"Today, EFF filed a motion in a secret court. This secret court isn’t in a developing nation, struggling beneath a dictatorship. It’s not in a country experimenting for the first time with a judiciary and the rule of law. And, as Wired recently noted, it’s “not in Iran or Venezuela, as one might expect.” No, the court is here, in the United States (it’s in Washington, D.C., in fact). It’s called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (or the FISC), and it reviews the federal government’s applications to conduct surveillance in national security cases. It’s comprised of 11 district court judges from around the country, and its opinions and orders are the law of the United States, like other federal courts. But the FISC is different from typical courts in one fundamental way: almost everything about the FISC is secret. In fact, just being able to publicly say that we filed a motion with the FISC is unusual. Most proceedings are done ex parte (in this context, meaning just with the government and the judge), and any non-governmental parties involved in proceedings are typically forbidden from ever disclosing it. Even when the FISC finds that the government has acted illegally, so far, that illegality has been been kept hidden from public scrutiny and accountability. EFF is trying to change that. We filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) after the Department of Justice refused to disclose a FISC opinion we requested. The FISC opinion held that the government engaged in surveillance that was unconstitutional and violated the spirit of federal surveillance laws. We only know the opinion exists because Senators, like Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, essentially forced the government to publicly acknowledge its existence."
Via LLRX - Negotiating Justice: The New Constitutional Spectrum of Plea Bargaining - Ken Strutin focuses on the impact of the Supreme Court's decisions in Missouri v. Frye and Lafler v. Cooper, and the upcoming appeal in Burt v. Titlow in regard to placing plea bargaining front and center on the national stage. As a result, they have divided practitioners and scholars into two camps: (1) those who consider the rulings to be a new statement in the law of plea bargaining and right to effective assistance of counsel; and (2) those who believe they are only a restatement of established principles. These cases have generated interest in the centrality and regulation of plea bargaining, the ethics and effectiveness of defense counsel as negotiator, the oversight of prosecutors regarding charging decisions, sentence recommendations and pre-trial discovery, and the scope of federal habeas corpus review and remedies. Ken's article is a comprehensive annotated guide to high court opinions, scholarship and commentary regarding the themes addressed by the Supreme Court in Lafler and Frye as well as their implications for the administration of criminal justice.
US Courts: "The 6th edition of the Benchbook for U.S. District Court Judges, a publication of the Federal Judicial Center, is now available online. The book, last updated in 2007, is a concise and practical guide to situations federal judges are likely to encounter on the bench. The Benchbook covers procedures that are required by statute, rule or case law, with detailed guidance from experienced trial judges. And although new judges may benefit the most from the Benchbook, even experienced judges may find useful reminders about how to deal with routine matters, suggestions for handling more complex issues, and helpful starting points in new situations. The 6th Edition includes a primer on a prosecutor's duty to disclose favorable information to defendants under Brady v. Maryland. There's a new section on civil pretrial case management focusing on the judge's role as an active case manager, and a completely revised section on sentencing, which contains an extensive colloquy for the sentencing hearing. There also are subsections on handling disruptive or dangerous defendants, and expanded jury instructions on the use of social media. Due to budgetary constraints, this edition of the Benchbook is published in electronic format only."
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse: "Very timely Justice Department data show that during the first six months of FY 2013, the rate of federal criminal prosecutions for immigration offenses is up 9.8 percent over the previous year, with 50,468 such prosecutions reported as of the end of March. If this pace continues, more individuals will have faced criminal immigration charges this year than at any other time in United States history. Regionally, the Southern District of Texas (Houston) now leads the nation with 17,022 immigration prosecutions so far this year. The Western District of Texas (San Antonio) is in second place with 13,379 prosecutions. Arizona, the district with the most immigration prosecutions in FY 2012, has slipped to third place with 11,476. Arizona is also recording the largest decline -- 22 percent -- of any district in the nation. For more details, including top ten district rankings and lead charges, go to the report."
Adam Liptak: "While the current court’s decisions, over all, are only slightly more conservative than those from the courts led by Chief Justices Warren E. Burger and William H. Rehnquist, according to political scientists who study the court, its business rulings are another matter. They have been, a new study finds, far friendlier to business than those of any court since at least World War II. In the eight years since Chief Justice Roberts joined the court, it has allowed corporations to spend freely in elections in the Citizens United case, has shielded them from class actions and human rights suits, and has made arbitration the favored way to resolve many disputes. Business groups say the Roberts court’s decisions have helped combat frivolous lawsuits, while plaintiffs’ lawyers say the rulings have destroyed legitimate claims for harm from faulty products, discriminatory practices and fraud. Whether the Roberts court is unusually friendly to business has been the subject of repeated discussion, much of it based on anecdotes and studies based on small slices of empirical evidence. The new study, by contrast, takes a careful and comprehensive look at some 2,000 decisions from 1946 to 2011."
Terrorism, Miranda, and Related Matters. Charles Doyle, Senior Specialist in American Public Law. April 24, 2013
TRAC: "The latest available data from the federal courts show that during March 2013 the government reported 592 new lawsuits filed under the category of Real Property - Foreclosures, according to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). This increase of 17.9 percent over the previous month reverses a sharp decline seen since the historic highs reached last summer. To read the full report, including a list of those districts in which lawsuits of this kind were filed with the greatest rates relative to population, click here."
"During February 2013, there were 16 new federal criminal prosecutions for terrorism and national internal security offenses, according to the latest available data from the Justice Department. So far during fiscal year 2013 (which began October 2012), a total of 83 such cases have been filed. These criminal prosecutions have been brought in a surprisingly large number of federal districts from all regions of the country. And at this point, domestic terrorism cases outnumber international terrorism by a factor of two-to-one. For more details, including district rankings, see the report here."
(FindLaw's Courtside) - "A criminal complaint against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, has been filed in federal court. The White House announced that in charging Tsarnaev with using a “weapon of mass destruction” would not be tried before a military tribunal as an “enemy combatant.”
"On May 12, 2009, the ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed a lawsuit charging that patents on two human genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2, are unconstitutional and invalid. On November 30, 2012, the Supreme Court agreed to hear argument on the patentability of human genes [via SCOTUSblog]. The Court will hear these arguments on April 15, 2013. On behalf of researchers, genetic counselors, women patients, cancer survivors, breast cancer and women's health groups, and scientific associations representing 150,000 geneticists, pathologists, and laboratory professionals, we have argued that human genes cannot be patented because they are classic products of nature. The suit charges that the gene patents violate the First Amendment and stifle diagnostic testing and research that could lead to cures and that they limit women's options regarding their medical care. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has granted thousands of patents on human genes – in fact, about 20 percent of our genes are patented. A gene patent holder has the right to prevent anyone from studying, testing or even looking at a gene. As a result, scientific research and genetic testing has been delayed, limited or even shut down due to concerns about gene patents...The lawsuit was filed on behalf of researchers, genetic counselors, women patients, cancer survivors, breast cancer and women's health groups, and scientific associations representing 150,000 geneticists, pathologists, and laboratory professionals. The lawsuit charges that patents on human genes violate the First Amendment and patent law because genes are "products of nature" and therefore can't be patented."
FindLaw - Adam Ramiriz: "A federal judge has declared a unique website enabling the online sale of pre-owned digital music files unlawful. "The first sale defense is limited to material items, like records, that the copyright owner put into the stream of commerce," ruled U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan. This is bad news for ReDigi, which launched in October, 2011 with a bold idea: If the "first sale" doctrine in copyright law permits the re-selling of acquired copyrighted material, let's create an online market for "used" digital music. Judge Sullivan's ruling has, for now, dampened the idea of reselling of digital goods. If it holds up, the ruling could mean digital sales venues would have to get the permission of right holders. Stay tuned for updates on this evolving area of the law."
"A federal judge in Washington, DC today issued an Opinion denying the FBI's motion to delay the release of records sought under the Freedom of Information Act. The decision follows from a lawsuit filed by EPIC against the FBI for records about the agency's use of cell-site simulator technology, commonly referred to as "StingRay." These devices track cell phones and collect a vast amount of data from telephone customers. The Court found that the FBI was not facing the "exceptional circumstances" necessary to justify its proposed two-year delay. The Court ordered the agency to produce all records, except those subject to classification review, by August 1, 2013. For more information, see EPIC v. FBI - StingRay."
"United States v. Windsor challenges a key section of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) - The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) (Pub.L. 104–199, 110 Stat. 2419, enacted September 21, 1996, 1 U.S.C. § 7 and 28 U.S.C. § 1738C)"
"The latest available data from the federal courts show that during February 2013 the government reported 950 new lawsuits filed under the category of Employment Civil Rights, according to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). This number is down 7.9 percent from the previous month and is 13.2 percent lower than the same period one year ago. Such lawsuits are mainly filed for employment-related civil rights discrimination on the basis of race, gender, national origin, disability, age and religion. Read the full report, including a list of those districts in which lawsuits of this kind were filed with the greatest rates relative to population."
CDT: "The Supreme Court issued a decision today that is a major win for everyone who relies on copyright law's "first sale" doctrine -- including the millions of Internet users who have flocked to Craigslist, eBay, and similar online tools to buy, sell, and "freecycle" all kinds of stuff. The case, Kirtsaeng v. Wiley, effectively asked the Court to consider whether copyright owners should fully control all downstream distribution of copyrighted items manufactured overseas. As CDT and technology industry allies explained in our legal brief in the case last summer, giving copyright owners this kind of indefinite stranglehold on foreign-made goods would be disastrous for everything from yard sales to libraries to the thriving online resale markets that are empowering individual Internet users and small businesses. It would mean that, before you could sell or even lend a legally purchased book (or DVD, or toy with a copyrighted logo, or device with built-in software, etc.), you would have to get the copyright holder's permission...In clear and decisive terms, today's decision confirms that, once you lawfully acquire a book or album or toy, you own it and can re-sell, lend, or give it away as you please. You don't have to try to determine where is was printed or manufactured before you put it up on Craigslist or eBay."
"A federal district court judge in San Francisco has ruled that National Security Letter (NSL) provisions in federal law violate the Constitution. The decision came in a lawsuit challenging a NSL on behalf of an unnamed telecommunications company represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). In the ruling publicly released [March 15, 2013], Judge Susan Illston ordered that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) stop issuing NSLs and cease enforcing the gag provision in this or any other case. The landmark ruling is stayed for 90 days to allow the government to appeal."
"The number of cases awaiting resolution before the Immigration Courts has risen along with the average time these pending cases have been waiting. As of the end of February 2013, the backlog has reached a new all-time high of 325,296. According to the very latest data obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), that total rose by 1,571 just during February. The court backlog is now 9.3 percent higher than it was at the end of FY 2011 when ICE Director John Morton announced a review of cases designed to reduce both the backlog and wait times. Instead, the backlog has increased, and the average time cases have been waiting to be heard has jumped to 553 days, compared with 489 days at the end of FY 2011 when the review began. To see the latest backlog data, now updated through February 2013, go to this Link."
Via The Innocence Project Blog: "A new report funded by the National Institute of Justice titled, Measuring the Effect of Defense Counsel on Homicide Case Outcomes, examines the difference that a lawyer makes to the outcome of serious criminal cases in Philadelphia. Since April 1993, every fifth murder case in Philadelphia is sequentially assigned at the preliminary arraignment to the city’s Defender Association and the other four cases are assigned to appointed counsel. The study showed that compared to private appointed counsel, public defenders make an enormous difference in the outcome of cases by reducing the murder conviction rate by 19%, the probability that their clients receive a life sentence by 62% and overall expected time served in prison by 24%."
Pretrial Detention and Misconduct in Federal District Courts, 1995-2010. Thomas H. Cohen, Ph.D. February 21, 2013. NCJ 239673
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse: "During January 2013, there were 493 new federal criminal prosecutions in the weapons category, according to the latest available data from the Justice Department. This represents a drop of 4 percent from the previous month and a decrease of about 12 percent from what it was a year ago. For more details, including district rankings, see the report here. With only four months of data in FY 2013, it is too soon to tell whether this downturn is temporary or represents a change from the upward trend seen for FY 2012. For more information on trends in weapons prosecutions since 1986, see TRAC's previous report here."
Via LLRX.com - Another NY court on discovery of social media evidence - Attorney Nicole Black brings context to the impact of the proliferation of social media accounts among the majority of adults in the United States. The information from these accounts has become a prime source for lawyers to mine for evidence to support their clients' cases.
"A pilot project giving the public free, text-searchable, online-access to court opinions now is available to all federal appellate, district and bankruptcy courts. The Judicial Conference, the policy-making body of the Federal court system, approved national implementation of the project with the Government Printing Office, Federal Digital System (FDsys), which provides free access to publications from all three branches of federal government via the Internet. The pilot project pulls opinions nightly from courts’ Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) systems and sends them to the GPO, where they are processed and posted on the FDsys website. The functionality to transfer opinions to FDsys is included in the latest release of CM/ECF which is now available to all courts. Twenty-nine courts participated in the original pilot, and now, all courts may opt to participate in the program. Access to judicial opinions through FDsys allows the Judiciary to make its work more easily available to the public. Collections are divided into appellate, district or bankruptcy court opinions and are text-searchable across opinions and across courts. FDsys also permits embedded animation and audio. Presently, more than 600,000 opinions dating back to 2004 are available. Opinions from the pilot are already one of the most heavily used collections on FDsys, with millions of retrievals each month."
"Federal court statistical profiles are available for the nation’s 12 courts of appeal and 94 district courts for fiscal year 2012, the 12-month period ending September 30, 2012. Federal Court Management Statistics also provides national totals for the appellate and district courts, allowing the statistical totals of each individual court to be compared to a national average. The tables present data based on the number of authorized judgeships, and provide rankings among the appellate and district courts."
EFF: "In Associated Press v. Meltwater, AP claims its copyrights are infringed when Meltwater, an electronic news clipping service, includes excerpts of AP stories in search results for its clients seeking reports of news coverage based on particular keywords. In its argument, AP asks the court to accept an extraordinarily narrow view of fair use – the doctrine that allows for the use of copyrighted material for purposes of commentary, criticism, or other transformative uses – by claiming that Meltwater's use of copyrighted excerpts cannot be "transformative" fair use unless they are also "expressive." In an amicus brief filed [January 18, 2013], EFF argues that AP's theory would restrict the use and development of services that allow users to find, organize, and share public information."
Follow up to previous postings on airport use of full body scanners, news from EPIC: "the US Transportation Security Administration will end the contract for backscatter x-ray devices. As a consequence, all devices that produce a detailed naked image of air travelers will be removed from US airports. Beginning in 2005, EPIC and then a coalition of privacy advocates, scientists, legal experts and lawmakers urged the TSA not to deploy the devices. The groups petitioned DHS Secretary Napolitano to suspend the program pending a thorough review. The agency went forward and EPIC sued. In EPIC v. DHS, the DC Circuit held that the devices could be used as long as passengers were able to opt-out. The federal appeals court also ordered the agency to "promptly" begin a public rulemaking. That process will likely begin in March 2013. For more information, see EPIC: EPIC v. DHS and EPIC: Body Scanners."
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse - "The odds of an asylum claim being denied reached an historic low in FY 2012, with only 44.5 percent being turned down. Ten years ago, almost two out of three (62.6%) individuals seeking asylum lost their cases in similar actions. Asylum applicants also made up more than a quarter (29.4%) of all cases closed under the prosecutorial discretion (PD) initiative during FY 2012. When those who won their cases are combined with PD closures as well as other administrative closures, a record high 63.7 percent of asylum applicants were allowed to remain in the U.S. in cases concluded in FY 2012. Accompanying this report are 272 separate reports covering each Immigration Judge."
Wareluk, Ewa Justyna, The Analysis of Insider Trading on Credit Derivatives Market by Means of the Event Study Methodology (January 6, 2013). Available at SSRN
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has issued his 2012 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary, focusing on efforts by the federal courts to contain costs.
"The latest available data from the Immigration Courts show a continued decline in requests for deportation orders made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. According to case-by-case records analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), there were 14,296 new ICE filings for deportation orders during November 2012, down 5.7 percent from the previous month, and down over 25 percent from the monthly average for FY 2012. Moreover, the proportion of individuals ordered to leave the country has fallen precipitously since TRAC's systematic tracking began in 1998. During the first two months of FY 2013 only 56.3 percent of Immigration Court closures resulted in a removal or voluntary departure order. By contrast, 74.3 percent of all court closures resulted in deportation orders in FY 1998, and just two years ago (FY 2011) the rate was 70.2 percent. TRAC's monthly bulletin on the latest Immigration Court numbers offers very timely statistics compiled from case-by-case Immigration Court records we receive shortly after the end of each month. For more details, with numbers current as of November 30, 2012, see the latest bulletin."
"A new study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) has found that there were more court complaints asking federal judges to force the government to abide by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) during the first term of the Obama Administration than there were in the last term of President Bush. While the administration-to-administration increase -- documented in court records for the entire FY 2005 to FY 2012 period -- was relatively small at 6 percent, a comparison of the FOIA filings in the last two years of Mr. Bush's second term and the last two years of Mr. Obama's first term showed a far more pronounced jump of 28 percent -- from 562 to 720. For more detailed information about the growing number of FOIA suits in the last two years, including which federal departments had the worst and best records, view the latest report from the FOIA Project."
CRS - Judicial Activity Concerning Enemy Combatant Detainees: Major Court Rulings. December 11, 2012
FindLaw - "Data stored on personal cell phones is not protected by the Stored Communications Act (SCA), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled. As mobile technology changes rapidly, legal questions remain about the extent of digital privacy protection. The Fifth Circuit determined that the act does not protect information stored on personal devices such as cell phones, laptops and personal computers. The lawsuit was brought by a former police dispatcher who was dismissed after photos and text messages on her cell phone revealed that she was violating police department rules. The plaintiff's cell phone was removed from her locker and searched without her permission. The SCA only protects "facilit[ies] through which an electronic communication service is provided" and not the device that is used to access those communication services, the court explained."
"On May 1, 2009, Professor Luke Nichter of Texas A&M University-Central Texas petitioned Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the District Court for the District of Columbia to release records sealed in the case of U.S. v. Liddy, the Watergate break-in case. The sealed proceedings include evidentiary discussions held outside the jury's hearing, pretrial discussions between defendants' lawyers and the Court, and post-trial sentencing information. On November 2, 2012, the District Court for the District of Columbia ordered most of these records to be unsealed, given the passage of time, completion of the criminal proceedings, and non-invasive nature of the content. Consistent with the recommendation of the Department of Justice, the court ordered that the following categories of records remain sealed, pending further review by the court: Personal documents regarding living individuals; Documents regarding the content of illegally obtained wiretaps; and Grand Jury information. Accordingly, the court directed the National Archives to release the uncontested records within 30 days from the date of the Order. The National Archives is therefore releasing the previously sealed records from U.S. v. Liddy, with the three categories of contested materials removed and marked "Court Sealed." If/when the Court later unseals additional materials, the National Archives will make them available. NARA is releasing 36 folders of documents totaling approximately 950 pages."
CNN: "Tobacco companies have been ordered by a federal judge to publicly admit, through advertisements and package warnings, that they deceived American consumers for decades about the dangers of smoking. Federal Judge Gladys Kessler issued her ruling [U.S. v. Philip Morris (99-cv-2496)] Tuesday in one of the last legal steps settling liability in the long-running government prosecution of cigarette makers. “By ensuring that consumers know that [tobacco companies] have misled the public in the past on the issue of secondhand smoke in addition to putting forth the fact that a scientific consensus on this subject exists,” said Kessler, “defendants will be less likely to attempt to argue in the future that such a consensus does not exist.”
TRAC has now created a new Judge Info Center which features links to four special reports on the working of the federal courts. Also available is a detailed description of the data on which these reports are based, a video tutorial, and information on gaining access to interactive reports about any district court judge who has sentenced at least 50 individuals since FY 2007."
"According to a new report by the Transactional Access Records Clearinghouse (TRAC)...tables identifying the 25 courthouses that had the widest sentencing differences among the judges that served in them, and the 28 courthouses that had the narrowest. The five at the top of the list were: Baltimore, Columbia (South Carolina), Philadelphia, Macon (Middle District of Georgia) and Norfolk (Eastern District of Virginia)."
Shane Shifflett and Jennifer Gollan: "The federal government has collected millions from the online Public Access to Court Electronic Records system, or PACER – nearly five times what it cost to run the system. Between fiscal years 2006 and 2010, the government collected an average of $77 million a year from PACER fees, according to the most recent federal figures available."
EPIC: In U.S. v. Bormes, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the government could not be sued for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act under an 1887 law that waived governmental immunity for certain claims "premised on other sources of law." The case arose after an attorney paid a federal-court filing fee with his credit card and noticed that the receipt included personal information in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. He then sued the government under the Little Tucker Act, which waives sovereign immunity "for claims premised on other sources of law." Justice Scalia, writing for a unanimous Court, held that the attorney could not sue the government under the Little Tucker Act because the Fair Credit Reporting Act has its own detailed damages provision, and "[w]here...a statute contains its own self-executing remedial scheme, we look only to that statute to determine whether Congress intended to subject the United States to dam¬ages liability." The Court sent the case back to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to determine whether the government may be sued under the Fair Credit Reporting Act itself. For more information, see EPIC: Fair Credit Reporting Act."
"An analysis of case-by-case records covering more than 400,000 defendants has found surprising variations in the criminal caseloads of individual federal judges for the nation as a whole and in some instances among the judges serving in the same courthouse. The extent of these differences, disclosed in a study by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), raises concerns about a rarely examined question: are there serious problems in the way the government as a whole is managing the federal prosecution of criminal cases? For better comparability, the study focused on all 430 active judges who served for the entire 70-month period ending in July 2012. These judges were located in 179 courthouses across the United States. A key finding was that among certain courthouses -- including Wichita, Los Angeles, Beaumont, Camden and Manhattan -- there were judges whose criminal caseloads were two to three times higher than their colleagues. In other locations, however, the judge-to-judge difference were negligible. There also were extreme variations in the average per-judge criminal caseloads in the various districts, with the judges in Washington, D.C. handling 147 defendants during the study period while the figure in Las Cruces was 7,020. The location of the courthouses with different caseloads was sometimes unexpected. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for example, outranked Phoenix, Arizona."
News release: "Bankruptcy cases filed in federal courts for fiscal year 2012, the 12-month period ending September 30, 2012, totaled 1,261,140, down 14 percent from the 1,467,221 bankruptcy cases filed in FY 2011, according to statistics released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Additional statistics released today include business and non-business bankruptcy filings for the 12-month period ending September 30, 2012; a comparison of September 2011 and 2012 filings, 4th quarter filings; monthly filings for the 12-month period ending September 30, 2012, and per capita filings."
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse: "The latest available data from the federal courts show that during September 2012 the government reported 723 new consumer credit civil filings, according to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). This number is down 8.8 percent over the previous month, when the number of civil filings of this type totaled 793. This year marks a drop in the volume of consumer credit suits after a period of steady increase since the start of the financial crisis. Consumer credit suits, which had averaged 268 per month during FY 2007, tripled to 819 during FY 2011. But for FY 2012, these filings are down 5.6 percent from the level seen in FY 2011. The full report, including a list of those districts in which lawsuits of this kind were filed with the greatest rates relative to population."
TRAC Immigration: "The latest available data from the Immigration Courts show that during September 2012 the government reported 17,276 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) filings seeking deportation orders. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is little changed compared to filings in the previous month. These latest figures show that the slide in ICE filings that have been taking place since 2009 continued during 2012. For example, when the latest month's ICE court filings are compared with average monthly files in prior years, the recent activity was down 12.9 percent from levels in FY 2011, and has fallen 16 percent from monthly filings during FY 2010."
A history of the U.S. Alien Tort Statute, by Rebecca Hamilton - Reuters: "The 33-word Alien Tort Statute, at the center of a case before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, was enacted by the First Congress in 1789. It reads: "The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States." It lay essentially dormant for decades. Then, in 1978, a U.S. lawyer named Peter Weiss used the statute to bring a case against former Paraguayan police inspector Americo Pena-Irala over the torture and killing of Joelito Filartiga. In a ruling two years later, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said U.S. courts had jurisdiction and Pena-Irala was ordered to pay $10.4 million in damages to Filartiga's family."
"[On September 4, 2012, CDT] joined the ACLU, EFF and EPIC in calling on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear U.S. v. Skinner, the GPS cell phone location tracking case. A panel of the 6th Circuit ruled that tracking a cell phone's location by repeatedly "pinging" the phone over a three-day period did not require a warrant. The amicus brief we filed yesterday asked the full Sixth Circuit to consider this issue in light of the concurring opinions filed by five justices in the U.S. v. Jones U.S. Supreme Court case which came down earlier this year. We also pointed out that the panel's legal conclusion was based on a material misunderstanding: that cell phones normally "give off" GPS location information. Instead, mobile providers have to take a special step - sending a signal to the phone to direct it to produce the GPS data. Unless they take that step, there is no location data at the provider for the government to seize. As a result, the court should not have analyzed the case under the third party records doctrine, which says a person has no Fourth Amendment interest in information shared with a third party."
Via Jeff Lamicela: "The latest available data from the federal courts show that during July 2012 the government reported 296 new copyright civil filings, according to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). This is the fourth straight month where filings have reached close to 300 or more per month -- higher than they have been since July 2008. Federal copyright lawsuits are 41.3 higher in July 2012 than they were for the same period one year ago, and have generally been rising over the last two years. Read the full report, including a list of those districts in which lawsuits of this kind were filed with the greatest rates relative to population."
"On June 28, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in the case challenging the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Court upheld the constitutionality of the ACA's individual mandate, which requires most people to maintain a minimum level of health insurance coverage beginning in 2014. A majority of the Court also found the ACA's Medicaid expansion unconstitutionally coercive of states, while a different majority of the Court held that this issue was fully remedied by limiting the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary's enforcement authority. The ruling left the ACA's Medicaid expansion intact in the law, but the practical effect of the Court's decision makes the Medicaid expansion optional for states. This policy brief provides background on the Medicaid program and the legal challenge to the Medicaid expansion under health reform, and summarizes the controlling and dissenting opinions of the Court regarding the Medicaid expansion."
Proposed Model Jury Instructions - The Use of Electronic Technology to Conduct Research on or Communicate about a Case. Prepared by the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management, June 2012
"A 2011 statistical report on debtors with primarily consumer debt filing for bankruptcy shows an 11 percent drop in case filings, a 23 percent drop in filer assets, 25 percent drop in filer liabilities and a 28 percent incidence of repeat filers. The 2011 Report of Statistics Required by the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 includes statistics on debtors who are individuals seeking debt relief under chapters 7, 11, and 13. It is compiled by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. See also the related interactive map.
Two-Thirds of Americans Can't Name Any U.S. Supreme Court Justices, Says New FindLaw.com Survey: "Despite all the recent controversy surrounding U.S. Supreme Court decisions on health care, immigration and other issues, nearly two-thirds of Americans can't name even a single member of the Supreme Court. That's according to a new national survey by FindLaw.com, the most popular legal information Web site. The survey found that only 34 percent of Americans can name any member of the nation's highest court. Chief Justice John Roberts is the most well known of the justices, but could be named by only one in five Americans. Only one percent of Americans can correctly name all nine sitting Justices."
TRAC: "The latest available data from the federal courts show that in June of this year there were 860 new SSID Title XVI lawsuits filed, most under US Code Title 45 Section 405 which allows for judicial review when Social Security supplemental security income (SSI) benefits are denied. The number of filings for each of the last four months (March through June 2012) is higher than for any other month in the past five years. Overall, the data show these filings are up 19.4 percent from a year ago and up 62.6 percent from levels reported in June 2007. During the first nine months of fiscal year 2012, a total of 6,847 SSID Title XVI lawsuits were filed. In the Central District of California (Los Angeles), 457 such suits have been filed so far this fiscal year, more than in any other district. Relative to its population, the Western District of Arkansas (Fort Smith) led the nation in terms of the rate at which such suits were filed, with over seven times the average for the country for fiscal year 2012."
CRS - Climate Change and Existing Law: A Survey of Legal Issues Past, Present, and Future, Robert Meltz, Legislative Attorney, July 2, 2012
"The number of cases awaiting resolution before the Immigration Courts keeps rising, along with the average time these pending cases have been waiting. At the end of June 2012 the backlog reached a new all-time high of 314,147. According to the very latest data obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), that total is up 5.6 percent this year, 20 percent higher than it was at the end of FY 2010. Average wait times jumped to 526 days, compared with 489 days at the end of fiscal year 2011 and 447 days at the end of fiscal year 2010. Despite ICE Director John Morton's announced policy of focusing on deporting serious criminals, the proportion of the Immigration Court's pending caseload made up of "criminal" cases has not increased, but instead has been steadily falling. Merely 7.9 percent of pending Immigration Court cases involved individuals charged with criminal activities, actions adverse to national security, or aiding terrorism as the basis for ICE seeking removal action."
Copyright and Innovation: The Untold Story by Michael A. Carrier via SSRN
Consumer Credit Civil Filings for May 2012: "The latest available data from the federal courts show that in May of this year there were 890 new consumer credit lawsuits filed, most under the Fair Debt Enforcement Act and Fair Credit Reporting Act. According to the case-by-case civil enforcement information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this count was 12.4 percent higher than the previous month when 792 cases of this kind were filed. The volume of such litigation is averaging 194 percent higher than what it was five years ago in May 2007."
Health Care: Constitutional Rights and Legislative Powers. Kathleen S. Swendiman, Legislative Attorney, July 9, 2012
Supreme Court 2011-2012 Term Highlights, Prepared by Lilian M. Loh. Edited by Charlotte Schneider.
Chronicle of Higher Education, Peter Schmidt: "The New Jersey State Supreme Court has held that the state's open-records law does not require a Rutgers University legal clinic to relinquish client files, handing a major victory to higher-education associations, which warned that an inability to maintain attorney-client privilege would badly damage the nation's public law schools. Overturning a state appeals-court decision against the public law clinic, the State Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday that the state's open-records act does not cover documents related to such clinics' efforts to represent clients."
CRS - ACA: A Brief Overview of the Law, Implementation, and Legal Challenges, July 3, 2012
"According to the 2011 Wiretap Report, released by the Administrative Office of the US Courts, federal and state applications for wiretap orders dropped 14 percent in 2011, compared to the number reported in 2010. The reduction in wiretaps resulted primarily from a drop in applications for intercepts in narcotics offenses. In 2011, a total of 2,732 intercept applications were authorized by federal and state courts, with 792 applications by federal authorities and 1,940 by the states. In 2011, 98 percent, or 2,674, of all authorized wiretaps were designated as portable devices. The Wiretap Report does not include interceptions pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. For more information see: EPIC: Wiretapping and Administrative Office of the US Courts: Wiretap Reports."
Managing Discovery of Electronic Information: A Pocket Guide for Judges, Second Edition. Barbara J. Rothstein, Ronald J. Hedges, and Elizabeth C. Wiggins. Federal Judicial Center, 2012
Follow up to The Health Care Law - Government Resources, Commentary and Analysis, see A Visual Guide to NFIB v. Sebelius: Competing Commerce Clause Opinion Lines 1789-2012, Colin P. Starger, University of Baltimore School of Law, June 30, 2012 - Download via SSRN.
"Find information about bankruptcy laws, including answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. These videos will give you basic information about the process, the relief it offers, and how to find the legal help you may need."
Larsen, Alli Orr, Confronting Supreme Court Fact Finding (February 23, 2012). Virginia Law Review, Forthcoming; William & Mary Law School Research Paper No. 09-206.
ICE Prosecutorial Discretion by Location As of May 31, 2012: "As of May 31, 2012 a total of 4,585 cases were closed under a special Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program announced last August. Under this program, the number of cases closed due to prosecutorial discretion (PD) was up from 2,609 as of the end of March, but still amounted to only 1.5 percent of the 298,173 cases pending before the Immigration Courts as of the end of last September. The Los Angeles Immigration Court now leads the country with the largest number of closures under this program -- 534. The Denver Immigration Court was second with 401, while the San Francisco Immigration Court was third with 387."
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Legislative Affairs, Applications Made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court During Calendar Year 2011, submitted pursuant to sections 107 and 502 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, as amended, 50 U.S.C. Sec. 1801 et seq., and section 118 of USA PATRIOT Improvement Act and Reauthorization Act of 2005, Pub. L. No. 109-177 (2006)
Oracle America, Inc. v. Google Inc., Case3:10-cv-03561-WHA Document1202 Filed 05/31/12: "In 2007, Google Inc., announced its Android software platform for mobile devices. In 2010, Oracle Corporation acquired Sun Microsystems, Inc., and thus acquired Sun’s interest in the popular programming language known as Java, a language used in Android. Sun was renamed Oracle America, Inc. Shortly thereafter, Oracle America (hereinafter simply “Oracle”) sued defendant Google and accused its Android platform as infringing Oracle’s Java-related copyrights and patents. Both Java and Android are complex platforms. Both include “virtual machines,” development and testing kits, and application programming interfaces, also known as APIs. Oracle’s copyright claim involves 37 packages in the Java API. Copyrightability of the elements replicated is the only issue addressed by this order...This order does not hold that Java API packages are free for all to use without license. It does not hold that the structure, sequence and organization of all computer programs may be stolen. Rather, it holds on the specific facts of this case, the particular elements replicated by Google were free for all to use under the Copyright Act. Therefore, Oracle’s claim based on Google’s copying of the 37 API packages, including their structure, sequence and organization is DISMISSED. To the extent stated herein, Google’s Rule 50 motions regarding copyrightability are GRANTED (Dkt. Nos. 984, 1007). Google’s motion for a new trial on copyright infringement is DENIED AS MOOT (Dkt. No. 1105)."
NYT: Just 44 percent of Americans approve of the job the Supreme Court is doing and three-quarters say the justices’ decisions are sometimes influenced by their personal or political views, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times and CBS News. Those findings are a fresh indication that the court’s standing with the public has slipped significantly in the past quarter-century, according to surveys conducted by several polling organizations. Approval was as high as 66 percent in the late 1980s, and by 2000 approached 50 percent. The decline in the court’s standing may stem in part from Americans’ growing distrust in recent years of major institutions in general and the government in particular. But it also could reflect a sense that the court is more political, after the ideologically divided 5-to-4 decisions in Bush v. Gore, which determined the 2000 presidential election, and Citizens United, the 2010 decision allowing unlimited campaign spending by corporations and unions."
Follow up to previous postings on Yucca Mountain, this decision on June 1, 2012 from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, No. 11-1066, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners v. United States Department of Energy, Consolidated with 11-1068 On Petitions for Review of Final Actions of the Department of Energy:
Via the ACLU, Letter from Senator Al Franken Chairman, Subcommittee on Privacy,
Technology and the Law to Attorney General Holder on May 10, 2012, which reads in part: "I was very concerned to read recent reports suggesting that state and local law enforcement agencies may be working around the protections of United States v. Jones by requesting the location records of individuals directly from their wireless carriers instead of tracking the individuals through stand-alone GPS devices installed on their vehicles. I was further concerned to learn that in many cases, these agencies appear to be obtaining precise records of individuals' past and current movements from carriers without first obtaining a warrant for this information. I think that these actions may violate the spirit if not the letter of the Jones decision. I am writing to ask you about the Department of Justice's own practices in requesting location information from wireless carriers. I am eager to learn about how frequently the Department requests location information and what legal standard the Department believes it must meet to obtain it. I would also like to know how the Department may have changed these practices since the Jones decision."
