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Obama commutes 111 federal sentences and sets a one-month record

Posted by on Aug 31, 2016 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Obama commutes 111 federal sentences and sets a one-month record

Sentencing/Post Conviction

Posted Aug 30, 2016 03:43 pm CDT

By Debra Cassens Weiss

President Obama on Tuesday commuted the sentences of 111 federal inmates, setting a record for the most number of commutations in a single month.

Obama had granted commutations to 214 federal inmates earlier this month, bringing the month’s total to 325, according to a post at the White House blog by White House counsel Neil Eggleston. NPR and USA Today have stories. Throughout his presidency, Obama has granted 673 commutations.

Among those whose sentences were commuted were 35 individuals who had received life sentences. Most of those who will be released early as a result of the commutations are nonviolent drug offenders who would have received lesser sentences under today’s sentencing laws. Sixteen of the commutations were for firearms offenses.

USA Today says the commutations are coming at a “breakneck pace” as the White House works through a backlog of 11,477 cases that …
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Staff attorney is fired after she is accused of wearing judge’s robes and ruling on cases

Posted by on Aug 31, 2016 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Staff attorney is fired after she is accused of wearing judge’s robes and ruling on cases

Judiciary

Posted Aug 30, 2016 01:24 pm CDT

By Debra Cassens Weiss

A staff attorney who is accused of wearing a judge’s robes and ruling on cases is no longer employed in her $57,000-a-year job at a suburban Chicago courthouse.

The staff attorney and law clerk, Rhonda Crawford, “is no longer employed” in her job, according to a statement released on Tuesday by Cook County, Illinois, Chief Judge Timothy Evans. The Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times have stories.

The judge accused of allowing Crawford to take her place, Valarie Turner, has been removed from the bench and reassigned to administrative duties.

Cook County prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation that is ongoing, a spokesperson tells the Chicago Tribune.

Crawford is running without opposition for a judgeship covering parts of Chicago and the south suburbs. Sources previously told the Sun-Times that Crawford was “job shadowing” to learn more about judging when she …
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Digitization of Harvard case law library will show court patterns and trends

Posted by on Aug 31, 2016 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Digitization of Harvard case law library will show court patterns and trends

Law Libraries

Posted Aug 30, 2016 01:15 pm CDT

By Stephanie Francis Ward

The Harvard Law School library has approximately 40 million pages of case law, which is currently being digitized and scanned so the public can view it for free.

It’s the second-largest collection in the country, following the one at the Library of Congress. It includes civil and criminal case law decisions from every state and federal court, WBUR reports.

“We want the law, as expressed in court decisions, to be as widely distributed and as available as possible online to promote access to justice by means of access to legal information,” Adam Ziegler, managing director of the school’s Library Innovation Lab, told the Boston’s National Public Radio station. He leads the lab’s Caselaw Access Project.

The project is funded by Ravel Law, a legal search, analytics and visualization platform. Harvard agreed to give Ravel Law exclusive access …
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Sophomore looks forward to her JD, which she’ll start on as an undergradate

Posted by on Aug 31, 2016 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Sophomore looks forward to her JD, which she’ll start on as an undergradate

Legal Education

Posted Aug 30, 2016 01:00 pm CDT

By Stephanie Francis Ward

When Aja Miyamoto is a senior at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, she will also take two law school classes as part of a program that allows people to get a combined undergraduate-JD degree in six years.

Graduates of the school’s “3-plus-3 program” save one year of tuition, and the classes taken during participants’ fourth year count toward undergraduate and law degrees, the Associated Press reports.

Miyamoto, 19, also has a part-time legal-assistant job, and she recently attended a law school function where she got to meet professors, students and alums.

“Before this, I was more undecided on what I wanted to do, but this program has allowed me to see what life will look like after graduation,” she told the news service. “Looking up to current attorneys and saying, ‘That’s going to be me one day’—that’s …
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Some internet customers may lose service as a result of 6th Circuit decision; FCC won’t appeal

Posted by on Aug 31, 2016 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Some internet customers may lose service as a result of 6th Circuit decision; FCC won’t appeal

Internet law

Posted Aug 30, 2016 11:39 am CDT

By Debra Cassens Weiss

Cities seeking to expand their own broadband networks to provide internet service for more customers fear a federal appeals court decision will embolden states to pass new laws that curb municipal efforts and eliminate competition.

The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals ruled earlier this month that the Federal Communications Commission didn’t have the authority to stop states from limiting the expansion of internet service provided by cities. Now the FCC says it won’t appeal the decision, report Ars Technica and the New York Times.

FCC spokesman Mark Wigfield told the Times the agency determined an appeal “would not be the best use of commission resources.”

It’s not yet known whether the cities involved in the case will appeal, according to Ars Technica. The cities are Chattanooga, Tennessee and Wilson, North Carolina.

