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United States: Judgment by International Court of Justice Held Not Binding on State Courts

(Apr. 2, 2008) On March 25, the Supreme Court ruled that a decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) did not override state procedural requirements governing post-conviction proceedings for convicted criminals. Ernesto Medellin, a Mexican national, was arrested in Texas for his participation in the rape and murder of two girls there. After his […]

United States: Virginia Supreme Court Upholds Felony Spamming Conviction

(Mar. 2, 2008) On February 29, 2008 the Supreme Court of Virginia upheld the felony conviction of Jeremy Jaynes on three counts of violating the unsolicited bulk e-mail ("spam") provision of the Virginia Computer Crimes Act. Jaynes used computer systems in his home in North Carolina to send tens of thousands of unsolicited e-mail advertisements […]

United States: Federal Law Preempts State Lawsuits Involving Medical Devices

(Mar. 2, 2008) The Supreme Court ruled on February 20 that because the Medical Device Amendments of 1976 (MDA) preempts state regulation of medical devices that were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), persons injured by such devices may not pursue lawsuits under state law causes of action. The MDA provides that a […]

United States: 401(k) Plan Participants May Sue Plan Administrators under ERISA

(Mar. 2, 2008) The Supreme Court ruled on February 20 that a participant in a defined contribution pension plan, such as a 401(k) plan, may use a section of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to sue a plan administrator whose misconduct impaired the value of the participant's individual account. Section 502(a)(2) […]

United States: State Funding of Faith-Based Prison Program Held Unconstitutional

(Feb. 11, 2008) On December 3, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled that government funding of an evangelical Christian prison treatment program violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. For several years, the Iowa Department of Corrections provided funding to a prison program in which […]

United States: Execution by Electrocution Held Unconstitutional in Nebraska

(Feb. 2, 2008) On February 8, 2008 the Supreme Court of Nebraska held that execution by means of electrocution constituted "cruel and unusual punishment" under Article I, Section 9 of the Nebraska Constitution and thus that electrocution could no longer be used as a method of execution by the State of Nebraska. Nebraska was the […]

United States: EPA Regulations on Power Plant Mercury Emissions Stuck Down

(Feb. 2, 2008) On February 8, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit invalidated two rules promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") concerning electric utility steam generating units ("EGUs"). The first rule removed coal- and oil-fired EGUs from the list of sources whose emissions are regulated under section 112 of […]

United States: Media Gag Rejected

(Feb. 2, 2008) The British Ministry of Defence lost an attempt to prevent a newspaper, THE GUARDIAN, from reporting allegations of serious abuse of Iraqis by soldiers from the United Kingdom; in part the issue was the naming of the individual soldiers in the report. Lord Justice Moses of the high court ruled that the […]

United States: Supreme Court Rules That All Law Enforcement Officers Are Immune to Suit for Wrongful Detention of Property

(Feb. 2, 2008) The Supreme Court ruled on January 22 that all federal law enforcement officials are immune from lawsuits claiming wrongful detention of property. The ruling arose when a Muslim federal prisoner, Abdus-Shahid M.S. Ali, sued officials of Federal Bureau of Prisons, alleging he was harmed when his Quran and a prayer rug were […]

United States: Civil Verdict Against Religious Protestors at Funeral Upheld

(Feb. 2, 2008) On February 4, 2008 the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland upheld a civil verdict in a lawsuit brought by the family of a deceased soldier against protestors at the soldier's funeral. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas have been involved in a number of legal disputes arising […]