Archive for the ‘Courts’ Category

250px-US-CourtOfAppeals-6thCircuit-SealBy any measure, former Wayne County Circuit Judge Wade McCree was a disgrace to the bench. The worse of his violations was his affair with the wife of a man in a child-support case before his court. However, while calling McCree’s conduct “often reprehensible,” a three-judge panel ruled that his affair with a litigant before him was still covered by judicial immunity when the former husband Robert King sued for damages in a civil rights case. The United States for the Sixth Circuit barred such recovery as a matter of judicial immunity in what will likely be a highly controversial decision.

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230px-CPR_training-04190px-Falk,_Benjamin_J._(1853-1925)_-_Eugen_Sandow_(1867-1925)Below is my column today in the Chicago Tribune on the rivaling rulings in the D.C. Circuit and the Fourth Circuit over a critical provision under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). As an academic interesting in statutory interpretation and legisprudence, the opinions are fascinating and capture two different but well-argued views of the role of both courts and agencies in dealing with legislative language.

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200px-Codex_Gigas_devilAn Egyptian court this week sentenced three al-Jazeera journalists to long jail terms despite international outcry over the attack on the freedom of the press. To further guarantee that nobody would mistake this for a real court, the judge further accused them of being guided by the devil in their work as reporters. Australian journalist Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed were convicted in June of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood by covering the “civil war” in Egypt. The court gave Greste and Fahmy seven-year terms and Mohamed a 10-year term. It also tried eleven defendants in absentia, including one Dutch and two British journalists. They were given 10-year sentences.
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US-CourtOfAppeals-4thCircuit-SealPresident_Barack_ObamaSoon after the D.C. Circuit delivered a major loss to the Administration in rejecting its statutory interpretation under the ACA in Halbig v. Burwell, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has delivered an equally important victory on the very same issue in King v. Burwell. This tale of two circuits only increases the likelihood of a Supreme Court review and perhaps the case for expedited appeals.

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US-CourtOfAppeals-DCCircuit-SealPresident_Barack_ObamaAs I have written about in columns and testimony, the most significant challenge to Obamacare was never Hobby Lobby but Halbig vs. Burwell that has been pending in the D.C. Circuit. I described Halbig in my testimony as a live torpedo in the water for Obamacare. Well, that torpedo just hit. The D.C. Circuit has found that the Obama Administration effectively rewrote the law on a critical provision dealing with tax credits and state exchanges. It is another major blow against the Administration and more importantly another judicial finding that President Obama exceeded his authority in his effort to “go it alone” in ordering such changes to federal laws.

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JeffreyAndersonMugShot-279x300There is a disturbing child pornography case out of Nebraska that also raises some challenging legal questions. Jeffrey Anderson, who entered a conditional guilty plea for one count of distributing child pornography, after digitally editing a photo of a naked adult woman having sex and replaced the face with that of an 11-year-old girl. He then sent the girl the photo with the caption “This is what we will do.” The Eighth Circuit upheld his 10-year sentence in rejected the conditional challenge to the charge.

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Seal_of_Detroit,_Michigan_svg

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

I have been watching the water crisis in Detroit for some time now and I have been amazed that it is not a bigger story.  If you haven’t heard, the new city Administrator of the City of Detroit that was appointed by the Governor and his Water Department have been turning off the water of needy citizens in Detroit when their past due bills are as little as $150.00. In a city with over 20% unemployment and countless vacant buildings, it seems like Detroit is slowly being destroyed.  (more…)

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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Weekend Contributor

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Submitted By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Streisand Estate

Le Cap Streisand

We previously reported of an outrageous lawsuit by the owners of the Il Giardino Restaurant in Cap Ferret, France who sued a blogger critical of the dining experience, HERE. Essentially Caroline Doudet was sued by the restaurant’s owners because her allegedly disparaging blog post ranked highly on Google searches for the restaurant–fourth in a Google search return the lawsuit claimed. The title of her critique was in the English, “The place to avoid in Cap Ferret, Il Giardino” and was the cause leading to the lawsuit, according to paperwork filed.

“I was really stunned and disgusted, and of course I will worry now [whenever I] write a negative review,” Doudet said of the effect of the case in an e-mail to Wired.co.uk. “I regret the article, because it’s so much noise for nothing.”