"The latest month-by-month data from the federal courts shows that in March of this year the government reported that it had sued 279 individuals in order to seek recovery of defaulted student loans. According to the timely case-by-case case civil enforcement information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this count was 25.7% higher than the previous month when 222 cases of this kind were filed. Relative to its population, the Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit) led the nation with prosecution rates ten times the average for the country. The Central District of California (Los Angeles) led the nation in the number of suits filed, accounting for 140 out of the 279 suits in March."
United States v. Jones: GPS Monitoring, Property, and Privacy, Richard M. Thompson II, Legislative Attorney, April 30, 2012
States of punishment - Mapping the death penalty in America: "From 2000 to 2011 there were, on average, five death-row exonerations a year in the United States, according to the Death Penalty Information Centre. North Carolina alone saw three exonerations in six months in 2008. The following year the state legislature passed the Racial Justice Act, which gives death-row inmates the chance to commute their sentences to life without parole if a judge rules the sentences were tainted by racial bias. (More than half of North Carolina's death-row inmates are black.) The first ruling will be issued on April 20, a decision that could set a precedent for other challenges based on race. Indeed the ripples could be felt across the country, especially in Pennsylvania and Missouri, where similar legislation is pending. Other states are reconsidering capital punishment altogether. In November voters in California, which has more people on death row than any other state, will vote on whether to repeal the death penalty. And Connecticut, where a repeal bill was recently passed, is set to become the 17th state to abolish capital punishment."
Protecting Classified Information and the Rights of Criminal Defendants: The Classified Information Procedures Act, Edward C. Liu, Legislative Attorney; Todd Garvey, Legislative Attorney - April 2, 2012
"Regardless of how weak or sophisticated their political financing regulations are, countries around the world are equally failing to effectively regulate the flow of money into politics, a new report finds. The Global Integrity Report: 2011, a major investigative study of 31 countries, was released today by Global Integrity, an award-winning international nonprofit organization that tracks governance and corruption trends globally. Twenty-nine countries out of a 31-country sample scored less than 60 on a 100-point scale on questions assessing the effectiveness of laws regulating individual and corporate donations to political parties, as well as the auditing of those donations and campaign expenditures. Government monitoring agencies tasked with enforcing such laws typically lack investigative power and often have little to no authority to impose sanctions. The United States scored just 29 out of 100 on the effectiveness of its party financing regulations and 25 out of 100 in its ability to effectively regulate contributions made to individual political candidates. Those scores represent a significant decrease from 2009, the last year Global Integrity covered the US, and reflect the negative impact of the “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision in early-2010 that loosened the controls over private money flowing into US elections. Despite that backsliding, the US remains at the head of the pack when it comes to the disclosure of political finance information to the public (94 out of 100)."
News release: "Caseloads for fiscal year 2011 increased in the district courts and in the probation and pretrial services system, while falling slightly in the appellate and bankruptcy courts. The caseload statistics for FY 2011 can be found in the 2011 Judicial Business of the United States Courts, released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The Judiciary’s fiscal year 2011 is the 12-month period ending September 30."
Via TRAC: "The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during December 2011 there was a sharp increase in the prosecution of civil rights crimes by the federal government. Two thirds of the 39 cases filed in that month involved crimes related to slavery or involuntary servitude."
Via Jeff Lamicela - "An analysis of all criminal cases completed in the federal courts during the last five years has discovered extensive and hard-to-explain variations in the sentencing practices of district court judges working in many different districts. This key finding is based upon the first ever review of the sentences imposed by 885 judges in more than 370,000 cases decided during the period from FY 2007 to FY 2011. These data were compiled by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. Because the report examines differences in sentencing practices within individual districts where judges presumably receive the same general mix of cases, this finding raises questions about the extent to which sentences in some districts are influenced by the particular judge who sentenced the defendant rather than just the facts of that case. Accompanying the report are the names of each federal district court judge covered in this report, along with the number of defendants each sentenced during this period. While each judge sentenced on average 420 defendants, the judge-by-judge listing reveals that some judges -- particularly those in districts along the southwest border -- handled many more, up to 6,331 cases. See here."
By Robert Barnes, February 21: "Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. told a group of Democratic senators that the Supreme Court is not going to formally adopt a judicial code of conduct that governs the actions of other federal judges. Roberts told Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.) in a one-paragraph letter that he had already explained in his year-end report on the judiciary why the Code of Conduct for United States Judges was not applicable to the Supreme Court."
Jeff Lamicela: "The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during November 2011 the government reported 968 new prosecutions for these matters. Those cases were referred by the Drug Enforcement Administration. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 20.6% over the previous month. The comparisons of the number of defendants charged are based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys. When monthly 2011 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of filings was down (-10.5 percent). Prosecutions over the past year are still much lower than they were five years ago. Overall, the data show that prosecutions of this type are down 8.4 percent from levels reported in 2006."
News release: "Bankruptcy filings in the federal courts fell 11.5 percent in calendar year 2011, according to data released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The number of bankruptcies filed in the twelve-month period ending December 31, 2011, totaled 1,410,653, down from 1,593,081 bankruptcies filed in CY 2010. An historic high in the number of bankruptcy filings was seen in CY 2005, when over 2 million bankruptcies were filed. Although filings dropped in CY2006, the first full 12-month period after the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) took effect, they have grown steadily every year since. CY 2011 is the first calendar year to show a decrease in total filings since 2006. Statistics released today include business and non-business filings for the 12-month period ending December 31, 2011; a comparison of December 2010 and 2011 filings; 4th quarter filings; monthly filings for the 12-month period ending December 31, 2011 ; and filings per capita."
Prosecutors in State Courts, 2007 - Statistical Tables, Duren Banks, Steven W. Perry, December 28, 2011. NCJ 234211
"TRAC's web-based tools monitoring ICE's exercise of prosecutorial discretion in the Immigration Courts have been updated with court data tracking outcomes through December 2011. Very current data show that deportation orders fell, while individuals allowed to stay in the U.S. rose during October - December 2011. The share of ICE-initiated Immigration Court deportation proceedings resulting in deportation orders -- 64.8 percent -- reached the lowest level in the past 20 years. Results are believed to reflect in part ICE's ongoing review of the court's backlog. TRAC's findings are based on case-by-case data obtained from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). For the accompanying data tools which allow tracking by outcome, Immigration Court, hearing location, charge and nationality, go here."
A Guide to the Supreme Court’s Review of the 2010 Health Care Reform Law, January 12, 2012
Jurors’ Use of Social Media During Trials and Deliberations - A Report to the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management, Meghan Dunn, Federal Judicial Center November 22, 2011
Guidance on Live, Text-Based Communications from Court: "This Practice Guidance (the Guidance) applies to court proceedings which are open to the public and to those parts of the proceedings which are not subject to reporting restrictions. It is issued (as Guidance and not a Practice Direction) following a consultation relating to the use of live, text-based communications. Those consulted included the Judiciary, the Secretary of State for Justice, the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Bar Council, the Law Society, the Press Complaints Commission, and the Society of Editors in addition to interested members of the public via the Judiciary website.
2) The Guidance clarifies the use which may be made of live text-based communications, such as mobile email, social media (including Twitter) and internet enabled laptops in and from courts throughout England and Wales. For the purposes of this Guidance these means of communication are referred to, compendiously, as live, text-based communications."
Chief Justice's Year-End Reports on the Federal Judiciary, 2011: "Some observers have recently questioned whether the Judicial Conference’s Code of Conduct for United States Judges should apply to the Supreme Court. I would like to use my annual report this year to address
that issue, as well as some other related issues that have recently drawn public attention. The space constraints of the annual report prevent me from setting out a detailed dissertation on judicial ethics. And my judicial responsibilities preclude me from commenting on any ongoing debates about particular issues or the constitutionality of any enacted legislation or pending proposals. But I can provide some clarification on how the Justices address ethical issues and dispel some common misconceptions."
"This application allows public access to court electronic records for Federal District Courts across the United States. Users MUST be registered, have a valid PACER account, to use this application. New users may register here PACER. This application is 'CASE SEARCH' only, therefore documents CANNOT be filed using this applciation, users can only view documents and information that is currently filed. It is important to note that a PACER account is separate from any filing account. A PACER account is required for document access in all federal courts."
News release, December 21, 2011: "The Department of Justice today filed its largest residential fair lending settlement in history to resolve allegations that Countrywide Financial Corporation and its subsidiaries engaged in a widespread pattern or practice of discrimination against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers in their mortgage lending from 2004 through 2008. The settlement provides $335 million in compensation for victims of Countrywide’s discrimination during a period when Countrywide originated millions of residential mortgage loans as one of the nation’s largest single-family mortgage lenders. The settlement, which is subject to court approval, was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in conjunction with the department’s complaint which alleges that Countrywide discriminated by charging more than 200,000 African-American and Hispanic borrowers higher fees and interest rates than non-Hispanic white borrowers in both its retail and wholesale lending. The complaint alleges that these borrowers were charged higher fees and interest rates because of their race or national origin, and not because of the borrowers’ creditworthiness or other objective criteria related to borrower risk."
CRS — Governmental Tracking of Cell Phones and Vehicles: The Confluence of Privacy, Technology, and Law. Richard M. Thompson, Law Clerk. December 1, 2011
Jeff Lamicela: "The latest available data from the Justice Department show that federal health care fraud prosecutions reached an historic high last year. During the twelve months of fiscal year 2011, the government reported 1,235 new health care fraud prosecutions - the largest number reported since separate tracking of this offense began twenty years ago. This number is up 68.9% over the past fiscal year when the number of criminal prosecutions totaled 731...The Southern District of Florida (Miami) led the nation in activity, accounting for nearly one out of every nine health care fraud prosecutions, followed by the Southern District of Texas (Houston). Together, these two districts accounted for over one out of every five health care fraud prosecutions."
"Amendments to the Federal Rules of Appellate, Bankruptcy, Criminal Procedure, and Evidence took effect December 1, 2011. Congress took no action after the changes were approved by Supreme Court more than seven months earlier. That means new amendments to these rules are now in effect:
What’s So Hard About Regulating Supreme Court Justices’ Ethics? - A Lot, Russell Wheeler, Visiting Fellow, Governance Studies, The Brookings Institution
NYT DealBook: "Jed S. Rakoff, a judge for the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Manhattan, has rejected the proposed $285 million settlement between the Securities and Exchange Commission and Citigroup related to the sale of mortgage securities. Here is the judge’s 15-page opinion, which concluded that the pact was “neither reasonable, nor fair, nor adequate, nor in the public interest.” Judge Rakoff has in the past expressed concern with the S.E.C.’s custom of not forcing a defendant to “neither admit nor deny the allegations” when settling a case. In his ruling Monday, the judge said he couldn’t approve a settlement that was based on “mere allegations.”
"Federal criminal prosecutions for financial institution fraud have continued their downward slide despite the financial troubles reported in this sector. TRAC's analysis of timely Justice Department data show that during the first eleven months of FY 2011 the government reported 1,251 new prosecutions were filed. If this activity continues at the same pace, the annual total of prosecutions will be 1,365 for this fiscal year, down 28.6 percent from their numbers of just five years ago and less than half the level prevalent a decade ago."
"The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has publicly released the transcripts of President Richard Nixon's Watergate grand jury testimony. In collaboration with the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), the collection has been released on FDsys. This collection has been made public as a result of the July 29, 2011 order by Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia Royce C. Lamberth that the June 1975 transcript of Nixon's testimony and the "Associated Materials" to that testimony be released to the public following the review of these documents for any information that must be redacted as required by law. It is rare for any grand jury testimony to be made public." These documents are available on three websites as follows:
Follow up to previous postings on sentencing guidelines, see the following
Follow up to previous postings on sentencing guidelines, the 2011 Guidelines Manual (effective November 1, 2011) is available in HTML and Adobe PDF formats (large file and broken into chapters), which can be viewed, downloaded or printed via the website. Individual Chapters 1-8 and Guidelines in HTML or PDF Format
Judicial Ethics and Social Networking Sites: "Michael Crowell
UNC School of Government, September 2011 (Revised)
Roberts, Anna, (Re)Forming the Jury: Detection and Disinfection of Implicit Juror Bias (September 29, 2011). Connecticut Law Review, Vol. 44, 2012.
"The Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, Third Edition assists judges in managing cases involving complex scientific and technical evidence by describing the basic tenets of key scientific fields from which legal evidence is typically derived and by providing examples of cases in which that evidence has been used. First published in 1994 by the Federal Judicial Center, the Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence has been relied upon in the legal and academic communities and is often cited by various courts and others. Judges faced with disputes over the admissibility of scientific and technical evidence refer to the manual to help them better understand and evaluate the relevance, reliability and usefulness of the evidence being proffered. The manual is not intended to tell judges what is good science and what is not. Instead, it serves to help judges identify issues on which experts are likely to differ and to guide the inquiry of the court in seeking an informed resolution of the conflict. The core of the manual consists of a series of chapters (reference guides) on various scientific topics, each authored by an expert in that field. The topics have been chosen by an oversight committee because of their complexity and frequency in litigation. Each chapter is intended to provide a general overview of the topic in lay terms, identifying issues that will be useful to judges and others in the legal profession. They are written for a non-technical audience and are not intended as exhaustive presentations of the topic. Rather, the chapters seek to provide judges with the basic information in an area of science, to allow them to have an informed conversation with the experts and attorneys."
News release: "Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee, together with 19 Members of Congress, today sent a letter to the Judicial Conference, requesting that the Conference follow the law and refer the matter of Justice Clarence Thomas's non-compliance with the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 to the Department of Justice. Throughout his entire tenure on the Supreme Court, Justice Thomas has checked a box titled "none" on his annual financial disclosure forms, indicating that his wife had received no income, despite the fact that his wife had in fact earned nearly $700,000 from the Heritage Foundation from 2003-2007 alone."
News release: "The Conference also authorized an increase in the Judiciary's electronic public access fee in response to increasing costs for maintaining and enhancing the electronic public access system. The increase in the electronic public access (EPA) fee, from $.08 to $.10 per page, is needed to continue to support and improve the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system, and to develop and implement the next generation of the Judiciary's Case Management/Electronic Case Filing system. The EPA fee has not been increased since 2005. As mandated by Congress, the EPA program is funded entirely through user fees set by the Conference. Implementation of the two-cent per page increase will take a minimum of six months."
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse - Rising Immigration Backlog At All-time High Yet Criminal, National Security, and Terrorism Cases Fall
Blog of the Legal Times: "Responding to a lawsuit filed by five of the nation's largest cigarette manufacturers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration filed Friday to block any delay to new regulations requiring graphic warning labels on cigarette packages. The tobacco companies are suing the agency in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, claiming that the new labels cross the line from factual warnings to unconstitutionally compelled speech. The companies want a preliminary injunction postponing the date the new rules go into effect. In its opposition brief, the FDA is pushing back against the companies’ claim that they would suffer “economic harm” by spending several million dollars to produce the new labels in the meantime. The new regulations are set to go into effect in September 2012."
News release: "The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), as conservator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises), today filed lawsuits against 17 financial institutions, certain of their officers and various unaffiliated lead underwriters. The suits allege violations of federal securities laws and common law in the sale of residential private-label mortgage-backed securities (PLS) to the Enterprises. These complaints were filed in federal or state court in New York or the federal court in Connecticut. The complaints seek damages and civil penalties under the Securities Act of 1933, similar in content to the complaint FHFA filed against UBS Americas, Inc. on July 27, 2011. In addition, each complaint seeks compensatory damages for negligent misrepresentation. Certain complaints also allege state securities law violations or common law fraud."
"Creating a judicial pool for the 21st Century, one with intellect, fair-mindedness and integrity that resembles the nation that it serves, is a top priority for President Obama and his administration. In fact, the President’s nominations for federal judges embody an unprecedented commitment to expanding the racial, gender and experiential diversity of the men and women who enforce our laws and deliver justice...To better understand how the Senate delays are impacting American families and businesses, take a look at our infographic that explains the confirmation process and highlights the bottleneck."
"A Federal judge has ruled that law enforcement officers must have a warrant to access cell phone locational data. Courts are divided regarding whether or not this type of data should be protected by a warrant requirement. Judge Garaufis of the Eastern District of New York, found that "The fiction that the vast majority of the American population consents to warrantless government access to the records of a significant share of their movements by 'choosing' to carry a cell phone must be rejected…In light of drastic developments in technology, the Fourth Amendment doctrine must evolve to preserve cell-phone user's reasonable expectation of privacy in cumulative cell-site-location records." EPIC has filed amicus briefs in several related cases. For more information see: EPIC: Commonwealth v. Connolly, EPIC: US v. Jones, and EPIC: Locational Privacy."
Federal Agency Use of Electronic Media in the Rulemaking Process, by Cary Coglianese - University of Pennsylvania [via Michael Ravnitzky]
"According to statistics released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, bankruptcy petitions filed in the 12-month period ending June 30, 2011 totaled 1,529,560, down 2.7 percent from the 1,572,597 bankruptcy petitions filed in the 12-month period ending June 30, 2010. Despite the slight drop in overall filings nationwide, the number of bankruptcy filings increased in 19 of the 94 districts. The largest percentage increases in bankruptcy filings were in the Southern District of Florida, with a 15 percent increase over 2010, and the Districts of Utah and the Central District of California, where filings for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2011 increased 13 percent over 2010. Additional statistics released include business and non-business filings for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2011; a comparison of June 2010 and 2011 filings, 3rd quarter filings; monthly filings for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2011; and filings per capita."
"The number of disability cases awaiting a hearing and decision by the Social Security Administration (SSA) continued to climb during the most recent quarter, from April 1 to June 30, 2011. Pending cases rose to 746,712 at the end of this period, up 7.5 percent from 694,417 one year ago. According to an analysis by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, this is the fourth straight quarter when cases awaiting a hearing before the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review of the SSA have increased despite the agency's long standing objective to reduce the overall number of pending cases.
A Good Quarrel. America's Top Legal Reporters Share Stories from Inside the Supreme Court — Timothy R. Johnson and Jerry Goldman (eds.) - Reviewed by Molly Selvin. Association of American Law Schools Journal of Legal Education, Volume 60, May 2011, Number 4
Via Jeff Lamicela: "During the first six months of FY 2011, decision times continued to climb in cases disposed of by the Immigration Courts, according to timely government enforcement data obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). The increasingly long average wait reached 302 days -- up 7.5 percent in the last six months, and almost 30 percent higher than the average disposition time during FY 2009. Average times varied, depending upon the nature of the court's decision, from 141 days for removal orders up to 714 days for grants of relief."
News release: "The Federal Trade Commission is mailing 450,177 refund checks worth almost $108 million to homeowners who were allegedly overcharged by Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. As part of the FTC’s efforts to protect financially distressed homeowners, the FTC reached a settlement with Countrywide last year over allegations that the company collected excessive fees from borrowers who were struggling to keep their homes...The FTC’s June 2010 settlement order required Countrywide, which is now owned by Bank of America, to pay $108 million to be used for refunds and barred the company from taking advantage of borrowers who have fallen behind on their payments. The refunds are being distributed to consumers whose loans were serviced by Countrywide between January 1, 2005, and July 1, 2008, and who were subject to the company’s allegedly unlawful practices."
"A total of 15,173 Federal criminal prosecutions were recorded as being filed during April 2011, according to the most recent data released by the Department of Justice. Immigration charges again took the top two spots for the most frequent lead charges brought. Illegal entry -- with 4,782 defendants charged, up sharply in April -- was the charge most commonly recorded, followed by illegal reentry with 3,047 prosecutions. The judicial district with the most federal prosecutions in April was Arizona with 3,216, down slightly from 3,428 prosecutions in that state recorded during March. In addition to immigration, TRAC offers free reports on convictions and prosecutions for program categories such as white collar crime, terrorism, weapons and drugs. TRAC also reports on the enforcement activities of selected government agencies such as DHS, FBI, IRS and ATF."
"The Social Security Administration's (SSA) critical response to a July 4 report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) ignored the body of evidence presented by TRAC about systematic and hard-to-explain disparities within the SSA's court system. A point-by-point refutation of the agency's sweeping statement regarding TRAC's report can be found here. Read TRAC's original report, here. Embedded in the report is a special interactive table giving the public access to extensive counts and rates that further document the degree of the disparities among individual judges in a Social Security hearing office as well as disparity measures for each office as a whole."
"The Prime Minister has today committed to publishing key data on the National Health Service, schools, criminal courts and transport. This represents the most ambitious open data agenda of any government anywhere in the world. The new data [see data.go.uk] will reveal clinical achievements and prescribing data by individual GP practices, the performance of hospital teams in treating lung cancer and other key healthcare conditions, the effectiveness of schools at teaching pupils across a range of subjects, criminal sentencing by each court, and data on rail timetables, rail service performance, roadworks, current road conditions, car parks and cycle routes in an open format for use by all. The new commitments, set out in a letter from the Prime Minister to Cabinet colleagues, aim to provide the public with more information about the performance of services they use every day, and to help to drive modern, personalised and sustainable public services. The new data are also expected to drive economic growth as they promote the creation of new services and applications."
Via LLRX.com: Pretrial Detention, Bail and Due Process - Ken Strutin's guide comprises recent publications and other notable resources concerning the relationship between the administration of bail and the requirements of due process. Pretrial detention of suspects directly impacts the presumption of innocence. The cornerstone of the justice system is that no one will be punished without the benefit of due process. Incarceration before trial, when the outcome of the case is yet to be determined, cuts against this principle. The Founders were aware of the dangers inherent in indiscriminate imprisonment, which is one of the main reasons behind the inclusion of the Eighth Amendment in the Bill of Rights, prohibiting excessive bail.
"Federal and state applications for orders authorizing or approving the interception of wire, oral or electronic communications increased 34 percent in 2010, compared to the number reported in 2009. The interceptions are reported in the 2010 Wiretap Report, released today by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AOUSC). The current report covers intercepts concluded between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010. A total of 3,194 intercept applications by federal and state courts were authorized in 2010, with 1,207 applications by federal authorities authorized and 1,987 applications by 25 states authorized. One application was denied. Installed intercepts totaled 2,311."
Follow up to previous postings on sentencing guidelines, this ews release: "The United States Sentencing Commission voted unanimously today to give retroactive effect to its proposed permanent amendment to the federal sentencing guidelines that implements the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. Retroactivity of the amendment will become effective on November 1, 2011 - the same day that the proposed permanent amendment would take effect; unless Congress acts to disapprove the amendment...Not every federal crack cocaine offender in federal prison will be eligible for a lower sentence as a result of this decision. The Commission estimates, based on Fiscal Year 2010 sentencing data, that approximately 12,000 offenders may be eligible to seek a sentence reduction. The average sentence reduction for eligible offenders will be approximately 37 months, and the overall impact on the eligible offender population will occur incrementally over decades. The average sentence for these offenders, even after reduction, will remain about 10 years. The Bureau of Prisons estimates that retroactivity of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 amendment could result in a savings of over $200 million within the first five years after retroactivity takes effect."
US Courts: "The annual cost of keeping someone imprisoned in a Federal Bureau of Prisons facility in fiscal year 2010 was $28,284.16. The annual cost of probation supervision was $3,938.35. Those figures work out to a daily cost of $77.49 for incarceration of a convicted criminal, and $10.79 for supervised release. The daily cost of holding a criminal defendant in pretrial detention in FY 2010 (the 12-month period ending September 30, 2010) was $70.56, and the daily cost of pretrial supervision was $6.62."
"In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court struck down Vermont's prescription privacy law. IMS Health, Inc. v. Sorrell held that the Vermont statute, which bars disclosure of prescription data for marketing purposes, violates data mining firms' free speech rights. Vermont "burdened a form of protected expression that it found too persuasive. At the same time, the State has left unburdened those speakers whose messages are in accord with its own views. This the State cannot do." the Court wrote. The Court suggested that a more privacy-protective statute might have withstood Constitutional scrutiny, writing "the State might have advanced its asserted privacy interest by allowing the information’s sale or disclosure in only a few narrow and well-justified circumstances. A statute of that type would present quite a different case than the one presented here." EPIC filed an amicus brief on behalf of 27 technical experts and legal scholars, as well as nine consumer and privacy groups, arguing that the privacy interest in safeguarding medical records is substantial and that the "de-identification" techniques adopted by data-mining firms do not protect patient privacy. For more information, see EPIC: IMS Health v. Sorrell."
News release: [On May 31, 2011] New York "Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced he was filing a lawsuit against the federal government for its failure to commit to a full environmental review of proposed regulations that would allow natural gas drilling – including the potentially harmful fracking technique – in the Delaware River Basin. Last month, the Attorney General notified the federal government that if it did not commit to conducting an environmental review before the regulations authorizing gas drilling are finalized, he would take legal action to compel such a study...In April, just one day before a blowout at a Pennsylvania natural gas drilling site caused gallons of chemical-laced water to spill over neighboring land and into a stream, the Attorney General demanded that the federal government comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The law requires federal agencies to conduct a full review of actions that may cause significant environmental impacts. Despite the legal requirement, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) – with the approval of its supporting federal agencies – proposed regulations allowing natural gas development in the Basin without undertaking any such review. Represented by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Brigadier General Peter A. DeLuca, the involved federal agencies include the Army Corps, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Environmental Protection Agency."
"The number of cases awaiting resolution before the Immigration Courts reached a new all-time high of 275,316 by the beginning of May 2011, according to very timely government enforcement data obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). The case backlog has continued to grow — up 2.8 percent — since TRAC's previous report four months ago, and 48 percent higher than levels at the end of FY 2008. Wait times have increased since our previous report. The average time these pending cases have been waiting in the Immigration Courts of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) is now 482 days, compared with 467 days at the end of last year."
American Constitution Society (ACS): "Have you ever thought about becoming a judge? Even most lawyers and law students don’t know much about how to approach the process, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s Tina Matsuoka pointed out during an event on the topic yesterday. ACS and seven other legal groups have launched a publication, The Path to the Federal Bench, intended to help demystify the process and encourage people from diverse backgrounds to pursue federal judgeships. The booklet includes tips on everything from assessing your candidacy to navigating the increasingly difficult nomination and confirmation process, and features the stories of several judges. This coalition of groups has already held a number of panel discussions around the country about the process of pursuing judgeships, and video of some of those events, as well as a short one-on-one interview with U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit Judge Andre M. Davis, is available at a new ACS web page focused on the path to the bench."
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse: "Federal criminal prosecutions totaled 13,092 for the month of February according to the most recent data released by the Department of Justice. This was an increase of 18 percent from the previous month. Among the program categories, the largest number of prosecutions was seen in immigration, accounting for 49 percent of the filings. Drug trafficking crimes accounted for 12 percent of the total."
Poverty Guidelines for 2011 Posted - May 10, 2011
"CourtListener (Beta) was created by Michael Lissner as part of a masters thesis at the University of California, Berkeley School of Information. Michael was advised by Assistant Professor, Brian Carver. The goal of the site is to create a free and competitive real time alert tool for the U.S. judicial system. At present, the site has daily information regarding all precedential opinions issued by the 13 federal circuit courts and the Supreme Court of the United States. Each day, we also have the non-precedential opinions from all of the Circuit courts except the D.C. Circuit. This means that by 5:10pm PST, the database will be updated with the opinions of the day, with custom alerts going out shortly thereafter. The coverage of our corpus for a given court varies, but it is growing on a daily basis. We are working to integrate the documents from other online sites that provide free public access to court documents. To see a detailed overview of our corpus (updated daily), visit our coverage page." [Carolyn Edds]
FISA Annual Reports to Congress 2010 [via FAS]
U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, James Sherley v. Kathleen Sebelius, April 29, 2011: "GINSBURG, Circuit Judge - Two scientists brought this suit to enjoin the National Institutes of Health from funding research using human embryonic stem cells (ESCs) pursuant to the NIH’s 2009 Guidelines. The district court granted their motion for a preliminary injunction, concluding they were likely to succeed in showing the Guidelines violated the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, an appropriations rider that bars federal funding for research in which a human embryo is destroyed. We conclude the plaintiffs are unlikely to prevail because Dickey-Wicker is ambiguous and the NIH seems reasonably to have concluded that, although Dickey-Wicker bars funding for the destructive act of deriving an ESC from an embryo, it does not prohibit funding a research project in which an ESC will be used. We therefore vacate the preliminary injunction."
Follow up to previous postings on the Deepwater oil spill, via FindLaw:
Another invaluable service for researchers that facilitates free access to court opinions - from the innovative experts at Justia - who are now "providing FREE Daily & Weekly Opinion Summaries for all Federal Courts, and selected State Supreme Courts. See an example daily email for the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals or a weekly practice area email for Environmental Law."
"The Solicitor General filed a petition with the Supreme Court about the growing dispute in the federal courts over warrantless locational tracking. There is a split among the appellate court about GPS tracking by police agencies. The petition appeals a decision from the DC Circuit which held that the warrantless tracking of a motor vehicle violates the Constitutional right against unlawful searches. Earlier, EPIC filed an amicus brief in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court case that also held that a warrant is required for the use of a GPS tracking device. For more information, see EPIC - Commonwealth v. Connolly and EPIC - Locational Privacy."
"This short essay will be part of an issue of the Federal Sentencing Reporter devoted to recommended action for the U.S. Sentencing Commission. The present essay calls attention to the relevance of therapeutic jurisprudence to the sentencing function. It looks at some legal rules and guidelines that do not effectively motivate convicted persons to focus on the future, and it also shows how judges need guidance not only on what sentences to impose but also on the manner and process of sentence imposition."
"This is the official YouTube Channel for the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In addition to these video recordings, you may find audio recordings of our hearings on our internet site at http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov."
"EPIC asked a federal court in Washington, DC to reconsider its earlier decision allowing the Department of Homeland Security to keep secret 2,000 airport body scanner images in EPIC's Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The Court relied on a legal theory in its decision, "Exemption High b(2)," that was recently struck down by the Supreme Court in Navy v. Milner. In Milner, the Court held that FOIA exemption 2 only applies to records concerning employee relations and human resources issues. Milner overturns previous lower court decisions that applied the exemption to broader categories of records, allowing federal agencies to block disclosure of documents to the public. EPIC argues in its motion that the Department of Homeland Security is unlawfully withholding information about the airport scanners from the public. For more information, see EPIC-Milner v. Dept. of Navy and EPIC v. DHS - Body Scanners."
EPIC: "Judge Denny Chin struck down a proposed settlement between Google and copyright holders that would have imposed significant privacy risks on e-book consumers. Google's proposal would have entitled the company to collect each users' search queries as well as the titles and page numbers of the books they read. In a February 2010 hearing before the Court, EPIC President Marc Rotenberg explained EPIC Press Release: EPIC Urges Court To Reject Google Books Settlement; EPIC: Google Books Settlement and Privacy."
Judicial Caseload Indicators 12-Month Periods Ending September 30, 2010: "In fiscal year 2010, the federal district courts saw continued growth in civil, criminal, and bankruptcy filings, as well as the number of pretrial services cases and persons under supervision. This continues a decade-long trend of growth in these filings. Only the total number of appeals filed declined, pulled down by slight drops in criminal and administrative agency appeals. The number of civil appeals filed remained relatively unchanged. Federal court caseload statistics for fiscal year 2010 were released today by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. Complete statistics for FY 2010, which ran from October 1, 2009, to September 30, 2010, are now available in Judicial Business of the United States Courts, here."
United States Courts: "Federal court caseload statistics through June 30, 2010, reflect the work of federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts, as well as the federal probation and pretrial services system. Included in the Statistical Tables for the Federal Judiciary is one that compares data for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2010, to that for the same period one, five, and 10 years earlier. Tables dating back to 2001 are archived online."
EPIC: "In Navy v. Milner, the Supreme Court held that the Freedom of Information Act’s “Exemption 2” is limited to employee relations and human resources issues. The decision overturns previous decisions by lower courts that applied the exemption to broader categories of records, allowing federal agencies to block disclosure of documents to the public. The Court stated that this practice contravened Congress’s intent. The Court emphasized that Congress intended all nine FOIA exemptions to be construed narrowly. EPIC is currently challenging the use of Exemption 2 in its lawsuit to force disclosure of records concerning full body scanners at airport checkpoints. The Court's decision in Navy v. Milner demonstrates that the Department of Homeland Security is improperly withholding information about the scanners from the public. For more information, see EPIC-Milner v. Dept. of Navy, and EPIC: OPEN Government."
Sealing Court Records and Proceedings: A Pocket Guide, Robert Timothy Reagan, Federal Judicial Center, 2010
The Sentencing Project - The State of Sentencing 2010 Developments in Policy and Practice, Nicole D. Porter, February 2011
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse report: "Federal criminal prosecutions totaled 12,494 for the month of November according to the most recent data released by the Department of Justice. The Department of Homeland Security was the lead agency for over half (57%) of these prosecutions; other agencies with substantial numbers of referrals were the Drug Enforcement Administration (11%), the FBI (9%) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (5%)."
"Bankruptcy filings in the federal courts rose 8 percent in calendar year 2010, according to data released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Total filings remain at a five-year high. The number of bankruptcies filed in the twelve-month period ending December 31, 2010, totaled 1,593,081, up from 1,473,675 bankruptcies filed in CY 2009. Filings have grown steadily since CY 2006, when bankruptcy filings totaled 617,660, in the first full 12-month period after the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) took effect. An historic high in the number of bankruptcy filings was seen in CY 2005, when over 2 million bankruptcies were filed in anticipation of BAPCPA."
"In today’s world, we face many natural and man-made catastrophic threats, including the very real possibility of a global influenza outbreak or other public health emergency that could infect millions of people. While it is impossible to predict the timing or severity of the next public health emergency, our government has a responsibility to anticipate and prepare for such events. An important element of this planning process is advance coordination between public health authorities and our judicial and legal systems. The major actors in any public health crisis must understand the governing laws ahead of time, and must know what their respective legal roles and responsibilities are. What is the scope of the government’s emergency and police powers? When may these be invoked, and by which officials? What are the rights of people who may be quarantined or isolated by government and public health officials? These questions must be researched and answered now—not in the midst of an emergency—so that the responsible authorities have a readymade resource to help them make quick, effective decisions that protect the public interest. This New York State Public Health Legal Manual - A Guide for Judges, Attorneys and Public Health Professionals, Michael Colodner, Editor-in Chief, is designed to serve this purpose. It will be an absolutely essential tool in guiding us through the effective management of future public health disasters."
"Federal court statistical profiles for the nation’s 12 regional appeals courts and 94 district courts for fiscal year 2010, the 12-month period ending September 30, 2010, are newly available. Federal Court Management Statistics also provides national totals for the appellate and district courts, allowing the statistical totals of each individual court to be compared to a national average. The tables present data based on the number of authorized judgeships, and provide rankings among the appellate and district courts. The tables are archived, dating back to FY 1997."
