Law Fish News for 10-24-2018

In Her Defense (Full Movie) Thrilling Courtroom Drama

Furman v. Georgia

Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 was a criminal case in which the United States Supreme Court struck down all death penalty schemes in the United States in a 5-4 decision, with each member of the majority writing a separate opinion. Following Furman, in order to reinstate the death penalty, states had to at least remove arbitrary and discriminatory effects, to satisfy the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The decision ruled on the requirement for a degree of consistency in the application of the death penalty. This case led to a de facto moratorium on capital punishment throughout the United States, which came to an end when Gregg v. 

Georgia was decided in 1976 to allow the death penalty. The Supreme Court consolidated Jackson v. Georgia and Branch v. Texas with the Furman decision, and thus also invalidated the death penalty for rape. The Court had also intended to include the case of Aikens v. 

California, but between the time Aikens had been heard in oral argument and a decision was to be issued, the Supreme Court of California decided in California v. Anderson that the death penalty violated the state constitution. In either event, because the shooting occurred during the commission of a felony, Furman would have been guilty of murder and eligible for the death penalty under then-extant state law, according to the felony murder rule. Jackson v. Georgia, like Furman, was also a death penalty case confirmed by the Supreme Court of Georgia. 

In a 5-4 decision, the Court’s one-paragraph per curiam opinion held that the imposition of the death penalty in these cases constituted cruel and unusual punishment and violated the Constitution. The Court’s decision forced states and the U.S. Congress to rethink their statutes for capital offenses to ensure that the death penalty would not be administered in a capricious or discriminatory manner. In the following four years, 37 states enacted new death penalty laws aimed at overcoming the court’s concerns about arbitrary imposition of the death penalty. Other statutes enacted in response to Furman, such as Louisiana’s which mandated imposition of the death penalty upon conviction of a certain crime, were struck down in cases of that same year. 

Keywords: [“death”,”penalty”,”Court”]

Climate lawsuits: the Supreme Court stayed the children’s climate lawsuit

One of the biggest legal battles over climate change is now in limbo pending a decision from the Supreme Court’s chief justice, who last week took the odd step of halting the lawsuit to consider a stay. The suit, Juliana v. US, also known as the children’s climate lawsuit, was first filed in 2015 and now includes 21 plaintiffs between the ages of 11 and 22, including Sophie Kivlehan, 20, who happens to be the granddaughter of the famed climate scientist James Hansen. The case argues that the US government undertook policies that contributed to climate change, thereby causing irreparable harm to young people and denying them a safe climate. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts granted a temporary stay and halted discovery until Wednesday to allow the plaintiffs to respond. 

Now the case is back at the Supreme Court, and what happens next is unclear, including whether the other justices on the bench will weigh in. Again, it is extremely unusual for the Supreme Court to step in to block a legal proceeding in a lower court. The plaintiffs essentially are arguing that a safe climate is a civil right, so the implications for climate change policy are huge. Incidentally, one of the other few times the Supreme Court weighed in on a lower court case was also related to climate change. In 2016, the court stayed the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan to limit greenhouse gases from power plants, pending ongoing lawsuits from states suing to block the rule from going into effect. 

Ann Carlson, a professor of environmental law at the University of California Los Angeles, said that the Supreme Court stepping in on a case like this strongly suggests there’s something there that piques the court’s interest. For climate activists old and young, the courts have become a last resort for pushing governments and businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially with an executive branch that’s still denying climate change exists and a gridlocked Congress. The prospects for the children’s climate lawsuit to succeed appear dim, first because the courts tend to give wide latitude to the executive branch in these cases, and second because the Supreme Court’s newest Justice Brett Kavanaugh is much more skeptical of environmental regulations than his predecessor. 

Keywords: [“Court”,”climate”,”case”]

Little-Used Law Leads To $250,000 Battle Between Doctor And Her Former Lawyers

In 2009 the doctor, internal medicine physician Nataly Minkina, sued her former lawyers, the Boston firm formerly known as Rodgers, Powers & Schwartz, for malpractice. Four years later, Dr. Minkina lost the legal malpractice case, and the law firm succeeded in getting the court to make Minkina pay the legal fees the firm had incurred in defending against her claim. Five years later the case drags on, as Dr. Minkina fights paying the hundreds of thousands of dollars the court says she owes. 

Minkina is a graying, bespectacled immigrant from the former Soviet Union. It turns out, lawyers for another Beth Israel doctor, Carold Warfield – who had a gender discrimination case around the same time – kept their client out of arbitration with the argument Minkina says her lawyers should have used. The court said Minkina had not been harmed by the law firm and that the attorneys’ failure to predict the change in case law surrounding arbitration in discrimination cases couldn’t serve as grounds for a legal malpractice claim. Ordering one party in a lawsuit to pay the other side’s attorney fees is allowed under Massachusetts law when a case is deemed wholly insubstantial and frivolous, which is what the judge found Minkina’s claim to be. It’s even more rare, Nicolai says, for the ruling to lead to such a protracted, expensive court battle as the Minkina case. 

The expert to whom Neumeier is referring is an employment law professor who was set to testify that Minkina’s former attorneys had been negligent. Minkina says she’s depleted her savings and much of her retirement account to pay her former lawyers from the different cases and the current court bill. Attorneys from the firm formerly called Rodgers, Powers & Schwartz would not comment on the case, beyond saying the court rulings against Minkina speak for themselves. If Minkina prevails in that case, she says the money she is awarded will go toward the judgment in the Rodgers, Powers & Schwartz case. 

Keywords: [“Minkina”,”case”,”attorney”]

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