Nevertheless a French Court handed down an emergency ruling blocking the article’s title and awarding Il Giardino €2,500 in fines and court costs.

The restaurant’s owners claimed the title defamed them, causing great damage to a business they worked fifteen years, seven days a week to build and the Google ranking was causing them increasing harm. But in what became a new definition of “Damage Award” the internet came alive and rendered a harsh judgment in its court of appeals. Fame became infâme. And the repercussions were magnifique.

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Submitted By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Manuel NoriegaManuel Noriega, the former leader of Panama known for his indictment in the United States for drug smuggling, racketeering, and money laundering and his subsequent imprisonment, filed suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging the game maker Activision Blizzard defamed him. The game in question is the popular “Call of Duty: Black Ops II”.

Manuel believes being portrayed “as a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state” in the game damaged his reputation. He further claims the company used his likeness and name in order to make money. Therefore, he is entitled to a share of the profits.

The game returned over a billion dollars in sales worldwide within months of release.

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HobbyLobbySubmitted by Elaine Magliaro, Weekend Contributor

Back in March of this year—during oral arguments in the Hobby Lobby case—Sahil Kapur (Talking Points Memo) said he thought that the conservative Supreme Court Justices “appeared broadly ready to rule against the birth control mandate under Obamacare.” He added that “their line of questioning indicated they may have a majority to do it.” Kapur reported that Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia and Alito “expressed no sympathy for the regulation while appearing concerned for the Christian business owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood who said the contraceptive mandate violates their religious liberty and fails strict scrutiny standards under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).”

During oral arguments, Justice Scalia said, “You’re talking about, what, three or four birth controls, not all of them, just those that are abortifacient. That’s not terribly expensive stuff, is it?”

There are a couple of things I think Justice Scalia should know. First, the four contraceptive methods that Hobby Lobby objected to paying for—Plan B, Ella, and two intrauterine devices—are not abortifacients. They do not prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg into the uterus—which the owners of Hobby Lobby consider to be abortion. Instead—according to the Food and Drug Administration—the four contraceptive methods in question prevent fertilization of an egg. Second, the cost of intrauterine devices can be quite considerable—especially to a woman working for minimum wage or for a company like Hobby Lobby.

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latrez-cummingsjpg-094c83ec448d23fcfeatured_Steve_Utash_12395The public is shocked by the decision of Detroit Third Judicial Circuit Judge James Callahan who gave Latrez Cummings, 19, just six months for his participation in the savage beating of Steve Utash, 54, who hit a 10-year-old boy with his vehicle and then jumped out to try to aid the boy. Cummings then set upon him and beat him almost to death — leaving him with brain damage. His survival was not expected and doctors had to induce a coma to keep him alive. In a mob attack that came close to murder, Callahan decided a six-month sentence was sufficient for Cummings who is a gang member.

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libertyFor years, we have lamented the wholesale attack on free speech in France from ever-expanding hate speech ruling to stripping away anonymity on the Internet to censorship of expression to criminalizing historical claims (though the last move was later reversed). The erosion of such protection has never been so evident as with the ruling against blogger Caroline Doudet. A French judge has issued an emergency ruling forcing that one of the titles of a blog restaurant critique be changed to reduce its prominence on Google and for Doudet to pay damages. It is an absurd ruling and frightening in its implications for free speech. France appears to have dived headlong into speech regulation and censorship.

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260px-capitol_building_full_viewThis morning I will be testifying as the lead witness before the House Rules Committee on the authorization of litigation by the House of Representatives to challenge the unilateral actions of President Obama. The authorization makes it clear that the House will focus on the ACA changes. The hearing will begin at 10 am in H-313 in The Capitol building. It will be aired live on C-Span 3.

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350px-Washington_Redskins_logo.svggavel2An interesting footnote appeared in an opinion by U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte in Maryland this week. Messitte stated that the court would no longer use the team name “Redskins” in any opinion and will refer instead to “the Washington Team.” I recently wrote a Washington Post column on the controversy over the Redskins name. The question is whether it is appropriate to limit the use of the name in an opinion when there is considerable public debate over whether it is offensive and whether, if it is barred in opinions, the court should bar its use in court.

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