EPIC: "In Pineda v. William Sonoma, the California Supreme Court has determined that merchants may not require credit card customers to provide ZIP codes. In a unanimous decision, the Court found that ZIP codes are "personal identification information" under the state Credit Card Act of 1971. In the Pineda case, the customer believed that providing an SSN was necessary to complete a credit card transaction. The merchant subsequently used the SSN to determine the customer's home address. The California court said that the Credit Card Act "intended to provide robust consumer protections by prohibiting retailers from soliciting and recording information about the cardholder that is unnecessary to the credit card transaction." For more information, see EPIC - Social Security Numbers and EPIC - Reidentification."
"A detailed analysis of Justice Department and other records has found that criminal enforcement under President Obama is significantly different than it was during the last two years of the Bush Administration. One key finding is that with the increasing focus on immigration, other kinds of felony prosecutions -- particularly in those districts not on the border with Mexico -- have actually gone down. This decline has occurred even though the number of federal prosecutors and investigators has gone up. Also uncovered during the study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) were pronounced geographic shifts in where federal prosecutions occur. One aspect of these shifts is information about enforcement changes in each of the 94 judicial districts. In its examination, TRAC analyzed the enforcement efforts of the two administrations by comparing more than 500,000 case-by-case records obtained from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys under the Freedom of Information Act, as well as information from the Office of Personnel Management and other sources."
Abandoning Law Reports for Official Digital Case Law, Peter W. Martin, Cornell Law School, January 25, 2011, Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-01
National Corrections Reporting Program - Statistical Tables (update), Thomas P. Bonczar, January 20, 2011: "This update adds data for 2007 and 2008 to the electronic series of selected tables on most serious offense, sentence length, and time served in state prison. The National Corrections Reporting Program collects demographic information, conviction offenses, sentence length, credited jail time, type of admission, type of release, and time served from individual prisoner records in participating jurisdictions. Part of the National Corrections Reporting Program Series."
Follow up to Justice Scalia's Comments on equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, via Slate - Who Does Justice Look Like? Her changing features — and skin color — over the centuries, by Dennis Curtis and Judith Resnik
"Federal criminal prosecutions totaled 13,916 for the month of September according to the most recent data released by the Department of Justice. This figure is up 6 percent from the previous month, and is down less than one percent from a year ago. TRAC offers free reports on program categories such as immigration, drugs and white collar crime as well as reports on the enforcement activities of selected government agencies such as the DHS, FBI, DEA and IRS. For the latest information on prosecutions and convictions throughout all of fiscal year 2010, go here. This release includes a substantial expansion in the number of lead charges on which individual reports and analyses have been developed. TRAC's U.S. Code section, for example, has expanded to 453 lead charges that resulted in prosecutions or convictions in fiscal year 2010." David Burnham and Susan B. Long, co-directors, Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.
News release: "Verizon Communications on Thursday (Jan. 20) filed an appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, challenging the Federal Communications Commission's Report and Order on rules dealing with the issue of net neutrality..."Today's filing is the result of a careful review of the FCC's order. We are deeply concerned by the FCC's assertion of broad authority for sweeping new regulation of broadband networks and the Internet itself. We believe this assertion of authority goes well beyond any authority provided by Congress, and creates uncertainty for the communications industry, innovators, investors and consumers." [Michael E. Glover, Verizon senior vice president and deputy general counsel]
EPIC: "The Supreme Court has issued a decision in NASA v. Nelson, a case brought by NASA scientists who argued that the government's invasive background checks violated the Constitution. The Supreme Court found amicus brief , cosigned by 27 technical experts and legal scholars, which highlighted problems with the Privacy Act, including the "routine use" exception, security breaches, and the agency's authority to carve out its own exceptions. For more information, see EPIC: NASA v. Nelson."
Follow up to previous postings on government implementation of whole body scanning technology at airports, this News release: "A federal district court has granted the Department of Homeland Security's motion to conclude one of EPIC's Freedom of Information Act lawsuits. EPIC was seeking more than 2,000 images generated by airport body scanners held by the TSA. The DHS objected to the disclosure and the court sided with the government. The court relied on a legal theory, "Exemption High (b)(2)" that is currently under review by the Supreme Court in Milner v. Dept. of Navy. As a result of this lawsuit, EPIC obtained many documents concerning the airport screening program, including Procurement Specifications, Operational Requirements, traveler complaints, and vendor contracts with L3 and Rapiscan, that were subsequently made available to the public. EPIC may appeal the district court's decision as to the release of the body scanner images. For more information see EPIC: EPIC v. DHS and EPIC: Body Scanners."
Via WSJ Law Blog, Obituary: Arizona Federal Judge, John Roll, 63
Follow up to Google Files Bid Protest Against Dept. of Interior Over Hosted Email and Collaboration Services, news that Google wins: Interior forbidden to award noncompetitive contract to Microsoft - "U.S. Federal Claims Court Judge Susan Braden ruled on Jan. 3 that negotiations for a sole source contract with Microsoft “commenced many months prior to July 15, 2010,” when department officials decided Microsoft's software was their standard for e-mail and computer operating systems. Meanwhile, Google had been trying to get considered for the work as well."
PEOPLE v. DIAZ, Criminal Appeal, Start Date: 09/09/2008. Opinion issued - Petition for review after the Court of Appeal affirmed a judgment of conviction of a criminal offense. This case presents the following issues: (1) Was defendant's cell phone an item "immediately associated with the person of the arrestee" within the meaning of United States v. Edwards (1974) 415 U.S. 800, and thus subject to search incident to his arrest? (2) Was the warrantless search of the cell phone an hour and a half after the arrest, while defendant was being interrogated, invalid under United States v. Chadwick (1977) 433 U.S. 1? The court ordered briefing deferred pending the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Arizona v. Gant, No. 07-542, cert. granted Feb. 25, 2008, __ U.S. __ [128 S.Ct. 1443, 170 L.Ed.2d 274], or further order of this court."
California Lawyer, January 2011 - Legally Speaking, The Originalist - Question: 'In 1868, when the 39th Congress was debating and ultimately proposing the 14th Amendment, I don't think anybody would have thought that equal protection applied to sex discrimination, or certainly not to sexual orientation. So does that mean that we've gone off in error by applying the 14th Amendment to both?
News release: "Alcatel-Lucent S.A. and three of its subsidiaries have agreed to pay a combined $92 million penalty to resolve a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) investigation into the worldwide sales practices of Alcatel S.A. prior to its 2006 merger with Lucent Technologies Inc., the Department of Justice announced. As part of the agreed resolution, the department today filed a criminal information in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida charging Alcatel-Lucent with one count of violating the internal control provisions of the FCPA, and one count of violating the books and records provisions of the FCPA. The department and Alcatel-Lucent agreed to resolve the charges by entering into a deferred prosecution agreement for a term of three years. The department also filed a criminal information charging three subsidiaries: Alcatel-Lucent France S.A., formerly known as Alcatel CIT S.A.; Alcatel-Lucent Trade International A.G., formerly known as Alcatel Standard A.G.; and Alcatel Centroamerica S.A., formerly known as Alcatel de Costa Rica S.A. The three subsidiaries were each charged with conspiring to violate the anti-bribery, books and records, and internal controls provisions of the FCPA. Each of the three subsidiaries has agreed to plead guilty to the charges."
Via LLRX.com - Juror Behavior in the Information Age: Ken Strutin focuses on the impact of social media on jurors who increasingly try to stay connected to work and home while performing their civic duty, and the resulting impact of the power of individual jurors to virtualize a trial by going online. His article collects recent and notable examples of juror online misbehavior and highlights scholarship and practice resources concerning its implications for voir dire, trial management and the administration of justice.
"The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has scheduled oral argument in EPIC's case, No. 10-1157, against the Department of Homeland Security. The court set a March 10, 2011 date for the parties to present oral argument before the Court. EPIC filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security to suspend the body scanner program because it is "unlawful, invasive, and ineffective." In its opening brief, EPIC argued that the federal agency has violated the Administrative Procedures Act, the Privacy Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Video Voyeurism Prevention Act, and the Fourth Amendment. For more information, see EPIC: EPIC v. DHS and EPIC: Whole Body Imaging Technology.
Managing Class Action Litigation: A Pocket Guide for Judges, Third Edition. Barbara J. Rothstein; Thomas E. Willging, 2010, 55 pages
US Courts: "A recently published study on federal death penalty cases offers updated findings on the cost, quality, and availability of defense representation. Among the findings: The median cost of a case in which the Attorney General authorized seeking the death penalty was nearly eight times greater than the cost of a case that was eligible for capital prosecution but in which the death penalty was not authorized. The report also shows that cases in which seeking the death penalty was authorized cost more than twice as much if they went to trial rather than being resolved through a plea agreement."
Report to the Chief Justice of the United States on the 2010 Conference on Civil Litigation - Submitted by the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Civil Rules and the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, November 2010
Aging and Bankruptcy, Revisited, September 2010 issue of the American Bankruptcy Institute Journal
NYT: "After a wrenching seven-year battle, more than 10,000 workers who sued New York City over health damages they claimed after the 9/11 recovery efforts have approved a settlement, clearing the way for payouts totaling at least $625 million, lawyers said Friday. Their responses, delivered to a federal judge in Manhattan, ended months of wrangling over whether the city and its contractors were shortchanging the workers for the respiratory and other illnesses they developed after toiling in the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center. The judge, Alvin K. Hellerstein of United States District Court, threw out a smaller settlement in March, arguing that the plaintiffs deserved more and lawyers were getting too big a cut. A 95 percent approval rate was required for the latest accord to take effect. The plaintiffs barely cleared the threshold by the Tuesday night deadline they were given: 95.1 percent of the 10,563 workers accepted the settlement’s terms, according to documents filed on Friday. In their lawsuits, the firefighters, police officers and other workers argued that the city had failed to provide adequate protective equipment and supervision as they retrieved victims’ remains at ground zero and cleared smoky debris...Still, many plaintiffs were pained by the vigorous legal defense mounted by the city as the lawsuits began flowing in 2003. Under the terms of the settlement, individual payments will range from $3,250 to $1.8 million or more for the worst injuries, lawyers estimated."
"The second edition of the Civil Litigation Management Manual, which was approved by the Judicial Conference of the United States in March 2010, seeks to help judges secure “the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every case.” The manual provides trial judges with a handbook, setting out an array of case-management techniques. They include early screening and steps for streamlining trials and final disposition. The manual also discusses a number of special topics, including pro se and high visibility cases."
Manual on Recurring Problems in Criminal Trials, Sixth Edition, Edited by Tucker Carrington, Visiting Clinical Professor, Director, Mississippi Innocence Project, The University of Mississippi School of Law. Kris Markarian Legal Editor, Federal Judicial Center, 2010.
News release: "In settling a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union, the federal government [October 18, 2010] recognized the public’s right to take photographs and record videos in public spaces outside federal courthouses throughout the nation. The settlement comes after the NYCLU sued the federal government in April on behalf of a Libertarian activist who was unlawfully arrested by federal officers after exercising his First Amendment right to record digital video outside of a federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan."
Criminal Justice Debt: A Barrier to Reentry, By Alicia Bannon, Mitali Nagrecha, Rebekah Diller, 10/04/10
Preventable Error: A Report on Prosecutorial Misconduct in California 1997–2009, by Kathleen M. Ridolfi and Maurice Possley
United States Courts Electronic Public Access Program PACER Service Assessment Findings September 2010: "A year-long assessment of the Federal Judiciary’s electronic public access service, PACER, found a high level of satisfaction overall among users.The study, conducted by an independent consulting firm, was designed to gauge users’ satisfaction with the Public Access to Court Electronic Records service and to identify opportunities for new or expanded services...You can view a video that offers assessment highlights."
State Public Defender Programs, 2007, Donald J. Farole, Jr. Ph.D., Lynn Langton, September 16, 2010. NCJ 228229
News release: "September 24 marks the anniversary of a groundbreaking American invention – a federal court system separate from the individual state courts. The Judiciary Act of 1789 was one of the first pieces of legislation enacted by the newly formed U.S. Congress. The law created a dual court system – federal and state – that existed in no other country at the time. More than 220 years later, the system remains a vibrant protector of the rights and liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution’s Article III was ratified in 1787, creating a Federal Judiciary that would feature the U.S. Supreme Court at its pinnacle. Left to Congress, however, was the job of fleshing out what the Constitution created. The Judiciary Act of 1789 established a three-tiered federal court system – the Supreme Court, three appellate courts, and 13 district courts. The Act also provided the courts and the justice system with needed staff. Today, the Federal Judiciary closely resembles the three-tiered system Congress fashioned in 1789. Today’s Supreme Court is comprised of the Chief Justice of the United States and eight associate justices. Congress also has created 13 courts of appeals and 94 district courts. The anniversary of the Judiciary Act of 1789 is a time to recognize the first Congress for creating a court system capable of growing to meet the nation’s needs."
News release: "The Judicial Conference of the United States today approved a pilot project to evaluate the effect of cameras in federal district courtrooms and the public release of digital video recordings of some civil proceedings. The pilot, which will be national in scope, will last up to three years. It will evaluate the effect of cameras in district court courtrooms, video recordings of proceedings, and publication of such video recordings. Details of the development and implementation of the pilot will be determined by the Conference’s Committee on Court Administration and Case Management (CACM).
Courts that participate in the pilot will, if necessary, amend their local rules (providing adequate public notice and opportunity to comment) to provide an exception for judges participating in the pilot project. Participation in the pilot will be at the trial judge’s discretion. Under the pilot, participating courts will record proceedings. Recordings by other entities or persons will not be allowed. Recording of members of a jury will not be permitted, and parties in a trial must consent to participating in the pilot."
"The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authorizes a special court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), to undertake electronic surveillance in the United States for foreign intelligence information. The FISC is now seeking public comments concerning its procedures. Comments must received by Monday, October 4, 2010. EPIC previously submitted an amicus brief regarding FISA authority and national security. EPIC will be submitting comments to the FISC and endorse changes that improve accountability and transparency for FISA orders."
The Liberal Tradition of the Supreme Court Clerkship: Its Rise, Fall, and Reincarnation? William E. Nelson, Harvey Rishikof, I. Scott Messinger, and Michael Jo. 62 Vand.L.Rev. 1749
Follow up to previous postings on government implementation of whole body scanning technology at airports, via EPIC: "The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has set a briefing schedule for EPIC v. DHS, No. 10-1157, EPIC's challenge to the airport body scanner program. EPIC has alleged that that the Department of Homeland Security has violated three federal laws (the Administrative Procedures Act, the Privacy Act, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act) and that the body scanner search itself is unconstitutional, given what the courts have said about the permissible scope of airport screening procedures. EPIC's initial brief will be due November 1, 2010. Subsequent briefs from DHS and EPIC will be due by December 15, 2010. In earlier open government litigation against DHS, EPIC obtained evidence that the devices are designed to store and record images."
"Very timely Justice Department data show that Immigration Judges are declining substantially fewer requests for asylum. Denial rates have reached the lowest level in the last quarter of a century according to a new analysis by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). Twenty five years ago, in FY 1986, almost nine out of ten (89%) of the asylum requests in the Immigration Courts were denied. While the annual rates have gone up and down during the ensuing years, only half (50%) of the requests were denied during the first nine months of FY 2010 — a record low. One factor contributing to the improved success of the asylum seekers is that a higher proportion of the total are represented by counsel. It must be noted, however, that the number of those seeking asylum in court proceedings has fallen. These and many other findings have emerged in the fifth annual report of TRAC's monitoring series on Asylum Decisions in the Immigration Courts. The reports are based upon hundreds of thousands of case-by-case asylum records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). The records cover asylum decisions for the last quarter century, and are current through June 21, 2010."
Follow up to previous postings on National Security Letters, this news release: "The FBI has partially lifted a gag it imposed on American Civil Liberties Union client Nicholas Merrill in 2004 that prevented him from disclosing to anyone that he received a national security letter (NSL) demanding private customer records. Merrill, who received the NSL as the president of an Internet service provider (ISP), can now reveal his identity and speak about his experience for the first time since receiving the NSL. The ACLU and New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit challenging the NSL statute and the gag order on behalf of Merrill (then called John Doe) in April 2004, which resulted in numerous court rulings finding the NSL statute unconstitutional. Merrill was the first person ever to challenge an NSL in court...NSLs are secret record demands the FBI issues to obtain access to personal customer records from ISPs, libraries, financial institutions and credit reporting agencies without court approval or even suspicion of wrongdoing. Because the FBI can gag NSL recipients to prohibit them from disclosing anything about the record demands they receive, the FBI's use and potential abuse of the NSL power has been shrouded in excessive secrecy. While the NSL served on Merrill stated that he was prohibited from telling anyone about it, he decided to challenge the demand in court because he believed that the FBI was ordering him to turn over constitutionally protected information about one of his clients. Because of the FBI-imposed gag, Merrill was prohibited from talking about the NSL or revealing his identity and role in the lawsuit until today, even though the FBI abandoned its demand for records from Merrill more than three years ago."
Your Cheat Sheet for Local Rule Motion Practice Part Two: Central District of California, by Wendy Schneider" You know the Federal Rules backwards and forwards, but its compliance with the local rules that really makes a civil litigator look like a pro to colleagues and clients, and leaves the opposition in the dust. In this ongoing LLRX series, the editorial team of SmartRules will give you the tools to navigate motion practice in these busy federal courts with ease and grace. We've outlined the key provisions and highlighted the pitfalls. Here's what you really need to know about motion practice in the Central District of California.
News release: "A recent change in the fee exemption policy of the Federal Judiciary’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records system means that 75 percent of PACER users won’t pay any fee this year. The policy-making Judicial Conference of the United States approved last March 16 an adjustment to the Electronic Public Access Fee Schedule so that users are not billed unless they accrue charges of more than $10 of PACER usage in a quarterly billing cycle. That adjustment was implemented almost immediately after the Conference action. Previously, users were not billed until their accounts totaled at least $10 in a one-year period. The result of the adjustment has the effect of quadrupling the amount of data available without charge. About 50 percent of all PACER users did not pay a fee in 2009, and preliminary indications are that the percentage will climb to 75 in 2010 under the new fee schedule."
From Solicitor General to Supreme Court Nominee: Responsibilities, History, and the Nomination of Elena Kagan, by Susan Navarro Smelcer, Analyst on the Federal Judiciary. Kenneth R. Thomas, Legislative Attorney, June 23, 2010
United States Courts: "A total of 97 vacancies exist among the 876 Article III judgeships in the Federal Judiciary. Eighteen of the 179 courts of appeals judgeships are vacant, as well as 79 of the 675 district court judgeships. Nominations made by the President and awaiting Senate action are pending for 12 of the 18 courts of appeals judgeships, and nominations for 29 of the 79 district court judgeships. An Article III judge is appointed to life tenure. Article III of the Constitution, focusing on the Judicial Branch of the federal government, states, “The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behavior.”
May it Please the Senate: An Empirical Analysis of the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings of Supreme Court Nominees, 1939-2009, Lori A. Ringhand, University of Georgia School of Law and Paul M. Collins Jr., University of North Texas, June 25, 2010. UGA Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-12
Follow up to previous postings on Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan, see the Report of the American Civil Liberties Union on the Nomination of Elena Kagan to be Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, June 21, 2010
Kagan Confirmation Hearing To Begin On June 28. 2010 - Nomination and Hearing Materials, Information and Guidance
Follow up to postings on the Gulf Coast oil spill, from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana:
Follow up to postings on the Gulf Coast oil spill - United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana: "Over 30 cases relating to the Deepwater Horizon Explosion and Oil Spill have been assigned to Judge Carl Barbier, Section J. The Deepwater Horizon incident has led to claims for the death of 11 individuals, numerous claims for personal injury, and the release of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, with resulting claims for environmental and economic damages. Currently, there are motions pending before the Multidistrict Litigation Panel to consolidate all cases related to the Deepwater Horizon incident into a single MDL case. There are also requests pending before the panel to have the litigation assigned to various districts across the country. Until the MDL Panel decides these motions, Judge Barbier will use this website as an interim measure to coordinate oil spill related cases pending in Section J. This website will also be used to post information that will answer many of the questions that have been frequently asked by counsel in these cases."
Follow up to previous posting sentencing guidelines, "U.S. Sentencing Commission has published the results of the first-ever survey of federal trial judges to elicit their views about federal sentencing under the advisory guidelines system in effect since 2005. The survey, among many other findings, indicates that 62 percent of the responding judges believe that mandatory minimum sentences for various federal crimes are too high. The survey, conducted from January through March 2010, drew responses from 639 of the 942 judges to whom it was sent, a 67.8 percent response rate. Based on an analysis, the 639 judges who responded sentenced 116,183 of the 146,511 individual federal criminal offenders sentenced in fiscal years 2008 and 2009 – 79 percent of the offenders sentenced in that two-year span."
EPIC: "The Supreme Court has issued a ruling in City of Ontario v. Quon, a case concerning the reasonablenees of a search of a public employee's pager. EPIC filed a "friend of the court" brief in the case, arguing that data minimization practices should be followed for electronic searches, and that the search, which uncovered personal texts unrelated to the purpose of the search, was therefore unreasonable. EPIC urged the Supreme Court to apply the approach set out in Comprehensive Drug Testing v. United States, which allows a government agency to undertake appropriate searches without unnecessarily violating privacy interests. The Court ruled that the search was reasonable, reversing the Ninth Circuit's decision that such a search be conducted through the least intrusive means possible. For more information, see EPIC: City of Ontario v. Quon."
News release: "On Friday, June 11, 2010, the Clinton Library [made] available an additional 41,759 pages of materials relating to Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. The records [are] posted on their web site: www.clintonlibrary.gov. The opening includes materials primarily related to Kagan’s tenure in the White House Counsel's Office. Other files concern her nomination to the DC Circuit Court, White House Office of Records Management Subject Files concerning her work with both DPC and the White House Counsel’s Office, and a few miscellaneous folders identified as relating to Kagan."
Text of Justice David Souter’s speech during Harvard's 359th Commencement, via Harvard Gazette. [Dan MacMeekin]
News release: "The William Clinton Presidential Library will open records relating to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s tenure at the White House Domestic Policy Council and the White House Counsel’s Office. The release of papers from the approximately 160,000 pages of material will be made available on the Clinton Library web site in batches as soon as the records are processed. Release dates and times will be posted on the National Archives Twitter site [http://twitter.com/archivesnews] and the National Archives home page.
News release: "The Federal Judiciary’s website, www.uscourts.gov, today unveils a host of enhancements. The site has been redesigned to make it more attractive, accessible, and useful to its diverse audience of users. The improvements further the website’s mission of increasing public interest, awareness, and understanding of the federal court system and its functions, and to serve as a source for disseminating Federal Judiciary information to the public. The website is a primary source of information on the structure, function, and operations of the federal courts. It plays an important role in how the Judiciary communicates to the public, with useful and timely information for students, news media, attorneys, academics, government officials, associations, and others – both in the United States and worldwide."
News release: "Bankruptcy filings for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2010, rose 27 percent when compared to bankruptcy filings for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2009, according to statistics released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. March 2010 bankruptcy filings totaled 1,531,997, compared to the 1,202,395 bankruptcy cases filed in the 12-month period ending March 31, 2009.
This is the highest number of total bankruptcy filings since the 12-month period ending March 31, 2006. A significant decline in bankruptcy filings occurred in October 2006, when many of the provisions of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) took effect."
Elena Kagan Nominated to the Supreme Court: "On April 9, 2010 Justice John Paul Stevens announced that he would retire after nearly 35 years on the bench of the U.S. Supreme Court. President Obama announced the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace Stevens on May 10, 2010. This is President Obama's second nomination to the nation's highest court, following his selection of Justice Sonia Sotomayor in May 2009. Notably the first female Solicitor General and first female dean of Harvard Law School, if Kagan is confirmed, she will also be the fourth woman to serve on the Court. To serve congressional and public requests for resources pertaining to this historic nomination, the Law Library of Congress has developed a web presentation on Kagan on its Supreme Court Nominations site. Visit our bibliography to find out more about the new Supreme Court nominee." [Emily Carr, Legal Reference Specialist, Law Library of Congress]
News release: "A total of 2,376 federal and state applications for orders authorizing the interception of wire, oral or electronic communications, known as wiretaps, was reported in 2009. The number of applications for orders by federal authorities was 663; the number of applications reported by state prosecuting officials was 1,713. No applications were denied. The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 requires the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to report to Congress the number and nature of federal and state applications for wiretap orders. The 2009 Wiretap Report covers intercepts concluded between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009."
News release: "Much attention has been paid by the media and others to the recent rapid rise in consumer bankruptcies. But less attention has been paid to the even faster rise in business bankruptcies. Recently, John Golmant, a statistician in the Statistics Division of the Administrative Office, examined the numbers behind the increase. In 2009, a total of 1,402,816 bankruptcy petitions were filed in the federal courts, an increase of 35 percent from the 1,042,806 filed in 2008. The 2009 total marks the greatest number of bankruptcy filings since 2005, the year the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) was passed and implemented."
Justice Stevens Invented the Internet - With the announcement that Justice John Paul Stevens will resign from the Supreme Court at the end of this term, Jonathan Band and Matt Schruers focus on one of his opinions that has had a direct daily impact on virtually all Americans: the majority opinion in Sony v. Universal, decided by the Supreme Court in 1984. This decision is the legal foundation of the Digital Age.
News release: "The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) along with Google and numerous other public interest organizations and Internet industry associations joined with Yahoo! in asking a federal court Tuesday to block a government attempt to access the contents of a Yahoo! email account without a search warrant based on probable cause. The Department of Justice is seeking the emails as part of a case that is under seal, and the account holder has apparently not been notified of the request. Government investigators maintain that because the Yahoo! email has been accessed by the user, it is no longer in "electronic storage" under the Stored Communications Act (SCA) and therefore does not require a warrant, even though that same legal theory has been flatly rejected by the one Circuit Court to address it. Yahoo! is challenging the government request before a federal magistrate judge in Denver, arguing that the SCA and Fourth Amendment require the government to get a search warrant before compelling Yahoo! to disclose the email. In an amicus brief filed in support of Yahoo! Tuesday, EFF says that the company is simply following the law and protecting the constitutional privacy rights of its customers."
News release: "Associate Justice John Paul Stevens has today sent the attached letter to the White House, notifying President Barack Obama of his retirement from the Supreme Court, effective one day after the Court rises for the summer recess this year. Justice Stevens has served on the Supreme Court for 34 years. He is 89 years old. Justice Stevens was nominated by President Gerald Ford and took his seat on December 19, 1975."
EFF: "In a ruling that imposes important limits on the FCC's authority to regulate the Internet, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals today overturned the FCC ruling against Comcast for interfering with the BitTorrent traffic of its subscribers. The court found that the Commission had overstepped the limits of its "ancillary authority" when it disciplined Comcast for its clandestine blocking behavior. The ruling is not likely to make much difference to Comcast subscribers—Comcast had already agreed to cease its BitTorrent interdiction before the FCC's ruling was issued. Instead, the court's ruling is important because it represents a blow to FCC Chairman Genachowski's proposed net neutrality regulations, which are premised on the same theory of "ancillary jurisdiction" that the FCC used against Comcast and that the court rejected today."
EPIC: "The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in favor of a female employee whose employer read emails that she sent while using Yahoo Mail on a company-owned laptop. The employee, Marina Stengart, had exchanged emails with her attorney regarding a possible discrimination lawsuit against the employer. The employer then pulled the emails off of the laptop's hard drive and used them to prepare a defense to the discrimination suit. The New Jersey Supreme Court found that "Under the circumstances, Stengart could reasonably expect that e-mail communications with her lawyer through her personal, password-protected, web-based e-mail account would remain private, and that sending and receiving them using a company laptop did not eliminate the attorney-client privilege that protected them." The Supreme Court of the United States is set to consider employee privacy in City of Ontario v. Quon, in which EPIC submitted a "friend of the court brief."
"Welcome to the Supreme Court's new Website, which not only has a new look, but also incorporates new features, including:
News release: "The Judicial Conference of the United States approved key steps to improve public access to federal courts by increasing the availability of court opinions and expanding the services and reducing the costs for many users of the Public Access to Electronic Court Records (PACER) system. At its biannual meeting in Washington, D.C., the Conference voted to:
Bloomberg: "The Federal Reserve Board must disclose documents identifying financial firms that might have collapsed without the largest U.S. government bailout ever, a federal appeals court said. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled today that the Fed must release records of the unprecedented $2 trillion U.S. loan program launched primarily after the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. The ruling upholds a decision of a lower-court judge, who in August ordered that the information be released."
"CourtWEB provides information on selected recent opinions of those judges of the United States Courts who elect to make information available on this site. When an opinion is posted to CourtWEB by chambers, the description that appears will typically include the caption, case number, terms relevant to your search, relevancy score, date, judge's name, and a brief summary of the opinion."
News release: "Wachovia Bank, N.A. (“Wachovia”), one of the largest banks in the United States, has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida and the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice to resolve charges that it willfully failed to establish an anti-money laundering program. Today’s agreement is the result of an investigation into Wachovia’s transactions with Mexican currency exchange houses, commonly known as “casas de cambio” (“CDCs”), announced Jeffrey H. Sloman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Lanny A. Breuer, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division, Daniel W. Auer, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (“IRS-CID”), John C. Dugan, Comptroller of the Currency, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and James H. Freis, Jr., Director, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). The agreement also resolves Wachovia’s admitted failure to identify, detect, and report suspicious transactions in third-party payment processor accounts."
U.S. Courts news release: "Bankruptcy filings in the federal courts rose 31.9 percent in calendar year 2009, according to data released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The number of bankruptcies filed in the twelve-month period ending December 31, 2009, totaled 1,473,675, up from 1,117,641 bankruptcies filed in CY 2008."
American Bar Association: Representing Juvenile Status Offenders
Follow on to SEC Charges Bank of America for Failing to Disclose Merrill Lynch Bonus Payments, see the Opinion and Order in SEC v. Bank of America, Issued by the District Court for the Southern District of New York, February 22, 2010.
Follow up to postings on Google Book Search resources and related litigation, the latest news from The Laboratorium - GBS: Fairness Hearing Report [held February 18, 2010, U.s. District Court, Southern District of New York], with Part I here and Part II here. These report cover the arguments of settlement supporters and opponents; and the arguments made by the Department of Justice and the parties, along with a few brief comments of Law Professor James Grimmelmann.
"In a new White Paper, the national nonprofit consumer group Center for Justice & Democracy explores how the weakening of investors’ and borrowers’ legal rights since the 1990s has compounded deregulation and lax regulatory enforcement led to the recent economic collapse. In Legal Abandon: How Limiting Lawsuits Led To The Financial Collapse And What To Do About It, CJ&D shows how the legal rights of defrauded shareholders have been greatly restricted by both Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court, and the rights of subprime mortgage borrowers have been extremely limited, as well. Said co-author Amy Widman, “Two laws are particularly problematic: the 1995 Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (PSLRA) and the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1998 (SLUSA), which greatly restrict investor fraud cases. In addition, two Supreme Court cases, Central Bank of Denver, N.A. v. Interstate Bank of Denver, N.A. (1994) and Stoneridge Investment Partners v. Scientific-Atlanta, Inc. et al. (2007), both significantly limited the liability of those who aid in the commission of a securities fraud."
Follow up to previous postings on Google Book Search, this annotated public interest resource: "The Public Index is a project of the Public-Interest Book Search Initiative and the Institute for Information Law and Policy at New York Law School. We are a group of professors, students, and volunteers who believe that the Google Book Search lawsuit and settlement deserve a full, careful, and thoughtful public discussion. The Public Index is a site for people from all points of view to learn from each other about the settlement and join together to make their voices heard in the public debate."
FY 2009 Federal Prosecutions Sharply Higher - Surge Driven by Steep Jump in Immigration Filings: "The latest case-by-case data from the Justice Department show that in November 2009 (the second month of fiscal year 2010) the government reported 11,816 new prosecutions. The immigration category continues to dominate the DOJ's caseload, accounting for 53% of all new cases filed in November in U.S. Federal Court. The second largest category was drugs, accounting for 35% of new prosecutions."
News release: "U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, and U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) on Thursday announced new legislation to mitigate the negative impacts of the Supreme Court’s decision that allowed unlimited corporate spending on elections. The Court, in its ruling in the Citizens United case last month, overturned a decades-old law banning political expenditures by corporate interests. Schumer and Van Hollen’s legislation would partly restore those limits – by barring foreign corporations, government contractors and companies that have received government assistance from making political expenditures – and also impose new disclosure and disclaimer requirements." [Outline of legislation is included in this release.]
News release: "Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Thursday sent a letter to President Barack Obama endorsing the longstanding use of federal criminal courts to prosecute terrorists. Leahy and Feinstein chair the Senate Judiciary Committee and Select Committee on Intelligence, respectively. Leahy and Feinstein have supported the administration’s plans to try terrorists in federal court, which have a proven track record over many years of successfully trying terrorism-related cases."
3rd Circuit to Mull Privacy of Cell Phone Data, Shannon P. Duffy: "In a case that could prove to be one of the most important privacy rights battles of the modern era, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear argument this week on the proper legal standard to apply when prosecutors demand cell phone location data. The data, which are recorded about once every seven seconds whenever a cell phone is turned on, effectively track the whereabouts and the comings and goings of every cell phone user. Justice Department lawyers argue that, by statute, they need only show "reasonable grounds" to believe that such records are "relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation." But a federal magistrate judge in Pittsburgh strongly disagreed in February 2008, issuing a 52-page opinion that said the prosecutors must meet the "probable cause" standard."
Securities and Exchange Commission Litigation Release No. 21371 / January 11, 2010 - Securities and Exchange Commission v. Bank of America Corporation, Civil Action No. 09-6829 (JSR) (S.D.N.Y.): "The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that it seeks to charge Bank of America with failing to disclose extraordinary financial losses at Merrill Lynch prior to a shareholder vote to approve a merger between the two companies. The SEC has asked the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for permission to amend its pending complaint against Bank of America to include the new charges. The agency earlier charged the bank with misleading investors about billions of dollars in bonuses that were being paid to Merrill executives. That complaint was amended in October to add a charge for Bank of America's failure to comply with certain affirmative disclosure obligations under the federal proxy rules."
"The Federal Judicial Center has posted a monograph providing an introduction to, and overview of, immigration law, with a focus on issues that arise in litigation."
FindLaw: "Rejecting a bid by convicted al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui to overturn his guilty plea, a federal appeals court affirmed the French citizen's terror conspiracy charges stemming from his role as an admitted terror camp trainee, member of the terrorist organization, and acknowledged flight-school his 'intent to obtain pilot training to further "al Qaeda's plan to use plans to kill Americans."
Report of the Council to the Membership of The American Law Institute on the Matter of the Death Penalty: "On October 23, 2009, the ALI Council voted overwhelmingly, with some abstentions, to accept the resolution of the capital punishment matter as approved by the Institute’s membership at the 2009 Annual Meeting in May. The resolution adopted at the Annual Meeting and now accepted by the Council reads as follows:
For reasons stated in Part V of the Council’s report to the membership, the Institute withdraws Section 210.6 of the Model Penal Code in light of the current intractable institutional and structural obstacles to ensuring a minimally adequate system for administering capital punishment.Having achieved the consensus of the membership at the Annual Meeting and now of the Council, this resolution is the official position of the Institute. Efforts will be made to communicate this position wherever the Model Penal Code is published or otherwise available and to the public generally."
