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A former Deere & Co. factory manager cannot sue the company under the Iowa Civil Rights Act because he worked and lived in China when he was disciplined for having sexual relationships with two Chinese woman also employed by the company, the Iowa Supreme Court said Friday.

The ruling establishes for the first time that the Iowa Civil Rights Act does not apply to circumstances that occur outside the state even though the parties involved may have some Iowa connection. The decision means the lawsuit filed by Matthew Jahnke will be dismissed.

Jahnke, who began working for Deere in 1998, took a job with the company in Harbin in the northeast part of China in 2011 to oversee the construction of a new factory and to manage it once completed.

In April 2014, Deere received internal reports that one of Jahnke's employees had "procured several very expensive luxury cars" for Jahnke, and helped Jahnke "find beautiful women" in exchange for favorable performance reviews. The reports prompted an investigation that revealed Jahnke had sexual relationships with two Chinese women who also worked at the Deere Harbin factory.

The company concluded that Jahnke violated its code of business conduct because he failed to timely disclose sexual relationships with women he managed.

The Deere employee responsible for the initial investigation concluded in his report that Jahnke, a 60-year-old man involved in a sexual relationship with a 28-year-old woman, could cause embarrassment and negative perception for the company and "there could be the obvious perception of an oldish factory manager abusing his influence/position—and create (sic) some possible exposure for the company."



The Supreme Court said Monday that people who borrow rental cars from friends or family are generally entitled to the same protections against police searches as the authorized driver.

The justices ruled unanimously that as a general rule someone who is "in otherwise lawful possession and control of a rental car" has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the car even if the rental agreement doesn't list the person as an authorized driver. That means police can't generally search the car unless they have a warrant or what's called "probable cause" to believe a crime has been committed.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, noted there "may be countless innocuous reasons why an unauthorized driver might get behind the wheel of a rental car and drive it," including that the renter is drowsy or drunk and that the renter and a friend "think it is safer for the friend to drive them to their destination."

The Trump administration had argued that anyone driving a rental car but not listed on a rental agreement does not have an expectation of privacy in the car. That would mean that police who pulled over a rental car with an unauthorized driver could search the car without the person's consent. The Supreme Court rejected the government's argument, saying it "rests on too restrictive a view" of protections in the Fourth Amendment.

Attorneys arguing for protections for unauthorized drivers had noted that 115 million car rentals take place annually in the United States. They said that if the government won, police would have an incentive to pull over a rental car driver who commits a traffic violation because police would know they could search the car if the driver isn't on the rental agreement.

The case the justices ruled in dates to 2014 and involves Terrence Byrd, who was driving a car rented by his fiance when a state trooper pulled him over on a Pennsylvania highway for an alleged minor traffic violation. He acted nervous during the stop and told troopers he had a marijuana cigarette in the car. Officers eventually decided to search the car.

Because the rental agreement didn't authorize Byrd to drive the car, troopers told him they didn't need his consent for the search. And when troopers opened the trunk, they found body armor and about 2,500 little bags of heroin. Byrd later acknowledged he planned to sell the drugs for roughly $7,000, and a court sentenced him to 10 years in prison.



A program out of Chicago’s federal court building designed to give non-violent suspects a chance to stay out of prison has held its first graduation.
It’s a pretrial diversionary program emphasizing teamwork and counseling on living constructive, crime-free lives.

A statement from the U.S. District Court for northern Illinois says five participants whose alleged crimes ranged from computer fraud to drug possession graduated at a ceremony Thursday. Successful completion keeps participants out of prison. It can lead to reductions of felonies to misdemeanors and even to dismissal of charges.

Participants can’t have felony records. They attend bi-monthly court sessions for up to two years. Judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys help oversee the program. It’s called Sentencing Options that Achieve Results, or SOAR for short. It was established in 2016.


An appeals court has ruled that a Florida driver can face charges for obscuring the lettering on vehicle license tags with a frame.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal decision Wednesday came in the case of a driver who was stopped in 2015 by an officer because the words "MyFlorida.com" were obscured by a tag frame. The officer later found drugs in the car and the driver was charged with a narcotics offense.

A lower court tossed out incriminating statements the driver made to the officer, concluding the tag frame didn't violate requirements of state law regarding display of license tags.

The appeals court disagreed, sending the case back for further proceedings based on the 2015 law. It was changed in 2016 so that obscuring "Florida" was not a violation.


The Supreme Court agreed Monday to review the case of a Missouri death row inmate who says his rare medical condition could cause him to choke on his own blood during an execution.

The justices said they would hear the appeal of inmate Russell Bucklew. The court blocked Bucklew's execution in March after he argued that a tumor in his throat is likely to rupture and bleed during the administration of the drugs that would be used to kill him.

Bucklew argues that subjecting him to lethal injection would violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The issue is whether Bucklew has to show there is another method of execution available that would reduce the risk of needless suffering.

Bucklew has proposed that the state use lethal gas instead of an injection of pentobarbital, if the execution is carried out. Missouri law still provides for the option of lethal gas, but the state no longer has a gas chamber and has not used the method since 1965.

Bucklew says it is likely he would essentially suffocate for two to three minutes if he is given a drug injection. The feeling of suffocation would last no more than 30 seconds using gas, he says.

But the federal appeals court in St. Louis ruled against him and concluded that he did not prove the alternate method would reduce his suffering. The Supreme Court has previously ruled that inmates challenging a method of execution have to show that there's an alternative that is likely to be less painful.

None of the 20 inmates executed since Missouri began using pentobarbital in 2013 have shown obvious signs of pain or suffering.



The Supreme Court has upheld a challenged practice that is used to invalidate patents without the involvement of federal courts.

The justices on Tuesday rejected a bid to strike down a process established by Congress in 2011 to speed up patent reviews.

The justices voted 7-2 in favor of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's patent review process. It has been used to invalidate hundreds of patents since it was established in 2012.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Neil Gorsuch dissented.


The Supreme Court is hearing arguments about whether a rule it announced decades ago in a case involving a catalog retailer should still apply in the age of the internet.

The case on Tuesday focuses on businesses' collection of sales tax on online purchases. Right now, under the decades-old Supreme Court rule, if a business is shipping a product to a state where it doesn't have an office, warehouse or other physical presence, it doesn't have to collect the state's sales tax. Customers are generally supposed to pay the tax to the state themselves, but the vast majority don't.

States say that as a result of the rule and the growth of internet shopping, they're losing billions of dollars in tax revenue every year. More than 40 states are asking the Supreme Court to abandon the rule.

Large retailers such as Apple, Macy's, Target and Walmart, which have brick-and-mortar stores nationwide, generally collect sales tax from their customers who buy online. But other online sellers that only have a physical presence in a few states can sidestep charging customers sales tax when they're shipping to addresses outside those states.

Sellers who defend the current rule say collecting sales tax nationwide is complex and costly, especially for small sellers. That complexity was a concern for the Supreme Court when it announced the physical presence rule in a case involving a catalog retailer in 1967, a rule it reaffirmed in 1992. But states say software has now made collecting sales tax easy.

The case the court is hearing has to do with a law passed by South Dakota in 2016, a law designed to challenge the Supreme Court's physical presence rule. The law requires out-of-state sellers who do more than $100,000 of business in the state or more than 200 transactions annually with state residents to collect and turn over sales tax to the state.

The state wanted out-of-state retailers to begin collecting the tax and sued Overstock.com, home goods company Wayfair and electronics retailer Newegg. The state has conceded in court, however, that it can only win by persuading the Supreme Court to do away with its current physical presence rule.

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