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Punitive damages and rejected pleas

This week we highlight petitions that ask the Supreme Court to consider, among other things, whether an award of punitive damages that doubles the compensatory damages can comport with due process and how a defendant can prove ineffective assistance of counsel in rejecting a plea offer. After a jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, Epic Systems won an award of $140 million in compensatory damages in a trade-secrets dispute with Tata Consulting Services. Th...
Tags: New York, Texas, Featured, Supreme Court, Law, United States, Epic, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Taylor, Russell, U S Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit, Lumpkin, Anaya, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd


Morning Docket: 05.06.21

* A new lawsuit alleges a New Jersey family ate feces-covered food at a McDonald's. One heck of a special sauce... [Patch] * Harvey Weinstein has sued his former lawyer to recover supposedly unearned legal fees. [Hill] * San Diego County will provide lawyers to immigrants facing deportation proceedings. [Minnesota Lawyer] * A man has been convicted of stalking a high-profile Texas attorney. [ ] * Rudy Giuliani's allies are allegedly asking that Donald Trump's team help pay Rudy's legal bil...
Tags: Texas, Law, New Jersey, Harvey Weinstein, San Diego, Mcdonald's, Rudy, Donald Trump, San Diego County, Rudy Giuliani, McDonald, Hill, Morning Docket, Minnesota Lawyer


"Debate Erupts at N.J. Law School After White Student Quotes Racial Slur/A Rutgers Law student repeated an epithet from a legal case, and now Black students at the New Jersey school are calling for a policy on slurs — and apologies."

 The controversy began on Oct. 28, after a criminal law class all first-year students are required to take. In discussing the circumstances under which a criminal defendant could be held liable for crimes committed by his co-conspirators, the student repeated a quote from a defendant that appeared in an opinion written by a former State Supreme Court judge, Alan B. Handler. “He said, um — and I’ll use a racial word, but it’s a quote,” the student said, according to a summary of the incident wr...
Tags: Law, New Jersey, Free Speech, Law School, Black, Trenton, State Supreme Court, Race And Education, Ann Althouse, Alan B Handler


Invention of a Slave: 2021 Redux

by Dennis Crouch Tormasi v. Western Digital, Docket No. 20-1396 (Supreme Court 2021) Walter Tormasi is a prisoner in the New Jersey state prison system. He is serving a life sentence for murdering his mother when he was 16 years old after apparently receiving encouragement from his father, Attila. Tormasi is also a patentee.  His U.S. Patent No. 7,324,301 covers a computer hard-drive that allows for “simultaneously and independently” reading and/or writing on different carrier surfaces within t...
Tags: Supreme Court, Law, United States, New Jersey, Patent, Western Digital, Lewis, Trenton, Chen, Casey, Federal Circuit, Stoll, Wallach, John Kane, New Jersey New Jersey, Brooks Kushman


Insurer's Motion to Dismiss Class Action COVID-19 Claim Denied

    The insurer's motion to dismiss a nationwide class action suit arising from shutdown orders after the COVID-19 pandemic was rejected by the court. Back2health Chiropractic Ctr. v. Sentinel Ins. Co ., 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42791 (D. N.J. March 15, 2021).      Back2health sought coverage under its all-risk policy after stay-at-home and business restrictions were implemented. The complaint alleged the policy covered some of Back2health's financial losses. The insurer denied the claim due to la...
Tags: Insurance, New Jersey, Third Circuit, Sentinel, Tred Eyerly, Business Interruption, First Party Insurance, All-Risk Policy, Sentinel Ins, Sentinel Sentinel, COVID-19, Back2health Chiropractic Ctr, Fed R Civ P Sentinel


Justices contemplate the interplay of eminent domain and sovereign immunity

The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard argument in PennEast Pipeline Co. v. New Jersey. The case presents two questions : (1) whether sovereign immunity prevents PennEast from instituting eminent domain proceedings in federal court to condemn properties in which New Jersey has interests, and (2) whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit had jurisdiction over those proceedings. The dispute arose when PennEast obtained under the Natural Gas Act a certificate of public convenience and ne...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, Pennsylvania, United States, New Jersey, John Roberts, Roberts, FERC, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Stephen Breyer, Breyer, Elena Kagan, Clement, U S Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit


