Iowa fetal heartbeat ban: Decision not to defend law ‘a unique case’
Miller’s reasoning in declining to defend Iowa’s fetal heartbeat law against a challenge was a first. If the fetal heartbeat law takes effect, it would ban nearly all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. It is currently blocked, pending the outcome of a lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City.When the lawsuit was announced, Miller’s office sent a letter to the state Executive Council, which consists of five statewide elected officials, saying that Miller had disqualified himself from defending the law. Miller recommended the appointment of the Thomas More Society, a conservative Chicago-based law firm, to defend the state pro bono. Different states have different rules for attorneys generalDifferent states vary when it comes to what duty the attorney general has to defend state laws in court.
Saikrishna Prakash, who co-authored the Yale Law Journal article with Devins, said that as the practice has grown in popularity, attorneys general around the country have an increasing awareness of their ability not to defend state laws. Prakash said Miller’s reasoning for declining to defend the law seemed somewhat ambiguous. If Miller thought the fetal heartbeat law was likely to be found unconstitutional, for example, he could have chosen to say that outright, Prakash said. Hicks pointed to the group’s offer to defend the law at no cost to taxpayers, and said the attorney general’s office typically discusses recommendations with the office or agency it is defending. Iowa law provides a method of recusalIowa Code section 13.3 requires the attorney general to recommend substitute counsel to represent the state if he disqualifies himself from doing so, and Miller has used the provision dozens of times, most often when a conflict of interests arises.
Excluding workers’ compensation and specialized cases where outside counsel with specific expertise is preferable, Hicks pointed to eight instances since 2007 besides the fetal heartbeat law when the attorney general’s office has declined to defend the state. 2007: In a lawsuit brought by the Iowa City Press-Citizen against the Iowa Board of Regents, the attorney general’s office determined there was a conflict of interest that prevented it from representing the state.
Unusual Settlement Caps Sex-Discrimination Case
Observers laud the fact that the agreement lets Heidi Weissmann and her former employers keep their controversial debate alive Despite a recently announced out-of-court settlement in medical researcher Heidi S. Weissmann’s seven-year-long sex-discrimination case against her former employers, each side still insists that it would have prevailed had the case gone to trial. According to the settlement agreement, $35,000 of the amount constitutes back pay, $540,000 compensates Weissmann for pain and suffering, and $325,000 represents legal fees and expenses. Weissmann has estimated the value of legal services rendered in her case at more than $1 million. Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, which supported Weissmann, says the plaintiff’s success in her copyright case strengthened her claim of discrimination.
Weissmann first filed discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in April 1987. In a separate but related case during this time, Weissmann charged that on two occasions, her former lab chief, Leonard M. Freeman, represented a book chapter she had written as his own. In January 1988, Weissmann filed her discrimination suit against Montefiore and Einstein. Letty Lutzker, a former colleague of Weissmann and Freeman’s who is now chief of nuclear medicine at St.
Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J., says the case damages the feminist cause. A 1989 settlement offer from the institutions, under which Weissmann would have been paid $150,000, included a provision that neither side disclose the terms. Houston attorney Thomas H. Padgett, Jr., who represents plaintiffs in sex-discrimination suits, speculates that Weissmann might have been awarded more had the case gone to trial. Smeal says it’s disturbing that Montefiore’s insurance covers the settlement as well as Freeman’s expenses in the copyright case, even though Weissmann sued him as an individual.
Weissmann says the case has hurt her prospects of returning to her field.
California Prisoner Settles Claim of Cruel and Unusual Punishment
A California prisoner held at Pelican Bay State Prison has agreed to settle a case in which he alleged that he had been subject to cruel and unusual punishment and deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. Daniel Treglia started a fire in his cell August 13, 2009, in order to protest the conditions of his confinement. He suffered smoke inhalation, and was treated at a local hospital. Contraband watch is an inhumane punishment that, according to Treglia, involved being duct taped, having to wear thick gloves, being chained at the waist, and having large plastic tubes wrapped around his arms and legs. Treglia was subject to these conditions, which caused numbness and difficulty breathing, for two and a half days.
He was not provided a blanket for warmth during that time. Treglia sued the warden and other prison officials, claiming civil rights violations and violation of the constitution. He lost his case at summary judgment, but appealed to the Ninth Circuit. During the pendency of the appeal, the parties reached a settlement, the conditions of which were unavailable, and Treglia dismissed his claim.