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United States: Supreme Court Interprets Voting Rights Act to Avoid Constitutional Review

(July 14, 2009) The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to consider the constitutionality of a section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that subjects certain state and local government election law changes to federal preclearance review, but suggested it may do so in the future if Congress does not change the law. The case […]

United States: Supreme Court Reaffirms Right to Reimbursement for Private Special Education

(July 14, 2009) The Supreme Court has reaffirmed the legal right of parents to obtain reimbursement for the private education of children with learning disabilities, even when the child has not previously received special education services in the public schools. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires school districts to provide a “free appropriate […]

United States: Federal Appeals Court Holds States May Restrict Handgun Ownership

(June 26, 2009) The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago has ruled that the right to have handguns in one's home, recently recognized by the Supreme Court, does not cover state or municipal laws regulating handguns. In June 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 […]

United States: Kansas Supreme Court Holds Attorney Post-Trial Contact with Jurors Permitted

(June 15, 2009) The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that an attorney may interview jurors following a trial and that a trial court may recall a jury and order a new trial if it finds that jury misconduct occurred. In a medical malpractice case, the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff. After the trial, […]

United States: Federal Court Rules State Secrets Privilege No Bar to Bringing Complaint

(May 8, 2009) On April 28, 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the state secrets privilege, which the U.S. Government has used to seek dismissal of cases involving secret government conduct, does not compel dismissal of a case at the outset solely because it involves government secrets. Several plaintiffs […]

United States: U.S. Supreme Court Restricts Searches of Vehicles During Arrests

(May 5, 2009) The U.S. Supreme Court has held that a warrantless search of a vehicle incident to an arrest is constitutional only if the arrestee is within reaching distance of the car's passenger compartment at the time of the search or if it is reasonable to believe the vehicle contains evidence of the offense […]

United States: Pennsylvania Supreme Court Orders Juvenile Cases Handled by Corrupt Judges Expunged

(Apr. 10, 2009) On March 26, 2009, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ordered expungements of juvenile cases handled by Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella, Jr. Ciavarella and another judge pled guilty to corruption charges alleging that between 2000 and 2007 they received millions of dollars in kickbacks from a company that owned a detention […]

United States: Maryland Court of Appeals Sets Standard for Defamation Claims Based on Anonymous Internet Postings

(Mar. 19, 2009) The Maryland Court of Appeals announced a standard for balancing the free speech rights of anonymous posters on the Internet and plaintiffs wishing to sue them for defamation. The case arose when Zebulon Brodie, a Maryland restaurant owner, filed suit against persons who anonymously posted comments on a website operated by Independent […]

United States: Ninth Circuit Strikes Down California’s Violent Video Game Law

(Mar. 16, 2009) The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has held that a California law imposing restrictions on “violent video games” violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Passed in 2005, the law forbade selling or renting violent video games to minors, and required them to be marked […]