Georgian wants Congress to decry prosecution of abortions

Lawyer Blog Post 2022/05/12 09:22   Bookmark and Share
A Georgia representative is proposing that Congress condemn attempts to criminally prosecute people who perform abortions, have abortions or experience miscarriages.

Rep. Nikema Willams, an Atlanta Democrat who formerly lobbied for Planned Parenthood in the southeast, is introducing her resolution Thursday, and has already collected 115 co-sponsors, all Democrats, her spokesman said.

The resolution also supports keeping contraceptives and abortion pills available, and using puberty blockers, hormones and other procedures when medically necessary to treat transgender people.

“Someone you know, someone in your family, or someone you love currently relies on or will need these services,” the congresswoman said in a statement.

The move comes after a Democratic effort in the U.S. Senate to enshrine abortion access into federal law fell far short of breaking a filibuster on Wednesday. Williams’ effort and the Senate debate follow a leaked draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion suggesting that justices will overturn the 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision that created a nationwide right to abortion, leaving states to decide such questions.

The resolution would not have the force of law, but would help Democrats highlight what they see as Republican overreach. Some women have already been prosecuted for fetal harm due to alcohol and drug use during pregnancy. Louisiana lawmakers, despite opposition from anti-abortion groups who say it goes too far, are debating a bill that would make women who get abortions subject to prosecution for murder. And several states recently banned certain medical treatments for transgender youth.
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Supreme Court rules against Boston in Christian flag case

Lawyer Blog Post 2022/05/02 14:33   Bookmark and Share
A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday that Boston violated the free speech rights of a conservative activist when it refused his request to fly a Christian flag on a flagpole outside City Hall.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the court that the city discriminated against the activist, Harold Shurtleff, because of his “religious viewpoint,” even though it had routinely approved applications for the use of one of the three flagpoles outside City Hall that fly the U.S., Massachusetts and Boston flags.

Occasionally, the city takes down its own pennant and temporarily hoists another flag.

Shurtleff and his Camp Constitution wanted to fly a white banner with a red cross on a blue background in the upper left corner, called the Christian flag, to mark Constitution Day, Sept. 17, in 2017.

The city had approved 284 consecutive applications to fly flags, usually those of other nations, before it rejected Shurtleff’s because it was a Christian flag. The city said he could fly a different banner, but Shurtleff refused, and lower courts upheld the city’s decision.

But the high court said the lower courts and the city were wrong. The case hinged on whether the flag-flying is an act of the government, in which case Boston can do whatever it wants, or private parties like Shurtleff, Breyer wrote.

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Maryland governor appoints 2 to state’s highest court

Lawyer Blog Post 2022/02/18 13:20   Bookmark and Share
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced the appointments of two judges to the state’s highest court on Thursday.

Harford County Circuit Court Judge Angela Eaves has been appointed to the Maryland Court of Appeals. Eaves, who is the first Hispanic judge appointed to the court, has been nominated to succeed Judge Robert McDonald upon his mandatory retirement later this month.

Hogan also announced the appointment of Judge Matthew Fader, of Howard County, to the Court of Appeals. Fader is currently the chief judge of the Court of Special Appeals, Maryland’s intermediate-appellate court. He has been appointed to succeed Judge Joseph Getty upon his mandatory retirement in April.

The Republican governor also announced that Court of Special Appeals Judge E. Gregory Wells will serve as the new chief judge of that court.

In addition, Hogan appointed Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Anne Albright to fill the seat that will open on the Court of Special Appeals with Fader’s departure.
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Temple prof seeks reinstatement of damage claims against FBI

Lawyer Blog Post 2022/02/10 10:55   Bookmark and Share
A Temple University physics professor who was charged with sharing scientific technology with China only for the case to collapse before trial and be dismissed by the Justice Department asked a federal appeals court on Monday to reinstate his clams for damages against the U.S. government.

