No Waiting for This: Here Come the 'Net Neutrality' Lawsuits | Law.com

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By C. Ryan Barber

Democratic state attorneys general and advocacy groups Thursday said they were gearing up to fight the Federal Communications Commission over its move to scrap the Obama-era net neutrality rules that were adopted to ensure equal access to the web. As protestors outside the FCC pronounced the death of an open internet, the FCC, led by Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, voted on party lines Thursday to repeal so-called net neutrality rules.


By Keith L. Alexander

The D.C. Superior Court judge overseeing the trial of six people charged in Inauguration Day protests that turned violent has dismissed one of the most serious charges of inciting a riot.

After hearing the cases presented by prosecutors and defense attorneys during the past three weeks, Judge Lynn Leibovitz on Wednesday said there was not enough evidence against the four women and two men to prove they urged others to riot and destroy property along 16 downtown Washington blocks.

"None of them engaged in conduct that amounted to urging other persons to destroy property," the judge said.

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By Andrew Denney


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By Colby Hamilton 


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed and remanded a suit dismissed by U.S. District Judge Sandra Feuerstein of the Eastern District of New York, finding the failure of the plaintiffs' attorney to show for a pretrial hearing wasn't sufficient grounds for the "extreme sanction of dismissal with prejudice," according to the panel.



Editor's Note: The below summary was prepared by the NYS Committee on Open Government,  See: https://www.dos.ny.gov/coog/foil_listing/findex.html

Motion by plaintiffs for a preliminary injunction enjoining defendants (Town) from enforcing an amendment to a Town building zone ordinance granted on the basis that plaintiffs had shown enough of a likelihood of success on the merits in establishing good cause for their claim of violation of the Open Meetings Law. At the outset of a public hearing regarding a controversial amendment to a local building zone ordinance, the proposed amendment was itself amended to delete a "24/7 time requirement" for free compressed air at local gasoline stations and only require the service station provide free compressed air "when the gasoline station is opened for business." Members of the public that wished to speak to the "24/7" issue were reminded that the Town was not seeking a 24/7 time requirement. The Board reserved decision at the end of the public hearing. However, the resolution adopted several months later included the 24/7 requirement. The Court held that "[t]he express amendment to the amendment at the outset of the public hearing, to delete the '24/7 time requirement,' followed by the unexplained reinsertion of that requirement in the resolution approved months later, appears on its face to be an attempt to circumvent the purpose of the Open Meetings Law."

McCabe v. Town of Hempstead, Supreme Court, Nassau County, Index no. 6892/2016 (January 5, 2017)


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State comptroller pushes savings program for disabled--Poughkeepsie Journal

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Amy Wu


Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed NY ABLE into law at the end of 2015. Since its launch in New York, 163 accounts have been opened at an average of two or three a day. Many of those who signed up are 35 and under, although the oldest participants are in their 80s, said Anne Del Plato, who is overseeing the program.

On Tuesday, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli was in Poughkeepsie to make a push for the program and spoke to a standing-room-only crowd at The Arc of Dutchess, a nonprofit that offers resources and support to the developmentally disabled. Attendees included parents of children with disabilities, caregivers, agencies and nonprofits that focus on the disabled, and a handful of disabled adults



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The program's requirements include being a state resident and have been diagnosed with a disability before 26.

The program's key features include:

  • It is tax-free when used with qualified expenses such as education, transportation and personal support services.
  • Accounts can for opened by an individual, parent or guardian with $25 or $15 with payroll deduction.
  • Participants can deposit up to $14,000 annually this year, and $15,000 starting in 2018.
  • The program has a cap of $100,000 for the accounts.  

NY ABLE is structured similarly to the state's 529 College Savings Program, which has more than $27 billion invested currently, DiNapoli said. In addition, the program offers several investment options.


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May judges search the internet for facts? ABA ethics opinion sees problems

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BY DEBRA CASSENS WEISS


Judges can conduct legal research online for cases not cited by the parties, but using the internet to find facts concerning the parties or subject matter poses ethical problems, according to an ABA ethics opinion.

Finding "adjudicative facts" about a case online is generally banned by the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct, according to ABA Formal Opinion 478. An exception allows judges to go online for facts that are subject to judicial notice because they are generally known and not subject to reasonable dispute.

