Legal News

The New York Times

As the Supreme Court Gets Back to Work, Five Big Cases to Watch 

In its first full term since the arrival of Justice Kavanaugh, the court could issue a number of blockbuster decisions on divisive issues in an election year.


89.3 WFPL

Issue: Conviction or Not, Seized Cash is “Cost of Doing Business” in Louisville 

Theron Carson and his friends were smoking weed and playing video games when the police showed up at his door.

It was 1 a.m., and the officers told Carson someone complained about the smell. The quickest resolution of the problem, they told Carson, was to allow them to search his Newburg apartment.

After police found his weed and his digital scale, they emptied his wallet. Then they charged him with drug trafficking.

The New York Times

Issue: Arizona Files Novel Lawsuit in Supreme Court Over Opioid Crisis 

WASHINGTON — Saying the opioid crisis requires bold measures, the state of Arizona filed an audacious lawsuit in the Supreme Court on Wednesday asking the justices to order members of the Sackler family, which owns Purdue Pharma, to return what the state said were billions of dollars looted from the company.

The Washington Post

Issue:  Arizona asks for US Supreme Court involvement in opioid case

PHOENIX — Arizona’s attorney general on Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to force the Sackler family, which owns OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma, to return billions of dollars they took out of the company.

The New York Times

Issue:  Why the ‘Bridgegate’ Scandal Could Backfire on Prosecutors

Federal prosecutors have often relied on a powerful criminal statute to bring high-profile corruption cases, including the college admissions scandal that ensnared Hollywood celebrities and a string of bribery investigations that targeted college basketball programs.

The Courier Journal

Issue: Judge strikes down Kentucky law banning abortion procedure

A federal judge has struck down a 2018 Kentucky law banning a type of abortion generally performed after the 14th week of pregnancy, a victory for abortion rights activists and a setback for the administration of Gov. Matt Bevin, which defended it….

The Washington Post

Issue: Doctors in Five States Charged with Prescribing Pain Killers for Cash, Sex

Dozens of medical professionals in five states were charged Wednesday with participating in the illegal prescribing of more than 32 million pain pills, including doctors who prosecutors said traded sex for prescriptions and a dentist who unnecessarily pulled teeth from patients to justify giving them opioids.

The New York Times

Issue: A Timeline of Key Supreme Court Cases on Affirmative Action

The United States Supreme Court has weighed in on affirmative action in college admissions several times, helping shape the policy through the decades. Here are some of the key cases:

The New York Times

Issue: $3.4 Million Medicaid Fraud Inquiry Hovers Over Nursing Home where Comatose Woman Was Raped And Had Baby

ARIZONA – State investigators in Arizona are examining $3.4 million in possible Medicaid fraud at the parent company of a Phoenix nursing center where a woman in a vegetative state was raped and gave birth to a boy in December, according to court records.

The New York Times

Issue: Supreme Court Considers a Thorny Question of Free Speech and Police Power

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court considered on Monday whether to allow lawsuits claiming abuse of police power in retaliation for exercising free speech rights. The case concerned a claim for retaliatory arrest at a festival in a remote part of Alaska, but several justices seemed to have an array of controversies in mind.

The New York Times

Issue: Federal Judge Blocks Trump’s Proclamation Targeting Some Asylum Seekers

LOS ANGELES — A federal judge on Monday ordered the Trump administration to resume accepting asylum claims from migrants no matter where or how they entered the United States, dealing at least a temporary setback to the president’s attempt to clamp down on a huge wave of Central Americans crossing the border.


Issue: North Carolina challenges ‘unreasonable’ U.S. subpoenas for voter data

(Reuters) – North Carolina’s elections board voted on Friday to challenge federal subpoenas seeking years’ worth of voter information from state and local officials, saying the timing, scope and unknown nature of the inquiry were cause for concern.

The New York Times Magazine

Issue: When the Supreme Court Lurches Right

In 1957, Robert A. Dahl, a father of modern political science, published a canonical article about the Supreme Court’s “most peculiar position” in American democracy. “Much of the legitimacy of the Court’s decisions rests upon the fiction that it is not a political institution but exclusively a legal one,” Dahl wrote. And yet, “from time to time its members decide cases where legal criteria are not in any realistic sense adequate to the task.” These decisions, among the court’s most momentous, turned on vague or ambiguous words in the Constitution, like “establishment of religion” and “due process of law,” with precedent and expert opinions on both sides. By making these rulings, the court cast itself as a “national policymaker” — and in so doing raised a difficult question: When should the justices, unelected figures in robes, reflect majority will and when should they stand for “Right or Justice” so as to protect minorities from tyranny by the majority?

The Courier Journal

Issue: Mother of murder defendant sues, saying teens bullied her other daughter

A Louisville mom says the teen her 20-year-old daughter is accused of murdering was a bully.

