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Supreme Court Backs Dayton Veto of Legislature Budget
Class Action News | 2017/09/09 01:12
The Minnesota Supreme Court says Gov. Mark Dayton’s veto of the Legislature’s budget was constitutional.

The ruling Friday is counter to a lower-court ruling this summer that Dayton had acted unconstitutionally, but is not the last word in the case. The high court ordered the two sides to hire a mediator, by Tuesday, to resolve the dispute outside the courts.

The months-long legal battle arose this spring when Dayton line-item vetoed lawmakers’ $130 million operating budget. Dayton says he wanted to force lawmakers to rework costly tax breaks and other measures he signed into law, but the Legislature instead sued.

The state’s highest court was tilted firmly in Dayton’s favor. He had appointed four of the six justices presiding in the case.



Raise drives justices to slash funding for advisory council
Class Action News | 2017/08/22 13:54
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has decided to quit funding a council that helps justices revise legal procedures across the state after the council's attorney got a raise of more than $22,000.

The 21-member council includes judges, legislators and attorneys. The group studies court practices and make recommendations to the Supreme Court on how to improve the system. The Supreme Court provides the council with $111,400 each year, with $59,600 going to pay the council's only employee, attorney April Southwick.

Council minutes indicate the panel's four-person executive committee voted via teleconference in June to give Southwick the title of executive director and raise her salary from $59,600 to $82,326. The committee decided that salary level was consummate with other similar positions in the judicial branch.

The Supreme Court notified the DOA by letter on Aug. 17 that the justices were concerned about the raise and had decided to stop funding the council by the time Gov. Scott Walker signs the 2017-19 state budget. The letter called the size of the raise "extraordinary" and said justices were concerned about the process used to award it.

Director of State Courts Randy Koshnick sent an email to the state Department of Administration on Aug. 1 alleging that under state law the executive committee couldn't authorize the raise. He pointed out that state law requires a quorum of at least 11 council members to take action.

Justices Ann Walsh Bradley and Shirley Abrahamson, who make up the court's liberal-leaning minority, dissented. Bradley wrote that the court didn't have a thorough discussion about defunding the council and called the decision "ill-advised." She said the council has served the court well for more than 60 years, helping craft evidence rules, civil and criminal procedures and appellate practices.


High Court ruling may hurt claims of talc link to cancer
Class Action News | 2017/06/21 17:21
A Supreme Court ruling this week could have a "chilling effect" on the many lawsuits filed in St. Louis claiming talcum powder causes a deadly form of cancer in women, including cases under appeal in which stricken women and their survivors have been awarded more than $300 million, experts said Tuesday.

Justices ruled 8-1 Monday that hundreds of out-state-residents can't sue Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. in California state court over adverse reactions to the blood thinner Plavix. It followed a similar ruling in May related to out-of-state injury claims against BNSF Railway Co. Both were seen as wins for companies opposed to "venue shopping," in which those filing suit seek out favorable state courts.

Almost immediately after the Supreme Court ruling, St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison declared a mistrial in a Missouri state court case in which three plaintiffs, two from out-of-state, sued Johnson & Johnson, claiming its talcum powder caused ovarian cancer.

More than 1,000 others have filed similar lawsuits in St. Louis against Johnson & Johnson, but most don't live in Missouri. Five trials have already taken place over the past 16 months. In four of those cases, jurors awarded more than $300 million combined.

Johnson & Johnson believes that the Supreme Court ruling "requires reversal of the talc cases that are currently under appeal in St. Louis," spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said in an email. She said the ruling "makes it clear that Johnson & Johnson was wrongfully forced to defend itself in multiple trials in Missouri, a state with no connection to the plaintiffs."

Jim Onder, whose suburban St. Louis-based law firm is representing many women and survivors who filed suit, said Missouri is a proper venue because Johnson & Johnson, though based in New Jersey, uses a factory in Union, Missouri, to package and label talcum products.


