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The Supreme Court said Tuesday that the first-ever women to hold two prominent positions at the court, handling the justices’ security and overseeing publication of the court’s decisions, are retiring.

Pamela Talkin’s most public role in nearly two decades as the court’s marshal has been opening court sessions by announcing the justices’ entrance into the courtroom and banging a gavel before court begins. She noted in 2005: “I’m the only person in the courtroom with a gavel.” But her responsibilities as marshal’s job were vast. She served as the court’s general manager and chief security officer, managing approximately 260 employees, including the Supreme Court’s police force.

Christine Luchok Fallon’s name wasn’t on any Supreme Court decision, but part of her job as the reporter of decisions was to oversee the writing of summaries of the justices’ opinions that begin each decision, turning lengthy legal explanations into a succinct few pages.

Fallon became the court’s 16th reporter of decisions in 2011. But she joined the court as deputy reporter of decisions in 1989, eight years after Justice Sandra Day O’Connor became the court’s first female justice and four years before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the second. The court’s third and fourth female justices, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan, joined the court in 2009 and 2010 respectively.


A town court in southern Nevada was closed Tuesday after officials said several workers were exposed to a person who tested positive for the new coronavirus.

The two judges in the Nye County community of Pahrump issued an order saying all staff members will be tested Wednesday for COVID-19, and no in-person hearings will be held at the courthouse.

Pahrump Justice Court will continue to conduct initial appearances, bail hearings and arraignments with detainees and attorneys appearing by telephone or video conference.

Applications for protective orders can be made by internet or at the Nye County sheriff’s office.

The court in the community about 60 miles west of Las Vegas also closed for several days in April after an employee tested positive and other workers were exposed to the virus.

The court order said officials anticipate reopening after staff members have tested negative.

State health officials report that more than 22,000 people have tested positive for the virus statewide and at least 537 have died.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms for up to three weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems can face severe illness and death. The vast majority recover.


The Supreme Court on Monday upheld a 1991 law that bars robocalls to cellphones.

The case, argued by telephone in May because of the coronavirus pandemic, only arose after Congress in 2015 created an exception in the law that allowed the automated calls for collection of government debt.

Political consultants and pollsters were among those who asked the Supreme Court to strike down the entire 1991 law that bars them from making robocalls to cellphones as a violation of their free speech rights under the Constitution. The issue was whether, by allowing one kind of speech but not others, the exception made the whole law unconstitutional.

Six justices agreed that by allowing debt collection calls to cellphones Congress “impermissibly favored debt-collection speech over political and other speech, in violation of the First Amendment,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote. And seven justices agreed that the 2015 exception should be stricken from the law.

“Americans passionately disagree about many things. But they are largely united in their disdain for robocalls,” Kavanaugh noted at the outset of his opinion.

During arguments in the case in May, Justice Stephen Breyer got cut off when someone tried calling him. Breyer said after he rejoined the court’s arguments: “The telephone started to ring, and it cut me off the call and I don’t think it was a robocall.”


States can’t cut religious schools out of programs that send public money to private education, a divided Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

By a 5-4 vote with the conservatives in the majority, the justices upheld a  Montana scholarship program that allows state tax credits for private schooling in which almost all the recipients attend religious schools.

The Montana Supreme Court had struck down the K-12 private education scholarship program that was created by the Legislature in 2015 to make donors eligible for up to $150 in state tax credits. The state court had ruled that the tax credit violated the Montana constitution’s ban on state aid to religious schools.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion that said the state ruling itself ran afoul of the religious freedom, embodied in the U.S. Constitution, of parents who want the scholarships to help pay for their children’s private education. “A state need not subsidize private education. But once a state decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious,” Roberts wrote.

In a dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor described the ruling as “perverse.”

“Without any need or power to do so, the Court appears to require a State to reinstate a tax-credit program that the Constitution did not demand in the first place,” she said.

Parents whose children attend religious schools sued to preserve the program. The high court decision upholds families’ rights “to exercise our religion as we see fit,” said Kendra Espinoza, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit whose two daughters attend the Stillwater Christian School in Kalispell, Montana, near Glacier National Park.


