Black Robes Speak!: February 2008
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Friday, February 29, 2008

Hello! Is anyone in Kentucky's General Assembly reading this?

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on upheld a District Judge's denial of an injunction against Arizona's anti very effective illegal immigration law, the Legal Arizona Workers Act, discussed earlier on this site, that the Act could either cause irreparable injury or undue hardship to state employers if allowed to operate during trial.

The ruling is a victory for anti immigration folks, and suggests that the the Appeals Court thinks the law is constitutionally valid.

Hopefully, the folks over at the Kentucky General Assembly are reading this post!

Hint!! Hint!!!


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

SCOTUS issues evidence ruling in age discrimination suit.

The U. S. Supreme Court, in Sprint/United Management Co. v. Mendelsohn, 06-1221, (2008), ruled that testimony from workers who suffered job bias but were not parties to the subject federal age discrimination case "is neither per se admissible nor per se inadmissible" under the Federal Rules of Evidence.

The Court made the ruling while reversing a lower court that found the Plaintiff was deprived of a full opportunity to present her Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) case.

Pertinently, the court found that "The question whether evidence of discrimination by other supervisors is relevant in an individual ADEA case is fact based and depends on many factors, including how closely related the evidence is to the plaintiff's circumstances and theory of the case. Applying Rule 403 to determine if evidence is prejudicial also requires a fact intensive, context-specific inquiry. Because Rules 401 and 403 do not make such evidence per se admissible or per se inadmissible, and because the inquiry required by those Rules is within the province of the District Court in the first instance, we vacate the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand the case with instructions to have the District Court clarify the basis for its evidentiary ruling under the applicable Rules."

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issues opinions of interest.

The United States Supreme Court has issued opinions in a few cases that are worth mentioning.

In the first case, the Court ruled UNANIMOUSLY in Larue V. Dewolff, 06-856, that Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) permits an individual account holder (in a 401 K -- named after the section of the Internal Revenue Service code where the plan is found) to sue plan administrators for breaching their fiduciary duties.

In another case, Rowe v. New Hampshire Motor Transport Association, 06-457, the Court UNANIMOUSLY determined that federal trucking laws bar state regulation of tobacco shipments, notwithstanding Maine's concern that tobacco products might be shipped to minors from internet sales, because "[d]espite the importance of the public health objective, we cannot agree with Maine that the federal law creates an exemption."

In a third case, the Court ruled near UNANIMOUSLY in Preston V. Ferrer, 06-1463, that the star of the syndicated TV show "Judge Alex," must have his an arbitrator to decide the judge's fee dispute with an attorney who is claiming 12 percent of "Judge Alex's" earnings.

In a fourth case, the Court near UNANIMOUSLY in the case of Riegel V. Medtronic, Inc., 06-179, made it harder for consumers to sue makers of federally approved medical devices, ruling against the estate of a patient who suffered serious injuries when a catheter burst during a medical procedure.

In the final case, a criminal one, the Court ruled 7 to 2 in Danfort V. Minnesota, 06-8273, that state courts may apply their rulings retroactively to old cases, opening the way for an imprisoned child sex abuser to challenge his state conviction.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

SCOTUS deals blow to ACLU's challenge to President Bush's warrantless surveillance program.

Read the ACLU's press release on the case.

Note that the ACLU's press release is right: the court's decision does NOT deal with the merits of the issue regarding the legality of the surveillance program. The denial is, I suspect, only on procedural grounds, which means that the issue lives on for another day.

The lower court had found that the ACLU could not prove that any of the people it represents were "victims" of the surveillance program, thereby dealing the organization a "catch 22" problem of proving that they were the targets of the super SECRET program -- a kind of proving the nearly unprovable.

Congress must then act, if it wants to change the result of this case.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Another blog coming!

Stay tuned, and please bear with me as I am still developing the site. You can post, if you will.