Court: Russian hacker can be extradited to US or Russia
Class Action News | 2017/05/27 14:48
A Czech court ruled Tuesday that a Russian man who faces charges of hacking computers at American companies can be extradited either to the United States or Russia — and the suspect immediately appealed his possible extradition to the United States.

Czech authorities arrested Yevgeniy Nikulin in Prague on Oct. 5 in cooperation with the FBI after Interpol issued an international warrant. He is accused of hacking computers and stealing information from LinkedIn, Dropbox and other companies.

Moscow also wants him extradited on a separate charge of internet theft in 2009. Russian officials had previously said they were working to prevent his extradition to the U.S.

Judge Jaroslav Pytloun ruled Tuesday that the extradition requests from both countries meet all the necessary legal conditions.

The 29-year-old has denied wrongdoing.

"I'm innocent," Nikulin said through a translator at the hearing Tuesday. "I haven't done anything illegal. I have nothing to do with that."

Nikulin appealed his extradition to the United States. He has three days to decide if he will agree to being extradited to Russia.

Justice Minister Robert Pelikan will have the final say on where Nikulin goes after Prague's High Court decides on his appeal.

Nikulin's defense lawyers have rejected the U.S. charges, saying they are based on one FBI agent, and suggested the U.S. was seeking him for political reasons — to use him as a pawn in the investigation into alleged Russian hacking in the U.S. election.



Ohio Supreme Court justice backs legalizing marijuana
Class Action News | 2017/05/19 00:52
An Ohio Supreme Court justice who’s mulling a run for governor thinks it’s time for the state to decriminalize marijuana.

Justice William O’Neill, the lone Democrat holding an Ohio statewide office, said making marijuana legal is working in Colorado and doing it in Ohio would bring hundreds of millions of dollars in sales taxes.

O’Neill announced earlier this year that he’s considering stepping down and making a run for governor, but he doesn’t plan on making a decision until the end of the year.

In a speech mixed with his analysis of last year’s presidential election and thoughts about problems facing the state, O’Neill said he not only wants to legalize marijuana but also release all non-violent marijuana offenders from prison.

Doing those two things would generate an estimated $350 million to both combat drug addiction and create a mental health network run by the state, he told members of the Wayne County Democratic Party on Friday night.

“The time has come for new thinking,” O’Neill said in his prepared remarks. “We regulate and tax alcohol and tobacco and imprison people for smoking grass.”

He said the Democratic Party needs new ideas in 2018 if it wants to knock off Republicans who control all branches of Ohio government.

O’Neill wants to see the Ohio Department of Mental Health re-open the network of state hospitals that were closed decades ago and change how the state deals with addiction.

“Treat addiction like the disease it is in the name of compassion,” he said.

There’s already a crowded field lining up on both sides of the governor’s race.

For the Democrats, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, former state Rep. Connie Pillich and state Sen. Joe Schiavoni are making runs.

The field on the Republican side includes U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci and Secretary of State Jon Husted while Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and Attorney General Mike DeWine are widely expected to seek the GOP nomination.



Court likely to question if Trump's travel ban discriminates
Class Action News | 2017/05/15 21:42
For the second time in a week, government lawyers will try to persuade a federal appeals court to reinstate President Donald Trump's revised travel ban — and once again, they can expect plenty of questions Monday about whether it was designed to discriminate against Muslims.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled arguments in Seattle over Hawaii's lawsuit challenging the travel ban, which would suspend the nation's refugee program and temporarily bar new visas for citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Last week, judges on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments over whether to affirm a Maryland judge's decision putting the ban on ice. They peppered Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall with questions about whether they could consider Trump's campaign statements calling for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., with one judge asking if there was anything other than "willful blindness" that would prevent them from doing so.

Monday's arguments mark the second time Trump's efforts to restrict immigration from certain Muslim-majority nations have reached the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit.

After Trump issued his initial travel ban on a Friday in late January, bringing chaos and protests to airports around the country, a Seattle judge blocked its enforcement nationwide — a decision that was unanimously upheld by a three-judge 9th Circuit panel.


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