2009 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary: "Chief Justice John Roberts issued his 2009 year-end report, stating that "courts are operating soundly, and the nation's dedicated federal judges are conscientiously discharging their duties...In 2009, a total of 1,402,816 bankruptcy petitions were filed in the U.S. courts, an increase of 35% over the 1,042,806 filed in 2008. The 2009 total represents the greatest number of bankruptcy filings since 2005, when many debtors rushed to file petitions before October 17, 2005, the date on which the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) took effect."
"A new report by the Federal Judicial Center offers an analysis of all cases that were sealed in federal district, bankruptcy and appellate courts in 2006, and describes why and how they were sealed."
Examining the Work of State Courts: An Analysis of 2007 State Court Caseloads. A joint project of the Conference of State Court Administrators, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and the National Center for State Courts. 2009
The Liberal Tradition of the Supreme Court Clerkship: Its Rise, Fall, and Reincarnation? William E. Nelson, Harvey Rishikof, I. Scott Messinger, Michael Jo | 62 Vand. L. Rev. 1749 (2009)
Surge Driven by Steep Jump in Immigration Filings: "As a result of an unusual flood of immigration prosecutions, the total number of federal criminal filings reached an all time high in the just ended fiscal year, according to timely Justice Department data analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). The latest data show that the number of all kinds of federal criminal prosecutions peaked at 169,612 cases in FY 2009, up nearly 9 percent from the previous year's total of 155,694 and 42 percent from five years ago when prosecutions came to only 119,492. The comparisons of the number of defendants charged with offenses are based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys."
"The Death Penalty Information Center released the The Death Penalty in 2009: Year End Report on December 18, noting that the country is expected to finish 2009 with the fewest death sentences since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Eleven states considered abolishing the death penalty this year, a significant increase in legislative activity from previous years, as the high costs and lack of measurable benefits associated with this punishment troubled lawmakers."
News release: "While the Supreme Court ruling in Boumediene v. Bush established definitively the right of habeas corpus for detainees at Guantanamo, it left many important questions unresolved about how these habeas petitions would be adjudicated. As a consequence, the District of Columbia District Court and Court of Appeals have been charged with deciding such issues as: the substantive scope of the executive’s detention authority; the reach of the suspension clause to Bagram; whether conditions of confinement are open to habeas challenge; standards for admitting hearsay into evidence; and procedures for handling classified intelligence reports. In an effort to document this habeas litigation the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security created a searchable database, containing every Guantanamo and Bagram detainee habeas petition brought before the D.C. courts since the Boumediene ruling."
News release: "Bankruptcy cases filed in federal courts for fiscal year 2009 totaled 1,402,816, up 34.5 percent over the 1,042,993 filings reported for the 12-month period ending September 30, 2008, according to statistics released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The federal Judiciary’s fiscal year is the 12-month period ending September 30. The bankruptcies reported today are for October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009."
"The Court entered its Findings of Fact and Conclusion of law in the Robinson matter. The Court ruled that the failure of the United States Army Corps of Engineers to maintain and operate the MRGO properly was a substantial cause for the failure of the Reach 2 Levee. It found that the Corps was not negligent with respect to its failure to construct a surge protection barrier at the "funnel" where Reach 2 merges into Reach 1 and the GIWW and thus was not liable for the flooding of New Orleans East. It also found that the Corps was not entitled to immunity under 702c of the Flood Control Act of 1928 and is not entitled to the protection of the due care, discretionary function, or misrepresentation exceptions under the Federal Torts Claim Act. As a result of these findings, it found that plaintiffs in the St. Bernard Polder were entitled to damages as set forth with more precision in the opinion. (Doc. 19415, Appendix)"
"Welcome to the new Media Alerts on Federal Courts of Appeals Website of the ABA Standing Committee on Federal Judicial Improvements. This website is designed to provide reporters, lawyers, educators, and the public with prompt, accurate, unbiased information about newsworthy and legally significant cases pending in and decided by the Federal Courts of Appeals. Our goal is to assist the media’s efforts to provide timely and extensive reporting about federal court decisions. Use this website to find short summaries of recent opinions of public interest and noteworthy cases pending oral argument."
"The 2009 Guidelines Manual (effective November 1, 2009) is available in HTML and Adobe .PDF formats (large file and broken into chapters), which can be viewed, downloaded or printed via the website."
"The Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in conjunction with the Cornell Law School is committed to helping the Rwanda Tribunal garner more attention world-wide. The lessons and legacy of ground-breaking legal matters related to the unspeakable events in Rwanda should not be forgotten. Humans, whether from rich or poor countries, must remain vigilant in curbing the motivations that lead individuals and groups to violent hatred and barbaric acts against a class of people. Consequently, items about this tribunal, which will end shortly after 2010, will appear from time to time on this news service. Last month, the IWS Colloquium Series, with cosponsorship of the Cornell Law School (represented by Prof. Claire Germain) hosted Sir Dennis Byron, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), who spoke about the Role of the Courts in Protecting and Preserving Human Rights. It was a fascinating evening that touched on both legal and institutional issues, never flinching from some of the moral and social issues. Of particular note are the ground-breaking precedents of the ICTR in regard to sexual violence and the limits of freedom of speech. [Stuart Basefsky]
News release: "The success of the highly regarded Supreme Court Database has been unparalleled. Information from the database is cited in the majority of peer-reviewed articles about the workings of the court. A team including Northwestern University School of Law's Lee Epstein, a specialist in the politics of the Supreme Court, has expanded the database -- with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the latest in today's technology -- to make the resource easily accessible to a wider audience. Now, a streamlined interface allows anyone to go online and pull up cases with ease...By modernizing the Supreme Court Database, Epstein and her team are expanding Michigan State University Law Professor Harold Spaeth's original invention and using technology that wasn't available at its inception. Currently, cases from 1953 to 2008 are available. New funding from NSF means the database can be expanded to include information dating back to the court's first decision in 1792. The Supreme Court Database began with Spaeth's work in the late 1980s. Spaeth was able to collect decades of data on the court and put it together in a comprehensive database available to the public."
"The U.S. Sentencing Commission has issued a report, The History of Child Pornography Guidelines, as a first step in its review of the punishment prescribed for the sexual exploitation of children...The Commission has sought to implement congressional intent in the area of child pornography offenses in a manner consistent with the SRA and subsequent legislation. As discussed in this paper, in amending the child pornography guidelines over the years, the Commission has reviewed sentencing data, considered public comment on proposed amendments, conducted public hearings on proposed amendments, studied relevant literature, and considered pertinent legislative history."
Tort Bench and Jury Trials in State Courts, 2005: "Discusses tort cases concluded by a bench or jury trial in a national sample of jurisdictions in 2005. Topics include the types of tort cases that proceed to trial, the differences between tort cases adjudicated by judges and juries, and the types of plaintiffs and defendants represented in tort trials. The report also covers plaintiff win rates, punitive damages, and the final award amounts generated in tort trial litigation. Lastly, trends are examined in tort trial litigation in the nation’s 75 most populous counties, based on comparable data in 1996, 2001, and 2005."
"One of the federal judiciary's major statistical compilations, Judicial Facts and Figures, recently was updated to include caseload statistics and judgeship totals for fiscal year 2008."
Juvenile Justice: Technical Assistance and Better Defined Evaluation Plans Will Help Girls' Delinquency Programs. GAO-10-133T, October 20, 2009: "...from 1995 through 2005, delinquency caseloads for girls in juvenile justice courts nationwide increased 15 percent while boys’ caseloads decreased by 12 percent.1 More recently, in 2007, 29 percent of juvenile arrests—about 641,000 arrests—involved girls, who accounted for 17 percent of juvenile violent crime arrests and 35 percent of juvenile property crime arrests.2 Further, research on girls has highlighted that delinquent girls have higher rates of mental health problems than delinquent boys, receive fewer special services, and are more likely to abandon treatment programs."
Follow up to October 10, 2009 posting, Mandatory Flu Shots for New York Health Care Workers, the New York Times today reported Thomas J. McNamara, an acting justice of the State Supreme Court in Albany, issued a temporary order halting the enforcement of mandatory flu vaccines for health care workers.
Contract Bench and Jury Trials in State Courts, 2005: "Presents findings on contract cases disposed of by a bench or jury trial in a nationally representative sample of jurisdictions in 2005. Topics in the report include the types of cases that proceed to trial, differences between the types of cases decided by judges or juries, types of plaintiffs and defendants represented in civil trials, plaintiff win rates, damage awards, and post-trial activity. Information is also presented on contract trial litigation in the nation’s 75 most populous counties from 1996 to 2005. See also Civil Bench and Jury Trials in State Courts, 2005."
"In a case brought by Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice representing a coalition of farmers and consumers, a Federal Court ruled yesterday that the Bush USDA’s approval of genetically engineered (GE) “RoundUp Ready” sugar beets [note: sugar beets produce 30 percent of the world's sugar] was unlawful. The Court ordered the USDA to conduct a rigorous assessment of the environmental and economic impacts of the crop on farmers and the environment. The federal district court for the Northern District of California ruled that the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (“APHIS”) violated the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) when it failed to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) before deregulating sugar beets that have been genetically engineered (“GE”) to be resistant to glyphosate herbicide, marketed by Monsanto as Roundup...Sugar beet seed is grown primarily in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, which is also an important seed growing area for crops closely related to sugar beets, such as organic chard and table beets. GE sugar beets are wind pollinated and will inevitably cross-pollinate the related crops being grown in the same area. Such biological contamination would be devastating to organic farmers, who face debilitating market losses if their crops are contaminated by a GE variety."
Follow up to previous postings on what is becoming the saga of the Google Book Settlement, the following articles, legal documents and commentary today:
Follow up to previous posting on Google book search, this news release today: Justice Department Submits Views on Proposed Google Book Search Settlement: "The Department of Justice today advised the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that while it should not accept the class action settlement in The Authors Guild Inc. et al. v. Google Inc. as proposed due to concerns of the United States regarding class action, copyright and antitrust law, the parties should be encouraged to continue their productive discussions to address those concerns. In its statement of interest filed with the court, the Department stated: "Given the parties’ express commitment to ongoing discussions to address concerns already raised and the possibility that such discussions could lead to a settlement agreement that could legally be approved by the Court, the public interest would best be served by direction from the Court encouraging the continuation of those discussions between the parties and, if the Court so chooses, by some direction as to those aspects of the Proposed Settlement that need to be improved. Because a properly structured settlement agreement in this case offers the potential for important societal benefits, the United States does not want the opportunity or momentum to be lost."
Gallup: "As the U.S. Supreme Court convenes Wednesday with recently sworn-in Justice Sonia Sotomayor on the bench, Gallup finds Americans broadly upbeat about the performance of the high court. Sixty-one percent of Americans approve and 28% disapprove of the job the Supreme Court is doing -- among the most positive ratings the court has received in the past decade."
PACER Spending Survey: Stanford Law School deputy library director Erika Wayne describes an open source document access project focused on improving PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records), sponsored by a small group of research savvy and customer service oriented group of law librarians.
Electronic Public Access Fees and the United States Federal Courts’ Budget: An Overview Stephen Schultze, Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard.
"CDT filed a "friend of the court" brief in the Southern District of New York [September 4, 2009] requesting that key privacy requirements be included in the Court's approval of the class-action settlement that would dramatically expand Google Book Search. CDT previously released a report in July analyzing the privacy implications of this settlement and is urging the judge to guarantee strong privacy safeguards for the exciting new services Google will be able to offer. The brief asks that the court approve the proposed settlement of the copyright infringement lawsuit between Google and authors and publishers, but to retain oversight in order to monitor implementation of a privacy plan."
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press:" The string of FOIA lawsuits for release of records of the government's emergency lending programs finally saw its first victory Monday. The Federal Reserve Board must release to Bloomberg News records identifying the financial firms it loaned bailout funds to as well as the assets or amounts put up as collateral, the news agency reported. Chief Judge Loretta Preska in Manhattan federal court issued the first ruling requiring disclosure in a handful of suits in New York federal court brought separately by Bloomberg, Fox News and the New York Times. Bloomberg reported that she rejected the argument that the records were exempt from release under FOIA because they might harm the competitive advantage of the borrowers."
The Third Branch: "The Judicial Conference has issued a series of “suggested practices” to assist courts in the use of Internet materials in opinions. The recommendations follow a pilot project conducted by circuit librarians who captured and preserved webpages cited in opinions over a six-month period...The guidelines suggest that, if a webpage is cited, chambers staff preserve the citation by downloading a copy of the site’s page and filing it as an attachment to the judicial opinion in the Judiciary’s Case Management/Electronic Case Files System. The attachment, like the opinion, would be retrievable on a non-fee basis through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records system."
News release: "In the 12-month period ending June 30, 2009, there were 1,306,315 bankruptcy cases filed, according to statistics released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. That is a 35 percent increase compared to filings for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2008, when cases totaled 967,831."
WSJ: Justice O'Connor's continuing judicial work [as a substitute judge, Justice O'Connor has heard nearly 80 cases and written more than a dozen opinions] comes in addition to many other activities, from ceremonial functions -- such as serving as grand marshal of the Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., and as chancellor of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va. -- to serious assignments, including the Iraq Study Group that proposed an exit strategy for U.S. forces and panels reviewing policy for the national parks, the U.S. position toward the International Criminal Court and ways to promote research into Alzheimer's disease, which afflicts her husband, John. Justice O'Connor also lectures at law schools, dedicated her old Arizona home as a new center called the O'Connor House for Public Discourse and spearheaded Georgetown Law School's Sandra Day O'Connor Project on the State of the Judiciary. She's written a children's book and pioneered a Web site intended to teach youngsters about the judiciary..."
New York Times: "Justice Sonia Sotomayor took the judicial oath on Aug. 8, 2009, becoming the first Hispanic and third woman to serve on the Supreme Court in United States history."
As reported in the Concorde Monitor (New Hampshire), Justice Souter's longtime neighbor said "Souter told him one of the reasons he decided to move was because his Weare house wasn't structurally sound enough to hold the thousands of books that make up his library."
Joel Zand, FindLaw: "A panel of three federal judges ordered the State of California to reduce its inmate population because of prison overcrowding, resulting in the release of approximately 43,000 prisoners during the next two years so that the state's prisons can operate at 137.5% of their design capacity. In a 184-page opinion, the panel ordered California to provide an inmate reduction plan within 45 days to carry out the court's directive "in no more than two years."
"The federal Judiciary's Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system has reached the one million mark in number of subscribers who have registered since 1991. The system allows users to obtain federal court case and docket information via the Internet."
Overview of Statutory Mandatory Minimum Sentencing: "The Commission has identified at least 171 individual mandatory minimum provisions currently in the federal criminal statutes. In the Commission’s fiscal year 2008 datafile, there were 31,239 counts of conviction that carried a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment.3 Because an offender may be sentenced for multiple counts of conviction that carry mandatory minimum penalties, these 31,239 counts of conviction exceed the total number of offenders (21,023 offenders, as reported below) who were convicted of statutes carrying such penalties. Of these 31,239 counts of conviction, the overwhelming majority (90.7%) were for drug offenses (24,789 counts of conviction, or 79.4%) and firearms offenses (3,527 counts of conviction, or 11.3%)."
"Very timely Justice Department data obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) show that immigration enforcement under the Obama Administration is returning to the unusually high levels that were reached under President Bush. The clearest sign of the administration's current immigration enforcement policy emerged from the monthly growth in such prosecutions -- up from 6,562 in January when the president came into office to 9,037 in April. But the government's initial decision to step up immigration prosecutions goes back to FY 2004 with the launching of a program called "Operation Streamline." While the monthly number of prosecutions varied during President Bush's second term, it hit an all time high of 11,454 in September of 2008. The latest data is here."
Follow up to previous postings on US Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, from today's Senate Judiciary Committee nomination hearing:
A Guide to the Preservation of Federal Judges’ Papers, Second Edition, Federal Judicial History Office, Federal Judicial Center 2009
New York Times: The Place of Women on the Court, interview with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
CRS - Judge Sonia Sotomayor: Analysis of Selected Opinions, June 19, 2009: "In May 2009, Supreme Court Justice David Souter announced his intention to retire from the Supreme Court. Several weeks later, President Obama nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, to fill his seat. To fulfill its constitutional advice and consent function, the Senate will consider Judge Sotomayors extensive record compiled from years as a lawyer, prosecutor, district court judge, and appellate court judge to better understand her legal approaches and judicial philosophy. This report provides an analysis of selected opinions authored by Judge Sotomayor during her tenure as a judge on the Second Circuit. Discussions of the selected opinions are grouped according to various topics of legal significance. As a group, the opinions belie easy categorization along any ideological spectrum. However, it is possible to draw some conclusions regarding Judge Sotomayors judicial approach, both within some specific issue areas and in general. Perhaps the most consistent characteristic of Judge Sotomayors approach as an appellate judge has been an adherence to the doctrine of stare decisis, i.e., the upholding of past judicial precedents. Other characteristics appear to include what many would describe as a careful application of particular facts at issue in a case and a dislike for situations in which the court might be seen as oversteping its judicial role. It is difficult to determine the extent to which Judge Sotomayors style as a judge on the Second Circuit would predict her style should she become a Supreme Court justice. However, as has been the case historically with other nominees, some of her approaches may be enduring characteristics."
New York Times DealBook: "A federal judge late on Sunday approved a plan by General Motors to sell its best assets to a new, government-backed company, a crucial step for the automaker to restructure and complete its trip through bankruptcy court. The decision by the judge, Robert E. Gerber, of Federal Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, came after three days of hearings to address the 850 objections to the restructuring plan and after he received a revised sale order from G.M.’s lawyers. In his 95-page opinion, Judge Gerber wrote that he agreed with G.M.’s main contention: that the asset sale was needed to preserve its business, in the face of steep losses and government financing that is slated to run out by the end of the week."
A Guide to the Preservation of Federal Judge' Papers, Second Edition
Federal Judicial History Office, 2009, 89 pages (Forthcoming)
U.S. Courts: "Bankruptcy filings for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2009, were up 33.3 percent over bankruptcy filings for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2008, according to statistics released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. March 2009 bankruptcy filings totaled 1,202,503, compared to the total 901,927 bankruptcy cases filed in the 12-month period ending March 31, 2008. The largest percentage increase occurred in Chapter 11 filings, a 69.1 percent increase over March 2008 Chapter 11 filings."
"The American Civil Liberties Union today released a report summarizing the civil liberties and civil rights record of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who was nominated by President Obama to replace retiring Justice David Souter as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The report was prepared in accordance with ACLU policy, and will be made available to the public and members of the Senate. The ACLU does not endorse or oppose candidates for elective or appointive office."
"In cases where the DEA is the lead investigative agency, there are significant geographic variations in the rates at which individuals convicted of criminal offenses get sent to prison. According to Justice Department data obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse and just published on TRAC's DEA website, in the Northern District of West Virgina (Wheeling) 65.6% of convictions in such cases resulted in prison terms in 2008. In New York West (Buffalo) the rate was 71.1%. On the other hand, in nine districts fully 100% of all convictions in such cases resulted in prison terms. These were: Alabama Middle (Montgomery), Illinois South (East St. Louis), Illinois Central (Springfield), Michigan West (Grand Rapids), Nebraska (Omaha), North Dakota (Fargo), Oklahoma East (Muskogee), Rhode Island (Providence) and Wisconsin West (Madison). Nationally, the rate was 94.6%...For district-by-district DEA enforcement information go here and click on "District Enforcement." There you'll find data on DEA referrals, charges, convictions, prison sentences and much more, for specific districts and the U.S. as a whole."
Follow up to previous postings on GM bankruptcy: "The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York is pleased to announce a pilot project to make digital audio recordings of court proceedings relating to Chrysler LLC, 09-50002, and General Motors Corporation, 09-50026, publicly available online. The audio files are accessible through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. Registration for PACER access may be obtained at www.pacer.psc.uscourts.gov"
Federal Justice Statistics, 2006 - Statistical Tables, 5/09: "Describes criminal case processing in the federal justice system, including arrest and booking through sentencing and corrections. These statistical tables present the number of suspects arrested and booked by the U.S. Marshals Service, suspects in matters investigated and prosecuted by U.S. attorneys, defendants adjudicated and sentenced in U.S. district court, and characteristics of federal prisoners and offenders under federal supervision."
"After several months of declines since reaching all-time highs in September, new immigration prosecutions in February were up 22% from the previous month. According to timely case-by-case data obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), these 8,179 cases represent an increase of about 90% from a year ago, and 250% from February 2004. While immigration cases still account for more than half (53%) of all new federal prosecutions, new filings rose in nearly every other category as well, including drugs (up 49%), weapons (up 19%), white collar crime (up 24%) and government regulation (up 42%). Overall, new criminal cases are at the second-highest level recorded, up 27% from January and up 39% from a year ago."
Law Library of Congress: Supreme Court Nominations - Sonia Sotomayor
New York Times: "President Obama announced on Tuesday that he will nominate the federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court, choosing a daughter of Puerto Rican parents raised in Bronx public housing projects to become the nation’s first Hispanic justice."
Inquiring Minds Want to Know: Do Justices Tip Their Hands with Questions at Oral Argument in the U.S. Supreme Court? Timothy R. Johnson, University of Minnesota; Ryan C. Black, Washington University, St. Louis - Department of Political Science; Washington University, St. Louis - Center for Empirical Research in the Law; Jerry Goldman; Sarah Treul - Washington University Journal of Law & Policy, Vol. 29, 2009
In interview, retired justice says a woman should be the choice, Tony Mauro, The National Law Journal
Follow up to previous postings on missing White House emails during Bush administrations, today's news release: "Today, in Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) v. Office of Administration, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued an opinion upholding the district court's conclusion that the Office of Administration (OA) is not an agency and therefore is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). CREW brought this lawsuit under the FOIA to uncover documents related to OA's response to the discovery that millions of emails had gone missing from White House servers. Although OA had a history of responding to FOIA requests – in fact the office’s own website included regulations for filing FOIA requests with OA – after CREW sued OA suddenly claimed it was not an agency and was not required to produce any of the requested documents. The district court sided with the Bush administration, finding that OA was not an agency because it performed only administrative support functions and did not exercise substantial independent authority. In today's ruling, the D.C. Circuit agreed with that decision."
Criminal Justice Reform Resources 2008-2009: Ken Strutin's guide focuses on select current reports, surveys, legislative proposals and scholarship regarding criminal justice reform. It is only a small sampling of the increasing volume of publications on vital matters of interest to criminal practitioners and the public. Therefore, only a few themes are covered: criminal justice, discovery, forensics, juvenile justice, prosecutorial misconduct, public defense, sentencing and wrongful conviction.
"The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York is pleased to announce a pilot project to make digital audio recordings of court proceedings relating to Chrysler LLC, 09-50002, publicly available online. The audio files are accessible through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. Registration for PACER access may be obtained at www.pacer.psc.uscourts.gov."
Follow up to May 14, 2009 posting, FTC Files Suit to Stop Illegal Robocalls Pushing Vehicle “Warranty Extensions" - "Today Judge John F. Grady of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois issued a temporary restraining order stopping telemarketing company Voice Touch, Inc., its principals James and Maureen Dunne, its business partner Network Foundations LLC, and Network Foundations principal Damian Kohlfeld from making any further calls in violation of the Do Not Call Registry and other provisions of the Telemarketing Sales Rule and the FTC Act. The FTC filed the case yesterday, charging that the defendants were operating a massive telemarketing scheme that used random, pre-recorded phone calls to deceive consumers into thinking that their vehicle’s warranty is about to expire."
A Current Glance at Women in the Law 2008 - Women in the Legal Profession, American Bar Association Market Research Department.
News release: "Chrysler LLC today announced that, as a result of the comprehensive restructuring plan agreed to by many of its stakeholders, it has reached an agreement in principle to establish a global strategic alliance with Fiat SpA to form a vibrant new company. It will allow Chrysler and Fiat to fully optimize their respective manufacturing footprints and the global supplier base, while providing each with access to additional markets. Fiat powertrains and components will also be produced at Chrysler manufacturing sites."
"A total of 1,891 applications to federal and state judges for orders authorizing the interception of wire, oral or electronic communications were reported in 2008. No applications were denied. This is a 14 percent decrease in the total of applications reported, compared to 2007. Fewer states—22 states compared to 24 in 2007—reported wiretap activity and the number of applications approved by state judges, 1,505, was down 14 percent from 2007. Federal judges approved 386 applications, down 16 percent from 2007. Orders for 28 wiretaps were approved for which no wiretaps actually were installed. Additional data on applications for wiretaps for the period January 1 through December 31, 2008, is available online in the 2008 Wiretap Report."
News release: "After a thorough scientific review ordered in 2007 by the U.S. Supreme Court [Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497], the Environmental Protection Agency issued a proposed finding Friday that greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare...EPA’s proposed endangerment finding is based on rigorous, peer-reviewed scientific analysis of six gases – carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride – that have been the subject of intensive analysis by scientists around the world. The science clearly shows that concentrations of these gases are at unprecedented levels as a result of human emissions, and these high levels are very likely the cause of the increase in average temperatures and other changes in our climate."
The Third Branch: "The Judicial Conference, in its continuing efforts to ensure appropriate public access to court files, has voted to make federal court sealed cases more readily apparent. The Conference, acting at its March 17 meeting, voted to have Internet lists of civil and criminal cases in district courts include a case number and generic name, such as “Sealed vs. Sealed,” for each sealed case. Such lists for each of the 94 district courts are generated by the Judiciary’s Case Management/Electronic Case Files system and are accessible through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system."
News release: "The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), has released the publication High-Priority Criminal Justice Technology Needs. This publication is a description of the research, development, evaluation, and testing process that NIJ goes through to ensure their research portfolios are aligned with the needs of the criminal justice community. The publication also summarizes the high-priority needs for the criminal justice field in the area of technology. These needs are organized into five functional areas—Protecting the Public; Ensuring Officer Safety; Confirming the Guilty and Protecting the Innocent; Improving the Efficiency of Justice; Enabling Informed Decision-Making."
News release - New Jersey Files Suit Against Executives and Directors of Lehman Brothers. Eight-count complaint charges company misrepresentations led to state losing millions on stock investments in 2008.
News release: "The Judicial Conference of the United States today adopted a revised Code of Conduct for United States Judges that will take effect July 1, 2009, the first substantial Code revision since 1992. At its biannual meeting, the Conference also voted to ask Congress to create 63 new federal judgeships — 12 in the courts of appeals (nine permanent and three temporary) and 51 in the district courts (38 permanent and 13 temporary)."
News release: "The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) today asked the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to reverse its decision withholding government organizational information on the grounds that the release would violate the privacy of individual employees. TRAC's appeal to OPM concerned a February 23 ruling by Gary A. Lukowski, the manager of OPM's Workforce Information and Planning Group, that contended the release of the requested information about how an agency is organized into units and subunits "would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." In its appeal, TRAC said it was impossible for the requested structural information to invade personal privacy because "these records contain no information about any individual." TRAC also noted that the OPM action directly contradicted President Obama's January 21 Transparency and Open Government memorandum pledging his administration to "an unprecedented level of openness."
US Courts: "Bankruptcy filings in the federal courts rose 31 percent in calendar year 2008, according to data released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The number of bankruptcies filed in the twelve-month period ending December 31, 2008, totaled 1,117,771, up from 850,912 bankruptcies filed in CY 2007. Filings have grown since CY 2006 when bankruptcy filings totaled 617,660, in the first full 12-month period after the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) took effect. An historic high in the number of bankruptcy filings was seen in calendar year 2005, when over 2 million bankruptcies were filed."
US Courts: "President George W. Bush appointed 328 persons to Article III judgeships, the third most of any president."
News release: "Explosive growth in the number of people on probation or parole has propelled the population of the American corrections system to more than 7.3 million, or 1 in every 31 U.S. adults, according to a report released today by the Pew Center on the States. The vast majority of these offenders live in the community, yet new data in the report finds that nearly 90 percent of state corrections dollars are spent on prisons. One in 31: The Long Reach of American Corrections examines the scale and cost of prison, jail, probation and parole in each of the 50 states, and provides a blueprint for states to cut both crime and spending by reallocating prison expenses to fund stronger supervision of the large number of offenders in the community."
"The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during November 2008 the government reported 16 new national internal security/terrorism prosecutions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up from 13 in the previous month. These two months' figures are the lowest recorded in this category since September 2001. The comparisons of the number of defendants charged with national internal security/terrorism-related offenses are based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys."
Timothy B. Lee: "Speaking at Princeton on Thursday, Richard Sarnoff, chairman of the Association of American Publishers, discussed the landmark settlement in the Google Book Search case. Sarnoff speculated that the agreement could effectively give Google and Amazon a "duopoly" in the online book market."
Update to February 4, 2009 posting, New and Restyled Civil and Criminal Forms Now Online, the reference has been revised to facilitate user access, see Federal Court Forms Now Categorized - A list of 56 new and restyled civil and criminal forms has been posted in a categorized listing.
"FOX Business Network has won a victory against the Treasury Department in its Freedom of Information Act request for details about the government’s bailout plan. Judge Richard J. Holwell of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York said in a decision Friday that the government is directed to comply with FOX Business’s request under the FOIA “within 30 days and to produce a Vaughn index with 45 days.”
A Rising Share: Hispanics and Federal Crime: "Sharp growth in illegal immigration and increased enforcement of immigration laws have dramatically altered the ethnic composition of offenders sentenced in federal courts. In 2007, Latinos accounted for 40% of all sentenced federal offenders - more than triple their share (13%) of the total U.S. adult population. The share of all sentenced offenders who were Latino in 2007 was up from 24% in 1991, according to an analysis of data from the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center."
News release: "The United States Securities and Exchange Commission announced that on February 9, 2009, it submitted to the Honorable Judge Louis L. Stanton, a federal judge in the Southern District of New York, the consent of Bernard L. Madoff to a proposed partial judgment imposing a permanent injunction and continuing relief previously imposed in the preliminary injunction order, entered on December 18, 2008. Madoff consented to the partial judgment without admitting or denying the allegations [$50 billion fraud] of the SEC's complaint, filed on December 11, 2008. If the partial judgment is entered by the Court, the permanent injunction will continue to restrain Madoff from violating certain antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws. Also, the proposed partial judgment would continue against Madoff the relief imposed in the December 18, 2008 Order, including the order freezing assets. The proposed partial judgment would leave the issues of the amount of disgorgement, prejudgment interest and civil penalty to be imposed against Madoff to be decided at a later time."
"A list of 56 new and restyled civil and criminal forms has been posted. A working group of judges, clerks, and staff members in the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has rewritten the forms in simple, modern English."
US Court: "New poverty guidelines for 2009, needed by persons seeking fee waivers when filing for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code, have been posted. Guidelines and Other Bankruptcy Resources."
"The Federal Judicial Caseload Statistics tables for courts of appeals, district courts, bankruptcy courts, and the federal probation system and pretrial services through March 31, 2008 are newly posted."
News release: "The Federal Trade Commission today announced that the agency returned almost $28 million to consumers this week as a result of a settlement with The Bear Stearns Companies, LLC and EMC Mortgage Corporation. Using the defendants’ records, about 86,000 consumers who had mortgage loans serviced by EMC have been mailed redress checks."
CDT news release: "The Supreme Court Wednesday dealt the final blow to the government's 10-year campaign to place onerous restrictions on Internet content. The Court declined to hear the government's appeal of lower court rulings [3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Decision in COPA February 22, 2008] that declared the Child Online Protection Act as unconstitutional. COPA passed in 1998 but was never enforced due to immediate court challenges on First Amendment grounds. Since COPA was passed there have been at least three major commissions or studies that have concluded that education and voluntary technology tools are the most effective way to protect kids online. These approaches are the ones Congress and the President should pursue to enhance Internet safety."
Follow up to previous postings on missing White House emails, today's news release: "At a hearing today concerning the risks posed by the presidential transition to the recovery of millions of missing e-mails from the Executive Office of the President (EOP) in the National Security Archive's lawsuit seeking restoration of those e-mails, the White House acknowledged that it has done little to recover e-mail files from computer workstations and nothing to collect external media storage devices that could hold e-mails. These admissions came despite the issuance of a report and recommendation in April 2008 by a federal magistrate judge calling for the White House to locate and preserve data from the workstations and external media storage devices. Earlier today the court issued an order requiring steps to be taken to secure files from individual computer workstations, memory sticks, zip drives, DVDs and CDs."
"The Federal Judicial Center has posted a monograph that offers a brief introduction to the complexity and nuance in the subject-matter jurisdiction of the U.S. Courts of Appeals, including civil and criminal appeals, extraordinary writs, and federal agency reviews."
2008 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary: "The Judiciary, including the Supreme Court, other federal courts, the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, and the Federal Judicial Center, received a total appropriation in fiscal year 2008 of $6.2 billion. That represents a mere two-tenths of 1% of the United States’ total $3 trillion budget. Two-tenths of 1%! That is all we ask for one of the three branches of government—the one charged “to guard the Constitution and the rights of individuals.” Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 78."
News release: "The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence today filed suit in federal court asking that the court strike down a last-minute Bush Administration rule change allowing concealed, loaded firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and seeks an injunction to block the rule, which is scheduled to go into effect on January 9, 2009...The rule will allow guns in rural and urban national park areas around the country, from Wyoming’s Yellowstone and California’s Yosemite to Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park, home of the Liberty Bell. The suit was filed on behalf of the Brady Campaign and its members, including school teachers in the New York and Washington, D.C. areas who are canceling or curtailing school trips to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty and the National Mall in Washington, D.C. now that the Bush Administration will be allowing guns in these national park areas."
U.S. Courts: "Bankruptcy cases filed in federal courts totaled 1,042,993 for the 12-month period ending September 30, 2008, up more than 30 percent when compared to the 801,269 filings in Fiscal Year 2007, according to statistics released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The September 2008 filings are the highest of any 12-month period since the 2006 implementation of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, when there were 1,112,542 filings in the 12-month period ending September 30, 2006."
News release: "In 2008, the Electronic Public Access (EPA) Program celebrates its own coming of age after two decades of expansion and service. Back in September 1988, the Judicial Conference authorized “an experimental program of electronic access for the public to court information in one or more district, bankruptcy, or appellate courts in which the experiment can be conducted at nominal cost.”A dozen courts signed up for the pilot Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.
It began as an electronic bulletin board system with dial-in modems. The U.S. Party/Case Index was added in 1997, allowing national searches through an index for district, bankruptcy, and appellate court cases. In 1998, PACER began moving to a web environment, so anyone with Internet access could view court cases.
From a dozen participating courts, PACER has grown to include all bankruptcy, district, and appellate courts. From 9,000 registered user accounts in 1994, PACER grew to 900,000 registered accounts by 2008. This fiscal year alone, PACER added 134,000 new users."
United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Anthrax Case Documents.