Lawyers for Xiaoxing Xi and his wife say in a brief filed Monday with a Philadelphia-based appeals court that a judge erred last year when he dismissed most of the claims in their federal lawsuit. They assert that the FBI agent who led the investigation “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly” made false statements and misrepresented evidence so that prosecutors could get an indictment.

“When law enforcement agents abuse the legal process by obtaining indictments and search warrants based on misrepresentations or by fabricating evidence, it undermines the legitimacy of the courts,” Xi’s legal team, which includes lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote in the brief.
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Suits target New Orleans virus rules, some affect Mardi Gras

Lawyer Blog Post 2022/02/03 14:57   Bookmark and Share
More than 100 people have joined a lawsuit against New Orleans’ mayor and health director over COVID-19 restrictions that recently were extended to parade and other participants on Mardi Gras and during the season leading up to it.

The lawsuit against Mayor LaToya Cantrell and health director Jennifer Avegno targets mask and vaccination mandates, news outlets reported.

It was filed Monday in state court by Alexandria attorney Jimmy Faircloth, who has lost federal court challenges to restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocates noted.

“Traditionally, we do not comment on active or pending litigation,” City Hall spokesman Beau Tidwell said during a news conference Tuesday. “However, in this case I think it’s worth noting that the guidelines that we put in place saved lives, full stop. The vaccine mandate and the mask requirements are going to remain in place throughout Mardi Gras.”

Fat Tuesday will be March 1 this year. The 2020 festival was later recognized as a super spreader that turned New Orleans into an early pandemic hot spot. Last season, parades were canceled and bars were shuttered in the city.

This year, masks are required in bars, restaurants and other public spaces. And children as young as 5 must show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test for the virus to get into indoor public areas.

The new lawsuit accuses Cantrell and Avegno, who often have gone beyond state restrictions, of taking “authoritarian actions under the pretext of an emergency without end,” the newspaper reported.

The plaintiffs, mostly from New Orleans and neighboring Jefferson Parish, want Judge Robin Giarrusso to halt the requirements while the lawsuit is in court.
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Palin COVID-19 tests delay libel trial against NY Times

Lawyer Blog Post 2022/01/25 16:21   Bookmark and Share
An unvaccinated former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin tested positive for COVID-19 Monday, forcing a postponement of a trial in her libel lawsuit against The New York Times.

The Republican’s positive test was announced in court just as jury selection was set to begin at a federal courthouse in New York City.

Palin claims the Times damaged her reputation with an opinion piece penned by its editorial board that falsely asserted her political rhetoric helped incite the 2011 shooting of then-Arizona U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords. The newspaper has conceded the initial wording of the editorial was flawed, but not in an intentional or reckless way that made it libelous.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff said the trial can begin Feb. 3 if Palin, 57, has recovered by then.

Palin, a one-time Republican vice presidential nominee, has had COVID-19 before. She’s urged people not to get vaccinated, telling an audience in Arizona last month that “it will be over my dead body that I’ll have to get a shot.”

When he first announced that Palin had gotten a positive result from an at-home test, Rakoff said: “She is, of course, unvaccinated.”

Additional tests in the morning also came out positive, Palin’s lawyer told the court.

“Since she has tested positive three times, I’m going to assume she’s positive,” the judge said.

Rakoff said that courthouse rules would permit her to return to court Feb. 3, even if she still tests positive, as long as she has no symptoms. If she does have symptoms, she can be looked at on Feb. 2 by a doctor who provides services to the courts, he said.

On Saturday, Shawn McCreesh, a features writer for New York Magazine tweeted that Palin was seen at Elio’s restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and he quipped in a follow-up tweet: “My mom thought she was Tina Fey.” Fey was widely praised for her portrayal of Palin on Saturday Night Live when Palin was campaigning for vice president in 2008.

Luca Guaitolini, a restaurant manager, confirmed she had slipped through vaccination checks and dined at the restaurant known for attracting famous customers in violation of the city’s rule that restaurant guests must prove vaccination to be served. He said the restaurant was not making further statements.
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