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United States: Court Rules Agency’s Deregulation of Genetically Engineered Sugar Beets Violated Federal Environmental Law

(Oct. 20, 2009) A federal district court has ruled that a decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to deregulate a genetically engineered form of sugar beets without preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The USDA has authority under the Plant Protection Act to regulate genetically engineered […]

United States: Agency Rescinds Employment Regulations Targeting Employers of Immigrants

(Oct. 20, 2009) The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has rescinded a 2007 regulation intended to prevent employers from employing undocumented immigrants, the enforcement of which had been enjoined by a federal court. The 2007 regulation, known as the “no-match rule,” would have required the Social Security Administration, when it discovers a mismatch between […]

United States: Federal Appeals Court Sets Limits on Government Access to Private Electronic Records

(Sept. 18, 2009) In a ruling issued August 26, 2009, a federal appeals court addressed the matter of procedures federal courts should observe in issuing search warrants and subpoenas for electronically stored information, holding that the “plain view” exception to the rule that only evidence covered by a search warrant may be seized is inapplicable […]

United States: Federal Court Rules State Prison Must Provide Access to Televised Prayer Services

(Sept. 18, 2009) A federal appeals court has ruled that a federal law, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), requires the Massachusetts Department of Corrections to provide prison inmates held in segregated units of prisons access to prayer services via closed-circuit television. Under the RLUIPA, no governmental entity may impose a substantial […]

United States: Expert Testimony on “Suicide by Cop” Theory Ruled Admissible

(Aug. 20, 2009) The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has held that in a case alleging excessive police force, a trial court may admit expert testimony that a person shot by police was committing “suicide by cop.” “Suicide by cop” refers to a method of suicide in which a person purposefully […]

United States: Computer Hacker Can Be Prosecuted for Securities Fraud

(Aug. 19, 2009) The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled that a computer hacker who uses deceptive means to obtain advance information about a company's financial reports can be sued for fraud under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Section 10(b) of the 1934 Act prohibits the use of “any […]

United States: Divided Supreme Court Addresses Reverse Discrimination Claim

(July 15, 2009) On June 29, 2009, a divided Supreme Court ruled that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer may engage in racially disparate treatment of employees to avoid a racially disparate impact only if there is a “strong basis in evidence” that the disparate impact will subject the […]

United States: Supreme Court Rules States May Sue National Banks

(July 14, 2009) On June 29, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state governments are not preempted by the National Bank Act (NBA) from enforcing state law against national banks in judicial proceedings. The NBA, enacted in 1864, provides that national banks will not “be subject to any visitorial powers except as authorized by […]

United States: Judge’s Recusual Required Where Campaign Contributions Create Probable Bias

(June 15, 2009) On June 8, 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires an elected state judge to recuse himself from a case when a party in the case had a significant and disproportionate influence in placing him on the court. A West […]

United States: U.S. Courts Lack Jurisdiction over Claims Against Iraq Arising During Saddam Hussein Regime

(June 15, 2009) On June 8, 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that the Government of Iraq enjoys sovereign immunity from claims for torture committed against U.S. citizens during the Saddam Hussein era. The lawsuits at issue involved several plaintiffs' claims of torture and other mistreatment by the Republic of Iraq during the 1990s. Plaintiffs prevailed […]