TRAC news release: "The latest available data from the Justice Department show that in August 2008 the government reported 13,566 new prosecutions. While down slightly (2.3%) from the previous month, this number is still 43% higher than a year ago. The overall growth in federal prosecutions is largely driven by continuing increases in immigration matters, which accounted for 54% of all new cases filed in August in U.S. Federal Court."
News release: In the wake of a February 2008 appeals court decision striking down weak regulations proposed by the Bush Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a new report from the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project finds that the top 50 most polluting power plants In the U.S. emitted 20 tons of the dangerous neurotoxin mercury into the nation’s air in 2007. While some of the dirtiest coal-fired power plants are reporting reductions in such pollution since 2006, the majority of the worst 50 plants actually increased their mercury emissions through 2007, the most recent period for which data is available."
"Following an EPIC complaint, a federal court has ordered CyberSpy Software to stop selling malicious computer software. In March, EPIC filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that the spyware purveyor engages in unfair and deceptive practices by: (1) promoting illegal surveillance; (2) encouraging "Trojan Horse" email attacks; and (3) failing to warn customers of the legal dangers arising from misuse of the software. The federal regulators agreed, and asked the court for a permanent injunction barring sales of CyberSpy's "stalker spyware," over the counter surveillance technology sold for individuals to spy on other individuals. The court entered a temporary restraining order on November 6, 2008. Further litigation is expected before the court rules on the government's request for a permanent ban. For more information, see EPIC's Personal Surveillance Technologies page and Domestic Violence and Privacy page."
News release: "A court ruled today that the National Security Archive may proceed with its effort to force the White House to recover millions of Bush Administration Executive Office of the President (EOP) e-mail records before the presidential transition. Rejecting the government's motion to dismiss the Archive's lawsuit, the Court ruled that the Federal Records Act permits a private plaintiff to bring suit to require the head of the EOP or the Archivist of the United States to notify Congress or ask the Attorney General to initiate action to recover destroyed or missing e-mail records...The National Security Archive originally filed its case against the Executive Office of the President and the National Archives and Records Administration to preserve and restore missing e-mail federal records in September 5, 2007. A subsequent lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has been consolidated with the Archive's lawsuit. A chronology of the litigation is available here."
Report on Federal Escape Offenses in Fiscal Years 2006 and 2007: "In response to a suggestion in a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, United States v. Chambers, 473 F.3d 724 (7th Cir. 2007), cert. granted, __ U.S. __ , 128 S. Ct. 2046 (2008), the United States Sentencing Commission undertook a data analysis of federal escape cases to inform the legal question of whether the crime of escape qualifies as a "violent felony" for purposes of 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), the Armed Career Criminal Act (the “ACCA”). This report summarizes the legal question at issue and describes the methodology and results of the analysis undertaken by the Commission."
News release: "In a striking rebuke to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Judge Gladys Kessler of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia yesterday rejected the CIA's view that it - and not journalists - has the right to determine which Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests are newsworthy. Reconsidering its earlier decision deferring to the CIA's written assurances that the agency would cease illegally denying the National Security Archive's news media status, the court ordered the CIA to treat the Archive as a representative of the news media for all of its pending and future non-commercial requests. Finding that the CIA "has twice made highly misleading representations to the Archive, as well as to [the] Court," the court explained that the CIA's position "is truly hard to take seriously" and enjoined the CIA from illegally denying the Archive's news media status."
"In EPIC v. DOJ, EPIC, the ACLU, and the National Security Archive are seeking government documents regarding the President's warrantless wiretapping program. Today, a federal court ordered the Department of Justice to provide for inspection copies of legal memos authored by government lawyers. The opinions, prepared by the Office of Legal Counsel, provided the legal basis for the President to wiretap US citizens in the United States without court approval. EPIC began the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in December 2005, after the New York Times first reported the details of the wiretap program. For more information, see EPIC's EPIC v. DOJ page. (Oct. 31)"
Fact Sheet: Major U.S. Export Enforcement Prosecutions During the Past Two Years - "...a snapshot of some of the major export and embargo-related criminal prosecutions handled by the Justice Department over the past two years, beginning in October 2006. These cases resulted from investigations by the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), the Pentagon’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), and other law enforcement agencies. This list of cases is not exhaustive and only represents select cases."
News release: "Over 14,000 plaintiff winners received monetary damages in civil trials nationwide in 2005, with less than 5 percent receiving damages exceeding $1 million, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. The BJS study is the first nationally representative measure of general civil (that is, tort, contract, and real property) bench and jury trials in state courts of general jurisdiction."
Processed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests - "The George Bush Library is in the process of updating and adding to the list of finding aids on this page" [which currently includes documents from 1998 to 2005].
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC): "The latest available data from the Justice Department show that for the first ten months of FY 2008, the federal government reported filing 151 criminal mortgage fraud cases. The DOJ has only recently created a category for tracking such cases. Because of natural court delays, however, the government said that only 37 cases of this type were completed in the same ten-month period. In the months to come, TRAC will be providing regular updates on every referral acted upon by each U.S. Attorney's Office and what the ultimate outcomes are."
TRAC news release: "...the Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday turned over to TRAC thousands of pages of agency statistics on audits of all types, including individual, corporate, partnership and S corporation audits. A strongly worded June 13, 2008 ruling issued by Judge Marsha Pechman of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington mandated that the data requested under the Freedom of Information Act be turned over to TRAC, as specified in two court orders issued against the agency in 2006. However, rather than release the information as directed by the Court, the IRS instead filed a motion for a stay pending an appeal to the Ninth Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals.
In denying this motion for a stay, Judge Pechman wrote that "Defendant has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits of its appeal, and [...] enforcement of the Court's June 13, 2008 order will not cause irreparable harm to any party or increase the burden on the IRS and does not impact the public interest."
Despite this ruling, and despite explicit instructions from the Court directing the IRS to immediately comply with the instructions set forth in the June 13, 2008 order, the IRS submitted a second motion for a stay. The denial of this second motion for a stay included the observation that the "Defendant has repeatedly defied this Court's orders" and instructed the IRS yet again to comply with the June 13, 2008 order.
Scott L. Nelson, TRAC's lead attorney in this case, detailed in an October 6 letter to the Ninth Circuit why the Court should not expedite consideration of the IRS' appeal. The next day, the IRS abandoned its request for an expedited ruling, and turned over the requested data to TRAC. The IRS has not however withdrawn its motion for a stay."
Statutory Structure and Legislative Drafting Conventions: A Primer for Judges, M. Douglass Bellis, Deputy Legislative Counsel, United States House of Representatives, Federal Judicial Center 2008
Department of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel: Enforceability of Certain Agreements Between the Department of the Treasury and the Government Sponsored Enterprises, (September 26, 2008) (added 10/02/08)
"The U.S. Sentencing Commission reports that from March 3 to August 26 of this year federal courts received 13,170 motions for sentence reductions by offenders convicted of crack cocaine crimes, and granted 9,703 of them." Report. District by District Statistics.
Follow up to previous postings on the government's domestic surveillance program, today news that "The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a lawsuit [full complaint in Jewel v. NSA] against the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies today on behalf of AT&T customers to stop the illegal, unconstitutional, and ongoing dragnet surveillance of their communications and communications records. The five individual plaintiffs are also suing President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Cheney's chief of staff David Addington, former Attorney General and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and other individuals who ordered or participated in the warrantless domestic surveillance."
News release: "The Bear Stearns Companies, LLC and its subsidiary, EMC Mortgage Corporation, have agreed to pay $28 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they engaged in unlawful practices in servicing consumers’ home mortgage loans. The companies allegedly misrepresented the amounts borrowers owed, charged unauthorized fees, such as late fees, property inspection fees, and loan modification fees, and engaged in unlawful and abusive collection practices. Under the proposed settlement they will stop the alleged illegal practices and institute a data integrity program to ensure the accuracy and completeness of consumers’ loan information."
News release: "The Department today issued a report informing consumers, businesses and policy makers about issues relating to monopolization offenses under the antitrust laws. The report, Competition and Monopoly: Single-Firm Conduct Under Section 2 of the Sherman Act, September 2008, U.S. Department of Justice (215 pages, PDF) examines whether and when specific types of single-firm conduct may or may not violate Section 2 of the Sherman Act by harming competition and consumer welfare.
The Department's report draws extensively on a series of joint hearings, involving more than 100 participants, that the Department and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held from June 2006 to May 2007 to explore in depth the antitrust treatment of single-firm conduct. The 213-page report also incorporates commentary found in scholarly literature and the jurisprudence of the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts.
Section 2 of the Sherman Act prohibits a firm from illegally acquiring or maintaining a monopoly, meaning the ability to exclude competitors and profitably raise price significantly above competitive levels for a sustained period of time. Unlike antitrust laws that prohibit anticompetitive mergers or other agreements among firms, Section 2 particularly targets single-firm conduct, such as decisions regarding whether and on what terms to sell to or buy from others. Although possessing monopoly power is not unlawful, using an improper means to seek or maintain monopoly power is unlawful where it can harm competition and consumers."
"The Justice Department and its Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) have failed to complete significant parts of their 22-point plan to improve the performance of the nation's Immigration Courts, according to a detailed analysis by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). While major shortcomings were identified, the study also found areas where the proposed changes were adopted.
Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales issued the improvement plan in 2006 in the wake of a series of federal appellate court rulings that sharply criticized the Immigration Courts. The proposed plan also followed the publication of detailed statistical studies by TRAC and others documenting extraordinary disparities in how individual immigration judges were deciding asylum matters. The studies showed that case outcomes were frequently determined more by the outlook of a particular judge than the underlying facts."
National Law Journal (subscription req'd): "The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a $1 billion damages award by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims for the government's breach of oil and gas leases held by 11 companies -- what court watchers say may be the largest single award by the claims court in its 150-year history.
Also, in a trio of cases, a three-judge panel of the Federal Circuit resolved a crucial issue largely in favor of nuclear utilities in the spent-fuel battle with the government, which is likely to boost damages awards in the 40 to 50 cases still pending."
"Two newly updated features let you trace the growth of the federal court system over more than 200 years, state by state for the district courts and by each judicial circuit for the courts of appeals."
News release: "The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged two Wall Street brokers with defrauding their customers when making more than $1 billion in unauthorized purchases of subprime-related auction rate securities...The SEC alleges that Julian Tzolov and Eric Butler misled customers into believing that auction rate securities being purchased in their accounts were backed by federally guaranteed student loans and were a safe and liquid alternative to bank deposits or money market funds. Instead, the securities that Tzolov and Butler purchased for their customers were backed by subprime mortgages, collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), and other non-student loan collateral."
ACLU news release: "A federal judge [U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York] has ordered the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) to turn over three memos that authorized the extremely harsh treatment of prisoners in CIA custody or explain by October 3 why these memos can lawfully be withheld. The American Civil Liberties Union called for the immediate release of the May 2005 OLC memos as part of its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit requesting information on the treatment and interrogation of detainees in U.S. custody overseas...In another development in the same case, the ACLU obtained Department of Defense (DOD) documents about the treatment of detainees in Iraq. The documents, from the military's Criminal Investigation Division, are from two investigations."
Bureau of Justice Statistics: "Presents 110 tables with detailed data on major variables measured by the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)."
Bureau of Justice Statistics: Civil Rights Complaints in U.S. District Courts, 1990 - 2006
U.S. Courts: "In the 12-month period ending June 30, 2008, there were 967,831 bankruptcy cases filed, according to statistics released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. That is a 28.9 percent increase compared to filings for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2007, when cases totaled 751,056. Historic data on bankruptcy filings is available on the Judiciary's website under Bankruptcy Statistics."
The Third Branch: "To protect the privacy of litigants, the Federal Rules of Practice and Procedure require that certain personal data identifiers be modified or partially redacted from federal court case files. These identifiers are Social Security numbers, dates of birth, financial account numbers, and names of minor children, and in criminal cases, also home addresses. In all cases, it is the responsibility of the attorney and the parties in the case to redact personal identifiers...
Many courts, such as the District of Arizona and the Northern District of California, have posted information to their websites on effective redaction techniques. For a look at their tips, visit their websites at: https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/cand/faq/tips/redacting.htm or http://www.azd.uscourts.gov/azd/cm-ecf.nsf/docview/files/$file/redaction.pdf"
"Judicial Facts and Figures is a set of tables containing historical caseload data primarily for the fiscal years from 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2002 through 2007. The tables include data on the U.S. Courts of Appeals, the U.S. District Courts, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts."
News release: "The Navy’s use of low frequency active sonar will remain restricted to certain military training areas of the Pacific Ocean, according to an agreement approved by a U.S. district court in San Francisco today. The comprehensive agreement between the Navy and conservation organizations follows a court injunction issued early this year against the Navy’s Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System Low Frequency Active (LFA) sonar system, which blasts vast areas of ocean with harmful levels of underwater noise. In that decision, the court agreed with a coalition of organizations, led by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), that the Navy’s proposed LFA deployment in more than 70 percent of the world’s oceans was illegal. A separate lawsuit challenging the U.S. Navy’s use of mid-frequency active sonar is currently under consideration in the U.S. Supreme Court."
As part of its ongoing mission, the United States Sentencing Commission provides Congress, the judiciary, the executive branch, and the general public with data extracted and analyzed from sentencing documents submitted by courts to the Commission. Data is reported on an annual basis in the Commission’s Annual Report and Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics. The Commission also reports preliminary data for an on-going fiscal year in order to provide real-time analysis of sentencing practices in the federal courts...This report is another in the Commission's efforts to provide analysis of federal sentencing practices. It provides data concerning recent court decisions considering motions to reduce the length of imprisonment for certain offenders convicted prior to November 1, 2007 of offenses involving crack cocaine."
"As personal information becomes more widely available on blogs, MySpace, Facebook and other social networking Web sites, the Internet has become an important tool for jury consultants and trial lawyers. Such sites are a treasure trove of information about potential and seated jurors that can be used in picking the right jurors, bouncing potential jurors and even influencing jurors during trial and in closing arguments. Jury consultants have begun turning to private investigators, some of whom have started niche businesses offering Internet jury research and "personality profiling" of jurors." [National Law Journal, August 11, 2008 - subscription req'd]
Human Rights Watch - Courting History - The Landmark International Criminal Court’s First Years, July 2008: "This 244-page report examines the ICC’s accomplishments and shortcomings since it began operations in 2003. The court was created to bring justice to the victims of gross human rights violations; so far the court has issued arrest warrants against suspects in four countries, though none have yet been tried."
"In a July 31 amicus brief filed in a federal court in Pennsylvania, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, joined by CDT, ACLU and the ACLU of Pennsylvania, argued that cell phone location information is protected by the Fourth Amendment. The brief argues that a court should require the government to obtain a warrant based on probable cause in order to gain access to cell site location information stored by a cell phone company."
Press release: "As the Department indicated last week and has been widely reported, substantial progress has been made in the Amerithrax investigation in recent years. As you know, this investigation into the worst act of bioterrorism in U.S. history has been one of the largest and most complex ever conducted by the FBI. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service has also made an extraordinary contribution to this investigation. Over the past seven years, hundreds of thousands of agent-hours have been dedicated to solving this crime.
Ordinarily, we do not publicly disclose evidence against a suspect who has not been charged, in part because of the presumption of innocence. But because of the extraordinary and justified public interest in this investigation, as well as the significant public attention resulting from the death of Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins last week, today we are compelled to take the extraordinary step of providing first, the victims and their families, as well as Congress, and the American public with an overview of some recent developments as well as some of our conclusions.
Earlier today, several search warrant affidavits were unsealed in federal court in the District of Columbia. Among other things, these search warrants confirm that the government was investigating Dr. Ivins in connection with the attacks, which killed five individuals and injured 17 others in 2001. Dr. Ivins was a resident of Frederick, Maryland, and a long-time anthrax researcher who worked at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, known as USAMRIID. Dr. Ivins died of an overdose on July 29, 2008, and, at the time of his death, was the sole suspect in the case."
DOJ press release: "United States Senator Theodore F. Stevens of Alaska was charged today in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia with seven counts of making false statements related to Stevens’ financial disclosure forms, Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich of the Criminal Division announced.
The seven-count indictment charges Sen. Stevens, the former chairperson of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, with engaging in a nearly eight-year scheme to conceal his receipt of more than $250,000 in things of value from VECO Corporation, formerly a multi-national oil services company based in Alaska, and Bill J. Allen, the Chief Executive Officer of VECO at the time. According to the indictment, Stevens concealed these things of value from his publicly filed United States Senate financial disclosure forms. The things of value that Stevens allegedly received included: substantial home improvements to property Stevens owns in Girdwood, Alaska; automobile exchanges in which Stevens received new vehicles worth far more than the used vehicles Stevens provided in exchange; and household goods. The indictment also alleges that Sen. Stevens, during the same time that he was concealing his continuing receipt of these things of value from VECO and Allen, received solicitations for official actions from Allen and other VECO employees, and that Sen. Stevens used his position and office on behalf of VECO during that same time period."
Blume, John H., Johnson, Sheri Lynn and Sundby, Scott E.,Competent Capital Representation: The Necessity of Knowing and Heeding What Jurors Tell Us About Mitigation. Hofstra Law Review, Vol. 36, No. 3, 2008
"This article appears in the Hofstra Law Review symposium issue on the Supplementary Guidelines for the Mitigation Function of Defense Teams in Death Penalty cases. The complete text of the issue, which also contains the Guidelines themselves, is available online at www.law.hofstra.edu/DeathPenalty
Capital defense counsel have a duty at every stage of the case to take advantage of all appropriate opportunities to argue why death is not a suitable punishment for their particular client. But that duty can hardly be discharged effectively if the arguments are made in ignorance of available information concerning how persuasive they are likely to be to their audience.
Heeding that simple proposition we present lessons from the work of the Capital Jury Project, an ongoing empirical research effort built upon extended interviews with people who have actually sat on capital juries. We find that the standards for mitigation investigations contained in the ABA's Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases reprinted in 31 Hofstra L. Rev. 913 (2003) and in the Supplementary Guidelines that are the subject of this issue are on firm empirical ground, both in their specific aspects and in their overall approach of encouraging counsel to be creative in building a coherent mitigation theory that is advanced consistently throughout the proceedings.
We then describe particular defense themes and approaches that Project data show are likely to resonate favorably with jurors as well as the most potent prosecution arguments for death and how they might be most effectively rebutted. We conclude by describing the current research findings on the demographic and attitudinal characteristics of those jurors most likely to vote for life, and offering pointers on how to best ameliorate the scandalous but well-documented reality that many jurors simply do not understand the task they are being called upon to perform."
"The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld a lower court ruling striking down the controversial Child Online Protection Act (COPA) that required Web operators to restrict access to large amounts of constitutionally protected speech. COPA placed severe restrictions on a wide range of legal, socially valuable speech, including content relating to sexual identity, health and art. CDT, which has filed friend-of-the-court briefs opposing COPA and supporting parental empowerment technology, applauds the ruling. July 22, 2008.
US Courts: "The first annual report to Congress containing new bankruptcy statistics mandated by the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 was filed by the Administrative Office in advance of the July 1, 2008 deadline.
The 2005 law requires bankruptcy courts to collect statistics on debtors who meet certain criteria. The Judiciary data systems in place when the law was enacted could not capture all the required information. Consequently, a whole new system and software had to be built, and the Judiciary began collecting the mandated data on October 17, 2006."
Ruling Invalidates an FCC Decision and Fine in Connection With an Incident During the Halftime Show of the 2004 Super Bowl, Filed 07/21/08, No. 06-3575 CBS Corporation v. FCC Agency (102 pages, PDF)
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse: "New reports on the nation's 200-plus immigration judges are now available. The reports, covering how the judges decided asylum matters in the FY 2002 to FY 2007 period, are based on tens of thousands of very detailed records obtained and analyzed by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act. The source was the Executive Office for Immigration Review, an agency within the Justice Department. The reports provide biographic information about the judges, breakdowns on the proportion
of asylum matters they decline, and how their records compare with other judges in the base city and for the nation as a whole. Also available are data on the nationality of those requesting asylum and the percent who were represented by counsel."
EPIC: "Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in NAACP v. Alabama, one of the most important privacy cases of the last century. Professor Anita L. Allen, a leading privacy scholar, author of many books and articles, and a member of the EPIC Board of Directors, wrote an essay to celebrate the anniversary of the decision."
The Third Branch: "In a pilot project that began last August, five federal courts are docketing some digital audio recordings to Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) systems to make the audio files available in the same way written files have long been available on the Internet. The three other courts are the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Maine, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Alabama.
In each court, the extent of accessibility is determined by individual judges, and not every judge in the five pilot courts is participating. “This is a judge-driven experiment,” said Mary Stickney of the Administrative Office’s Electronic Public Access Program Office. “Because providing digital audio recordings online is done as a convenience for lawyers and the public, each judge has total discretion to decide which proceedings get posted.”
The audio files are accessible through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. Some 840,000 subscribers use PACER to access docket and case information from federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts."
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse [TRAC] Report: "Federal immigration prosecutions in March 2008 continued their recent and highly unusual surge, apparently reaching an all-time high, according to timely data from the Justice Department. The total of 9,350 such prosecutions was up by almost 50% from the previous month and 73% from the previous year.
The dramatic changes in the number of defendants charged with immigration-related charges are based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for United states Attorneys."
Follow up - related postings on missing White House emails, today's news: News release: "Today, D.C. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued an opinion in CREW v. Office of Administration, finding that the Office of Administration (OA) is not an agency subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In May 2007, CREW sued OA for records regarding missing White House e-mail and the office’s assessment of the scope of the problem. After initially agreeing to provide records, OA changed course and claimed it was not an agency and, therefore, had no obligation to comply with the FOIA. OA made this claim despite the fact that even the White House’s own website described OA as an agency and included regulations for processing FOIA requests."
SCOTUSblog: "The opinion by Justice Kennedy in Boumediene v. Bush (06-1195) and Al-Odah v. United States (06-1196) is available here. Justice Souter issued a concurring opinion joined by Justices Ginsburg and Breyer. The Chief Justice wrote a dissent joined by Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito. Justice Scalia filed a dissent, joined by the Chief Justice and Justics Thomas and Alito."
The Crime Victims’ Rights Act of 2004 and the Federal Courts, Jefri Wood
Federal Judicial Center, June 2, 2008. "A newly published paper available on the Federal Judicial Center's web site provides an overview of key provisions of the Crime Victims' Rights Act."
"States that employ sentencing guidelines, a reform effort that encourages judges to take specific legally relevant elements into account during the sentencing process, are found to have more predictability, reduced discrimination, and increased transparency in sentencing, according to a study released [May 22, 2008] by the National Center for State Courts.
U.S. Courts: "Bankruptcy filings in the federal courts for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2008, exceeded 900,000, according to statistics released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The 901,927 bankruptcy cases filed represent a 30 percent increase over the 695,575 cases filed in the 12-month period ending March 31, 2007."
The Art of Written Persuasion: The Rise of Written Persuasion - In this column, Troy Simpson writes on persuading judges in writing. This first article in the series surveys the history of written advocacy in three jurisdictions — England and Wales, Australia, and America - to show why good written advocacy is vital to the modern lawyer.
News release: "The Federal Trade Commission has put a permanent halt to an operation that allegedly obtained consumers’ confidential phone records without their knowledge or consent and sold them to third parties. The defendants are barred from obtaining consumers’ telephone records without their consent and court orders impose judgments on the defendants totaling more than $600,000 – the estimated amount of their ill-gotten gains.
Linda Greenhouse, New York Times: "The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that employees are protected from retaliation when they complain about discrimination in the workplace, adopting a broad interpretation of workers’ rights under two federal civil rights laws. By decisions of 7 to 2 in one case and 6 to 3 in the other, the court found that the two statutes afford protection from retaliation even though Congress did not explicitly say so."
Follow up to previous postings on retroactivity for sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine, from The Third Branch: "Federal district courts generally are coping well with the sudden increase in their workloads that occurred March 3, when a retroactive reduction in penalties for crack cocaine offenders took effect and more than 21,000 inmates became eligible for shorter prison sentences. Three weeks after the Sentencing Guidelines amendment took effect, the sentences of more than 3,000 inmates nationwide had been reduced. More than 1,000 inmates had been ordered released immediately."
Follow up to previous postings on tainted pet food recalls see
"U.S. D.C. Cir., May 20, 2008 - In a 2-1 majority opinion, a federal appeals court ruled that the U.S. Treasury Department's continued use of paper money discriminates against blind users by denying them meaningful access to currency, as well as "facially reasonable accommodations that are feasible and efficacious," which would enable non-sighted users access to it." [FindLaw]
"EPIC filed a "friend of the court" brief (pdf) in the United States Supreme Court, urging the Justices to ensure the accuracy of police databases. The brief was filed on behalf of 27 legal scholars and technical experts and 13 privacy and civil liberty groups. In Herring v. US, the Court will be asked to determine whether an arrest based on inaccurate information in a criminal justice database should be upheld. EPIC explained how government databases are becoming increasingly unreliable, according to the government's own studies and urged the Court to “ensure an accuracy obligation on law enforcement agents who rely on criminal justice information systems.” The amici warned that, “to permit a good faith reliance on data that is inaccurate, incomplete, or out of date will actually exacerbate the problem and increase the likelihood of unfair treatment in the criminal justice system.” See EPIC page on Herring v. US
US Courts news release: "In fiscal year 2007, it cost $24,922 to keep someone incarcerated in a Federal Bureau of Prisons facility for 12 months, and $22,871 to keep an inmate incarcerated in a community correction center.
For the same 12-month period ending September 30, 2007, it cost $3,621.64 for a federal offender to be supervised by probation officers.
Those figures translate in daily costs of $68.28 for a Bureau of Prisons facility, $62.66 for a community correction center, and $9.92 for supervised release.
For criminal defendants who had not yet been tried, the daily cost of pretrial detention services was $64.40 and the cost of supervision by pretrial services officers was $5.85."
"The fiscal year 2008 update to the Long Range Plan for Information Technology in the Federal Judiciary articulates five-year directions and objectives for the judiciary’s information technology program. The plan presents the program in terms of five fundamental areas: external participants, court operations, judges and chambers, probation and pretrial services, and information technology infrastructure. This represents a more aggressive effort to identify needs by various constituents. Future updates to the plan will build on this approach and incorporate additional elements."
News release: "The United States Sentencing Commission announced today the formation of a standing advisory group to provide the Commission insight and advice on the operation of the federal sentencing guidelines from the perspective of victims of federal crime. The initial Victims Advisory Group (“VAG”) will be composed of six members representing the spectrum of interest groups and organizations interested in victims’ issues at the federal level."
US Courts: "An interim report on the impact of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 notes a 72 percent increase in class action cases for comparable periods in 2001 and 2007 in 88 federal district courts. Due later this year is a report on the act's impact on judicial activity and resources needed to manage and resolve class actions."
News release: "Bankruptcy filings in the federal courts rose 38 percent in calendar year 2007, according to data released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The number of bankruptcies filed in the twelve-month period ending December 31, 2007, totaled 850,912, up from 617,660 bankruptcies filed in calendar year 2006. Filings rebounded from a 70 percent drop in calendar year 2006, which was the first full 12-month period after the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) took effect."
"A new publication from the Federal Judicial Center discusses methods federal judges have employed to meet the challenges posed by cases related to terrorism."
The Sunshine in Litigation Act: Does Court Secrecy Undermine Public Health and Safety? Senate Judiciary Committee, S. HRG. 110–263 [248 pages, PDF]. Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 110th Congress, 1st Session, December 11, 2007. [via FAS]
"February 2008 Preliminary Post-Kimbrough/Gall Data Report: A set of tables presenting preliminary data on fiscal year 2008 cases sentenced on or after December 10, 2008. The numbers are prepared using data received, coded, and edited by the Commission by February 21, 2008."
In Series of Videos, Supreme Court Justices Make Their Case - Justices' candid observations and pet peeves spill forth in legal writing guru Bryan Garner's video interviews. Legal Times, Tony Mauro
March 11, 2008.
PR Newswire: "Just two days after a new Washington Post national poll found that 59 percent of the American public supports restrictions identical to Washington, DC's gun laws -- which ban handgun possession and require that legally possessed rifles and shotguns be either disassembled or secured with a trigger lock -- the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled tomorrow to hear oral arguments in a case challenging DC's handgun ban, District of Columbia v. Heller. Reiterating the findings contained in its amicus brief filed in the case, the Violence Policy Center (VPC) warned that increasingly lethal handguns being marketed by the gun industry -- ranging from high-capacity semiautomatic handguns to next-generation assault pistols based on AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles -- make the handgun ban today even more of a necessity to protect first responders and citizens in the nation's capital than when it was first enacted in 1976."
"On Tuesday, March 18, 2008, C-SPAN will air the Supreme Court oral argument of District of Columbia v. Heller which the Court is scheduled to hear that day. The immediate release of the audio recording of the Court's argument was in response to a request by C-SPAN (Release time is approximately 11:15 A.M.). The Court will make the recording available to the media soon after the conclusion of the oral argument. The oral argument will air on C-SPAN, and C-SPAN Radio as soon as it is released. The audio recording will also be archived online at www.c-span.org on the “America and the Courts” page."
News release: "The federal courts are well-positioned to address an anticipated increase in immigration-related workload and other challenges facing the Judiciary, thanks to Congressional funding, representatives of the Judicial Conference today told House and Senate appropriations subcommittees. If the Judiciary is to maintain staffing levels in the courts and initiate several program enhancements, however, a 7.6 percent increase over fiscal year 2008 enacted appropriations is needed in fiscal year 2009. The Judiciary seeks $6.72 billion for fiscal year 2009, $4.97 billion of which would fund the courts' Salaries and Expenses account."
News release: "The Judicial Conference of the United States today approved the first-ever binding, nationwide set of rules for handling conduct and disability complaints against federal judges, bringing consistency and rigor to the process."
News release: "For fiscal year 2007, total case filings in the U.S. district courts remained stable, bankruptcy filings grew steadily throughout the year, and persons under post-conviction supervision increased 2 percent. In the same 12-month period ending September 30, 2007, appeals declined 12 percent. These and other statistics on the federal Judiciary for fiscal year 2007 were released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and are available online: 2007 Judicial Caseload Indicators and 2007 Judicial Business."
Follow up to previous postings on the U.S. Attorney firings, this news release today - "the U.S. House of Representatives General Counsel filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of the House Judiciary Committee to enforce subpoenas issued by the committee seeking information on the U.S. Attorney firings. The defendants in the case are former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten who were cited by the House for contempt of Congress last month. Last week, the Justice Department refused to present the House-passed contempt citations to a grand jury, contrary to federal law. Based on the House resolution that also found Bolten and Miers in comtempt, the committee is now filing the civil lawsuit to enforce the subpoenas."
News release: "The Committee on Codes of Conduct of the Judicial Conference of the United States seeks public comments on proposed revisions to the Code of Conduct for United States Judges. The proposed revisions are based in large part on revisions adopted by the American Bar Association in February 2007, amending the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct. The proposed revised Code of Conduct for United States Judges is on-line in two versions: proposed new Code of Conduct in its entirety, and the revisions proposed to the current Code of Conduct."
The Third Branch: "Fiscal year 2008 funding for the Judiciary was rolled up with 10 other appropriations bills and passed by Congress on December 19, 2007, as the 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act. The President signed the bill into law the day after Christmas. The Judiciary received $6.246 billion in FY 2008, a 4.5 percent increase over FY 2007."
Pew Press Release: "For the first time in history more than one in every 100 adults in America are in jail or prison—a fact that significantly impacts state budgets without delivering a clear return on public safety. According to a new report released today by the Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project, at the start of 2008, 2,319,258 adults were held in American prisons or jails, or one in every 99.1 men and women, according to the study. During 2007, the prison population rose by more than 25,000 inmates. In addition to detailing state and regional prison growth rates, Pew’s report, One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008, identifies how corrections spending compares to other state investments, why it has increased, and what some states are doing to limit growth in both prison populations and costs while maintaining public safety."
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: Good Practices for the Protection of Witnesses in Criminal Proceedings Involving Organized Crime, January 2008.
Hearing on Cracked Justice – Addressing the Unfairness in Cocaine Sentencing, House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, February 26, 2008.
Follow up to December 11, 2007 posting Retroactivity Approved for Crack Cocaine Guideline, from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts : "As of March 3, 2008, more than 21,000 inmates serving time for federal crimes involving crack cocaine will be eligible to have their sentences reduced. Federal courts already are preparing to rule on requests from inmates, some imprisoned since 1992...The USSC, an independent agency within the federal Judiciary, amended the Guidelines to lower the base offense level for crack cocaine by two levels. For example, the penalty for a first-time offender found with 10 grams of crack would be reduced by two levels, from a range of 63—78 months in prison to a range of 51—63 months."
Statement of FCC Commissioner Copps in Response to the D.C. Circuit's Decision Vacating the FCC's Denial and Dismissal of the Gulf Coast Migratory Birds Petition: "For years, I have been disappointed with the FCC’s failure to get serious about its environmental responsibilities. Now the D.C. Circuit has affirmed something this agency should have acknowledged a long time ago: that the National Environmental Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act require the FCC to take a hard look at the effects of communications towers on migratory birds."
Diversity and Ethnic Fairness in the Jury System, Cheryl Thomas
with Nigel Balmer, Ministry of Justice, June 2007.
FindLaw: U.S. v. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, et al. (Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Feb. 11, 2008) - "The U.S. Department of Defense announced that six high-value detainees held in Guantanamo Bay were charged, under the Military Commissions Act, with planning and executing the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Specific charges include violations of the laws of war, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, destroying of property in violation of the laws of war, terrorism, and material support to terrorism."
Press release: "Tai Shen Kuo, age 58, and Yu Xin Kang, age 33, both of New Orleans, Louisiana, and Gregg William Bergersen, age 51, of Alexandria, Virginia, were arrested today on espionage charges related to the passage of classified U.S. government documents and information to the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Both Kuo and Kang were charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to disclose national defense information to a foreign government, in violation of 18 U.S.C., Section 794(a) and (c). Bergersen was charged in a separate complaint with conspiracy to disclose national defense information to persons not entitled to receive it, in violation of 18 U.S.C., Section 793(d) and (g)."
Federal Court Management Statistics-2007: "Fiscal year 2007 statistical profiles for each U.S. court of appeals and U.S. district court – plus national totals for the appellate and district courts – are available online."
Press release: "More than 15 years after Congress required the federal government to set up a national database to allow car buyers to determine whether a vehicle has been stolen or rebuilt after a wreck, the system is still not in place, three consumers groups said Wednesday in a lawsuit filed against the Department of Justice (DOJ). Public Citizen, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS) and Consumer Action sued in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The groups want the court to order the DOJ to move forward with creation of the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System...The database would help consumers avoid purchasing a potentially dangerous used car by allowing them to instantly check the validity of a car’s title and mileage and learn whether it had been stolen or was a junk or salvage vehicle. A salvage vehicle is one that was totaled in collision, fire, flood or other event to the extent that its value, plus the cost of repairing it for legal operation, is more than its fair market value immediately before the event that caused the damage."