Johnny Depp’s lawyers have failed to stop the American actor’s ex-wife, Amber Heard, from attending his libel trial against the British tabloid newspaper The Sun until she is called to give evidence.

In a court order published on Saturday, trial judge Andrew Nicol said that excluding Heard from the London courtroom before she testifies in the case “would inhibit the defendants in the conduct of their defense.”

Depp, 57, is suing The Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers, and Executive Editor Dan Wootton over a 2018 article claiming the actor was violent and abusive to Heard. He strongly denies the allegations.

Depp’s lawyers had asked the judge to keep Heard from attending the trial until the 34-year-old actress and model appears to give evidence, arguing that her testimony would be more reliable if she were not present in court when Depp was being cross-examined.

The judge noted it is News Group and Wootton, and not Heard, that are defending the claim, while conceding they will be relying “heavily” on what Heard says.

The trial, which was postponed from March because of the coronavirus pandemic, is scheduled to start Tuesday and to last three weeks.

Other witnesses are likely to include Depp’s ex-partners Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder, who have both submitted statements supporting the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star.

US Supreme Court agrees to hear Nazi art case

  Law Center  -   POSTED: 2020/07/03 17:17

The Supreme Court agreed Thursday to hear a case involving the descendants of a group of Jewish art dealers from Germany who say their ancestors were forced to sell a collection of religious art to the Nazi government in 1935.

The justices will decide whether the dispute involving foreign citizens suing a foreign government belongs in U.S. courts. A lower court allowed the case to go forward, but Germany asked the Supreme Court to weigh in.

The justices also took a case involving Hungarian nationals suing Hungary over property taken from them during World War II.

In the case involving Germany, the group of people who sued are descendants of art dealers who in 1929 together bought a collection of religious artworks from the 11th to 15th centuries known as the Guelph Treasure. The collection is known in German as the Welfenschatz. An appeals court in Washington allowed the case to go forward in 2018.

The justices are expected to hear both cases sometime after they take a break for the summer and resume hearing arguments in the fall. It is not clear whether the justices will hear the cases in their courtroom or by telephone as they did in May because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, Nicholas M. O’Donnell, who represents the heirs of the art dealers, said that: “Germany seeks to eliminate recourse for Nazi-looted art and the Court will have the chance to answer this question of critical importance for Holocaust victims.”

Jonathan Freiman, one of Germany’s lawyers, said in an email: “We’re glad that the Supreme Court will hear the case and look forward to explaining why this dispute doesn’t belong in a U.S. court.”


The Supreme Court on Thursday turned away pleas from anti-abortion activists to make it easier for them to protest outside clinics, declining to wade back into the abortion debate just days after striking down a Louisiana law regulating abortion clinics.

The justices said in a written order that they would not hear cases from Chicago and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where anti-abortion activists had challenged ordinances that restrict their behavior outside clinics.

As is usual, the justices did not comment in turning away the cases. The order from the court noted Justice Clarence Thomas would have heard the Chicago case.

The Supreme Court has since the late 1990s heard several cases involving demonstration-free zones, called buffer zones, outside abortion clinics. Most recently, in 2014, the justices unanimously struck down a law that created a 35-foot protest-free zone outside Massachusetts abortion clinics. The court said Massachusetts’ law, which made it a crime to stand in the protest-free zone for most people not entering or exiting the clinic or passing by, was an unconstitutional restraint on the free-speech rights of protesters.

On Thursday, one of the two cases the court declined to take up involved an ordinance passed by the city counsel in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's capital, in 2012 that made it illegal to “congregate, patrol, picket or demonstrate” in a zone 20 feet from a health care facility. Anti-abortion activists sued, arguing that the ordinance violates their free speech rights. Lower courts have upheld the ordinance, however, ruling it doesn't apply to “sidewalk counseling,” where individuals who oppose abortion offer assistance and information about alternatives to abortion to those entering a clinic.

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