What is the Cost to Purchase a State Supreme Court?

Chief Justice Roberts

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

The answer to the question posed in the title, in the state of Wisconsin, is $8 Million dollars.  For those of us who think Judges are not and should not be politicians, the situation in Wisconsin is especially disturbing.  However, Wisconsin is not alone in this dilemma.  Thirty nine states elect their judges and the money flowing into those campaigns is increasing the concerns of special interests “purchasing” justice. Professor Turley has also commented in the past about the alarming amounts of money flowing into judicial elections.

In a recent United States Supreme Court decision, Chief Justice Roberts weighed in on money and politics in judicial elections.  “Last week, the United States Supreme Court upheld a Florida judicial rule that prohibits candidates for election to state judgeships from personally soliciting money for their campaigns. ‘ “Judges are not politicians,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., wrote in the majority opinion in the 5-4 decision, “even when they come to the bench by way of the ballot.” He went on, “Simply put, Florida and most other States have concluded that the public may lack confidence in a judge’s ability to administer justice without fear or favor if he comes to office by asking for favors.” ‘ New Yorker Continue reading

Federal Court Allows Ohio Northern Law Professor To Proceed Against Colleagues and School with Assault and Other Claims

GerberDsc_0059crVELTRI (2)There is an interesting decision in the case of Ohio Northern University law professor Scott Gerber (left), who sued over what he described as a pattern of bullying by this colleagues, including assault and battery law professor Stephen Veltri (right), who had served as associate dean and interim dean in 2011 and 2012, in grading and squeezing his shoulder. U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary ruled that Berber could pursue claims of assault and battery, but not intentional infliction of emotional distress. The case is Gerber v. Ohio Northern Univ., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56767

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B.B. Wolf Walks After Hung Jury In Double Murder And Attempted Murder Trial

2015_BBWolf_6147“B.B. Wolf” has done it again. Faced with a double murder and attempted murder of the Three Little Pigs, the Big Bad Wolf gave a howl of joy with two hung juries after trials before the fourth grade classes of Churchill Elementary from McLean, Virginia. We held our annual field trip for elementary students to learn about the legal system and it was a smashing success. Adding to the fun this year was the flyover of vintage World War II planes and the hatching of ducklings in the George Washington quad as we took the kids outside. Just try to get that level of service at Georgetown.

Our amazing cast this year included Shirin Ahlhauser, Garrett Henderson, Sarah Keller, Justin Matarrese, and Ariel Oxman. The organizer was our own Claire Duggan who handled every possible detail from the treats to the buses. Our partner in crime was Churchill teacher Claire M. McHale and her colleagues. My assistant Seth Tate also served as Johnny on the spot for everything from missing kids to wayward buses. Against all odds, we held two trials and lost nary of kid . . . and even finished ahead by eight ducklings!

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Is The Cell Phone Kill Switch in the Wrong Hands?

Electronic_Privacy_Information_Center_logo

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

You may not have heard of it before, but the government has the ability to shut off cell phone service at any time, under the guise of National Security.  The Department of Homeland Security has an operating procedure known as Standard Operating Procedure 303( SOP 303) and it has been labeled as the cell phone “kill switch”.

I knew very little about the “kill switch” before today, but according to a recent Al Jezeera America article, the kill switch authority is being currently debated in Federal court. Continue reading

GoFundMe Site For Six Charged Baltimore Officers Taken Down After 41 Minutes

816fd620-f069-11e4-a4a8-49179b3b0ba2_Baltimore-copsLike many, I am still waiting for the evidence used as the basis to charge the six officers in Baltimore for the death of Freddie Gray. This morning, however, I was disturbed to read that an effort to create a fundraising site for the defense of the officers was taken down on GoFundMe. It appears that the site has a very questionable standard for funding that does not afford accused parties a presumption of innocence in asking for support to fund their defense.

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Stranger in a Strange Land: ABA To Hold Session On The Cultural Defense

200px-AbalogoI will have the honor of serving as the moderator on a panel at the American Bar Association’s conference in Washington, D.C. today. The panel is entitled “Stranger in a Strange Land: Cross Cultural Issues in the Courts.” This is part of an internationally successful program organized by Judge Hon. Delissa A. Ridgway of U.S. Court of International Trade. Judge Ridgway has brought together jurists and lawyers from around the world to discuss difficult cultural issues that are increasingly appearing in criminal and civil cases. These cases deal with arguments or defenses that turn on the cultural norms or practices of a given defendant or litigant. The cases have forced the question of when and how courts should recognize such defenses.

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Philadelphia Judge Refuses To Reverse $1 Million Fine Against Lawyer Despite Supporting Testimony From Multiple Witnesses

PanepintoPhiladelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Paul Panepinto appears immovable on a controversial roughly $1 million sanction imposed on insurance defense lawyer Nancy Raynor after a witness discussed a bar subject in his testimony. Raynor insists that she told the witness not to discuss that a woman in the case was a smoker. Various witnesses have come forward to say that they heard Raynor give such instructions, but Panepinto has dismissed the new evidence and refused to budge on the sanction. Many lawyers are worried about the standard being set by the case since witnesses will sometimes stray in their testimony without any direction or knowledge of counsel.

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