Follow up to postings on Navy sonar exercises off Southern California coast, this Natural Resources Defense Council press release: "A federal court [February 4, 2008] struck down a waiver issued by the White House purporting to exempt the U.S. Navy from complying with a bedrock environmental law during sonar training exercises off southern California. In nullifying the waiver, the court reaffirmed an injunction issued early in January, requiring the Navy to reduce harm to whales and other marine mammals from sonar training. The Navy has acknowledged that the high-intensity, mid-frequency sonar at issue can injure and kill whales and other marine mammals."
Press release: "A federal judge has barred the illegal operation of an information broker who advertised and sold confidential consumer telephone records to third parties without the consumers’ knowledge or consent. In entering summary judgment for the Federal Trade Commission, Judge William F. Downes of the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming also required the defendants to give up nearly $200,000 in ill-gotten gains derived from the consumer phone records they sold, and ordered that the individuals whose records were sold be notified."
Case No. 2:08cv00064, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and Natural Resources Defense Council, vs. Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior, United States District Court, District of Utah, Central Division, January 23, 2008.
Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, The Department of Justice's Victim Notification System, Audit Report 08-04, January 2008, Redacted for public release (142 pages, PDF).
The Courts Statistics Project (CSP) collects and analyzes data relating to the work of our nation's state courts. This website was updated on Updated on Sunday, January 20, 2008.
Follow up to previous postings on missing White House emails, today's Press release from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW): "Yesterday’s midnight filing by the White House in CREW v. Executive Office of the President, a lawsuit challenging the failure of the White House to preserve and restore millions of missing emails, raises some very troubling questions...The White House has now admitted that it does not have an effective system for storing and preserving emails. This is no mere technicality; it is this failure that led to the likely destruction of over 10 million email. What the White House has not explained is why it abandoned the electronic record-keeping system used by the prior administration -- a system that properly preserved White House email -- but did not replace it with another effective and appropriate system."
"Most federal judges come into contact with classified information infrequently, if at all, but when they do, they are faced with the dilemma of how to protect government secrets in the context of an otherwise public proceeding. This pocket guide is designed to familiarize federal judges with statutes and procedures established to help public courts protect government secrets when courts are called upon to do so. The guide provides information about the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA), information security officers, and secure storage facilities. I hope you will find this guide useful in meeting the challenge of protecting government secrets in a public forum. Barbara Jacobs Rothstein, Director, Federal Judicial Center"
National Criminal Justice Reference Service: "Many crime laboratories report high backlogs for forensic services. These backlogs can delay court proceedings and case investigation. Laboratories say they do not have the staff to complete all service requests or the budget to hire new employees. Some laboratories have recently begun addressing these challenges with efficiency techniques—called process mapping, an efficiency forum, and business process management. This NIJ In Short describes how laboratories across the country have successfully used these techniques to reduce backlogs. (NCJ 220336)"
CRS Report - How Crime in the United States Is Measured, January 3, 2008 (via FAS)
Follow up to postings on missing White House E-mail, from the National Security Archive: "In an Order issued today, Magistrate Judge Facciola of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the White House to answer questions about over 5 million missing e-mails generated between 2003-2005. Noting that the need for information the missing e-mails is "time-sensitive" because of the risk that stored copied of the e-mails "are increasingly likely to be deleted or overridden with the passage of time," the Court demanded answers in a sworn declaration by January 13, 2008 about the location of the missing e-mails."
Natural Defense Resources Council press release: "The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California issued today a preliminary injunction requiring a series of mitigation measures that will govern the use of mid-frequency (MFA) sonar by the U.S. Navy during training exercises in the rich biological waters off Southern California. In its order, the Court considered both the environmental benefits of mitigation and the feasibility of specific measures...The high-intensity MFA sonar system can blast vast areas of the oceans with dangerous levels of underwater noise and has killed marine mammals in numerous incidents around the world. The waters off Southern California have some of the richest marine habitat in the country, and include five endangered species of whales, a globally important population of blue whales, the largest animal ever to live on earth, and as many as seven individual species of beaked whales, which are known to be particularly vulnerable to underwater sound."
2007 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary, Chief Justice John Roberts, January 1, 2008.
US Courts: "A new fee schedule for certified and professionally qualified interpreters and for language skilled interpreters in federal courts takes effect January 2, 2008. Rates. More about Federal Court Interpreter Program."
A Historic Find Behind a Supreme Court Filing Cabinet: "A copy of the Declaration of Independence sat forgotten at the high court. Now it's cleaned up and on display...The copy, one of only 200 made from the 1776 original, would likely fetch $500,000 or more if sold on the open market, according to an expert dealer in historic documents." Tony Mauro, Legal Times, December 28, 2007.
Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries Blog: "We are pleased to announce the availability of all Supreme Judicial Court and Mass. Appeals Court cases from 1986-1996 at http://masscases.com. Cases are accessible by citation, case name, or through a Google custom search on the site. The collection also includes hundreds of the most-cited older Mass. cases."
Courthouse News: "The Federal Circuit renewed patent infringement claims over Google's AutoLink and AdSense programs by tossing out part of a summary judgment ruling for Hyperphrase Technologies LLC. The circuit decision is a setback for the Internet search engine and a victory for Hyperphrase, which challenged the judgment that neither program infringes any of 15 patent claims."
US Courts: "This is the latest working draft of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct and Disability Proceedings Undertaken Pursuant To 28 U.S.C. §§ 351-364 (50 pages, PDF), adopted by the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability. The draft is a substantial revision of the Rules sent out for Public Comment on July 16, 2007. It is the result of the Committee's efforts to respond to the comments received during the public comment period, including testimony and other submissions at the Public Hearing held on September 27, 2007."
Press release: "The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press asked a federal court in Manhattan [December 21, 2007] to require open access to records in the civil case over liability following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. Victims of the attacks and their families filed lawsuits against airline and security companies seeking to determine liability for their injury or losses due to the security breaches that led to the attacks. Documents filed with the court in this case were presumed open, except for a few narrow categories of records Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein deemed could be confidential, including financial and trade secrets data. However, the airline and security companies have been using the narrow protective order to assert that more than 99 percent of the tens of thousands of pages of documents they filed with the court should be covered as confidential under the order. The Reporters Committee argued in a friend-of-the-court brief that is extremely unlikely that nearly all the records contain the information required for confidentiality under the order and asked Hellerstein to require the parties to strictly adhere to the order, only limiting public access to that information allowable under the order...The brief was filed in In re September 11 Litigation, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York."
US Courts: "Filing a bankruptcy case pro se—without the assistance of an attorney—is not for the faint of heart. “Before the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA), a pro se debtor could successfully navigate filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy,” said Bankruptcy Judge S. Martin Teel, Jr. (D.D.C.). “But with the new Act and its many technical requirements, it’s really a minefield for pro se filers.” Now the Administrative Office’s Bankruptcy Judges Advisory Group (BJAG), of which Teel is a member, has developed a helpful web page for individuals who are thinking of filing a bankruptcy petition pro se." See Filing for Bankruptcy Without an Attorney.
Capital Punishment, 2006 - Statistical Tables, Tracy L. Snell, BJS Statistician: "Presents characteristics of persons under sentence of death on December 31, 2006, and of persons executed in 2006 from the NPS-8 data collection. Tables present state-by-state information on the movement of prisoners into and out of death sentence status during 2006, status of capital statutes, and methods of execution. Numerical tables also summarize data on offenders' gender, race, Hispanic origin, age at time of arrest for capital offense, legal status at time of capital offense, and time between imposition of death sentence and execution."
Press release from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington: "From its first days, this administration has tried to keep the American public in the dark about what goes on behind closed White House doors. Through a secret agreement and a letter from Vice President Cheney’s counsel, the administration had attempted to permanently hide from view records related to those who visit the White House and the vice president’s residence. Today, a federal judge has cracked open those doors by holding that these are Secret Service subject to public disclosure. As a result of CREW’s lawsuit, District of Columbia District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth has ordered the Secret Service to produce records of certain conservative leaders’ visits to the White House within 20 days."
"The National Center for State Courts has published Future Trends in State Courts 2007, the latest in its long-running “Report on Trends in the State Courts” series. This book, which is produced annually by NCSC’s Knowledge and Information Service, helps to make courts more aware of important trends in society and judicial administration that could affect court operations—and public trust and confidence in the judicial system."
Follow up to previous postings on judicial pay raises, today's Legal Times, 12-13-2007: "The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would give federal judges their first pay raise in two decades, pushing them to the fore of federal earners. The bill, passed by a 28-5 vote, also would increase the workload for senior judges, raise the retirement age for full pension and discourage retired judges from taking work in the private sector...Under the Federal Judicial Salary Restoration Act of 2007, federal district judges would earn $218,000 annually, uncoupling them from members of Congress, who make $165,200 a year. Federal appeals judges would earn $231,000; Supreme Court associate justices $267,900; and the chief justice $279,900."
Follow up to previous postings on sentencing guidelines, today's press release: "The United States Sentencing Commission unanimously voted today to give retroactive effect to a recent amendment to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines that reduces penalties for crack cocaine offenses. Retroactivity of the crack cocaine amendment will become effective on March 3, 2008. Not every crack cocaine offender will be eligible for a lower sentence under the decision. A Federal sentencing judge will make the final determination of whether an offender is eligible for a lower sentence and how much that sentence should be lowered. That determination will be made only after consideration of many factors, including the Commission’s direction to consider whether lowering the offender’s sentence would pose a danger to public safety. In addition, the overall impact is anticipated to occur incrementally over approximately 30 years, due to the limited nature of the guideline amendment and the fact that many crack cocaine offenders will still be required under Federal law to serve mandatory five- or ten-year sentences because of the amount of crack involved in their offense."
"The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has received a second set of records from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) detailing behind-the-scenes briefings for lawmakers working to make substantial changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). EFF requested release of the records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) earlier this year...Last month, a federal judge ordered ODNI to release all documents by December 10. The first batch of records, made public on November 30, detailed contentious negotiations between Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and members of Congress that resulted in the passage of the Protect America Act...The second set of records contains more correspondence between McConnell and members of Congress, as well as heavily redacted versions of classified testimony delivered to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and an FAQ detailing how the National Security Agency performs electronic surveillance. Withheld records include ODNI presentation slides used to brief Congress on foreign intelligence issues, and other classified documents."
Via Scotusblog: "The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the federal guidelines on sentencing for cocaine violations are advisory only, rejecting a lower court ruling that they are effectively mandatory. Judges must consider the Guideline range for a cocaine violation, the Court said, but may conclude that they are too harsh when considering the disparity between punishment for crack cocaine and cocaine in powder form. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the decision in Kimbrough v. U.S. (06-6330).... Ruling in a second Guidelines case, Gall v. U.S. (06-7949), the Court — also by a 7-2 vote — cleared the way for judges to impose sentences below the specified range and still have such punishment regarded as “reasonable.” The Justices, in an opinion written by Justice John Paul Stevens, told federal appeals courts to use a “deferential abuse-of-discretion standard” even when a trial sets sets a punishment below the range. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., announced the opinion in Stevens’ absence."
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse: "In August 2007, there were 62 federal prosecutions of child pornography, according to timely enforcement data from the Justice Department. Though unchanged from the previous month, filings in this category are down by about half (49.7%) from the previous year, and down 20% from five years ago. These declines follow a period of rapid growth for federal child pornography prosecutions which began after President Bush took office. For reports on the latest enforcement trends," see the following links:
Follow up to November 12, 2007 posting, U.S. Sentencing Commission Received 33,000 Letters on Retroactivity, news today that "[t]he U.S. Sentencing Commission, which in November 2007 issued new guidelines for convictions involving crack cocaine, is considering making those guidelines retroactive. The Commission estimates that 19,500 current federal prison inmates would be eligible for a reduced sentence, by an average of 27 months, if the guidelines were made retroactive."
Press release: "The U.S. adult correctional population — incarcerated or in the community — reached 7.2 million men and women, an increase of 159,500 during the year, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today in a new report. About 3.2 percent of the U.S. adult population, or 1 in every 31 adults, was in the nation’s prison or jails or on probation or parole at the end of 2006....The two reports, Prisoners in 2006 (NCJ-219416), and Probation and Parole in the United States, 2006 (NCJ-220218), were written by BJS statisticians Heather Couture, Paige M. Harrison and William J. Sabol and Thomas P. Bonczar and Lauren E. Glaze respectively."
Bureau of Justice Statistics: "Presents findings on the pretrial release phase of the criminal justice process using data collected from a representative sample of felony cases filed in the 75 largest U.S. counties in May during even-numbered years from 1990 to 2004. It includes trends on pretrial release rates and the types of release used. Pretrial release rates are compared by arrest offense, demographic characteristics, and criminal history. Characteristics of released and detained defendants are also presented. Rates of pretrial misconduct including failure to appear and rearrest are presented by type of release, demographic characteristics, and criminal history."
Press release: "Late Tuesday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) won the speedy release of telecom lobbying records from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). The agency was ordered to comply with a new December 10 deadline -- in time for the documents to play a role in the congressional debate over granting amnesty for telecommunications companies taking part in illegal electronic surveillance. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston vacates a hearing on the matter previously scheduled for Friday."
US Courts: "New rules providing privacy protection for case files posted online in the federal district, bankruptcy and appellate courts are scheduled to take effect December 1, 2007. Some of the rules represent a change in Judicial Conference policy. Meanwhile, a Judicial Conference committee is studying a related privacy issue: Whether courts should restrict Internet access to plea agreements in criminal cases, which may contain information identifying defendants who are cooperating with law enforcement investigations. The new rules were proposed by the Judicial Conference in accordance with the E-Government Act of 2002, which requires that each court make publicly available online any document filed electronically. The rules require parties to redact certain personal information from each filing. The Act required the Supreme Court to prescribe rules “to protect privacy and security concerns related to electronic filing of documents and the public availability..of documents filed electronically.” The new privacy rules include Civil Procedure Rule 5.2, Criminal Rule 49.1 and Bankruptcy Rule 9037. Appellate Rule 25 was amended to incorporate the new privacy directive. The rules can be found here."
US Courts: "Supreme Court decisions, shifting Administration priorities, new legislation, and numerous other factors caused the composition of the federal courts’ caseload to change over the past decade. Between September 30, 1997 and September 30, 2006, appeals court filings steadily climbed, district court caseloads fluctuated, and bankruptcy filings hit a record high before tumbling following the enactment of sweeping bankruptcy reform legislation. What are the identifiable caseload trends and what are the forces behind the changing nature of the federal courts’ caseload?"
U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, filed November 23. 2007, ACLU v DHS: Proposed Order Granting Defendants’ Motion to Stay Proceeding Pending New Rulemaking.
Access Case Records: "Minnesota Online District (Trial) Case Records - Minnesota District Courts offer an online case inquiry tool for statewide electronic case records, called MPA Remote, which stands for Minnesota Trial Court Public Access Remote view. MPA Remote is a public-view version of the Minnesota Court Information System (MNCIS), the computerized case management system used by Minnesota District Courts to track and manage cases. MPA Remote contains replicated public case data from MNCIS. Upon inquiry, MPA Remote displays case information for public viewing, including register of actions, calendars, judgments, and orders and notices prepared by the court."
Pretrial Release of Felony Defendants in State Courts, November 2007: "Presents findings on the pretrial release phase of the criminal justice process using data collected from a representative sample of felony cases filed in the 75 largest U.S. counties in May during even-numbered years from 1990 to 2004. It includes trends on pretrial release rates and the types of release used. Pretrial release rates are compared by arrest offense, demographic characteristics, and criminal history. Characteristics of released and detained defendants are also presented. Rates of pretrial misconduct including failure to appear and rearrest are presented by type of release, demographic characteristics, and criminal history."
US Courts: "Bankruptcy cases filed in federal courts totaled 801,269 for the 12-month period ending September 30, 2007, down 28 percent when compared to the 1,112,542 filings in Fiscal Year 2006. However, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the September 2007 filings are the highest of any previous 12-month period since September 2006."
DOJ FOIA Summaries of New Decisions, September 2007: "OIP provides these case summaries as a public service; due to their nature as summaries, they are not intended to be authoritative or complete statements of the facts or holdings of any of the cases summarized, and they should not be relied upon as such. Set out below are summaries of the court decisions that were received by OIP during the month of September 2007."
Press release: "Today, U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy granted Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington's (CREW) request for a temporary restraining order to prevent the White House from destroying back-up copies of millions of deleted emails while the lawsuit is pending. CREW brought this lawsuit against the Executive Office of the President and the National Archives and Records Administration challenging their failure to restore and preserve millions of emails deleted from White House servers and to institute an effective electronic record-keeping system. When the White House refused to give adequate assurances that it would preserve back-up copies of the deleted emails -- the only source of these important historical records [see Federal Records Act] -- CREW sought a temporary restraining order."
US Courts press release: "Free public access to federal court records is available at 16 libraries in 14 states [the list is included with this release] under a joint pilot project of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts and the Government Printing Office. The project offers free access, at the participating 16 federal depository libraries, to the federal judiciary's Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. PACER allows users to obtain case file documents, listings of all case parties, judgments, and other information from district, bankruptcy and appellate courts online, with the data immediately available for printing or downloading."
Press release: "A federal judge today ruled on a preservation motion filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), ordering that telecommunications companies must preserve any evidence of collaborating with the government in illegal spying on ordinary Americans. In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ordered the telecommunications companies to halt any routine destruction of documents or to arrange for the preservation of accurate copies. On December 14, each party must provide the court with confirmation that the court's order has been carried out. The court order did not require the government or the carriers to reveal whether or not they had any relevant evidence."
"State Court Organization, 1987-2004 presents trend data from State Court Organization data collections covering the years 1987-2004. The report examines changes in the organization and operations of the Nation’s state trial and appellate courts over this time period. Topics include the selection and educational requirements of judges, regulations of criminal and civil juries, the development of unified court systems, and adjustments in court management and staffing to address growing caseloads."
AP: "The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether Exxon Mobil Corp. should pay $2.5 billion in punitive damages in connection with the huge Exxon Valdez oil spill that fouled more than 1,200 miles of Alaskan coastline in 1989."
Follow up to previous postings on the nomination of Michael B. Mukasey to be Attorney General, today's press release provides additional documents: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Friday released written questions and correspondence submitted for the record to Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey. Consistent with standard committee practice, Senators were given a week to submit written follow-up questions to the nominee. The written queries focus on topics addressed in the two days of Judge Mukasey’s confirmation hearings -- including torture policy and the warrantless wiretapping program – as well as other subjects."
New Study Suggests Veteran Advocates Sway Supreme Court: "Research draws controversial connection between growth of the Supreme Court Bar and the Court's new pro-business tilt." Legal Times, Tony Mauro, October 22, 2007.
Follow up to October 17, 2007 posting, Court Indicates Order on Missing White House Email Forthcoming, from CREW: "Today, in CREW v. EOP, Magistrate Judge John Facciola issued a report and recommendation in which he concluded that a temporary restraining order should be issued by District Court Judge Henry Kennedy preventing the White House from destroying any back-up copies – in whatever medium - created to preserve data. CREW sought this order to ensure that back-up copies of the millions of email deleted from White House servers between March 2003 and October 2005 were preserved pending resolution of CREW's lawsuit challenging as contrary to law those deletions and the failure of the White House to have an effective electronic record-keeping system in place. The court refused to accept the last-minute proffer of the White House to provide a declaration in lieu of a court order, explaining that a declaration is not sufficient because a violation is not punishable by contempt. The White House has 10 days in which to file an objection to this recommendation, after which Judge Kennedy will issue an order."
Grand Jury Handbook, Updated October 2007 (24 pages, PDF)
US Courts: "The updated versions of the various fees for federal court filings – in appellate, district, bankruptcy courts and more – are available online."
Press release, October 4, 2007: "Two conservation organizations, the Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Restoration Network, filed a lawsuit today against Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne for failing to take into account the latest information on global warming in management decisions affecting polar bears, walrus, sea otters, and manatees. The suit, brought under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, seeks to force the federal government to issue updated stock assessment reports for protected marine mammals ranging from Florida to Alaska. Stock assessments are population estimates that include information on the range of the species and threats to its survival."
US Courts: "The Judicial Conference has expressed concerns about proposed regulations issued by the Department of Justice for states seeking to qualify for expedited federal habeas corpus review procedures in capital cases. Concerns about the certification-implementation regulations proposed June 6, 2007, were aired in an August 1 letter from the Conference to DOJ. In 1996, Congress enacted Chapter 154 of the U.S. Code’s Title 28 as part of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA). Chapter 154 provides for expedited procedures in federal capital habeas corpus cases when a state is able to establish that it has provided qualified, competent, adequately resourced, and adequately compensated counsel in state post-conviction proceedings to inmates facing a capital sentence...In its letter, the Conference urged DOJ to revise the proposed regulations to provide definitions of “standards of competency,” “competent counsel,” “compensation of appointed counsel,” and “reasonable litigation expenses.” The Conference noted that “[s]uch definitions are needed to provide guidance, criteria, or other notice of what a state must do to satisfy the statutory or regulatory requirements."
Press release, Sen. Patrick Leahy, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee: "I am glad that Judge Mukasey has now returned the Judiciary Committee’s questionnaire (85 pages) providing important information necessary to begin a complete review of his record. The Committee will conduct the thorough review necessary for this crucial nomination, which comes at such a key juncture for the Department of Justice and for the country. The next Attorney General must be someone who will begin the process of restoring the Department of Justice to its proper mission. The Committee will work to evaluate this nomination as efficiently as possible, while performing fully the Committee’s constitutional role and taking care to ensure that the next Attorney General will answer to the principles of justice and law, not to any political party."
National Security Archive press release: "A District Court in the District of Columbia has ruled that an Executive Order [13,233] issued by President George W. Bush in 2001, which severely slowed or prevented the release of historic presidential papers is, in part, invalid. In a carefully constructed decision, the court held that the Archivist of the United States acts arbitrarily, capriciously, and contrary to law by relying on the Executive Order to delay release of the records of former presidents. The court did not reach the issue of whether it was permissible for President Bush to extend the authority over disclosure of presidential papers to a former president’s heirs or to former vice presidents."
Press release: "The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is relocating its Internet Web page to its own in-house servers. As part of this process, the court's Web page address and domain name will be changed to www.cafc.uscourts.gov on October 1, 2007. The former Web page address and domain name, www.fedcir.gov, will continue to be kept active through December 31, 2007, in order to redirect users to the new address. The new domain name brings the Federal Circuit into conformance with the Web site naming convention used by the other United States Courts of Appeals. Web site authors and others who have created links to pages inside the www.fedcir.gov Web page should change the URL of those links to the new URL on October 1, 2007."
History of Federal Judgeships: U.S. Courts of Appeals and U.S. District Courts
US Courts, September 27, 2007 — Citing the Judiciary view that camera coverage can undermine the fundamental right of citizens to a fair and impartial trial, a representative of the Judicial Conference of the United States testified today against H.R. 2128, the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act of 2007. The bill was the topic of a House Judiciary Committee hearing, at which Judge John R. Tunheim, the chair of the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management, testified. Judge Tunheim is a U.S. district court judge from the District of Minnesota."
EFF: "Today, Judge Ann Aiken of the Oregon Federal District Court ruled that two provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), "50 U.S.C. §§ 1804 and 1823, as amended by the Patriot Act, are unconstitutional because they violate the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution."
U.S. Courts: "This package of First Amendment cases provides examples of the six pillars of the First Amendment considered the foundation of the Constitution. Each freedom – religion, speech, press, assembly, petition, and association – is illustrated by a high-profile case that has an impact on today's teens. These cases are presented in a way that prepares students to explore the issues in a variety of formats in a courtroom – as a civil discussion, an Oxford style debate, a Supreme Court oral argument, or a Supreme Court case conference after oral arguments."
New York Times: September 23, 2007, Meet the Supremes, by David Margolick: "But to anyone who watches the court, or watches those who watch it, Toobin’s descriptions afford something else, arguably even more interesting: the chance to ponder which of those justices talked to him for this book, and which did not. And talk to him some of them clearly did. Without their off-the-record whispers, there would be no “inside” story of any “secret” world to tell in The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court."
U.S. Courts release: "The Judicial Conference of the United States today voted to make transcripts of federal district and bankruptcy court proceedings available online through the Judiciary's Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. Under the new policy, transcripts created by court reporters or transcribers will be available for inspection and copying in a clerk of court’s office and for download from PACER 90 days after they are delivered to the clerk. Individuals will be able to view, download, or print a copy of a transcript from PACER for eight cents per page."
Press release: "The European Commission welcomes today's ruling by the Court of First Instance upholding the European Commission’s 2004 decision on Microsoft's abuse of its dominant market position and confirming the totality of the fine imposed. In this decision, Microsoft was fined €497 million for infringing the EC Treaty rules on abuse of a dominant market position (Article 82) by leveraging its near monopoly in the market for PC operating systems onto the markets for work group server operating systems and for media players (see IP/04/382 and MEMO/04/70). This conduct hindered innovation in the markets concerned to the detriment of consumers. To put an end to this abusive behaviour, the Commission ordered Microsoft to disclose interoperability information which would allow non-Microsoft work group servers to achieve full interoperability with Windows PCs and servers and to offer a version of its Windows operating system without Windows Media Player. The Court’s ruling confirms that the Commission was right to prohibit Microsoft's anti-competitive conduct which harmed competition to the detriment of consumers."
US Courts: "The success of the federal judiciary's Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) is well documented: Hundreds of millions of pages of court documents retrieved online each year by customers who numbers are approaching 750,000. Less attention, however, has focused on PACER's impact on court staffs. "It's definitely changed the way our office does business, and I think it's been a change for the better," said Monica Menier, clerk of the bankruptcy court in the Middle District of Louisiana."
Press release: "The federal Judiciary is seeking comment on the privacy and security implications related to public Internet access to certain documents in criminal case files. The Court Administration and Case Management Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States is studying these issues so the Conference can develop policy guidance for the federal courts. The committee is interested in comments on a proposal to restrict public Internet access to plea agreements in criminal cases, which may contain information identifying defendants who are cooperating with law enforcement investigations. The request for public comment addresses both the privacy and security implications of Internet access to such files and potential policy alternatives."
Summaries of New Decisions -- April 2007: "As part of OIP's feature to provide up-to-date information on new court decisions, we have included below summaries of the court decisions that were decided in April 2007. OIP will continue to post monthly summaries until we are current. Thereafter, summaries of new court decisions will be posted regularly."
AP: "Iran must pay $2.65 billion to the families of the 241 U.S. service members killed in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, a federal judge declared Friday in a ruling that left survivors and families shedding tears of joy. U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth described his ruling as the largest-ever such judgment by an American court against another country. "These individuals, whose hearts and souls were forever broken, waited patiently for nearly a quarter century for justice to be done," he said."
Tim Stanley: US Federal District Court Opinions with Full Text Search: "We have put online the Federal District Court case opinions and orders that are available using the opinion report in the Federal Courts' ECF. These are updated daily. We have categorized the opinions by state, court, type of lawsuit and judge and combinations of judge and type of lawsuit. You can also subscribe to each of categories through RSS feeds to track a judge or court's decisions on different issues. And we also give the cause of action for each case.
We are using Google's hosted Business Custom Search Engine for the full text search. Google is now OCRing PDF image files, so even PDF files that have images of scanned documents will be in most cases full text indexable and searchable. Like the OCR of Google's Book Search. You will need to look at the cached copy to see the highlighted searched text though, and then find in the original PDF to be 100% that what you are reading is correct. Google should be doing a pretty good job of indexing and ocring these court decisions, although it may take a few days for a new document to show up in the index.
We have also noted on the federal district court case filing database when we have a judge's opinion (you will see a little gavel. The case filings are at here."
Press release: "In a report released [August 29, 2007]...the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) provides the only comprehensive look at the four-year litigation campaign waged by the RIAA against music fans. The report traces the RIAA campaign from its beginnings in 2003 against a handful of students at Princeton, Rensselaer Polytechnic, and Michigan Tech to the current spate of "pre-litigation settlement" letters being sent to universities nationwide."
EFF Report - RIAA v the People: Four Years Later (25 pages, PDF)
Final Technical Report: Habeas Litigation in U.S. District Courts: An Empirical Study of Habeas Corpus Cases Filed by State Prisoners Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, August 2007. Author(s): Nancy J. King J.D.; Fred L. Cheesman Ph.D.; Brian J. Ostrom Ph.D. Sponsoring Agency: US Dept of Justice, National Institute of Justice. (128 pages, PDF) (Executive Summary, 14 pages)
"About the Book - "Have fun and learn about the Supreme Court! It's a coloring book with a surprising educational twist. This 32-page coloring book features expertly rendered illustrations depicting significant Supreme Court Justices of the United States to color in--including all current sitting Justices. The U.S. Supreme Court Coloring and Activity Book is perfect for the children of lawyers and judges, or for teachers looking for a new resource for Law Day or Constitution Day."
U.S. Government Manual 2007-2008: "The official handbook of the Federal Government, provides comprehensive information on the agencies of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches."
"On June 5, 2007, the FTC authorized its staff to seek a federal district court order to prevent Whole Foods from acquiring Wild Oats. The FTC argued in court in Washington, DC, on July 31 and August 1, 2007 that the merger would violate federal antitrust laws by substantially reducing competition in the market for premium natural and organic supermarkets in several geographic areas throughout the United States. The federal district court decision announced today allows the transaction to proceed, pending the FTC’s filing of a request for emergency stay with the district and appellate courts prior to its appeal being heard. The Commission also has authorized the staff to act on its administrative complaint to permanently enjoin the merger."
"Bankruptcy filings in the federal courts continued a slow upward creep. In the 12-month period ending June 30, 2007, there were 751,056 bankruptcy cases filed, according to statistics released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. This total is a 49.4 percent drop when compared to filings for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2006 when cases totaled 1,484,570. But June's 12-month total is greater than the 12-month totals for March 2007 (695,575 cases) and December 2006 (617,660)."
LA Times: "The Justice Department is putting the final touches on regulations that could give Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales important new sway over death penalty cases in California and other states, including the power to shorten the time that death row inmates have to appeal convictions to federal courts. The rules implement a little-noticed provision in last year's reauthorization of the Patriot Act that gives the attorney general the power to decide whether individual states are providing adequate counsel for defendants in death penalty cases. The authority has been held by federal judges."
Explain Independence of the Judiciary in Words that People Can Understand - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer tells ABA opening assembly, August 11, 2007 - Video / Audio
Memorandum and Decision Order in SCO v. Novell, Civil Case No. 2:04CV139DAK, Dale A. Kimball, United States District Judge, U.S. Distrcit Court for the District of Utah, Central Division, August 10, 2007. (102 pages, PDF - via Groklaw]
The court also concludes that, to the extent that SCO has a copyright to enforce, SCO can simultaneously pursue both a copyright infringement claim and a breach of contract claim based on the non-compete restrictions in the license back of the Licensed Technology under APA and the TLA. The court further concludes that there has not been a change of control that released the non-compete restrictions of the license, and the non-compete restrictions of the license are not void under California law. Accordingly, Novell's motion for summary judgment on SCO's non-compete claim in its Second Claim for breach of contract and Fifth Claim for Relief for unfair competition is granted to the extent that SCO's claims require ownership of the UNIX and UnixWare copyrights, and denied in all other regards."
AP: "Of the 12 states in the Northeast and Midwest that are part of the E-ZPass system, agencies in seven states provide electronic toll information in response to court orders in criminal and civil cases, including divorces, according to an Associated Press survey."
Press release: "Two federal courts today became the vanguard of a pilot project to make digital audio recordings of courtroom proceedings publicly available online. The U.S. District Court in Nebraska and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina have integrated their recording and Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) systems to make some audio files available the same way written files have long been available on the Internet."
US Courts: "Customers of the federal court’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system now have access, without charge, to district court written opinions. Written opinions have been defined by the Judicial Conference as “any document issued by a judge or judges of the court sitting in that capacity, that sets forth a reasoned explanation for a court’s decision.” The authoring judge determines which documents meet this definition. Only district courts using version 2.4 or higher of the Case Management/Electronic Case Files system will offer this access, but PACER customers also can access opinions via existing reports and queries, such as the docket report. Users will not be billed for accessing the written opinion document itself, but will be billed for the report or query used to identify the document."
Clean Water Act Jurisdictional Handbook [link to free download requiring registration]: "In June 2006 the Supreme Court, in a decision that split 4-1-4, produced a result in Rapanos v. United States that makes federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction over the wetlands, streams, and other waters of the United States confusing and uncertain for citizens, landowners, and regulators alike. Members of Congress have introduced new legislation to restore jurisdiction over many of the waters cast into doubt by the decision; and the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers (the federal regulatory agencies) issued a joint guidance document in June 2007 attempting to guide their respective staffs. Numerous federal courts have attempted to apply the uncertain teachings of Rapanos as well. With the support of the Turner Foundation, and the assistance of numerous experts in wetlands science and law, the Environmental Law Institute has prepared a handbook that analyzes the case law, compiles the relevant scientific studies, and provides a set of jurisdictional checklists. The Handbook will assist anyone faced with a jurisdictional question involving a wetland or stream to understand what factors will allow them to find Clean Water Act jurisdiction."
Other relevant documents include:
Press release: "The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today issued revised regulations on age discrimination in the workplace in accordance with a 2004 Supreme Court decision, General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. v. Cline. The updated regulations, published in [July 6, 2007] Federal Register. The revised regulations clarify that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) does not prohibit employers from favoring an older employee over a younger one when both are protected by the Act. The EEOC initially proposed these changes in 2006 and, after receiving public comments on its proposal, unanimously voted to approve the revisions. The public comments were largely supportive of the revisions, with both business and labor groups supporting the changes."
The Third Branch: "A new version of OSCAR, the Online System for Clerkship Application and Review, is now available to law schools, clerkship applicants, and judges nationwide. The upgrade incorporates several new features that promise to make the system even easier to use. Nationwide, over 750 federal appellate, district, bankruptcy, and magistrate judges use OSCAR to select their law clerks and approximately 200 law schools provide access to the system for their students and administrators ... Participating judges are posted on the Federal Law Clerk Information System at https://lawclerks.ao.uscourts.gov as well as on the OSCAR website."
EFF press release: "...The FBI's use of NSLs was expanded under the USA PATRIOT Act in 2001, allowing federal agents to gather private
records about anyone's domestic phone calls, emails, and financial transactions without any court approval -- as long as an FBI agent claims that the information could be related to a terrorism or espionage investigation. EFF submitted a FOIA request about the reported misuse of NSLs in March, and when no documents were forthcoming, EFF sued the FBI for their immediate release. Last month, a judge held that the FBI was required to release records related to the inspector general's report beginning on July 5, with more documents to be disclosed every 30 days. In all, 1138 pages of NSL records were released to EFF late last week in the first batch of documents complying with the court's order."
Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Court- In an exclusive interview, Justice Kennedy discusses life, center stage, by Stuart Taylor Jr. and Evan Thomas: "
In 19 cases during the past year, the Supreme Court split down the middle along ideological lines. The court's four conservatives—Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito—lined up on one side, and the four liberals—Justices Stephen Breyer, John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter—lined up on the other. Each time, the tie was broken by a fifth vote belonging to Justice Anthony Kennedy. On 13 occasions, Kennedy aligned himself with the conservatives. While the court is clearly moving to the right, it's obvious that Kennedy holds the balance of power."