Now, Debra James is suing the dead teen and four of her schoolmates, alleging that they bullied a younger daughter so badly that she attempted suicide.

The Washington Post

Issue: Collusion is not a crime — but colluding can be

President Trump, following the lead set by his legal adviser Rudolph W. Giuliani on Monday, is drawing a tricky line on the Russia investigation. Month after month, Trump’s line has been that there was no collusion between him (or his campaign or between some generally unidentified group) and Russian interference efforts on his behalf in the 2016 election.

Money Watch

Issue: Feds charge 600 in opioid fraud that bilked $2B from government and insurers

The Justice Department on Thursday announced charges against 601 people, including 76 physicians, for allegedly taking part in multi-billion-dollar profit-making schemes involving opioid painkillers.

The arrests come as the result of what the department called the largest health care fraud takedown ever in the U.S., with Attorney General Jeff Sessions calling the crimes “despicable” in a statement.

Constitution Daily

Issue: Supreme Court finds exception in automobile-search precedent

In an 8-1 decision on Tuesday, the Supreme Court said police in Virginia couldn’t use a Facebook photo as cause to examine a motorcycle under a tarp parked next to a house, without a search warrant.

In Collins v. Virginia, the question was about the Fourth Amendment’s “automobile exception,” which that states if “a car is readily mobile and probable cause exists to believe it contains contraband, the Fourth Amendment . . . permits police to search the vehicle” without a warrant.

The New York Times

Issue: Origins of an Epidemic: Purdue Pharma Knew Its Opioids Were Widely Abused

A confidential Justice Department report found the company was aware early on that OxyContin was being crushed and snorted for its powerful narcotic, but continued to promote it as less addictive.

Courier Journal

Issue: Hemp brings jobs and more than $16.7 million in sales to Kentucky

A report card of sorts grading hemp’s impact on Kentucky showed these scores:

Eighty-one new full-time jobs. More than $16.7 million in gross product sales. And $7.5 million for farmers.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles included these figures from last year in an April 24 letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul calling hemp’s economic impact “significant.”

Associated Press

Issue: The Supreme Court just handed the Trump administration a loss on immigration — and Gorsuch was the tiebreaking vote

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court said Tuesday that part of a federal law that makes it easier to deport immigrants who have been convicted of crimes is too vague to be enforced.

The court’s 5-4 decision — an unusual alignment in which new Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the four liberal justices — concerns a catchall provision of immigration law that defines what makes a crime violent. Conviction for a crime of violence makes deportation “a virtual certainty” for an immigrant, no matter how long he has lived in the United States, Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her opinion for the court.

The New York Times

Issue: 5 Doctors are Charged with Taking Kickbacks for Fentanyl Prescriptions

In March of 2013, Gordon Freedman, a doctor on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, fielded a request from a regional sales manager for the manufacturer of Subsys, a spray form of the highly addictive painkiller fentanyl.

Dr. Freedman was already a top prescriber of Subsys and also one of the company’s paid promotional speakers. Now the sales manager was telling him the company, Insys Therapeutics, would increase the amount of money it was paying him and asked that he increase the number of new patients he was prescribing Subsys.

“Got it,” Dr. Freedman replied, according to authorities. By 2014, they said, Dr. Freedman had become one of the country’s top prescribers of the painkiller drug — and also the company’s highest-paid speaker.

The ABA Journal

Issue: Trump Backs Death Penalty For Drug Dealers; Is It Constitutional?

President Donald Trump backed the death penalty for drug dealers on Saturday at a Pennsylvania rally, while his administration is reportedly studying the issue.

Trump said the United States got the idea of capital punishment for drug dealers from Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Washington Post reports.

The idea needs discussion, although “I don’t know if this country’s ready for it,” Trump said. CNN also has coverage.

The New York Times

Issue: Justices Turn Down Trump’s Appeal in ‘Dreamers’ Case

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an unusual request from the Trump administration to decide whether it was entitled to shut down a program that shields some 700,000 young, undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The court’s decision not to hear the administration’s appeal was expected, as no appeals court has yet ruled on the issue.

The Washington Post

Issue: Trump administration asks Supreme Court to immediately accept DACA case

The Trump administration on Thursday night took the unusual step of asking the Supreme Court to immediately review and overturn a judge’s ruling that said the administration may not dismantle a program that provides work permits to undocumented immigrants raised in the United States.

Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco asked the court to add the case to its docket this term. That would be unusual because the justices usually wait for an appeals court to act before accepting a case, and because it is late in the game for the court to add cases to its oral argument calendar, which ends in April.