Eminent domain, sovereign immunity and a controversial pipeline through New Jersey

On Wednesday, the justices will hear argument in PennEast Pipeline Co. v. New Jersey. The case presents the question of what impact, if any, does the Natural Gas Act have on the sovereign immunity provided to the states through the 11th Amendment. This clash between the NGA and the Constitution arose because, under the NGA, companies with permits to build new pipelines can use the power of eminent domain to seize property along the pipeline route. The case has broad ramifications for the indust...
Tags: Texas, Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, Pennsylvania, United States, New Jersey, State, D C Circuit, FERC, U S Court of Appeals, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, NGA, PennEast, 3rd Circuit


"Handling Aggravating Facts After Blakely: Findings From Five Presumptive-Guidelines States"

The title of this post is the title of this great new paper authored by Nancy King ow available va SSRN. Here is its abstract: This Article reveals how five states with presumptive (binding) sentencing guidelines have implemented the right announced in Blakely v. Washington to a jury finding of aggravating facts allowing upward departures from the presumptive range.  Using data provided by the sentencing commissions and courts in Kansas, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington, as wel...
Tags: Law, Washington, United States, New Jersey, Blakely, Douglas A Berman, Apprendi, Alleyne, Nancy King, Kansas Minnesota North Carolina Oregon


Morning Docket: 04.26.21

* The Supreme Court may soon hear a case involving a high school cheerleader's Snapchat rant. Really hope the justices find a way to quote the movie Bring it On... [Washington Post] * Reddit is facing a lawsuit for failing to remove child sexual abuse materials. [Verge] * A former lawyer has published a memoir detailing some of the ugly parts of the legal profession she witnessed during her career. [New York Post] * A lawsuit may soon reveal who the inventor of Bitcoin really is. [CNBC] * ...
Tags: New York Post, Supreme Court, Law, Washington Post, Snapchat, Bitcoin, New Jersey, Reddit, Giants, Cnbc, South Jersey, Morning Docket, Bring It On


Mixed messages on mandatory minimums from executive branch in New Jersey witrh a retroactive kicker

In this post last month, I flagged the debate in New Jersey where the Governor was threatening to veto a bill to repeal mandatory minimums for certain non-violent crimes because it repealed too many mandatory minimum sentences.  Sure enough, that veto happened yesterday, but so too did an interesting related action from the NJ Attorney General.  This Politico piece, headlined "Murphy vetoes mandatory minimum bill as Grewal unilaterally eliminates some sentences," provides these details (with som...
Tags: Law, New Jersey, Commission, Donald Trump, Hudson, Legislature, Murphy, Gurbir Grewal, North Bergen, New Jerseyans, AG, Sinha, Grewal, Phil Murphy, Sacco, Douglas A Berman


Morning Docket: 04.19.21

* A prominent Dallas attorney is accused of agreeing to launder drug money for a share of the profits. Is his name Saul Goodman? [Dallas Morning News] * A billionaire was purportedly able to cheat on his taxes without going to jail even though his lawyer faces serious charges and possible prison time. [Daily Beast] * A disbarred New Jersey lawyer has been connected to a company that was at one time worth $100 million despite owning one single deli. Maybe the valuation was based on the qualit...
Tags: Better Call Saul, Law, Oregon, New Jersey, Dallas, Cnbc, Dallas Morning News, Jerry Falwell Jr, Falwell, Newsweek, Saul Goodman, Morning Docket


Austin PD won't disavow 'paramilitary' culture in its academy; Dallas cops caught using unauthorized facial recognition tech; police reform in Houston hits a dead end; and other stories

Here are a few odds and ends that merit Grits readers' attention while mine is focused elsewhere. Consultant: Austin PD still embraces 'paramilitary' culture Austin's police academy retains a "predominantly paramilitary model," consultants Kroll and Associates found, and their training staff lacks diversity. "For the most part, Kroll has found APD reluctant to incorporate a lot of community/civilian input and distrustful of non-police personnel." Changes so far sound largely cosmetic: "there is ...
Tags: Texas, Maryland, Law, Austin, New Jersey, Dallas, New Mexico, Houston, Gizmodo, Apd, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Tarrant County, Lone Star State, Gutierrez, River Oaks