Follow up to previous postings on domestic surveillance programs, news today that 6th Circuit found none of the plaintiff's had standing against the NSA with regard to the Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP). See the ACLU press release: "In a 2-1 decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals today dismissed a legal challenge to the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance program. The challenge was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of prominent journalists, scholars, attorneys and national nonprofit organizations who say that the unchecked surveillance program is disrupting their ability to communicate effectively with sources and clients."
Follow up to June 24, 2007 posting, Skelton/Conyers Introduce Habeas Reform Legislation, see these additional related government documents:
Follow up to June 20, 2007 posting, Microsoft Complies With Vista Browser Choice Option, see Microsoft's Memorandum in Opposition to Google's Motion for Leave to Participate as Amicus Curiae - July 3, 2007
Press release: "The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has wrongfully withheld data documenting years of toxic exposures to workers and its own inspectors, according to a federal court ruling posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). As a result, the world’s largest compendium of measurements of occupational exposures to toxic substances - more than 2 million analyses conducted during some 75,000 OSHA workplace inspections since 1979 - should now be available to researchers and policymakers. Each year, an estimated 40,000 U.S. workers die prematurely because of exposures to toxic substances on the job."
Follow up to previous postings on Plame CIA leak case, news today that the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has unanimously denied I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's request to delay his prison sentence.
Grant of Executive Clemency, July 2, 2007 and Statement by the President On Executive Clemency for Lewis Libby
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's Statement on Libby [via National Review]: "...Although the President’s decision eliminates Mr. Libby’s sentence of imprisonment, Mr. Libby remains convicted by a jury of serious felonies, and we will continue to seek to preserve those convictions through the appeals process."
Related government documents and articles on executive clemency:
Press release: "Juries across the country make decisions every day on the fate of defendants, ideally leading to prison sentences that fit the crime for the guilty and release for the innocent. Yet a new Northwestern University study shows that juries in criminal cases many times are getting it wrong. In a set of 271 cases from four areas, juries gave wrong verdicts in at least one out of eight cases, according to Estimating the Accuracy of Jury Verdicts, a paper by a Northwestern University statistician that is being published in the July issue of Journal of Empirical Legal Studies. “Contrary to popular belief, this study strongly suggests that DNA or other after-the-fact evidence is not the only way to know how often jury verdicts are correct,” said Bruce Spencer, the study's author, professor of statistics and faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern. “Based on findings from a limited sample, I am optimistic that larger, carefully designed statistical studies would have much to tell us about the accuracy of jury verdicts.” Spencer cautions that the numerical findings should not be generalized to broader sets of cases, for which additional study would be needed, but the study strongly suggests that jury verdicts can be studied statistically. If such studies were conducted on a large scale, they might lead to better understanding of the prevalence of incorrect verdicts -- false convictions and false acquittals, he said."
U.S. Courts press release: "In the 12-month period ending March 31, 2007, 695,575 bankruptcy cases were filed in federal courts, according to statistics released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Compared to filings in the 12-month period ending March 31, 2006, when bankruptcy cases totaled 1,794,795, this was a 61 percent drop in filings. The 12-month period ending March 31, 2006, included the surge in filings that occurred prior to the October 17, 2005, implementation date of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA)."
The Third Branch: "Continuing its efforts to enhance the transparency of courtroom proceedings, the federal Judiciary is about to launch a pilot project to make digital audio recordings publicly available online. Five pilot project participants—three bankruptcy courts and two district courts—will integrate their recording and Case Management/ Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) systems to make audio files available later this summer on the Internet, the same way written files have long been available."
WSJ free feature: When Public Records Are Too Public - Open Records Are an Established Tradition, But Does Internet Access Call for a Change?: "Property deeds, marriage and divorce records, court files, motor-vehicle information and tax documents are increasingly being digitized, and contain a wealth of information that few of us would want online: Social Security numbers, birth dates, maiden names and images of our signatures. Local governments have rushed to put those documents online for a decade or so, often without scrubbing them of such information. And that's made them potentially fertile ground for busybodies, stalkers and identity thieves."
EFF press release: "The government must have a search warrant before it can secretly seize and search emails stored by email service providers, according to a landmark ruling Monday in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court found that email users have the same reasonable expectation of privacy in their stored email as they do in their telephone calls -- the first circuit court ever to make that finding."
"A Judicial Misconduct and Disability page explains how to complain about a federal judge, in any of the 13 judicial circuits. It’s one outgrowth of a report in which a committee chaired by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer called for improvements in how complaints are handled."
Follow up to previous postings on the domestic surveillance program and AT&T's alleged participation, this press release today: "More documents detailing secret government surveillance of AT&T's Internet traffic have been released to the public as part of the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF's) class-action lawsuit against the telecom giant. Some of the unsealed information was previously made public in redacted form. But after negotiations with AT&T, EFF has filed newly unredacted documents describing a secret, secure room in AT&T's facilities that gave the National Security Agency (NSA) direct access to customers' emails and other Internet communications. These include several internal AT&T documents that have long been available on media websites, EFF's legal arguments to the 9th Circuit, and the full declarations of whistleblower Mark Klein and of J. Scott Marcus, the former Senior Advisor for Internet Technology to the Federal Communications Commission, who bolsters and explains EFF's evidence. Oral arguments in the 9th Circuit appeal are set for the week of August 13."
National Center for State Courts: "More than one-third of all Americans are likely to serve as jurors at some point in their lifetime, according to a newly released study by the Center for Jury Studies of the National Center for State Courts. This is a dramatic increase from 1977, when only 6 percent of Americans served as trial jurors. The increase most likely is the result of more inclusive master jury lists, shorter terms of jury service, and other changes in court policies designed to make jury service more convenient and accessible to citizens, the survey reports."
"The Global Corruption Report offers an annual, systematic analysis of corruption, reporting on the state of corruption around the globe. The Global Corruption Report 2007 focuses on corruption in judicial systems and includes recommendations for practitioners, actors in the judiciary and civil society, on how to fight corruption in the sector." By Transparency International, English, 372 pages. [thanks Peggy Garvin]
Following up on previous postings related to judicial pay, an announcement of a new resources on the issues: "Welcome to the new Judicial Salary Resource Center. The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) has published an annual Survey of Judicial Salaries for more than 30 years, and this Web site reflects a transformation in its systems of data collection and storage to make the data more timely, accessible, and powerful. Please note that the move toward a more-modern Web interface does not mean that NCSC will discontinue its print editions. This Web site is meant to serve as a supplement and continuous update to their content."
According to the National Law Journal, The 50 Most Influential Women Lawyers in America.
U.S. Courts: "In a 202-page report to Congress on federal cocaine sentencing policy, the U.S. Sentencing Commission urges legislation to remedy disparities between penalties for crimes involving powder cocaine and crack cocaine."
Follow-up to previous postings on Libby trial and the Plame CIA investigation, today U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton (District of Columbia) sentenced Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby to 30 months in prison annd fined him $250,000.
CDT: "...a federal appeals court today limited the Federal Communications Commission's ongoing effort to expand its authority to regulate speech over broadcast media. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that the FCC did not adequately explain its decision to reverse thirty years of policy of allowing "fleeting expletives " on broadcast television. Following its main decision, the Court also addressed an issue raised by CDT and others in a friend-of-the-court brief. Echoing the arguments in the brief, the court said that as communications technologies converge and "user empowerment" tools become more available, the very foundation of the FCC's authority over broadcast is diminishing. June 4, 2007.
U.S. Courts: "Extensive information about criminal cases sentenced under the federal sentencing guidelines is contained in the U.S. Sentencing Commission's 2006 Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics...In FY 2006, 86.7 percent of all federal offenders were men. The average age of offenders was 34.8 years. Thirty-six percent of all defendants sentenced under the guidelines were convicted of drug offenses...Other common crimes were immigration offenses (24.5 percent), firearms offenses (11.7 percent), fraud (9.7 percent), and non-fraud white collar offenses (4.8 percent)."
Follow up to previous postings on Plame CIA leak, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald stated in a May 25, 2007 court filing that Libby has "expressed no remorse, no acceptance of responsibility, and no recognition that there is anything he should have done differently"..."As a result, Mr Fitzgerald said, he should be sentenced to two-and-a-half to three years in jail."
US Courts: "Administrative agency appeals involving the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) remained a significant part of federal appellate courts’ caseloads in 2006, accounting for 17 percent of 63,676 total appeals."
Administrative Office of the United States Courts: "In fiscal year 2006, it cost up to $24,443.08 to keep a federal inmate incarcerated for 12 months, and $3,535.18 for a federal offender to be released under the supervision of a probation officer for the same period. The annual cost of imprisonment in a Bureau of Prisons facility was $24,443.08, and placement in a community corrections center cost $21,588.47. Those figures were provided by the Bureau of Prisons."
The Wiki of The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit provides Electronic Access to Seventh Circuit Case Information, Rules, Procedures and Opinions. This is the first public wiki launched by the federal judiciary. According to Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook, who spearheaded the wiki project, and reported by the National Law Journal, "The wiki will welcome comments from lawyers across the nation because issues of federal practice, especially in the appellate courts, are common ones..."
Follow up to April 16, 2007 posting, Fact Sheet: Proposed FISA Modernization Legislation, the following documents from the Director of National Intelligence (DNI):
"EPIC, in cooperation with the Stanford Constitutional Law Center, filed a "friend-of-the-court" brief (42 pages, PDF) in Hepting v. AT&T. This lawsuit alleges that AT&T allowed the government to wiretap calls and e-mails without judicial authority. The U.S. government and AT&T seek to dismiss this case. The EPIC brief states, "The statutes and constitutional provisions relied upon in the complaint are designed to interpose the courts between citizens and the government when government conducts surveillance that it naturally would prefer to conduct in secret and wholly at its own discretion...This litigation should thus proceed, lest the privacy claims here be made effectively unreviewable."
Federal Judiciary News Release: "A total of 1,839 orders were issued by federal and state courts in 2006 authorizing or approving the interception of wire, oral or electronic communications, also known as wiretaps. This is a 4 percent increase over the 1,773 orders issued in 2005, according to The 2006 Wiretap Report. The complete report contains information on interceptions concluded between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2006. A summary of the authorized intercepts reported for calendar years 1996-2006 is availabe in Table 7."
Follow up to previous postings on judicial pay raises, see How to Pay the Piper: It's Time to Call Different Tunes for Congressional and Judicial Salaries - Issues in Governance Studies, April 2007
"A group of former U.S. Senators and Representatives is preparing to call for Congress to end the practice of linking the salaries of federal judges and those of members of Congress, if Congress is hesitant to raise its own salaries. To assist in this effort, Brookings scholars and their colleagues at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research produced this paper to describe the history of interbranch salary linkage and to analyze it as policy. (The group includes former Senators Howard Baker, John Danforth, and Sam Nunn, and former Representatives Richard Gephardt, Henry Hyde, Susan Molinari, Leon Panetta and Louis Stokes.)"
Follow up to previous postings on pay raise for judges, "Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito testified before a House subcommittee, calling for a salary increase for federal judges. Breyer text (pdf). Alito text (pdf). See also this Fact Sheet on Judicial Compensation."
Press release: " Federal courts are handling more class action cases since the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA) was enacted, a study shows. "In the 16 months since CAFA went into effect on February 18, 2005...we find a substantial increase in class action activity based on diversity of citizenship jurisdiction," said the third in a series of interim reports from the Federal Judicial Center."
Press release: "Bankruptcy filings in the federal courts dropped 70 percent in calendar year 2006, according to data released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. However, bankruptcies filed for the last three months of calendar year 2006 were the highest of any quarter in the calendar year. The statistics cover the first full 12-month period in which the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) has been in effect." Please note this press release includes links to statistics by three month period, 12-month period, by month, Business and Non-Business Filings CY 2000-2006, and Total Bankruptcy Filings
by Bankruptcy Chapter Calendar Years, Period Ending December 31, 2000-2006.
Press release: "Nebraska's Court Case One Time Search service provides online access to court case records in all 93 county courts and 92 of the state's 93 district courts (excluding the district court in Douglas County). The service was launched through a collaborative effort between the Nebraska Office of the State Court Administrator and Nebraska.gov.
Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights, hearing - Responding to The Inspector General's Findings of Improper Use of National Security Letters by the FBI, April 11, 2007.
Via American Library Association Washington Office Newsline:
"George Christian, Executive Director of the Library Connection and former plaintiff in John Doe v. Gonzales, testified today (April 11, 2007) before a Senate Subcommittee on the harmful effects of receiving a National Security Letter (NSL), a component of the USA PATRIOT Act, from the FBI. Library Connection is a non-profit cooperative of 27 libraries in Connecticut. In 2005, the group received an NSL from the FBI, along with its accompanying perpetual gag order, demanding library records...Library Connection challenged the constitutionality of the NSL and its perpetual gag and eventually the FBI withdrew its appeal to keep their identities hidden after Federal District Court Judge Janet C. Hall declared the gag order unconstitutional. Christian, spoke on behalf of himself and three others...“Ours is a cautionary story that we hope will provoke serious thought. Though our gag order was lifted, several hundred thousand other recipients of National Security Letters must carry the secret of their experience with NSLs to their graves,” Christian remarked in his opening statement and further added, “When the USA PATRIOT Act was signed into law, our Connecticut library community, like the American Library Association and many other librarians, were concerned about the lack of judicial oversight as well as the secrecy associated with a number of the Act’s provisions and the NSLs in particular.” Christian asked Congress “to take special note of the uses and abuses of NSLs, in libraries and bookstores and other places where higher First Amendment standards should be considered,” and “to reconsider parts of the USA PATRIOT Act and in particular, the NSL powers that can needlessly subject innocent people to fishing expeditions of their personal information with no judicial review. Because of the gag order, you, our Senators and elected representatives and the American public, are denied access to the stories and information about these abuses. This is information you need to conduct oversight, work for appropriate changes to current law and seek to protect our constitutional rights.”
Follow up to postings on investigations into FBI use of National Security Letters, this press release: "The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has asked a judge to issue an emergency order requiring the FBI to immediately release agency records about its abuse of National Security Letters (NSLs) to collect Americans' personal information. The Department of Justice has already agreed that the records should be disclosed quickly due to the exceptional media attention and the questions the NSL report has raised about the government's integrity. However, despite this recognition, the Bureau has failed to meet the 20-day time limit that Congress set for requests that do not merit fast processing...EFF's FOIA request asks for all FBI records discussing or reporting violations of current law, guidelines, or policies, as well as any communications discussing various potential interpretations of current federal investigative power. EFF also demands copies of the contracts between the FBI and three telephone companies, which were intended to allow the FBI to get rapid access to telephone records."
American College of Trial Lawyers, Judicial Compensation - Our Federal Judges Must be Fairly Paid, March 2007 (16 pages, PDF).
The Supreme Court decision, April 2, 2007, 05-1120 Massachusetts v. EPA (66 pages, PDF).
The Third Branch, March 2007: "Some day in the not-too-distant future, locating and reading a brief filed in a federal appellate case will become as easy as finding an appeals court opinion. And electronic appellate briefs will feature hyperlinks to lower court rulings, statutes, regulations, and other cited materials. “Judges generally are excited about having attorneys file briefs that contain hyperlinks to citations,” said Gary Bowden, chief of the Administrative Office’s Appellate Court and Circuit Administration Division. “And through PACER (the Public Access to Court Electronic Records system) these briefs will be available to everyone.” Until late last year, 10 of the 12 regional appellate courts were using an antiquated system of receiving, storing and tracking their cases, a system that at age 20 was long overdue for retirement." The St. Louis-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit took a giant step in December when it became the first of those 10 courts to go live with Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF). The rest are to follow by the end of 2007."
ACLU v Gonzales [originally ACLU v. Reno, then ACLU v. Ashcroft], Final Adjudication on the constitutionality of the Child Online Protection Act, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, March 22, 2007 (84 pages, PDF)
Press release: "The federal courts requested $6.43 billion from Congress for fiscal year 2008 as Judge Julia Gibbons, chair of the Judicial Conference Budget Committee, and Administrative Office Director James C. Duff testified before appropriations subcommittees in the House and Senate."
AP: "The federal judiciary approved a pilot program this week to make free audio recordings of court proceedings available online. Although a court's participation in the program is voluntary, U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan, the executive committee chairman of the policy-making Judicial Conference, said he expects the system ultimately will be widely used."
"The Judicial Conference of the United States today voted to ask Congress to create 67 new federal judgeships—15 for the courts of appeals and 52 for the district courts. Congress has not increased the number of appellate judges since it last enacted an omnibus judgeship bill in 1990. Since that time, the number of court of appeals judgeships has remained at 179, even though federal appellate court case filings have risen by 55 percent over the same 17-year time period."
Fiscal Year 2006 Caseload Shows Continued Impact of New Laws, Court Opinions - March 13, 2007: "Within an historical context, caseloads in the federal courts remain at high levels, according to statistics released by the Administrative Office. Filings of appeals were at an all-time high in 2005 having risen for 11 consecutive years. Despite a drop in 2006, bankruptcy filings remain well above the one million mark in 2006, after hitting a record level in 2005. In FY 2006, filings in the U.S. courts of appeals fell 3 percent; overall filings in the U.S. district courts rose slightly more than 1 percent; and bankruptcy filings dropped 38 percent. The number of persons under post-conviction supervision remained stable while the number of defendants in pretrial services cases fell 3 percent."
Follow up to posting on Libby conviction this week, as well as previous links to CIA leak investigation, today news that "Chairman Henry A. Waxman announced a hearing on whether White House officials followed appropriate procedures for safeguarding the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson. At the hearing, the Committee will receive testimony from Ms. Wilson and other experts regarding the disclosure and internal White House security procedures for protecting her identity from disclosure and responding to the leak after it occurred. The hearing is scheduled for Friday, March 16. In addition, the Committee today sent a letter to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald commending him for his investigation and requesting a meeting to discuss testimony by Mr. Fitzgerald before the Committee. The Oversight Committee will webcast the hearing live at www.oversight.house.gov."
Documents and Links:
Follow-up to related postings on Plame CIA leak trial, press release: "The declassified documents introduced as evidence during the trial of Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, provide an almost unprecedented window into Mr. Cheney's own role as the most powerful vice president in history, according to National Security Archive director Tom Blanton this morning on NPR's Morning Edition. To listen, click on http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7750388. This posting also includes the actual documents discussed today. Talking with NPR's anchor Steve Inskeep, Blanton annotated a series of trial exhibits including several in Mr. Cheney's own handwriting, ranging from his scribbles on a New York Times op-ed piece critical of the administration, to his tasking of the White House press operation to defend Libby against charges of leaking classified information."
Judiciary's FY '07 Budget Authorized by Congress: "A continuing resolution has provided the Judiciary with $5.980 billion in enacted appropriations for the remaining months of fiscal year 2007, a 4.9 percent increase over FY 2006."
Via TalkLeft, a copy of the jury instruction on reasonable doubt.
Follow up to February 23, 2007 posting, County Clerk Property Records Images No Longer Available Online, this updated information: A.G. gives county clerks reprieve on privacy law - "Attorney General Greg Abbott this morning issued a letter that allows county clerks statewide to release public documents with private information on them, such as Social Security numbers."
Implementation of the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act of 1980: A Report to the Chief Justice: Stephen Breyer; Sarah Evans Barker; Pasco M. Bowman; D. Brock Hornby; Sally M. Rider; J. Harvie Wilkinson III, September 2006, 183 pages.
"NCSC and members of the court and law enforcement communities are concerned about court security. This is an issue that affects us all. This forum was established as a central point of information about aspects of court security. We hope to provide resources, news, and networking opportunities through the Forum."
Follow up to previous postings on calls for judicial pay raises, "the top lawyers at 60 major U.S. corporations have urged congressional leaders to provide a "substantial increase to the salaries of federal judges." Letter text, February 15, 2007.
A Comprehensive Emergency Management Program - A Model for State and Territorial Courts 2007 , February 2007 (187 pages, PDF).
Press release, February 12, 2007: "Georgetown Law Dean T. Alexander Aleinikoff is pleased to announce the establishment of the Sandra Day O’Connor Project on the State of the Judiciary at Georgetown University Law Center. The project will continue the work of Fair and Independent Courts: A Conference on the State of the Judiciary, held at Georgetown Law in September 2006 and co-chaired by Justices O’Connor and Stephen Breyer."
On February 20, 2007, a three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled 2-1 that detainees held at Guantánamo Bay could not challenge their detention, thereby upholding provisions of the Military Commissions Act denying "enemy combatants" the right to file habeas corpus claims in U.S. Court.
Follow up to previous postings on calls for judicial pay raises, "The deans of 130 of the nation's law schools have sent letters to congressional leaders in support of "a substantial increase in the compensation of federal judges."
Press release: "The Federal Trade Commission has asked a U.S. district court to order a permanent halt to operations that deceptively obtained and sold consumers’ confidential phone records without their knowledge or consent. The agency alleges the practice is not only unfair and deceptive in violation of federal law, but could endanger consumers’ safety. The agency also will ask the court to order the defendants to give up their ill-gotten gains."
Senate Judiciary Committee, Full Committee, "Judicial Security and Independence", February 14, 2007
Follow up to a January 1, 2007 postings on the Chief Justice's Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary, wherein his primary topic was the need for judicial pay raises, see today's report that the "American Bar Association's House of Delegates, which sets policy for the organization, voted on February 12 to urge Congress to give federal judges a pay raise."
PBS.org intro: "Drawing on more than 80 interviews with key figures in the print, broadcast and electronic media, and with unequaled, behind-the-scenes access to some of today's most important news organizations, FRONTLINE correspondent Lowell Bergman examines the challenges facing the mainstream news media, and the media's reaction, in "News War," a special four-part series."
Follow up to previous postings on a legal dispute between a group of Belgian newspaper sites and Google over removal of copyrighted materials from the search engine index, news today that the court reaffirmed its decision against Google.
Another terrific project from the Justia team, this database [still under development] of recently filed Federal District Court civil cases allows users to browse by State, Nature of Suit and Cases, as well as seach by Party Name, jurisdiction, type of lawsuit, and within a given date range. According to Tim Stanley, there are currently "over 300,000 case titles since January 1, 2006, and they are updating [the database] daily."
Additional features include:
"Need to check the costs of litigating in federal courts? All district, appellate, and bankruptcy court fees, as well as others, are online."
Alito Recaps First Year on High Court, by Tony Mauro, Legal Times, February 7, 2007 [no fee or registration re'd]
WSJ free feature: Federal Prosecutors Widen Pursuit Of Death Penalty as States Ease Off: "The growth in federal capital cases, many observers say, results from a heightened effort by the Justice Department to centralize the process for deciding whether prosecutors should push for capital punishment."
Via AP, Documents From The Trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, updated January 30, 2007.
PBS: "It's known as the court of last resort -- the Supreme Court -- where nine judges appointed for life make monumental decisions that govern our everyday lives, from the contents of the nation's daily newspapers to what we can do in the privacy of our own homes. With immense power and considerable mystery, the court of final appeal has helped author the history of America." Transcript and Video links currently available, via this link for the following episodes:
AP: "U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Friday that she dislikes being "all alone on the court" nearly a year after the retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor."
On Their Honor - "Wisconsin judges frequently try cases involving companies in which they’ve invested. Who decides if they have a financial conflict? The judges." by Geoff Davidian
From AP, Documents From The Trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, currently underway at the U.S. District Court, District of Columbia. See also this notice, USA v. LIBBY (Criminal No. 05-394): Order filed 1/10/07.
Federal Court Management Statistics - 2006: "Fiscal year 2006 statistics for each of the 12 regional U.S. courts of appeals and 94 U.S. district courts – plus national totals for the appellate and district courts – are now available."
Libby Trial Exhibits: "Due to public interest in this case, the Department of Justice is releasing the government exhibits in the format admitted in the court. The Department recognizes that these documents are in some cases not in an accessible format."
Stanford Center for Internet and Society: " Kahle v. Gonzales - In this case, two archives ask the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to hold that statutes that extended copyright terms unconditionally — the Copyright Renewal Act and the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA)— are unconstitutional under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, and that the Copyright Renewal Act and CTEA together create an "effectively perpetual" term with respect to works first published after January 1, 1964 and before January 1, 1978, in violation of the Constitution’s Limited Times and Promote...Progress Clauses. The Complaint asks the Court for a declaratory judgment that copyright restrictions on orphaned works — works whose copyright has not expired but which are no longer available — violate the constitution."
"The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has announced that the English translation of its decision in the case Claude Reyes et al v. Chile is already available at the Court's website: (link to the word document version)...in this case the Inter-American Court upheld that the right to access to information is a human right under the American Convention. [Eduardo Bertoni, Executive Director, Due Process of Law Foundation]
In a letter today to Senators Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter, Chairman and Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Gonzales stated, "...a Judge of the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) issued orders authorizing the Government to target for collection international communications into or out of the United States where there is a probable cause to believe that one of the communicants is a member or agent of al Qaeda or an associated terrorist organization. As a result of these orders, any electronic surveillance that was occurring as part of the Terrorist Surveillance Program will now be conducted subject to the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court."
Related documents and information:
Prepared Remarks of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales at the American Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C., January 17, 2007: "...A strong and independent Judiciary is necessary for our republic to remain strong, for our democracy to survive, and for the rule of law to flourish. To understand what I mean by independence, let me first clarify what independence is not. Judicial independence does not mean complete freedom from scrutiny or criticism. Judges' decisions may be criticized, and the nature of the job virtually guarantees it. After all, in every court case there will be a loser. Judges must resist the temptation to craft their opinions to avoid criticism or to seek approval, whether from the press, the public, the academy, or Congress...Under our Constitution, the President has the prerogative to nominate judges who agree with this philosophy. [see this related posting, FOIA Request for Records on Judicial Nominee Blocked by White House.]"
Press release: "President Bush has renominated controversial Peter Keisler to the D.C. Circuit. The White House is still stonewalling the Senate and the American public by blocking the release of relevant public records from Keisler's tenure [see the July 20, 2006 FOIA request] in the Office of Counsel during the Reagan Administration. People For the American Way believes it's critical that the Senate and the public get the material to properly evaluate Keisler's nomination to a lifetime seat on the nation's second highest court."
Follow-up to January 1, 2007 posting on the Chief Justice's Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary, 2006 whose sole topic was, "the failure to raise judicial pay," see today's Legal Times article, Judicial Salaries at Top of Court Administrator's Agenda and an Op-Ed: Judicial Pay Crucial to Our Courts' Future, by Karen J. Mathis, President, American Bar Association.
"National Center for State Courts' Gavel to Gavel will help identify trends in legislative activity as it relates to the courts in seven broad areas..."
[FindLaw reg. req'd to view this decision - William Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, January 4, 2007]
Documents prepared by the FBI (1,561 pages) in 1986 detailing Justice Rehnquist's decade long prescription drug pain treatment were obtained by AP through FOIA requests, and released today as follows:
Registration free article in today's Legal Times: Rehnquist FBI File Sheds New Light on Drug Dependence, Confirmation Battles, by Tony Mauro, Legal Times, January 3, 2007.
Maryland Courts Watcher Blog "posts the synopses of all published opinions issued by the Court of Appeals and Court of Special Appeals of Maryland and synopses of all opinions that are openly available on the Internet from other courts in Maryland."
"The Securities Class Action Clearinghouse provides detailed information relating to the prosecution, defense, and settlement of federal class action securities fraud litigation. The Clearinghouse maintains an Index of Filings of 2461 issuers that have been named in federal class action securities fraud lawsuits since passage of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The Clearinghouse also contains copies of more than 18,800 complaints, briefs, filings, and other litigation-related materials filed in these cases."
Chief Justice's Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary, 2006 - wherein he discusses only one issue, "the failure to raise judicial pay." [bio of Chief Justice John Roberts], January 1, 2007.
SUMMARY: "The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is
holding a public meeting to gather input to help NARA decide how to
identify post-1970 non-trial civil cases with sufficient historical
value to warrant permanent preservation. Pursuant to the U.S. District Court records schedule issued in 1983, the National Archives preserves all civil cases prior to 1970 and all cases filed after January 1, 1970 that went to trial. Cases filed after January 1, 1970 that did not reach the trial stage are eligible for disposal twenty years after they are transferred to inactive storage. Trial cases are routinely transferred to the legal custody of the National Archives twenty-five years after closure. No non-trial cases in records center storage have been destroyed. NARA must develop a methodology to review a representative portion of the non-trial case files in order to determine which files should be preserved. The meeting is designed to elicit advice from the public, and the legal, judicial, and historical communities on the review methodology." [Federal Register: December 28, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 249][Notices][Page 78226]
Follow-up to a November 7, 2006 posting, Court Grants Appeal in AT&T Spying Case, today, via Wired, "A federal judge in San Francisco declined to decide today whether to unseal documents at the heart of a lawsuit against AT&T for its alleged participation in a warrantless government wiretapping program aimed at Americans' overseas emails and phone calls...Though Wired News independently acquired and published portions of the documents under seal in May, Berenson said the "horse was not out of the barn" and that there were sensitive technical details under seal in documents that total about 120 pages."
Press release: "The National Center for State Courts has published Future Trends in State Courts 2006 [113 pages, PDF], the latest in its long-running “Report on Trends in State Courts” series. This book, which is produced annually by NCSC’s Knowledge and Information Service, helps to make courts more aware of important societal trends that could affect their operations—and public trust and confidence in the justice system."
"Justice Expenditure and Employment Extracts series, Presents data from the Census Bureau's Annual Government Finance Survey and Annual Survey of Public Employment. This series includes national and State-by-State estimates of government expenditures and employment for the following justice categories: police protection, all judicial (including prosecution, courts, and public defense), and corrections. Federal data for the same categories are also included, as are data for the very largest local governments (counties with populations of 500,000 or more and cities with populations of 300,000 or more)."
"A four-page fact sheet that describes the Justice for All Act has been provided by the Department of Justice's Office for Victims of Crime."
U.S. Courts: "As on January 1, 2007, there will be revised fee schedules for the federal Courts of Appeals and Bankruptcy Courts."
U.S. Courts press release: "Nationwide implementation of the federal judiciary's Case Management and Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system is nearly completed in thedistrict and bankruptcy courts. CM/ECF not only replaces the courts' old electronic docketing and case management systems, but also provides courts the option to have case file documents in electronic format, and to accept filings over the Internet. CM/ECF systems are now in use in 98% of the federal courts: 91 district courts, 93 bankruptcy courts, the Court of International Trade, and the Court of Federal Claims. Most of these courts are accepting electronic filings. Almost 27 million cases are on CM/ECF systems, and more than 250,000 attorneys and others have filed documents over the Internet. Under current plans, most of the courts that are not yet using CM/ECF will begin usage by the end of 2006. Each court goes through an implementation process that takes about 10 months."
U.S. Courts news release: "Bankruptcy cases filed in federal courts tumbled in fiscal year 2006. According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, filings for FY 2006, the 12-month period ending September 30, 2006, fell 37.6 percent to 1,112,542, from total filings of 1,782,643 in FY 2005."
Third Branch: "Do you think elected officials should have more control over federal judges and the decisions they make in court cases? A majority of Americans say no. In an October poll conducted for CNN by Opinion Research Corporation, 67 percent of 1,013 Americans interviewed said elected officials should not have more control over federal judges and their decisions. Thirty percent said there should be more control, and 3 percent had no opinion."
U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon's ruling stated that "the Bush administration unconstitutionally denied aid to tens of thousands of Gulf Coast residents displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita and must resume payments immediately."
The Third Branch: "...cases involving claims arising out of, resulting from, or relating to the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001, are being filed in federal court. The plaintiffs—alleging wrongful death, personal or respiratory injury, or property damage—may have lived near or worked on the site, and include city governments, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, private contractors and thousands of firemen, policemen, paramedics and construction workers. It is anticipated that 6,000 cases—all related to September 11, 2001—will be filed in the Southern District of New York, for an estimated 60 percent jump in the district's civil caseload... All of these cases are ultimately the responsibility of Judge Hellerstein, a native New Yorker and eight-year veteran of the federal bench...All Hellerstein's orders, announcements of conferences, and directions to counsel on the filing of correspondence are posted to the court's website, at www.nysd.uscourts.gov/Sept11Litigation.htm."
American Council for the Blind v. Henry M. Pauson, Secretary of the Treasury, November 28, 2006, District Court for the District of Columbia. Judge James Robertson rules, "Treasury Department's failure to design, produce and issue paper currency that is readily distinguishable to blind and visually impaired" people violates federal law, since paper money effectively precludes them from "meaningful access to U.S. currency."
Televising Supreme Court and Other Federal Court Proceedings: Legislation and Issues, updated November 8, 2006.
November 27, 2006 statement: "Last week, CDT and the ACLU joined a friend-of-the-court brief written by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, urging a federal appeals court to extend to e-mail the same constitutional protection accorded to telephone calls and regular mail. Remarkably, the constitutional status of e-mail has never been decided, and the Justice Department claims that opened e-mail and older stored e-mail can be obtained from service providers without a court order and without notice to the e-mail user. In the case, Warshak v. U.S., a lower federal court ruled that government agents could not force disclosure of email from a service provider unless they provided the relevant subscriber notice and an opportunity to object."
Barrett v. Rosenthal, California Supreme Court, November 20, 2006: "In the context of defamation, the Communications Decency Act of 1996, codified at 47 U.S.C. section 230, prohibits "distributor" liability for Internet publications. Further, section 230(c)(1) immunizes individual "users" of interactive computer services, and no practical or principled distinction can be drawn between active and passive use."
Understanding The Federal Courts: "This publication was developed by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts to provide an introduction to the federal judicial system, its organization and administration, and its relationship to the legislative and executive branches of the government."
Eight Circuit's Website: "Effective December 18, 2006, links to the full text of briefs will only be available through the PACER system. This means that access to briefs will no longer be free, and users must have a PACER account in order to access briefs. Briefs are subject to the $.08 per page charge imposed by PACER, but the total charge for any document may not exceed $2.40. As a result, no brief, regardless of its length, will ever cost more than $2.40 to download or print. Casual users of PACER should note that PACER does not bill if a user's charges are less than $10.00 in a calendar year. This effectively gives a casual PACER user access to four free briefs a year."
Dates of Supreme Court Decisions, 1791-1882: Dates of Early Supreme Court Decisions and Arguments: 2 Dall. Through 107 U.S. (168 pages, PDF), prepared by Anne Ashmore, Supreme Court Library, August 2006 [via Kent Olson].
Following up in general on postings related to the administration's domestic surveillance program, and specifically on, Federal Judge Rules NSA Domestic Surveillance Program Unconstitutional, this news today: "The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Michigan today urged a federal appeals court (6th Circuit, Cincinnati, Ohio) to uphold a lower court ruling declaring the government's warrantless National Security Agency wiretapping program illegal, calling the government's assertion of unchecked spying powers "radical" and a threat to American democracy."
