Monthly Archives: September 2012

Legal News of the Day: Supreme Court Adds Two Pro Se Cases to Docket

On Monday, the Supreme Court added six cases to its docket, including two pro se cases.

In the first of the two pro se cases, Levin v. United States, the court will consider whether 10 U.S.C. § 1089, which states that suits under the Federal Torts Claims Act (FTCA) can only be brought against the U.S. rather than individual personnel,  properly immunizes government medical personnel against battery suits.  The FTCA includes a waiver for suits involving battery. In the case in question, Levin attempted to sue his Navy surgeon and the U.S. government for battery after a failed cataract surgery.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled against Levin’s reading of the Gonzalez Act.

The second pro se case, Millbrook v. United States, also involves the immunity of the federal government, this time whether 28 U.S.C. § 1346 waives the immunity of prison guards who commit an intentional tort.  The case stems from a lawsuit where Millbrook, an inmate at a Pennsylvania prison, claimed that he was sexually assaulted by prison guards.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit made a summary judgment against Millbrook based on a lack of evidence.

Legal News of the Day: Illinois Court Says Pharmacists Can Refuse to Fill Birth Control Prescriptions

On Thursday, the Appellate Court of Illinois decided that the state cannot force pharmacists to dispense emergency birth control contraceptives if they have religious objections to the drugs.  The court held that an Illinois law called the Current Rule, which requires pharmacists to dispense birth control drugs, is a violation of the pharmacists’ rights under the state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act and the First Amendment’s free exercise clause.

Congress.gov: A New Home for Legislative Information

The Library of Congress has announced a new tool for learning about the legislation and legislators of the United States: Congress.gov. The site will eventually replace the 17 year-old THOMAS.gov and is designed to be mobile-friendly. Congress.gov includes core features like bill tracking, legislator voting records and biographies, and the Congressional Record, as well as added content like this great video on the legislative process  , an online gallery of significant historical primary source documents, and an iPad/iPhone app for the Congressional Record.

See the LOC Press release here. Download the iPad or iPhone app here.

South Carolina’s Legislative Process

In Legal Research, Analysis & Writing (LRAW) class this week we have been learning to locate relevant statutes in the South Carolina Code. To competently research a state’s statutes, one must first understand that state’s legislative process. The lawmaking process of the South Carolina General Assembly is detailed in  South Carolina’s Legislative Process booklet, published by the Clerk of the SC House of Representatives and available on the South Carolina Legislature website.

Legal News of the Day: Dep’t of Justice Requests Continued Enforcement of Indefinite Detention Law

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, requesting an emergency stay, as they attempt to lift the permanent injunction of parts of the National Defense Authorization Act that was enjoined last week.   The motion argued that the injunction’s limitation of the president’s military powers was “unprecedented” and stated that an act of Congress should be presumed constitutional until the Supreme Court has reviewed it and said otherwise.

Legal News of the Day: Infinite Detention Law Blocked

A U.S. District Court judge for the South District of New York permanently enjoined the Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows authorities to indefinitely detain suspects if found to have aided al Qaeda or the Taliban.  The law was challenged on grounds that it would suppress journalists’ free speech and association rights.  The judge found the provision in question overbroad in that it “purports to encompass protected First Amendment activities,” and also found a violation of the Fifth Amendment, because of the government’s failure to define vague terms found in the provision.

Legal News of the Day: Disabled Employees Must Be Appointed to Vacant Positions if Qualified

On Friday, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that if qualified to hold a given position within his/her company, a disabled employee must be appointed to that position.  In March, the same three-judge panel giving Friday’s opinion recommended that a 2000 case holding that the Americans with Disabilities Act did not require that qualified disabled employees be appointed to open positions be overturned.   Ultimately, the panel relied on Circuit Rule 40(e), which allows for a decision not to be overturned by the full court if the three-judge panel’s proposed opinion is circulated to all of the active members of the court and a majority votes not to rehear the case en banc.

Cartoon brief

Faced with a 5 page limit, a lawyer opposing a Justice Department antitrust settlement with e-book publishers submitted his amicus brief in the form of a “graphic novelette.” At first, this sounds like a terrible idea, but it’s remarkably effective.  He did make sure to comply with the font size and margin requirements.

Legal News of the Day: Emotional Distress Damages for Owners of Battered Dog Upheld

Last week, the Fourth District Court of Appeal for California upheld a decision to grant the owners of a dog intentionally hit with a baseball bat $50,000 in emotional distress damages.  The court distinguished stress caused by an intentional harm from stress caused as a result of an injury to an animal caused by negligence (for example, a vet’s error).  The court cited an 1889 ruling, Johnson v. McConnell, 80 Cal. 545, 22 P. 219 (1889), noting that families are “strongly attached” to their dogs, so harm to their dogs are “keenly felt.”