New Jersey on the ethics of ‘reply all’ emails

Here is a recent Daily Record column. My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here. ***** New Jersey On The Ethics Of “Reply All” Emails Lawyers have communicated with clients via electronic means for more than two decades. For most of that time period, email has been the preferred and primary method of electronic communication. However, over time, email - which is inherently unsecure and is no different than sending a postcard written in pencil through the post office - has begun to fa...
Tags: New York, Law, Ethics, Web/Tech, New Jersey, Thomson Reuters, Aba, Committee, ABA Journal, Rochester New York, Daily Record--Legal Currents Column, Law & Technology, NBlack, Nicole Black


Any interesting new insights about the interesting new folks tapped by Prez Biden for DEA and AAG positions at the Department of Justice?

As detailed in this press release, Prez Biden yesterday announced "His Intent to Nominate 11 Key Administration Leaders on National Security and Law Enforcement."  Two of the nominees could prove be particularly impactful in sentencing and other federal criminal justice reform arenas:  Anne Milgram, Nominee for Administrator, Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Justice Anne Milgram has had a distinguished career as a state, local, and federal prosecutor.  As New Jersey’s Attorney G...
Tags: Law, Washington Post, US, United States, New Jersey, New Orleans, DEA, Louisiana, Department Of Justice, Biden, Justice Department, New Jersey State Police, Milgram, Morgan Lewis Bockius LLP, Douglas A Berman, AAG


A dirty, uncomfortable feeling: TCOLE Sunset bill lame, inadequate, and kicks can down the road on the biggest police accountability issues

After staff at the Texas Sunset Commission issued a of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, the legislation enacting their vision couldn't be more disappointing. The bill passed out of committee as filed this week with no changes.It would create a blue-ribbon commission to evaluate all the biggest questions, even though Sunset staff already identified the problems. See Grits' write-up of Sunset staff's concerns for more detail, but big picture, Sunset staff said "Texas' Approach to Regulat...
Tags: Texas, Law, America, New Jersey, Sunset, Legislature, Gritsforbreakfast, Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, Kim Vickers, TCOLE, Texas Approach, Texas Sunset Commission, Vicki Goodwin, Sandra Bland Data


The Geek in Review Ep. 112 – Dan Packel on the Rise of Distributed Law Firms

Over the past year, many of us have said “I guess all law firms are virtual law firms now.” While that may technically be true, there are many firms whose business model is based on being a virtual firm. Dan Packel from The American Lawyer gives us a primer on Distributed Law Firms like Fisher Broyles, Ramon, Taylor English and Duma, and Culhane Meadows and how they operate without a physical environment. While many of these firms may fly below the radar for many biglaw firms, distributed firms ...
Tags: Apple, Podcast, New York, Texas, Law, California, Boston, Uncategorized, United States, South Dakota, New Jersey, Kansas City, Council, Rhode Island, Baker, Biglaw


Court to take up case on “harmless error” standard in habeas proceedings

The Supreme Court on Monday announced that it would add the case of a Michigan inmate convicted of premeditated murder to its docket for next term. The justices granted Brown v. Davenport, a petition filed by the state of Michigan on the standard for whether a constitutional error is “harmless” when a defendant is seeking federal post-conviction relief. The inmate, Ervine Davenport, was convicted after a trial at which he was shackled. State courts in Michigan agreed that shackling Davenport vi...
Tags: New York, Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Court, New Jersey, Michigan, District Of Columbia, Brown, Murphy, McDonald, Dobbs, Davenport, Howe, U S Court of Appeals, City of Chicago


Prez Biden announces his first group of judicial nominees reflecting diverse backgrounds

As partially detailed in this CBS News piece, headlined "Biden announces first slate of judicial nominees with picks that would make history," Prez Joe Biden has formally announced a first set of planned nominations for judicial openings. Here are basics:  President Biden on Tuesday rolled out his first slate of judicial nominees, announcing candidates with diverse backgrounds and professional qualifications as he begins to make his own stamp on the nation's district and circuit courts. Of the ...
Tags: Maryland, Law, Cbs News, Senate, White House, New Jersey, New Mexico, Biden, Donald Trump, Senate Judiciary Committee, U S Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, 7th U S Circuit Court of Appeals, Douglas A Berman, US Sentencing Commission, Ketanji Brown Jackson