The Innocence Project

Issue: Innocence Project Applauds New York’s Presiding Judges for Landmark Statewide Rule Ensuring Comprehensive Brady Disclosure

(New York, NY – November 8, 2017) New York State’s Chief Administrative Judge, Lawrence K. Marks, yesterday issued a landmark administrative order regarding prosecutors’ legal and ethical obligations to disclose all information in law enforcement’s possession that is favorable to criminal defendants. The court’s order, effective January 1, 2018, requires every criminal trial judge in New York State to issue a “Brady” order to all prosecutors who appear before them, in both felony and misdemeanor cases.

The New York Times

Issue: University of Florida Braces for Richard Spencer – First Amendment and Hate Speech

Richard B. Spencer, a prominent white nationalist, is scheduled to speak at the University of Florida on Thursday, prompting an outcry over whether his views are protected speech, dividing the campus and putting law enforcement officials on high alert.

The university denied Mr. Spencer’s original request to speak on Sept. 12, citing the violent clashes in August between far-right demonstrators and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Va., as well as threats on social media of a “blood bath” if the speech were allowed. But the university has since relented.

The New York Times

Issue: Cake is his ‘Art.” So can he deny one to a gay couple?

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Jack Phillips bakes beautiful cakes, and it is not a stretch to call him an artist. Five years ago, in a decision that has led to a Supreme Court showdown, he refused to use his skills to make a wedding cake to celebrate a same-sex marriage, saying it would violate his Christian faith and hijack his right to express himself.

“It’s more than just a cake,” he said at his bakery one recent morning. “It’s a piece of art in so many ways.”

The couple he refused to serve, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, filed civil rights charges. They said they had been demeaned and humiliated as they sought to celebrate their union.

The New York Times

Issue: F.D.A. Cracks Down on ‘Unscrupulous’ Stem Cell Clinics

The Food and Drug Administration announced a crackdown on dangerous stem cell clinics on Monday, while at the same time pledging to ease the path to approval for companies and doctors with legitimate treatments in the growing field.

The agency reported actions against two large stem cell clinics and a biotech company, saying that it was critical to shut down “unscrupulous actors” in regenerative medicine, a broad umbrella that includes stem cell and gene therapies and immunotherapies.

The Washington Times

Issue:  Tech companies ask Supreme Court to block cellphone data grab

Some of the world’s biggest tech companies pleaded with the Supreme Court this week to update decades-old precedent governing telephones, saying that cell-tracking technology threatens Americans’ most fundamental privacy rights.

Apple, Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Verizon and other major players in the modern digital economy asked the justices to rule that the Fourth Amendment should require police to get a warrant before they can demand cell phone location data.

NBC News

Issue: AlphaBay, Hansa Shut, but Drug Dealers Flock to Dark Web DreamMarket

Two of the largest online black-market sites have been shuttered in a law enforcement crackdown, but drug dealers have moved in a hurry to a third “dark net” emporium, where listings of fentanyl and heroin have already spiked, according to analysts.

The New York Times

Issue: U.S. Arrests 412, Including Doctors, in $1.3 Billion Health Fraud

WASHINGTON — Hundreds of people nationwide, including dozens of doctors, have been charged in health care fraud prosecutions, accused of collectively defrauding the government of $1.3 billion, the Justice Department said on Thursday.

Nearly one-third of the 412 charged were accused of opioid-related crimes. The healthcare providers, about 50 of them doctors, billed Medicare and Medicaid for drugs that were never purchased; collected money for false rehabilitation treatments and tests; and gave out prescriptions for cash, according to prosecutors.

The Washington Post

Issue: Travel ban takes effect as State Department defines “close family”

After five months of bitter legal squabbling, the Trump administration’s modified travel ban took effect Thursday night under new guidelines designed to avert the chaos of the original rollout. But the rules will still keep many families split and are likely to spawn a new round of court fights.

ABA Journal

Issue:  Trump administration quietly rolls back civil rights efforts across federal government

For decades, the Department of Justice has used court-enforced agreements to protect civil rights, successfully desegregating school systems, reforming police departments, ensuring access for the disabled and defending the religious.

Now, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the DOJ appears to be turning away from this storied tool, called consent decrees.

New York Times

Issue: Opioid Dealers Embrace the Dark Web to Send Deadly Drugs by Mail

As the nation’s opioid crisis worsens, the authorities are confronting a resurgent, unruly player in the illicit trade of the deadly drugs, one that threatens to be even more formidable than the cartels.

The internet.

ABA Journal:

Issue: Do police need warrant for cellphone location records? Supreme Court will decide

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether police need to obtain a search warrant to obtain past location data for a suspect’s cellphone.

The New York Times:

Issue: The Legal Battle Over Arkansas’ Execution Plans

A federal judge on Saturday blocked Arkansas’ plan to execute six men in 10 days with a preliminary injunction on a lawsuit arguing that the pace of the executions and the use of the drug midazolam were unconstitutional. The state had scheduled these executions in quick succession because its supply of midazolam, one of three drugs used in its procedure, is set to expire at the end of April.