U.S. Courts press release: "A total of 117 languages required interpretation in federal court proceedings in fiscal year 2006 (the 12-month period ending September 30, 2006). The overwhelming majority – 95 percent – of the 205,550 language-interpreting events were in Spanish...Other frequently used languages were Mandarin (1,480 events) Vietnamese (988), Arabic (908), Korean (871), Cantonese (868), Russian (610), Portugese (492), Haitian Creole (447), and Punjabi (375)."
Historical Federal Courthouses: "Information and photographs of nearly 600 historic buildings used as federal courthouses, arranged by state, can now be found online."
Follow up to October 20, 2006 posting, National Community Reinvestment Coalition Files FTC Complaint Against Zillow.com, see Anita Ramasastry's article, Do Zillow.com's Web Property Estimates Violate Federal Consumer Laws? Why the Site Is Wise To Add Disclaimers to Its Home Valuations
Press release: "A U.S. district court has shut down an operation that secretly downloaded multiple malevolent software programs, including spyware, onto millions of computers without consumers’ consent, degrading their computers' performance, spying on them, and exposing them to a barrage of disruptive advertisements. The Federal Trade Commission has asked the court to order a permanent halt to these deceptive and unfair downloads, and to order the outfit to give up its ill-gotten gains."
Federal Trade Commission, Plaintiff, v. ERG Ventures
The New Senate Chiefs, by Will Sullivan, Posted 11/10/06. Includes overviews of new committee chairmen for: Appropriations, Armed Services, Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Budget, Energy and Natural Resources, Finance, Foreign Relations, Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Intelligence, and Judiciary.
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life: "Two cases challenging the constitutionality of the Federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act have reached the Supreme Court, with arguments scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 8."
From the Center for Investigative Reporting and Salon.com: "At least two dozen federal judges appointed by President Bush since 2001 made political contributions to key Republicans or to the president himself while under consideration for their judgeships, government records show. A four-month investigation of Bush-appointed judges by the Center for Investigative Reporting reveals that six appellate court judges and 18 district court judges contributed a total of more than $44,000 to politicians who were influential in their appointments. Some gave money directly to Bush after he officially nominated them. Other judges contributed to Republican campaign committees while they were under consideration for a judgeship."
Pursuant to President Bush having signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 on October 17, 2006 the Washington Post reported that the DOJ notified the District Court for the District of Columbia that it has no jurisdiction over "196 pending habeas cases, some of which cover groups of detainees." [note: via SCOTUSblog, a copy of a similar letter sent to the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on October 17, 2006]
In response to a FOIA request filed by the Washington Post seeking the records of persons who visited the Vice President's residence and White House Office, D.C. District Court Judge Ricardo M. Urbina issued a memo opinion granting plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction (25 pages, PDF).
U.S. v. Lester Crawford, October 16, 2006: "Former FDA Chief Lester Crawford is charged with lying about, and failing to disclose, his ownership of Pepsico and Sysco stock, and stock options in Embrex Inc. while working at the federal agency, and with a conflict of interest for holding the stocks while being involved with a study and recommendations to combat obesity." [FindLaw]
Guidelines for State Trial Courts Regarding Discovery of Electronically-Stored Information, Conference of Chief Justices, Approved August 2006.
Guide to Using State Court Caseload Statistics: "This Guide is the result of an ongoing collaboration between the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA), the Court Statistics Project (CSP) of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), trial court administrators, state and trial court statisticians, and other court experts from around the country." [see also the Interactive Web version]
NCSC Research: Court Statistics Project - Examining the Work of State Courts - Comprehensive analysis of the business of state trial and appellate courts.
Following up on articles by Jonathan Band published on LLRX.com - The Google Library Project: The Copyright Debate, and The Authors Guild v. The Google Print Library Project - news from Bloomberg: "Google Inc. will subpoena information from Yahoo! Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. to help fight copyright lawsuits over its book-scanning project."
Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts: "PACER customers can now choose whether the client code field should be mandatory when logging into CM/ECF. In addition, formatting requirements of the client code can be set. The new preference settings allow customers to turn off viewing of transaction receipts if desired...A new "Court Information" utility is available in CM/ECF. The option provides general court information such as hours of operation, court location and phone number, as well as filing information such as the maximum size of PDF files, the court's version of CM/ECF, case flag definitions and more. "Court Information" can be accessed in most courts at the bottom left hand corner before logging into the system."
Press release: "Chief Justice John Roberts praised in a recent speech "the importance and rarity of the judicial independence we have in our country," and warned against continuing attacks against it. "The long history of attack on judicial independence confirms that neither side in the political debate has a monopoly on the tactic," he said in a September 28 speech to "Fair and Independent Courts: A Conference on the State of the Judiciary." The conference was sponsored by the Georgetown University Law Center and the American Law Institute."
Press release: "A new analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake reveals that special interest groups have spent $1,797,449 on television advertising to influence the outcomes of 2006 state Supreme Court campaigns through the end of September, a startling 69 percent jump over the same point in the 2004 election cycle. Two years ago, spending by special interest groups through September accounted for one quarter of television advertising expenditures in Supreme Court races. This year that figure has climbed to 39 percent."
Judicial Conduct and Disability Study Committee Report, A Report to the Chief Justice, September 2006 (188 pages, PDF).
Press release, September 19, 2006: "The Judicial Conference of the United States today approved two policies aimed at aiding and enhancing judges' compliance with established ethical obligations. The Conference voted to require all federal courts to use conflict-checking computer software to identify cases in which judges may have a financial conflict of interest and should disqualify themselves. It also approved a new policy requiring greater disclosure by both those who provide privately funded educational programs for judges and the judges who attend such programs."
From Groklaw, this Guided PACER Tour [scroll down a bit from the top of the page] is a well documented, concise and user friendly pathfinder to a fee-based system whose interface presents challenges to novice and seasoned researchers alike.
Follow-up to July 11, 2006 posting, New York Courts to Make "Virtual" Case Files Available on the Internet, the link for the Supreme Court Records On-Line Library is now available.
Supreme Court press release: "Beginning with the October 2006 Term, the Court will make the transcripts of oral arguments available free to the public on its Web site on the same day an argument is heard by the Court...The Court's current contract reporting service, Alderson Reporting Company, will now utilize the services of a court reporter in the Courtroom and high-speed technology to transcribe the oral arguments more quickly. Transcripts can be located by clicking on the "Oral Arguments" prompt on the home page of the Court's Web site and selecting "Argument Transcripts." Transcripts will be listed by case name and the date of oral argument. Transcripts are permanently archived beginning with the 2000 Term on the Court's Web site. Transcripts prior to the 2000 Term are maintained in the Court's Library."
The S. Sidney Ulmer Project for Research in Law and Judicial Politics, Sponsored by the University of Kentucky Department of Political Science.
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) press release: "A federal court has ruled that under the Freedom of Information Act the Justice Department must provide TRAC with additional information about the government's enforcement of the law. The September 8, 2006 ruling by Judge Paul L. Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia significantly expands the range of data that the DOJ is required to provide TRAC...Judge Friedman's order covers numerous kinds of information, one key category for those interested in white collar crime enforcement concerns the names, file names and docket numbers in criminal cases where the defendant is a corporation or business."
Press release: "Acting Attorney General Anne Milgram declares in a brief filed in federal court that the United States Justice Department's move to block a state investigation into whether telephone companies provided call records to the National Security Agency without a court warrant interferes with the Attorney General's ability to investigate violations of New Jersey law."
Long-term Impact of New Bankruptcy Law Largely Unclear: "The long-term impact of a new bankruptcy law remains uncertain but could require a 10 percent increase in staff for federal bankruptcy courts, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) has told Congress."
Press release: "Beginning this year, UVA Law will offer a unique opportunity for third-year students hoping to eventually argue cases before the United States Supreme Court. The Law School has launched the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, which will train students in becoming effective writers and oral advocates at the highest appellate level."
Report of a Survey of Videoconferencing in the Courts of Appeals, by Meghan Dunn; Rebecca Norwick, 2006 (22 pages, PDF and Table of Contents).
"This report describes the ways in which videoconferencing is used in the courts of appeals. Appellate judges with varying degrees of experience with videoconferencing identify advantages and disadvantages of using videoconferencing for oral arguments and other court business, describe the extent to which videoconferencing altered the dynamic between judge and attorney during oral arguments, and report any problems they had encountered in using the technology."
EPIC: "A Florida bank was required to pay $50 million in a class-action settlement resulting from violations of federal privacy law. Fidelity Federal Bank & Trust purchased 656,600 names and addresses from the Florida DMV for use in direct marketing. The purchase violated the Drivers Privacy Protection Act, a 1993 law passed after it was shown that stalkers and other criminals had used motor vehicle records to locate their victims. EPIC filed a "friend of the court" brief in favor of the plaintiffs before the Eleventh Circuit, arguing that the penalties provided by the law create a necessary incentive for both states and private entities to preserve the privacy of drivers' personal information."
Follow-up to my June 13, 2006 posting, New Searchable Database of Congressional and NJ Legislative Documents, this August 29, 2006 announcement from Rutgers: "The Law Library at the Rutgers-Camden law school now offers [free] the decisions of the New Jersey Supreme Court's Attorney Disciplinary Review Board from December, 1998 onward. These decisions are online here."
From askSam, NSA Eavesdropping Ruling, Full Text Decision of Judge Anna Diggs Taylor (users may search and/or browse the text)
FindLaw: "A federal judge scolds the FBI in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for failing to "just Google" the names of people about whom plaintiffs sought audio recordings and other information in their litigation. According to Judge Garland, "Surely, in the Internet age, a "reasonable alternative" for finding out whether a prominent person is dead is to use Google (or any other search engine) to find a report of that person’s death." John Davis v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, August 22, 2006.
Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prosecutors in State Courts, 2005: "Presents findings from the 2005 National Survey of Prosecutors, the latest in a series of data collections about the Nation's 2,300 State court prosecutors’ offices that tried felony cases in State courts of general jurisdiction. This study provides information on the number of staff, annual budget, and felony cases closed for each office. Information is also available on the use of DNA evidence, computer-related crimes, and terrorism cases prosecuted. Other survey data include special categories of felony offenses prosecuted, types of non-felony cases handled, number of felony convictions, number of juvenile cases proceeded against in criminal court, and work-related threats or assaults against office staff."
Follow up to previous postings on the Plame CIA leak investigation and indictment, today's press release: "Former CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband former Ambassador Joseph Wilson announced today that they have engaged the non-profit, public interest organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) as successor counsel and Joseph Cotchett and Frank Pitre with the law firm of Cotchett, Pitre, Simon & McCarthy as trial counsel in their case against Vice President Dick Cheney, his former Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, top Presidential advisor Karl Rove and other unnamed current and former administration officials."
Press release: "The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union announced today that they have returned to court to challenge the constitutionality of the reauthorized Patriot Act's National Security Letter (NSL) provision. The provision permits the FBI to prohibit anyone who receives an NSL from disclosing that the FBI has sought or obtained information from them."
"TRAC's Immigration website now contains detailed performance information about most of the 200-plus immigration judges in the United States. Included are year-by-year percentages of asylum matters denied by each judge, comparisons in denial rates with other judges in the same immigration court as well as with all judges in the U.S., and information about the nationality of the asylum applications on which that judge ruled. Also included are biographical sketches for all judges -- provided to TRAC by the Immigration Court and never before published in one place -- covering such matters as college and law school attended and principal places of employment before becoming a judge. Start at
http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/judgereports and select a judge either by name or by the city in which the judge delivered the greatest number of his or her asylum decisions." [David Burnham and Susan B. Long, co-directors, Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse]
Following up on the controversy of the FBI case involving demands for Connecticut library patron records, last night AP reported that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ordered the release of all records related to the FBI NSL gag order and Connecticut librarians.
NBC News reports that in a new filing, "...Libby will argue that, in many cases, it is the government witnesses who have misremembered the facts, and that any errors Libby made in describing the events were the result of "confusion or faulty memory, not any intent to misrepresent the truth."
From Human Rights Watch: Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity - A Topical Digest of the Case Law of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia Related Material
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia press release: "The following web pages link to all 1,202 exhibits admitted into evidence during the trial of U.S. v. Moussaoui, with the exception of seven that are classified or otherwise remain under seal. This is the first criminal case for which a federal court has provided access to all exhibits online. The exhibits were posted on July 31, 2006."
Press release: Conyers Calls for Limits on Presidential Pardons; Cites Need to Ensure Pardons Do Not Thwart Investigations of Administration Misconduct
U.S. Courts press release: "A total of 111 languages required interpretation in federal court proceedings in fiscal year 2005 (the 12-month period ending September 30, 2005). The overwhelming majority – 94 percent – of the 227,461 language-interpreting events were in Spanish."
Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing today: FISA for the 21st Century. Link to witness statements.
Press release: "In a letter to Attorney General Gonzales today [text of which is included in this release], Congressman Jerrold Nadler renewed his call for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program.When Congressman Nadler first called for a special counsel in December of last year, the Administration responded by tracing its authority to carry out illegal wiretapping to Article II of the Constitution, and to Congress's Authorization of the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in 2001. However, the Supreme Court firmly rebuked the President when it held in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, in June of this year, that the Administration's claims were insufficient to justify military tribunals for detainees in Guantánamo."
Press release: "A federal judge today denied the government's motion to dismiss the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF's) case against AT&T for collaborating with the NSA in illegal spying of millions of ordinary Americans. This allows the case to go forward in the
Follow-up to recents postings on FISA that include House Intelligence Hearing on Modernizing FISA and Draft Agreement With White House on Domestic Surveillance Oversight, see this new article on the subject by Edward Lazarus: Why The "Compromise" Foreign Surveillance Wiretap Legislation Pending in Congress Is No Compromise: The Bill, and Senator Specter's Strange Reversal on the Issue
AP: "Chief Justice John Roberts said Thursday the Supreme Court is not interested in televising its hearings, and might never be."
Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts: Ethics Essentials, a Primer for New Judges on Conflicts, Outside Activities, and other Potential Pitfalls (26 pages, PDF)....emphasizes the importance of understanding and observing ethics standards."
Follow-up to postings related to the Plame CIA Leak Investigation, see the website for the Joseph and Valerie Wilson Legal Support Trust, which also provides a link to the 23 page complaint filed today in District Court for the District of Columbia: Valerie Plame Wilson and Joseph C. Wilson IV v. I. Lewis Libby Jr., Karl C. Rove, Richard B. Cheney, and John Does No. 1-10.
Senate Republican Policy Committee Policy Paper: The Meaning and Impact of the Supreme Court's Hamdan Decision (9 pages, PDF), July 11, 2006. "...three areas that may require Congressional response include, but are not limited to, the structure and procedures used to try combatants, the application of the Detainee Treatment Act's habeas corpus procedures to pending cases, and the Supreme Court's unprecedented decision that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions applies to the detainees."
Press release: "In Manhattan, the public will have free remote access to a virtual file of civil cases in Supreme Court, including pleadings, preliminary conference and other case-management orders, requests for judicial intervention, notes of issue, orders to show cause and notices of motion. (Due to volume, affidavits, exhibits and other supporting motion papers will not be scanned.) In addition to the online virtual case file, access will be provided simultaneously to case activity information, such as a record of all court appearances and the date of filing of all papers with the County Clerk. Procedures will be implemented to ensure the protection of sensitive or confidential information. The pilot will begin in September, allowing for prior notification and consultation with the bar."
IN RE: SEARCH OF RAYBURN HOUSE BUILDING ROOM NO. 2113, WASHINGTON, D.C. 20515, July 10, 2006: "A federal judge rules that the FBI's search of Louisiana Democratic Congressman William Jefferson's House office pursuant to a court-ordered search warrant was constitutional, and denies a motion seeking to enjoin FBI agents and the U.S. Department of Justice from reviwing or inspecting items seized from the congressman's office." [FindLaw]
"This 2006 electronic edition of the Capital Punishment Handbook has been revised and updated. It is current through March 10, 2006. Although the handbook is intended to be a comprehensive annotation of helpful and applicable capital habeas law, the handbook does not contain all opinions issued in habeas corpus cases. The handbook is a reference tool and not an official publication of the Judicial Council or of the Ninth Circuit. Therefore, it may not be cited as authority. Any views or opinions in this handbook are not intended to reflect the views of the Judicial Council or any court of this circuit."
Press release, The Third Branch: "A long-term study of what impact the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA) is having on the federal courts has produced its first interim progress report, one that shows that the number of class action cases dramatically increased in three busy district courts since the early 1990s."
Press release: "Beginning June 26, 2006 customers will be able to order copies of Court Records from a NARA Federal Records Center using Order Online!, the National Archives' online ordering web site. Order Online! provides an easy and convenient method for customers to request reproductions of certain records and pay for these orders with most major credit cards.
A resolution to the case involving Connecticut librarians and an FBI NSL gag order regarding patron records - today the ACLU announced the FBI has dropped the case.
County Clerk to Temporarily Halt Online Posting of Public Records, June 19, 2006: " Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir announced today that her office will temporarily halt publishing public records on the Internet. DeBeauvoir said her commitment to protecting individual personal data outweighs the convenience of accessing records online. DeBeauvoir stressed the public records will remain available in the offices of the County Clerk."
June 23, 2006- Executive Order: Protecting the Property Rights of the American People - related to Supreme Court decision, June 23, 2005 - Kelo v. City of New London, No. 04-108.
U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, 04-1434a Goldstein, Phillip vs. SEC
From the chron.com, their comprehensive Enron coverage and Enron Corp. – Background, documents, profiles, photos and multimedia coverage of the Enron scandal, investigations and criminal prosecutions.
Related to previous postings on government telephone surveillance, see this recent commentary, ACLU v. National Security Agency: Why the "State Secrets Privilege" Shouldn't Stop the Lawsuit Challenging Warrantless Telephone Surveillance of Americans, by John Dean.
Follow-up to recent postings VA ID theft and the continuous reports on government and corporate enterprise data breaches, see this Gartner press release: Gartner Says Rash of Personal Data Thefts Shows Social Security Numbers Can No Longer Be Sole Proof of Identity for Enterprises.
ABC reports that DOJ has filed suit in NJ District Court (Trenton) seeking an injunction to prevent the NJ attorney general from obtaining records on data that carriers provided in conjunction with the domestic surveillance program.
Press release: "The lawsuit was filed today in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by the national ACLU and its affiliates in Florida, Georgia, Rhode Island, Maine, Pennsylvania and Washington. The lawsuit charges that the Defense Department is refusing to comply with national Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests seeking records on the ACLU, the American Friends Service Committee, Greenpeace, Veterans for Peace and United for Peace and Justice, as well as 26 local groups and activists."
Arguments by the DOJ (Anthony J. Coppolino) and the ACLU were heard today in U.S. District Court - Eastern District of Michigan. The government maintains that the domestic surveillance program is legal.
CDT: "A federal appeals court today ruled 2-1 that telephone regulators and the FBI can control the design of Internet services in order to make government wiretapping easier. The decision (29 pages, PDF), which is damaging both to civil liberties and technology innovation, came in a case in which CDT joined with a coalition of universities, libraries, public interest groups and Internet companies to oppose an August 2005 ruling by the Federal Communications Commission. In that ruling, the FCC extended to the Internet the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), a law Congress intended to apply only to the telephone network."
Press release: "The public may now listen to arguments held before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals without having to attend in person, thanks to new technology instated June 7 that provides real-time audio coverage via web streaming. Similar technology has been put in place in 21 states including California, Florida, New York, and Texas."
Press release: "For 2006, the Judiciary reports to Congress that each of the nearly 200 federal courts have websites and the vast majority of those sites satisfy or exceed all of the currently applicable requirements of the E-Government Act of 2002. By statute, a report on court compliance with the Act must be submitted to Congress annually."
What Ashcroft Was Told, By Murray Waas, National Journal, June 8, 2006
BBC: "The European Court of Justice has annulled an EU-US agreement requiring airlines to transfer passenger data to the US authorities."
According to News.com, text from a 25 page redacted brief (PDF) filed on behalf of AT&T on whether the NSA surveillance case can be litigated without compromising state secrets, has been recovered to reveal the company's response to alleged cooperation with the government phone surveillance program.
DOJ: "Testimony in the jury trial of former Enron chief executives Jeffrey K. Skilling and Kenneth L. Lay concluded on Monday, May 8, 2006 after fifty-three days of trial proceedings. Closing arguments were presented to the jury May 15, 2006 through mid-morning of May 17, 2006, at which time the jury retired to begin its deliberations. On its sixth day of deliberations, Thursday, May 25, 2006, the jury returned its verdicts. Lay was convicted on all of the six counts with which he was charged: Conspiracy, two counts of Wire Fraud and three counts of Securities Fraud. Skilling, was convicted on 19 of the 28 counts pending against him: Conspiracy, 12 counts of Securities Fraud, one count of Insider Trading, and five counts of Making False Statements to Auditors. Skilling was acquitted of nine Insider Trading counts. A bench trial concerning charges against Kenneth L. Lay of bank fraud and making false statements to banks began on Thursday, May 18, 2006, before U.S. District Judge Sim Lake and concluded on Tuesday, May 23, 2006. Judge Lake announced his verdict on Thursday, May 25, 2006, immediately after the jury’s verdicts were read. Judge Lake convicted Lay of all the charges against him in the Bench Trial: one count of Bank Fraud and three counts of Making False Statements to Banks."
Rove-Novak Call Was Concern To Leak Investigators, by Murray Waas, National Journal: "On September 29, 2003, three days after it became known that the CIA had asked the Justice Department to investigate who leaked the name of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, columnist Robert Novak telephoned White House senior adviser Karl Rove to assure Rove that he would protect him from being harmed by the investigation, according to people with firsthand knowledge of the federal grand jury testimony of both men."
Press release, May 24, 2006: "U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) today introduced legislation (22 pages, PDF) that would reaffirm that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is the exclusive means by which our government can conduct electronic surveillance of U.S. persons on U.S. soil for foreign intelligence purposes."
Follow-up to previous postings on domestic surveillance of telephone calls, this press release today - ACLU Launches Nationwide Action Against NSA Snooping on Americans' Phone Calls: "ACLU affiliates in 20 states today filed complaints with Public Utility Commissions or sent letters to state Attorneys General and other officials demanding investigations into whether local telecommunications companies allowed the NSA to spy on their customers."
"Resignations from the federal bench, once rare, now are increasingly frequent. Since January 1, 2005, nine judges have resigned or retired from the federal bench. As a result, 2005 witnessed the single largest exodus from the federal bench ever." [Link]
Follow-up to May 15, 2006 posting, EFF Reports Government Files Secret Motion to Dismiss AT&T Surveillance Case:
An interesting article in today's National Law Journal (free) discusses issues associated with the integrity of digital evidence, including email, photos, and metadata.
Press release: "Early Saturday morning, the United States government filed a motion (32 pages, PDF) to dismiss the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF's) class-action lawsuit against AT&T for illegally handing over its customers' telephone and Internet records and communications to the National Security Agency. The government claims that its legal brief and two affidavits from senior intelligence officials that accompanied the motion are classified, preventing even the parties to the lawsuit, EFF and AT&T, from seeing them. While EFF was not permitted to see the government's entire brief, in a redacted version made publicly available the government said that the case against AT&T should be immediately terminated because any judicial inquiry into the whether AT&T broke the law could reveal state secrets and harm national security."
Follow-up to yesterday's posting, Lawful Intelligence and Surveillance of Terrorists in an Emergency by NSA Act Introduced Today, see Whispering Wires and Warrantless Wiretaps, by Kim Taipale, N.Y.U. REV. L. & SECURITY, No. VII Supl., "Bulletin: The NSA and the War on Terror," (Spring 2006).
Press release: "Reps. Jane Harman (D-CA) and John Conyers (D-MI) today introduced the “Lawful Intelligence and Surveillance of Terrorists in an Emergency by NSA Act” (The LISTEN Act). The Act makes clear that any attempt to listen in on Americans or collect telephone or e-mail records must be conducted in accordance with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), or Title III of the criminal code. In both cases, court warrants based on probable cause are required. The Act states that FISA is the exclusive way to conduct electronic surveillance of U.S. persons on U.S. soil for intelligence purposes. It also states and that the Authorization to Use Military Force, passed by Congress in October 2002, did not constitute authority to engage in electronic surveillance outside of FISA."
Press release: "An ideologically diverse committee of experts, led by former FBI Director and federal judge William S. Sessions and former Congressman Mickey Edwards (R-OK), today released Ten Principles for Preserving Courts' Role in American Democracy. These principles, articulated by the Steering Committee of the Constitution Project's Courts Initiative, recommend that legislative and executive branch officials work to preserve courts' ability to decide cases impartially and to ensure meaningful access to the courts for all individuals."
"Contacting the nearest federal court, or the federal court you need, is easier than it used to be. You now can search for the right court, or court office, by city, zip code, area code, and more."
Amendments to Sentencing Guidelines - US Sentencing Commission, May 1, 2006 (30 pages, PDF)
Crime or Privilege? Leaking Classified Information, by Joan Indiana Rigdon, Washington Lawyer, May 2006.
Press release, May 3, 2006: "The Federal Trade Commission has filed federal court complaints charging five Web-based operations that have obtained and sold consumers’ confidential telephone records to third parties with violating federal law. The agency is seeking a permanent halt to the sale of the phone records, and has asked the courts to order the operators to give up the money they made with their illegal operations."
Follow-up to yesterday's posting, FCC Orders VoIP and Broadband IP Compliance With Law Enforcement Surveillance - today Reuters reports that in a case [American Council of Education v. FCC, 05-1404] before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the FCC's surveillance order was met with skepticism by Judge Harry Edwards, who called the agency's position "totally ridiculous."
AP reports: Libby Needs Media Records: "In a 45-page filing, Libby's lawyers said reporters have "no right - under the Constitution or the common law - to deprive Mr. Libby of evidence that will help establish his innocence at trial."
Text of legal documents provided by JustOne Minute:
Resources from the U.S. Courts on Law Day, which is celebrated throughout May.
Follow-up to April 28, 2006 posting, FBI Used NSLs to Collect Info on Thousands of Americans, the following related documents from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts:
Boston Globe: Bush challenges hundreds of laws:"President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution."
Archivists hone disaster plans: The loss of vital historical documents as a result of hurricanes Rita and Katrina have caused state archivists to re-evaluate the scope and effectiveness of the their disaster plans, as well as the need to establish different relationships with federal authorities.
Historical Caseload Data - Updated to Include FY 2005: "A set of statistical tables that includes data on appellate, district and bankruptcy courts going back to 1988 and beyond has been updated with statistics for fiscal year 2005. New Tables. (April 27, 2006)"
Press release: "A new National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) issue brief, Protecting Privacy in Integrated Justice Systems, examines the impact of recent advances in justice information sharing on privacy protections. The brief also makes recommendations that states can adopt to continue the public safety gains made from justice information sharing while improving individual privacy protections."
Reuters reports that Time, the New York Times, and NBC News opposed attempts by Libby's defense to widen the scope of discovery pertaining to Plame CIA leak documents which may be in the possession of journalists and their respective employers.
Cheney Authorized Leak Of CIA Report Libby Says, by Murray Waas, National Journal:
Follow-up to yesterday's posting, New Libby Filing Demands Release of Documents Related to Iraq Intel ["The defense intends to show the jury that the controversy over intelligence failures during the spring and summer of 2003 led certain officials within the White House, State Department and the CIA to point fingers at each other...'], today from the Washington Post: Judge in CIA Leak Case Threatens Gag Order and the New York Times, Judge Threatens to Bar Leak-Case Comments.
Another update on U.S. v. Libby, via FindLaw:
Supreme Court Votes to Allow Citation to Unpublished Opinions in Federal Courts, by Tony Mauro, Legal Times, April 13, 2006.
Computerworld reports, "The Social Security numbers, driver's license information and bank account details belonging to potentially millions of current and former residents of Florida are available to anyone on the Internet because sensitive information has not been redacted from public records being posted on county Web sites."
Follow-up to April 7, 2006 posting, Plame Leak Controversy Focused on President With Release of New Info, see:
A series of recent articles name the high ranking government officials who are now the focus of the Plame CIA leak investigation:
Press release, MArch 30, 2006: "Transparency in federal courtrooms today scored a victory when legislation introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, to allow federal trial and appellate judges to permit cameras in the courtroom passed the Senate Judiciary Committee...The bipartisan "Sunshine in the Courtroom" bill would allow federal trial and appellate judges, at their sole discretion, to permit cameras in their courtrooms. The bill would also direct the Judicial Conference, the principal policy-making entity for the federal courts, to draft nonbinding guidelines that judges can refer to in making a decision pertaining to the coverage of a particular case...Forty-eight states currently permit some form of audio-video coverage in their courtrooms and at least 37 directly televise trials. Studies and surveys conducted in many of those states have confirmed that electronic media coverage of trials boosts public understanding of the court system without interfering with court proceedings. Fifteen states have conducted studies aimed specifically at the educational benefits that are derived from camera access to courtrooms. They all determined that camera coverage contributes to greater public understanding of the judicial system."
Follow-up to yesterday's posting, Judiciary Cmte. Holds Hearing on NSA Wiretapping, in today's New York Times, Judges on Secretive Panel Speak Out on Spy Program.
In response to requests by the House Judiciary Committee members for more extensive documentation on the administration's domestic surveillance program, this afternoon DOJ released two memos (both in PDF) that supported previous statements on the issue, providing nothing of substance in the way of more details, as requested.
WSJ free feature: White House Will Reverse Policy, Ban Evidence Elicited by Torture
Circumventing Competition: The Perverse Consequences of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (PDF, 28 pages), by Timothy B. Lee
From the Official Google Blog: Judge tells DoJ "No" on search queries, Posted by Nicole Wong, Associate General Counsel: "Google will not have to hand over any user's search queries to the government. That's what a federal judge ruled today when he decided to drastically limit a subpoena issued to Google by the Department of Justice. [Today's ruling, 21 pages (PDF) and the government's original subpoena.)
Supreme Court transcript [115 pages, PDF], 05-204. League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry (3/1/06)
Press release: Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) Friday sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [text included in the press release] seeking information on court cases that may have been compromised by the Bush Administration’s illegal domestic spying program..Leahy...and Kennedy...ask Gonzales to provide the committee with information on all legal challenges where parties in the case are claiming evidence was illegally obtained through the illegal program or any others operated outside the law."
AP reports that Libby's lawyers have subpoenaed the New York Times, Time magazine and NBC to obtain additional documents from Judy Miller, Matt Cooper and Tim Russert.
As reported today by Tony Mauro in the Legal Times, Justice Ginsburg Acknowledges Death Threat Against Her. Justice Ginsburg spoke about the threats against her and Justice O'Connor in a February 7, 2006 speech delivered to the Constitutional Court of South Africa. Retired Justice O'Connor has also recently spoken out about critics of the court who threaten its independence, and apparently the lives of those who serve as well. Threats to judges have become so widespread, that according to AP, "Three quarters of the nation's 2,200 federal judges have asked for government-paid home security systems."
Legal Decisions, Legislation & Forces of Nature Influence Federal Court Caseload in FY 2005: "Caseload statistics of the federal courts are compiled by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts...For the tenth consecutive record-breaking year, filings in the 12 regional courts of appeals rose 9 percent to an all-time high of 68,473...Civil filings fell 10 percent to 253,273 in FY 2005; over a five year period, civil filings have climbed one percent...Nationwide, criminal filings in the U.S. district courts fell 2 percent to 69,575 in FY 2005, and the number of defendants in these cases dropped 1 percent to 92,226...Bankruptcy filings in the federal courts climbed 10 percent to 1,782,643, for a new record in FY 2005."
Research on the Case Management/Electronic Case File system (PACER), conducted by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP), documented 469 missing criminal cases and 65 missing civil cases over the five-year period of Jan. 1, 2001 to Dec. 31, 2005.
Also from the RCFP:
Press release: "In New York on March 9, 2006, attorneys with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a significant motion for summary judgment in the challenge to the legality of the NSA Domestic Spying Program (CCR v. Bush), asserting that the Bush Administration has already admitted enough incriminating facts to prove the NSA Program is illegal."
NPR: "Newly retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor took on conservative Republican critics of the courts in a speech Thursday. She told an audience at Georgetown University that Republican proposals, and their sometimes uncivil tone, pose a danger to the independence of the judiciary, and the freedoms of all Americans."
Feds suggest 21-day deadline for Google subpoena
The U.S. Justice Department has set a suggested deadline for Google to hand over information about its users' search habits: 21 days."
Following-up on two recent postings, CIA Opposes Document Release for Libby Case and Decision on Key Documents in Libby Case Pending Judge's Determination, today U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton granted Libby access to summaries of the President's Daily Briefings (PDBs) for a range of specific dates, rather than the full text of the documents, for a 10 month period, as requested. The judge stated, "It is inconceivable that the defendant's memory of matters of significance to him have totally vanished and would not be refreshed upon viewing the general description of those matters.."
Press release, March 7, 2006: "The Maryland Judiciary announced today that public Internet access to information from case records maintained by the Maryland Judiciary is now available...Information is available on all civil, traffic, and criminal cases in the state except for cases originating in the circuit courts for Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. This information includes defendant name, city and state, case number, date of birth, plaintiff name (civil cases only), trial date, charge, and case disposition. It does not include contact information for victims and witnesses (other than expert witnesses). The amount of historical data may vary by jurisdiction."
Following up on recent news that Libby's defense is demanding the release of highly classified White House daily intelligence briefings, AP reports that a CIA affidavit filed with the court strongly opposed the release of these documents, stating in part "...Any disclosure... increases the possibility of damage to the national security..."
Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. v. Craigslist, Inc. Case 1:06-cv-00657, Filed 02/03/2006, 20 pages, PDF.
A 19 page affidavit was filed today in the Libby CIA leak case, by Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald. Previous disclosures related to the case refer to a still unnamed government official who in addition to Libby leaked information on Plame's identity.
The terrific co-operative blog Slaw posted The Marshall Rothstein Pages, documenting the opinions and writings of the nominee for the Supreme Court of Canada, as well as related news. Thanks to Connie Crosby for the update.
Follow-up to postings on Google's ongoing legal battle with DOJ on the release of database search records, CDT provides a PDF copy of the latest round of briefs, Gonzales v. Google, February 24, 2006, 26 pages.
New York times: Ruling May Undercut Google in Fight Over Its Book Scans
See also this related commentary:
AP reports that Judge Reggie B. Walton has delayed a pivotal decision on whether Libby's defense may have access to highly classified White House briefing documents. "Walton said he is concerned that Libby's request could "sabotage" the case because President Bush probably will invoke executive privilege and refuse to turn over the classified reports."
Follow-up to Correspondence on Libby Indictment Mentions Missing Emails, this report by Jason Leopold states, "The White House turned over last week 250 pages of emails from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office...Sources close to the probe said the White House "discovered" the emails two weeks ago and turned them over to Fitzgerald last week. The sources added that the emails could prove that Cheney lied to FBI investigators when he was interviewed about the leak in early 2004. Cheney said that he was unaware of any effort to discredit Wilson or unmask his wife's undercover status to reporters."
Related legal documents on Libby case: