidence of progress by the legislature and the court then found the state in contempt. The issue has brought up certainly the notion of separation of powers, but the possibility of sanctions has many in the legislature motivated to now act.

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judge_dean_wilsonPerry County Judge Dean L. Wilson is well known in the Columbus area for holding drunk driving trials to New Lexington High School each year as a warning to students not to drink and drive. Wilson is now facing public criticism as he was arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and, worse yet, leaving the scene of an accident. Both are first-degree misdemeanors punishable subject to a maximum of six months in jail for each.

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By Mike Appleton, Weekend Contributor

“The First Amendment mandates governmental neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion.”

-Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97, 104 (1968)

“This commission chooses to stand by the tradition of opening its meetings in a manner acknowledging the beliefs of a large segment of its constituents.”

-Brevard County (Florida) Commission Chair Mary Bolin Lewis (August 15, 2014)

On August 19th the County Commission in Brevard County, Florida voted unanimously to reject a request by the Central Florida Freethought Community, an organization of atheists, agnostics, humanists and free-thinkers, to be added to a rotating list of groups invited to give the opening invocation at commission meetings. Instead, the commission approved a letter drafted by the county attorney offering the group three minutes to speak during the public comment portion of its meetings. According to the letter, the rejection was appropriate because, “The prayer is delivered during the ceremonial portion of the county’s meeting, and typically invokes guidance for the County Commission from the highest spiritual authority, a higher authority which a substantial body of Brevard constituents believe to exist.”

The Brevard County decision comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s opinion in Town of Greece v. Galloway, 572 U.S. ______ , 134 S.Ct. 1811 (2014), a case that more than anything else illustrates that the current state of Establishment Clause jurisprudence is, to put it bluntly, a mess. (more…)

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