By Dan Brillman
A federal court will rule this week on the extent to which public officials can use campaign money for legal defenses, reports McClatchy Newspapers.
The case involves former Idaho senator Larry Craig, who was arrested in 2007 after allegedly soliciting sex from an undercover cop in a Minneapolis airport bathroom. According to the suit, Craig's campaign allotted $480,000 for his defense, including more than $200,000 used to try and withdraw an initial guilty plea.
The Craig campaign argued that the senator was traveling on official business at the time of the alleged misconduct, but the Federal Election Commission claims that the actions he was arrested for had nothing to do with his office and were thus a violation of election law.
Thcase could have implications for future rulings, McClatchy reports, but it is not without some precedent. Former congressman Gary Condit, who was investigated by the Washington police in the disappearance of his former intern, Chandra Levy, spent over $100,000 of campaign money for attorneys during the incident. In 2007 an FEC panel looked into Arizona Representative Jim Kolbe, who was criticized for not making public accusations that Congressman Mark Foley had inappropriate communications with teenage interns. The FEC concluded that Kolbe's use of campaign money for lawyers during investigations of the Foley scandal was in line with the law.
By Caitlin Tremblay
Illegal music downloads decreased across the board in 2012,
with significant drops in peer-to-peer sharing, copying
tracks from CDs (known as ripping)
and sharing from hard drives, according to a new study from The
NPD Group, a market research company
(hat tip: cnet).
Downloading from peer-to-peer
sharing services dropped 26 percent, while the number of people using
those services dropped 17 percent, according to the study. At the peak of file
sharing, in 2005,20 percent of Internet users over the age of
13 used a
peer-to-peer service, but now only 11
percent or roughly 21 million people do. CD ripping fell 44 percent and hard drive
swapping decreased 25 percent.
The study said the main reason less people are sharing music
and downloading illegally is because of the abundance of new, free streaming
sites, like Pandora and Spotify, that put whole artist catalogues at users’
fingertips … legally.
By Suhrith Parthasarathy
A group of civil liberty and
media organizations have appealed an order by a
Guantanamo military judge to censor testimony about 9/11 defendants allegedly tortured in U.S. custody, The
Miami Herald reports. Fourteen media organizations, including The Miami
Herald, and the American Civil Liberties Union filed their appeal to the
Pentagon’s Court of Military Commissions Review, arguing for more transparency
at the war court.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, and his four accused co-conspirators were held captive
in 2002 and 2003 before being sent to Guantanamo.
All of the defendants have said they were tortured while in custody, but
the U.S. governmentfiled a request seeking that any testimony pertaining to the defendants’ interrogation be classified, as it might expose the CIA’s detention program. Last December,
Army Colonel James Pohl, the chief judge
overseeing the court, signed a protective order maintaining secrecy over the
experiences of the defendants in the CIA’s clandestine prisons, as
in an appellate brief filed Feb. 14, the news organizations allege that
the order violates First Amendment rights by declaring anything that the
accused have said about the CIA’s treatment as automatically “classified.” The
ACLU, in a separate
appeals brief filed Feb. 21, has argued
that “the public has a constitutional right to hear defendants’ testimony” and
that the protective order could hardly be more “extraordinary” or “draconian.”
The appeals panel has given prosecutors until March 6 to respond to the briefs.
By Anna Louie Sussman
A ruling from the New Mexico Supreme Court that was designed
to protect the attorney-client relationship could end up curbing
lawyers' ability to hop firms, the Albuquerque Journal reports.
The case revolves around a lawyer, Lisa Ford, who was
working for landowner Roy Mercer. In 2010, Ford left Mercer and
joined the law firm of Riley, Shane & Keller, which represented
BNSF Railroad, which along with its contractor was in a dispute
Mercer sought to disqualify Riley Shane as the firm for BNSF
on grounds that Ford had a conflict of interest. While a state
district court agreed, it ruled that the contractor would be
"severely harmed" by having to hire a different firm. The New
Mexico Supreme Court has reversed and ordered BNSF and its
contractor to fire Riley Shane.
In a unanimous opinion Justice Richard Bosson wrote, "not
only can an individual lawyer be prevented from participating in
a case if he or she was once an attorney for the opposing side
in that case, but the lawyer's firm can be ordered to withdraw
from the case as well."
Bosson wrote that "our ruling may result in limiting the
lateral movement of attorneys between law firms" because firms
may be reluctant to lose clients as a result of hiring a lawyer,
according to the Journal. But the "relationship of an attorney
and client" must be "inviolate," he wrote.
Summary Judgments for February 25
Summary Judgments for February 22
Summary Judgments for February 21
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