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The Supreme Court sided Monday with an Alabama technology company over the U.S. Postal Service in a patent dispute.

The dispute before the justices had to do with U.S. Patent No. 6,826,548. That's the patent Birmingham-based Return Mail has for a system that uses barcodes, scanning equipment and computer databases to process returned mail almost entirely automatically. The Postal Service initially expressed interest in Return Mail's invention but ultimately developed its own, similar system. That led to a dispute over the company's patent.

On Monday, the court sided 6-3 with Return Mail. Of the Postal Service's arguments, Justice Sonia Sotomayor deadpanned in an opinion : "None delivers."

The dispute began when the Postal Service tried and failed to get Return Mail's patent invalidated. Return Mail sued, arguing that the government should pay for using its invention without permission.

Just as Return Mail thought it might be gaining the upper hand, the Postal Service switched tactics, using a 2011 law to challenge Return Mail's patent. The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act says that a "person who is not the owner of a patent," can file a patent challenge using the law. The Postal Service argued it counted as a "person" under the law, but the Supreme Court disagreed.


Courts around the country are embracing text messages as a way to nudge people into showing up for their hearings.

On any given day, up to half of defendants fail to show up for their scheduled proceedings. No-shows cost the courts time and money, and can cost defendants their freedom.

Public defenders and court administrators are using text reminders in more than a dozen states, including Virginia, California, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Florida and Washington.

Richmond Public Defender Tracy Paner said the reminders have been a huge help to her clients, who are often struggling with poverty and chaotic family lives, in addition to dealing with the fallout from an arrest. Missing a court date can spur a judge to issue a bench warrant, which can lead to a citation or arrest, fines and even jail time.

“If you’re hustling and you don’t know how you’re going to pay your rent and looking for a job and wondering where you are going to get food, kind of the last thing on your mind is your court date,” Paner said. “If we can help with that, that’s easy for us.”

In Richmond and Petersburg, the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission used a grant to set up a pilot program. The commission contracted with Uptrust, a San Francisco-based company whose software integrates with the public defender’s case management software to access the names, cellphone numbers, court dates and other information to track cases.

Uptrust’s software builds a schedule of reminders for each defendant and automatically sends texts on those dates. The messages are typically sent 10 days, one week and one day before a scheduled hearing.

Some texts also include customized messages reminding people to seek time off from work, arrange for child care and figure out how they will get to court.

One of the main goals is to reduce failure-to-appear rates.

In New York City, researchers who studied a pilot program found that from March 2016 to June 2017 text messages that combined information on planning, what to expect and the consequences of not going to court led to a 26 percent drop in the number of no-shows.

Text messages were initially used by some courts to remind people to report for jury duty, said Bill Raftery, a senior analyst with the National Center for State Courts.

After Michael Brown was shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, a Justice Department investigation focused attention on the practice of issuing fines and other penalties for failing to appear in court, even for minor traffic charges.


President Donald Trump declared Wednesday that he and his administration will battle House Democrats on all legal fronts after the special counsel's Russia report, refusing to cooperate with subpoenas and appealing to the Supreme Court if Congress tries to impeach him.

Trump, seething as Democrats ramp up their probes after Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, said he "thought after two years we'd be finished with it."

"I say it's enough," Trump told reporters on the White House's lawn as he left for an event in Atlanta, accusing the Democrats of using investigations for their electoral advantage in 2020.

"The only way they can luck out is by constantly going after me on nonsense. But they should be really focused on legislation, not the things ... this has been litigated, just so you understand, this has been litigated for the last two years, almost since I got into office."

Trump said his administration would be "fighting all the subpoenas."

One congressional subpoena the administration is expected to resist calls for an appearance by Don McGahn, the former White House counsel who cooperated with Mueller. And the White House is pushing back on other fronts, including House Democratic efforts to obtain Trump's tax returns and his business' financial records.

But Trump's strategy for fighting impeachment at the Supreme Court could run into a roadblock: The high court itself said in 1993 that the framers of the U.S. Constitution didn't intend for the courts to have the power to review impeachment proceedings. The Supreme Court ruled that impeachment and removal from office is Congress' duty alone.


A historian who has spent years looking into the unsolved lynching of two black couples in rural Georgia more than 70 years ago hopes some answers may finally be within his grasp.

A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a lower court ruling to unseal the transcripts of the grand jury proceedings that followed a monthslong investigation into the killings.

Roger and Dorothy Malcom and George and Mae Murray Dorsey were riding in a car that was stopped by a white mob at Moore's Ford Bridge, overlooking the Apalachee River, in July 1946. They were pulled from the car and shot multiple times along the banks of the river.

Amid a national outcry over the slayings, President Harry Truman sent the FBI to rural Walton County, just over 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Atlanta. Agents investigated for months and identified dozens of possible suspects, but a grand jury convened in December 1946 failed to indict anyone.

Anthony Pitch, who wrote a 2016 book on the lynching — "The Last Lynching: How a Gruesome Mass Murder Rocked a Small Georgia Town" — has sought access to the grand jury proceedings, hoping they may shed some light on what happened.


A Maine activist who accused an orphanage founder in Haiti of being a serial pedophile asked the state supreme court on Tuesday to dismiss a defamation lawsuit that was moved from federal court.

An attorney for Paul Kendrick told justices that the assertions were protected by a Maine law that protects people from meritless suits aimed at chilling First Amendment rights.

The argument that invoked Maine's Anti-SLAPP statute was met with skepticism from justices who questioned whether the law was intended to apply to harassment and cyberbullying.

But Supreme Court Chief Justice Leigh Saufley suggested there's a balancing act when between free speech and defamation.

"Are we not sliding into an areas where we have to be very careful not to chill the voices of people who say we must speak up in support of children who have been abused?" she asked an attorney at one point. "We know that if people are afraid to speak up that abuse can go on for decades."



The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to fast-track cases on the president's decision to end a program that shields young immigrants from deportation.

The administration on Monday asked the Supreme Court to take up three cases about Trump's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in one of the cases in May but hasn't yet ruled.

The Trump administration had warned that it would ask the high court to step in if the appeals court didn't rule by Oct. 31. The administration wants a ruling on the issue this term. The high court doesn't typically take cases before federal appeals courts rule on them.


North Carolina's highest court says it will hear arguments on whether the legislature can trim judgeships from the state's intermediate-level appeals court through attrition.

The state Supreme Court says it will take up litigation from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper against Republican legislative leaders challenging a 2017 law reducing the Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12 as retirements and other vacancies occur.

The governor usually gets to name replacements, but that wouldn't happen with the next three openings. The majority on a trial court panel last spring upheld the law.

The Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear the case without it first going through the Court of Appeals itself. Cooper's lawyers said bypassing the Court of Appeals would eliminate any appearance of impropriety to rule on its own membership.

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