A request for lawprof input and other posts of note from Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

I have not done a round-up of posts from my blogging over at Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform since mid January, and I am especially eager to flag this new post requesting information from folks teaching (or interested in teaching) a law course touching on drugs or the legal structures around cannabis (sought via a short survey at go.osu.edu/teaching-drugs-survey).  The first link below provides more context for this request, and thereafter you will find links to other recent posts at the intersec...
Tags: Law, Mexico, White House, New Jersey, US Senate, Douglas A Berman, Merrick Garland, Prez Biden, New York Marijuana, Interstate Commerce in Cannabis AG


Hitler-loving Capitol insurrectionist with a history of multiple arrests and Jew-baiting had an Army award for 'exemplary behavior' and secret-level security clearance

Images of Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, 30, sporting a Hitler mustache. These images were recovered from his cellphone by NCIS special agents. US Department of Justice Capitol rioter Timothy Hale-Cusanelli was "well-known" to his coworkers as a white supremacist. An Insider investigation reveals a history of anti-Semitism and intimidating Jewish people. The investigation also finds that the Hitler fanatic held a secret-level security clearance despite multiple arrests. See more stories on Inside...
Tags: Facebook, Politics, Law, Navy, Washington, US, Trends, New Jersey, News UK, Army, Hitler, Donald Trump, Adolf Hitler, Hbc, Capitol, Asbury Park Press


Hitler-loving Capitol insurrectionist with a history of multiple arrests and Jew-baiting was given an Army award for 'exemplary behavior' and secret-level security clearance

Images of Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, 30, sporting a Hitler mustache. These images were recovered from his cellphone by NCIS special agents. US Department of Justice Capitol rioter Timothy Hale-Cusanelli was "well-known" to his coworkers as a white supremacist. An Insider investigation reveals a history of anti-Semitism and intimidating Jewish people. The investigation also finds that the Hitler fanatic held a secret-level security clearance despite multiple arrests. See more stories on Inside...
Tags: Facebook, Politics, Law, Navy, Washington, US, Trends, New Jersey, News UK, Army, Hitler, Donald Trump, Adolf Hitler, Hbc, Capitol, Asbury Park Press


US Army reservist charged in Capitol riot was a Nazi sympathizer who sported a 'Hitler mustache' to work, federal prosecutors reveal

Riots at the US Capitol Building. Michael Nigro/Pacific Press:LightRocket/Getty Court documents published by Politico offer an insight into a Capitol rioter's white supremacist ties. Hale-Cusanelli worked at a New Jersey naval facility where he held secret-level security clearance. Investigators found that Hale-Cusanelli's coworkers could recall numerous incidents of racist behavior. See more stories on Insider's business page. A US Army reservist who is charged with taking par...
Tags: News, Law, Navy, Youtube, Politico, US, Trends, Fbi, New Jersey, News UK, Pentagon, Hitler, US Army, Capitol, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Getz


"The Federal Sentencing Guidelines: Some Valedictory Reflections Twenty Years After Apprendi"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper authored by Frank O. Bowman III now available via SSRN. Here is its abstract: In this contribution to the North Carolina Law Review's symposium on the twentieth anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Apprendi v. New Jersey, I offer a valedictory reflection on my own intellectual journey with sentencing reform and in particular with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The account begins with my first encounters with the Guideli...
Tags: Supreme Court, Law, New Jersey, Douglas A Berman, Apprendi, North Carolina Law Review, Frank O Bowman III


Lots of SCOTUS talk and debate over the "categorial approach" and ACCA proof burdens in immigration decision

The Supreme Court this morning handed down a 5-3 ruling in Pereida v, Wilkenson, No. 19-438 (S. Ct. Mar. 4, 2021) (available here), in which the majority holds that, under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), a person subject to removal seeking discretionary relief must prove a prior conviction is not a "disqualifying criminal offense." Federal sentencing fans may already sense where this is going because so much of federal sentencing law, particularly the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA),...
Tags: Supreme Court, Law, Court, United States, New Jersey, Shepard, Breyer, ACCA, Mathis, Gorsuch, Douglas A Berman, Almendarez Torres, Apprendi, Descamps, Wilkenson, Pereida


Will NJ Gov veto a bill to repeal mandatory minimums for certain non-violent crimes because it repeals too many?