The New York Times:

Issue: Conflicting Views on a Broader Way for the Police to Use DNA

The question of how widely investigators should be able to examine DNA databases is in the news, as officials in New York deliberate whether to authorize a method that could help find relatives of people charged with crimes.

Scotus Blog:

Issue: Justices Release March Calendar

The Supreme Court released its calendar for its March sitting. The calendar includes some high-profile cases – most notably, Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., the case of a transgender student who identifies as a boy and wants to be able to use the boys’ bathroom at his Virginia high school, which will be argued on March 28. The calendar also includes two cases – Murr v. Wisconsin and Microsoft Corp. v. Baker – that were granted before the death of Justice Antonin Scalia but had not yet been scheduled for oral argument. However, the third case granted before Scalia’s death, Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley, still has not yet been slated for oral argument.

The New York Times:

Issue: Criminal Justice Reform – Diversion

Spared from a criminal record, if you’ve got enough cash. The promise of a second chance eludes many defendants who cannot pay.


Issue: Searching for a Remedy for Constitutional Violation on Citizenship

The issue before the justices was a U.S. citizenship law that imposes more stringent requirements on a child who is born outside the United States to an unmarried father who is a U.S. citizen than it does on an otherwise identically-situated child whose unmarried mother is a U.S. citizen.


Issue: It Ain’t Me, Babe: Researchers Find Flaws in Police Facial Recognition

Nearly half of all American adults have been entered into law enforcement facial recognition databases, according to a recent report from Georgetown University’s law school. But there are many problems with the accuracy of the technology that could have an impact on a lot of innocent people.


Issue: Jack Greenberg, Civil Rights Icon who argued Brown v. Board of Education, Dies

Jack Greenberg, one of the lawyers who argued the landmark Supreme Court case that ended federal tolerance of racial segregation in schools, died Wednesday. He was 91.


Issue: Supreme Court Hears Case On Racial Bias in Jury Deliberations

It’s only the second week of oral argument at the U.S. Supreme Court and already the justices are on their third case involving race and the criminal justice system.

Tuesday’s case tests the constitutionality of widespread rules that bar courts from examining evidence of racial bias in jury deliberations.

The New York Times:

Issue: Court Filing Accuses Texas of Misleading Voters Without IDs

Voting rights advocates accused North Carolina Republicans of mounting a procedural end run around a panel of federal appeals court judges, which had ruled that a 2013 election law targeted African-American voters “with almost surgical precision” and struck it down.

The Washington Post:

Issue: Recidivism

Breaking out of the prison cycle.  More than half of the Americans arrested under the age of 25 will be arrested again – disrupting their lives and the communities they live in.  Breaking the cycle requires a new approach to employment before and after prison.


Issue: Burden of Proof

(1) Whether a district court commits plain error by enhancing a sentence based on a divisible statute without requiring the government to meet its burden of proving that the conviction arose under a qualifying prong of that statute, as five Circuits have held, or whether on plain-error review the burden instead shifts to the defendant to affirmatively show that the alleged predicate offense did not arise under a qualifying prong of the statute, as four Circuits have held; and (2) whether the district court’s additional enhancement of Petitioner’s sentence based on a second predicate offense under the crime of violence residual clause was error in this case because that clause is unconstitutionally vague.


Issue: Double Jeopardy

The new Supreme Court term presents an unusual opening focus on criminal cases: All five cases the first week of October, and all but one the next, have their nuclei in criminal prosecutions. First up is a complicated double jeopardy question arising out of a messy political corruption prosecution in Puerto Rico.


Issue: KY Innocence Project claims prosecutors destroyed evidence that could exonerate man in 1987 murder.


Issue: Whether, when an individual consents to the search of a room he occupies, a law enforcement officer may, consistent with the Fourth Amendment, search a closed container found within that room.

Iowa v. Jackson

The Washington Post:

Issue: History making Court Appointment

President Obama picks the first Muslim nominee to be a Federal Judge

New York Times:

Issue: Technology firms fear an erosion of trust in their products.

Microsoft’s Challenge to Government Secrecy Wins Dozens of Supporters

New York Times:

Editorial:  It’s time to revise police contracts that make it almost impossible to bring officers to justice.


When Police Unions Impede Justice


Issue: Whether the jail time restriction contained in 810 Kentucky Administrative Regulation 1:015, Section 1 at Article 6(a)-(b), which prohibits purchasers of thoroughbred race horses at claiming races in Kentucky from racing or transferring their horses out of state for a prescribed time period, violates the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution by impermissibly discriminating against interstate commerce.

Jamgotchian v. Kentucky Horse Racing Comm’n 


Issue: Whether a No-impeachment rule constitutionally may bar evidence of racial bias offered to prove a violation of the Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury.

Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado

For More Information, Please See:

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Curriculum Vitae of Karen Bell, Paralegal

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