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Supreme Court in holding pattern, awaiting ninth justice
Employment Law | 2016/10/01 19:27
The Supreme Court is set to begin its new term as it ended the last one — down one justice and ideologically deadlocked on a range of issues.
 
The absence of a ninth justice since Antonin Scalia's death in February has hamstrung the court in several cases. It's forced the justices to look for less contentious issues on which they're less likely to divide by 4-4.

It could be several months, at least, before the nation's highest court is again operating at full strength.

How the presidential election turns out will go a long way toward determining the judicial outlook of the ninth justice, the direction of the court and the outcome of several cases already being heard and others that probably will be at the court soon.

A rush hour commuter train crashed through a barrier at the busy Hoboken station and lurched across the waiting area Thursday morning, killing one person and injuring more than 100 others in a grisly wreck that renewed questions about whether long-delayed automated safety technology could have prevented tragedy.

People pulled chunks of concrete off pinned and bleeding victims, passengers kicked out windows and crawled to safety and cries and screams could be heard in the wreckage as emergency workers rushed to reach the injured in the tangle of twisted metal and dangling wires just across the Hudson River from New York City.

The New Jersey Transit train ran off the end of the track as it was pulling in around 8:45 a.m., smashing through a concrete-and-steel bumper. As it ground to a halt in the waiting area, it knocked out pillars, collapsing a section of the roof.



Court gives fertilizer dealers a reprieve from policy change
Employment Law | 2016/09/27 05:03
A court ruling has given farm fertilizer dealers a reprieve from a federal policy change that some say would unfairly burden the industry.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration policy change announced last year would regulate retail dealers of farm fertilizer such as anhydrous ammonia under the same standards as manufacturers. It came after a deadly explosion at a Texas plant in 2013.

The Agricultural Retailers Association and The Fertilizer Institute say the change would affect 3,800 fertilizer retailers nationwide, costing them more than $100 million. The two organizations sued a year ago.

The change was to take effect this coming Saturday. But a federal appeals court has ruled that OSHA can't implement it without going through a formal rule-making process.



DC gun law gets hearing before Washington appeals court
Employment Law | 2016/09/22 05:03
An appeals court will hear challenges to a District of Columbia law that places tough requirements for gun owners to get concealed carry permits.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is hearing arguments Tuesday in two cases involving the law, which requires people who want to carry a gun in public to show a "good reason to fear injury" or another "proper reason" to carry the weapon. Reasons might include a personal threat, or a job that requires a person to carry or protect cash or valuables. Lower court judges have disagreed on whether the law is constitutional.

The hearing is the latest in a long-running tussle over the city's gun laws. Eight years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the city's ban on handguns, leading the city to rewrite its gun laws. City law now requires residents to register guns kept at their homes or businesses; more than 16,500 guns have been registered, according to police.

Anyone who wants to carry a weapon outside the home needs a separate concealed carry license. The police department said last week that 89 people have been granted concealed carry permits and 374 have been denied.

In March, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly sided with the city and declined to issue a preliminary injunction halting the enforcement of the law requiring a "good reason" or "proper reason" for anyone who wants to carry a gun in public. Kollar-Kotelly said opponents had not shown that their lawsuit was likely to be successful. She noted that appeals courts in other parts of the country had approved of laws in New York, New Jersey and Maryland that are similar to the District of Columbia's.



Appeals court orders judge to expunge woman's convictions
Employment Law | 2016/09/16 22:14
A state appeals court has overruled a western Indiana judge and ordered him to expunge a woman's convictions despite his disgust for her crimes.

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 last week that Jay Circuit Judge Brian Hutchison must expunge the convictions of 35-year-old Mindy M. McCowan of Dunkirk for forgery in 2003 and for dealing methamphetamine in 2004.

The ruling said McCowan was released from prison in 2007 and completed probation in 2010. She has since maintained employment and earned an associate's degree and professional certifications.

The Star Press reports Hutchison declined to expunge the convictions last November, saying he has drug cases before him every day and he wasn't "doing favors for people who are causing these problems in Jay County."



Bollywood filmmaker challenges censoring of drug-abuse film
Employment Law | 2016/06/09 15:49
A Bollywood film producer took his row with India's censor board to a court Wednesday, challenging dozens of cuts and changes to a film that depicts the menace of drug abuse in the northern state of Punjab.

Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalini said in a newspaper interview that the movie wrongly depicts 70 percent of people of the state consuming drugs and defaming them. He told reporters that the censor board has approved the movie for screening in theaters with the cuts ordered.

He accused producer Anurag Kashyap of whipping up a controversy to create interest in his film. Compared to Hollywood, movie norms in India are extremely strict. Censorship authorities often order filmmakers — both Indian and foreign — to chop scenes deemed offensive. Films with graphic content can be barred completely.

Last year, India's censor authorities ordered that kissing scenes in the James Bond movie, "Spectre," be shortened before it was released in the country.

Kashyap asked the Mumbai High Court to overrule the cuts ordered by the censor board. The court is expected to take up the petition later Wednesday. It could reject the matter or order reconsideration.

Kashyap said the censor board chief Nihalini demanded 89 cuts to the film and even asked him to drop the name of the state from the title, "Udta Punjab," or "Flying Punjab."

Bollywood producers and directors rallied behind Kashyap in his fight with the censor board. "The job of the censor board is to certify films and not suggest cuts."




High court rules against steelworkers' claim
Employment Law | 2014/01/27 22:28
The Supreme Court says steelworkers do not have to be paid for time they spend putting on and taking off protective gear they wear on the job.

The court was unanimous Monday in ruling in favor of United States Steel Corp. over workers' claims that they should be paid under the terms of federal labor law for the time it takes them to put on flame-retardant jackets and pants, safety glasses, earplugs, hardhats and other equipment.

Justice Antonin Scalia said for the court that the labor agreement between the company and the workers' union says the employees don't get paid for time spent changing clothes. Scalia said most of the items count as clothing. He said earplugs, glasses and respirators are not clothing, but take little time to put on.


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