Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stolen Valor Act in 9th and 10th Circuits and Supreme Court

Last week, the 10th Circuit held that the Stolen Valor Act, 18 U.S.C. 704(b), did not violate the First Amendment. 

United States v. Strandlof

The Supreme Court will also decide a case regarding the Stolen Valor Act this term.  You can read the briefs and the opinion of the 9th Circuit here.  Oral argument is scheduled for February 22.

News and commentary:

The Denver Post

The Volokh Conspiracy

L.A. Times

Huffington Post

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ohio GPS Case

As we wrote last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision on the police's GPS tracking of a suspect's vehicle (United States v. Jones). A similar case is pending in the Ohio Supreme Court. While Jones involved the 28-day warrantless tracking of a vehicle registered to a suspect's wife, the Ohio case involves the warrantless tracking of a suspect's rental car for a 6-day period. In light of Jones, it appears that the Ohio Supreme Court must find that the GPS tracking was a "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. However, at least one commentator believes that the court might also consider whether the search required a warrant or was reasonable without one. The court in Jones did not consider this issue because the government had not raised the argument below. See the briefs of the appellant and the state in the Ohio case, as well as video of the oral argument before the Ohio Supreme Court.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Super Wi-Fi

Barco 2.0 provides an interesting post on "Super Wi-Fi," which takes advantage of unused spectrum between TV stations called "white spaces." Apparently this allows wi-fi service to pass through trees and thick foliage. See explanatory articles in the Wilmington (NC) Star-News, Gizmodo.com, and ars technica.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ohio Anti-Bullying Bill to Governor

The "Jessica Logan Act," regarding public schools' rules against bullying and cyber-bullying, went to the House, which approved changes made by the Senate.  It now requires the governor's signature.

H.B. 116

Zanesville Times Recorder

The News-Herald

Sandusky Register

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Oldest Federal Judge Dies at 104

The Washington Post reports that the oldest federal judge in the U.S. has passed away at the age of 104. In 1962, President Kennedy appointed Wesley Brown to serve on the U.S. District Court, District of Kansas. Brown, who was on senior status, continued working until about a month before his death. An April 2011 AP article attributed the following quote to him: "As a federal judge, I was appointed for life or good behavior, whichever I lose first[.]"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

SCOTUS Decision on GPS Case

We have previously discussed the case of the GPS tracking of a suspected drug dealer's car here and here.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in United States v. Jones.  At SCOTUSblog, Tom Goldstein explains the ruling this way:

I think that the correct way to understand the case is to read it as having two separate majority opinions. 
Here is the upshot.  Five Justices join the holding of the “majority” opinion (per Scalia) that by attaching and monitoring a GPS device the police conduct a “search”; four Justices (those in the Alito concurrence) reject that view.  Five Justices join or express their agreement with the portion of the “Alito” opinion concluding that the long-term monitoring of a GPS device violates a reasonable expectation of privacy; four Justices (those in the majority, minus Sotomayor) leave that question open.
More news and commentary:

Los Angeles Times

Above the Law

The Atlantic

ABA Journal

Friday, January 20, 2012

Supreme Court Rejects Court-Drawn Texas Legislative Maps

Earlier this month, we wrote about the oral argument at the U.S. Supreme Court concerning the boundaries of Texas legislative districts. Today the Court issued its ruling, rejecting the maps drawn by a three-judge District Court panel and remanding the case for consideration under a different standard. See analysis from SCOTUSblog and the 11-page, unsigned opinion (with separate concurrence by Justice Thomas).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

SCOTUS case on Abandonment by Counsel

Yesterday, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the 11th Circuit in Maples v. Thomas, ruling that a capital defendant had shown cause to excuse his procedural default when he had been "abandoned by counsel...[and] left unrepresented at a critical time for his state postconviction proceeding..." 

It was uncontested that Maples was blameless for the default.

Justice Ginsburg authored the opinion, Justice Alito filed a concurring opinion, and Justices Scalia and Thomas filed a dissenting opinion.

News and Commentary:


Sentencing Law and Policy


Wall Street Journal Law Blog

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

China Guiding Cases Project

Stanford Law School recently launched its China Guiding Cases Project, a website translating and providing commentary on "guiding cases" issued by China's People's Supreme Court. The project "aims to advance knowledge and understanding of Chinese law and to enable judges and legal experts both inside and outside of China to contribute to the evolution of Chinese case law through ongoing dialogue on 'guiding cases.'” The site provides quotes from Chinese judges and legal experts on the significance of "guiding cases" in the Chinese legal system. Additional expert commentary will follow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wikipedia Blackout

If you plan on looking up a term on Wikipedia tomorrow, it looks like you will be out of luck (unless you read a foreign language). The English-language Wikipedia site is planning a blackout in protest of anti-piracy legislation currently under consideration in Congress. See Wikipedia's official statement and a related article in the Washington Post. See also information from THOMAS about the proposed legislation at issue: the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) and the PROTECT IP Act (S. 968).