As a result …
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Jaycee Dugard can’t sue US parole officials for poor supervision of her kidnapper, 9th Circuit says

Posted by on Aug 30, 2016 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Jaycee Dugard can’t sue US parole officials for poor supervision of her kidnapper, 9th Circuit says

Tort Law

Posted Aug 29, 2016 04:53 pm CDT

By Debra Cassens Weiss

Jaycee Dugard can’t sue federal parole officials who failed to report parole violations by the man who later kidnapped her and held her captive for 18 years in a shed outside his California home, a federal appeals court has ruled in a published opinion.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Dugard in a 2-1 decision on Friday, report the Orange County Register and Courthouse News Service. How Appealing links to the opinion (PDF) and additional coverage.

The 9th Circuit had previously ruled in the case in a brief four-paragraph, unpublished opinion. The new published opinion, requested by Dugard’s lawyer, is still a defeat for Dugard, though it is longer and offers more compassion, according to Courthouse News Service.

Phillip Garrido pleaded guilty to Dugard’s kidnapping and sexual assault in 2011. He was previously …
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Are you clued in? Take the ABA Journal’s weekly news quiz and prove you know it all

Posted by on Aug 30, 2016 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Are you clued in? Take the ABA Journal’s weekly news quiz and prove you know it all

ABA Know It All

Posted Aug 29, 2016 02:50 pm CDT

By Lee Rawles

Do you fancy yourself the legal news guru around the office? Do you enjoy trivia? Are you interested in companywide bragging rights? If you answered yes to any of these questions, test your mettle and participate in Think You Know it All?—the ABA Journal’s weekly news quiz.

Each Monday, the ABA Journal will post five new questions on some of the hottest legal news items of the previous week (all of which can be found in the ABA Journal’s daily and weekly newsletters—register for them here). If you missed the quiz from last week, you can still take it here.

Take this week’s quiz below:

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Judge cites ‘callous’ crime in sentencing ex-lawyer to life for attack on law firm partner, wife

Posted by on Aug 30, 2016 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Judge cites ‘callous’ crime in sentencing ex-lawyer to life for attack on law firm partner, wife

Criminal Justice

Posted Aug 29, 2016 02:47 pm CDT

By Debra Cassens Weiss

A judge in Fairfax County, Virginia, agreed with jurors’ recommendation on Friday and sentenced former lawyer Andrew Schmuhl to two life sentences plus 98 years in prison for an attack on a law firm managing partner and his wife.

Judge Randy Bellows said the November 2014 attack on Leo Fisher and his wife, Susan Duncan, was “brutal” and “callous,” the Washington Post reports. Schmuhl did not speak before sentencing.

Fisher, who was managing partner of Bean, Kinney & Korman, had fired Schmuhl’s lawyer wife, Alecia Schmuhl. Prosecutors said Schmuhl stabbed both Fisher and Duncan in a “torture session” at their home in McLean. The attacker left after Duncan was able to trigger an alarm. Both Fisher and Duncan survived.

Andrew Schmuhl is a former Army judge advocate and military magistrate. He had claimed he was on painkillers and other medications during …
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Telltale signs of a union are confirmed: Andrews Kurth acquires all of Kenyon’s lawyers

Posted by on Aug 30, 2016 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Telltale signs of a union are confirmed: Andrews Kurth acquires all of Kenyon’s lawyers

Law Firms

Posted Aug 29, 2016 01:10 pm CDT

By Debra Cassens Weiss

From Andrews Kurth’s Twitter homepage.

Updated: Andrews Kurth has acquired all of the lawyers from intellectual property boutique Kenyon & Kenyon, confirming evidence of a possible union.

The deal was announced on Monday, Law.com reports. Andrews & Kurth will acquire all 55 lawyers from Kenyon & Kenyon, bolstering the size of the larger firm’s IP group to nearly 90 lawyers. Andrews Kurth is expected to have 429 lawyers in all after the acquisition and the arrival of new associates.

The law firm will be called Andrews Kurth in Texas and Andrews Kurth Kenyon on the east and west coasts.

The announcement follows a report by Law.com (sub. req.) that found evidence of a potential merger.

An unnamed source in that earlier article said both firms had voted to approve the combination. But that wasn’t the only indication of the …
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Judge says it’s her policy to retroactively sign orders issued by appointed fill-in lawyers

Posted by on Aug 30, 2016 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Judge says it’s her policy to retroactively sign orders issued by appointed fill-in lawyers

Judiciary

Posted Aug 29, 2016 10:43 am CDT

By Debra Cassens Weiss

A Tennessee judge is defending her policy of signing orders issued by lawyers or judges appointed to fill in for her when she is on vacation.

Judge Rachel Bell retroactively signed orders keeping 11 people in mental institutions against their will in late June after the lawyer filling in for her forgot to sign the documents, the Tennessean reports. Bell tells the newspaper that special judges filling in for her usually initial or sign orders they issue, and then she reviews and signs the orders too.

In the case of the 11 people, Bell signed the orders six days later. The clerk’s office had already entered the unsigned orders, according to Circuit Court Clerk Richard Rooker. Although Rooker believes the orders were valid when issued from the bench, he says they should not have been entered. “I can promise you it won’ …
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