The question in the title of this post is prompted by this local story reporting on notable legislative developments our of New Jersey, headlined "Bill to end mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes in N.J. now goes to Murphy’s desk."  Here are highlights of a story with so many interesting elements (with links from the original and my emphasis added): A landmark criminal justice bill that would end mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes in New Jersey, including non-violent drug ...
Tags: Law, New Jersey, Bill, State Assembly, Murphy, North Bergen, Phil Murphy, Sacco, Douglas A Berman, Joseph Krakora, Criminal Sentencing and Disposition Commission, Gov Murphy, Sen Nicholas Sacco D Hudson, Assemblyman Nick Chiaravalloti D Hudson, Assemblyman John DiMaio R Warren, However NJ Together


Morning Docket: 02.12.21

* A Florida lawyer who became famous dressing up as the "grim reaper" on beaches to warn about COVID-19 may face discipline for an appeal he filed. Hope he didn't wear the "grim reaper" outfit to court... [ABC News] * Megan Markle won a lawsuit against a company that published portions of a private letter she wrote to her father. [Harper's Bazaar] * Check out this group of Harvard Law grads who are trying to eliminate harassments and discrimination in the legal profession. [New York Times] ...
Tags: New York Post, Florida, Bruce Springsteen, Law, New York Times, New Jersey, Abc News, Grim Reaper, Harper, Bazaar, Harvard Law, Morning Docket, Lawyerly Lairs, Megan Markle, DWI, Jupiter California Check


Morning Docket: 02.05.21

* Merrick Garland said he will sell his stocks after he is confirmed as Attorney General. Maybe he is just unloading his GameStop shares... [Barrons] * A Roger Ailes accuser is alleging that lawyers for Fox News are using improper litigation tactics against her. [Daily Beast] * Two Attorneys General of Alaska have resigned in around six months. And it's not because of the weather... [New York Times] * A New Jersey attorney has been disbarred for using client money on personal expenses, incl...
Tags: Law, Cbs News, Attorney General, Uncategorized, Walmart, Alaska, New York Times, New Jersey, Fox News, Gamestop, Roger Ailes, Market Basket, Morning Docket, Merrick Garland, Barrons


Bridgegate and Property Law

by Dennis Crouch An expansive notion of “property” also allows for expansive criminal prosecution.  As an example, the Federal Wire Fraud statute makes it a crime to use the “wires” to move forward with “any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises.”  18 U.S.C. § 1343. Case-in-point is Kelly v. U.S., 140 S. Ct. 1565 (2020).  Kelly case involves George Washington Bridge lane closing scandal known lovi...
Tags: Chris Christie, Supreme Court, Law, Court, Fort Lee, United States, New Jersey, Cleveland, Patent, Christie, George, Kelly, U S, Port Authority, Second Circuit, Girard


The Sentencing Project releases new report documenting "Racial Disparities in Youth Incarceration Persist"

Josh Rovner has authored this new report for The Sentencing Project titled " "Racial Disparities in Youth Incarceration Persist." Here is its executive summary: In an era of declining youth incarceration, Black and American Indian youth are still overwhelmingly more likely to be held in custody than their white peers. In ten years, the United States has cut youth incarceration in half. While the reduction is impressive, youth involvement in the juvenile justice system continues to impact youth ...
Tags: Law, United States, New Jersey, States, Black, Douglas A Berman, Josh Rovner


From Peace Corp volunteer to Capitol insurrectionist: How Thomas Baranyi went from being a quiet, troubled kid to a man who felt betrayed by politics

US Capitol protester Thomas Baranyi, 28, speaks to a WUSA reporter on January 6, 2020. WUSA9/YouTube Thomas Baranyi was identified by the FBI after appearing in a TV interview where he talks about storming the Capitol. Insider spoke to his former friends and coworker who described him as "quiet" and "disillusioned." Baranyi had a tumultuous New Jersey childhood and was estranged from his friends before joining the Peace Corps. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Thomas Bara...
Tags: Facebook, Politics, News, Law, Congress, Senate, Iraq, US, Trends, Fbi, Washington Dc, New Jersey, News UK, Marine Corps, Secret Service, Albania



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