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ohio Highway Speed Limit to Increase?

As the Cincinnati Enquirer reports, State Representative Ron Maag has submitted a bill to raise speed limits on Ohio’s highways by five miles per hour. The bill, HB 395, awaits committee assignment. The Enquirer summarizes the current debate and notes that a similar bill appeared in the Ohio Assembly in 2009. The Assembly’s web site offers that bill, HB 162, along with analyses and fiscal notes.
How do Ohio speed limits compare with other states? The Governors Highway Safety Association, a group that represents state and territorial highway safety offices, has compiled a table that lists speed limits by state. Click on a state’s name, and you’ll find more highway safety laws for that jurisdiction.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Colbert 2012

In contemplation of a run for the presidency, Stephen Colbert has officially handed over control of his super PAC to colleague Jon Stewart. The super PAC's official name: “The Definitely Not Coordinating with Stephen Colbert Super PAC.” See the Washington Post for more details on which presidency he seeks.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Judge Halts Ohio Execution

U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost has halted the execution of Charles Lorraine, who was scheduled to be executed next Wednesday for the 1986 murders of an elderly couple.  Judge Frost wrote that the state of Ohio has not followed its own execution policies.

Sentencing Law and Policy Blog

Columbus Dispatch

ABC News

State officials said they would appeal the ruling.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Legal Aid in Ohio

This new article in the Dayton Business Journal details some of the difficulties facing pro bono work in the current economy.

You can learn more about pro bono in Ohio here and here.

Monday, January 09, 2012

SCOTUS Oral Argument on Texas Redistricting Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral argument this afternoon on two related Texas redistricting cases. At issue are congressional and state legislative district maps, redrawn by Texas state legislators in light of a substantial population increase. See previews by SCOTUSblog and the Washington Post. The Post article notes that Texas' population grew by four million people in the last decade, increasing its congressional delegation from 32 to 36. The Election Law @ Moritz site provides access to the litigation documents for the cases before the Supreme Court, Perez v. Texas and Davis v. Perry, as well as a closely related case in D.C. federal district court, Texas v. United States.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Ohio Home Rule

Supreme Court watchers, among them Barry Friedman and Dahlia Lithwick, have noted this term’s focus on federalism, the division of power between the federal government and state governments.

Recent actions in Ohio have similarly drawn attention to the intrastate distribution of power. As the Plain Dealer describes, an Ohio municipality filed suit against the State over a trans fat ordinance. Last year, the City of Cleveland passed the ordinance banning trans fats in restaurants and food shops. Subsequently, the State of Ohio enacted a law, R.C. 3717.53, prohibiting political subdivisions from “restrict[ing] food … based on the food nutrition information.” The City of Cleveland is now challenging the constitutionality of this law, specifically claiming that the law violates the home rule provision of the state’s constitution. Here is a copy of the City of Cleveland’s press release along with the complaint.

Interested in learning more about Ohio’s home rule provision? The Legislative Service Commission prepared this brief last year.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Parking Spaces in the Snow

We finally have (a very little bit of) snow in central Ohio, so this forthcoming article by Susan S. Silbey at M.I.T. seems apropos:

J. Locke, Op. Cit.: Invocations of Law on Snowy Streets (at SSRN)

Hat tip: Legal Theory Blog

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Will Fracking Shake Up Ohio Natural Gas Law?

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has been igniting controversy for some time. Here is a basic description of the process. In part because of issues raised by fracking, the National Council of State Legislators lists natural gas as one of the top 12 tough issues of 2012.

Recent Ohio events are in keeping with this prediction. Last weekend, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources shut down an injection well and four other well projects will not be allowed to open due to earthquakes in Youngstown. Possible links between fracking and earthquakes have also been observed in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Great Britain.

The earthquakes could lead to new Ohio laws and regulations regarding fracking. State Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Youngstown) is calling for a special hearing of the Senate Energy & Public Utility Committee on this matter. For some information on Ohio’s current regulatory scheme, see the Topical Summary of Oil and Gas Law compiled by the Department of Natural Resources.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Increase in Ohio Minimum Wage

On January 1st, the Ohio minimum wage rose by 30 cents, making it $7.70 per hour.  Ohio is one of eight states to see an increase in the minimum wage for the beginning of 2012.  Among these states is Washington, which is now the first state to have a minimum wage higher than $9.00 per hour.

Ohio's minimum wage law, Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 4111


Youngstown Business Journal

MSN Money

Chicago Tribune