Adjudicative facts concern the immediate parties, including who did what, where, when, how, and with what motive or intent, the ethics opinion explains.


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Read more...review examples from opinion


by , Staff Writer  @cs_palmer  cpalmer@phillynews.com


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The City of Philadelphia has agreed to pay $250,000 to two people who claimed that police officers violated their First Amendment rights by blocking them from taking photos of police activity.

The settlements, announced Tuesday, ended years of legal wrangling over civil suits filed on behalf of Amanda Geraci, a local activist, and Richard Fields, formerly a Temple University student. The ACLU of Pennsylvania, which brought the claims for the pair, said it hoped their cases served as a "warning sign" against those who would seek to prevent recordings of cops.

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"Simply put, the First Amendment protects the act of photographing, filming, or otherwise recording police officers conducting their official duties in public," the opinion said, calling such a view "a growing consensus."

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A Teen-Ager in Solitary Confinement | The New Yorker

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By 


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In October, 2014, Prisoners' Legal Services of New York reached a settlement with the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (doccs) in Cookehorne v. Fischer, which stipulated that minors in restricted confinement should be allowed out of their cells for six hours a day on weekdays--two for recreation time, and four for educational programming--and for two hours a day on weekends. Two class-action lawsuits have been filed against county jails in upstate New York: one in Onondaga County, which was settled in June and led to an end of solitary confinement for inmates under eighteen; and a second in Broome County, which was filed in July. In October, New York State's Commission on Correction issued new standards for solitary confinement, which would mandate that local jails provide at least four hours of out-of-cell time for all inmates in isolation, including adults, and that jail officials notify the state when placing someone under the age of eighteen in solitary. Those rules, if approved, would not go into effect until January. So, for now, most county jails continue to determine their own rules for juvenile solitary confinement.

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By Josefa Velasquez and Colby Hamilton


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As arrests at courthouses by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers continue, a report released Tuesday by the Fund for Modern Courts suggests New York's courts should limit their cooperation and assistance with civil immigration law enforcement.

So far this year ICE agents have arrested 52 people while they were in court in New York state, the majority in New York City, Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the Office of Court Administration, told the New York Law Journal Tuesday. This is the first year the state's court system has tracked ICE activities and arrests in courthouses. Expanded immigration enforcement actions under the Trump administration have resulted in increased arrests at courthouses nationally since the beginning of 2017, the report states.

The 24-page report issued by the justice system reform organization examined the impact of ICE arrests on New Yorkers' access to state courthouses. It suggested actions that Chief Judge Janet DiFiore should take to mitigate the "negative impact on individuals and the courts resulting from ICE's actions in courthouses."

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Abelove charged with felony perjury, official misconduct - Times Union

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By Brendan J. Lyons

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Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel E. Abelove was charged with felony perjury and two misdemeanor counts of official misconduct on Friday following a grand jury investigation into his controversial handling of the fatal police shooting of a DWI suspect.

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The indictment unsealed Friday charges Abelove with withholding evidence from the grand jury that investigated the fatal shooting. The Times Union reported last year that Abelove did not subpoena two civilian witnesses who were at the scene of the shooting and told investigators they did not believe the officer was in imminent danger when he opened fire on the motorist.

The second misconduct count accuses Abelove of unlawfully allowing the officer who fired the fatal shots to testify with immunity from prosecution when he appeared before the grand jury that cleared him. The perjury charge alleges that Abelove lied in front a special grand jury investigating his conduct when he testified that another Troy police officer was given immunity when that officer testified in front of a grand jury in an unrelated fatal police shooting.

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Read the Michael Flynn Plea Agreement, Statement of Offense | Law.com

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New Bankruptcy Form, Rules Take Effect | United States Courts

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Individuals filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 must use a new form that presents their payment plan in a more uniform and transparent manner, and creditors will have less time to submit a proof of claim, under new bankruptcy rules and form amendments that took effect Dec. 1.

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 by Sarah Gonzalez

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Over the summer on Long Island, immigration agents started picking up teens, known as "unaccompanied minors," and accusing them of being members of the international gang, MS-13. Local police made many of the allegations based on the clothes they wore and who they spoke to in and out of school.

"It's almost as though the police are saying we know [a gang member] when we see it, trust us. And the whole point is that's not enough," said William Freeman, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California who represented three teens in a class-action lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Justice, the Office of Refuge Resettlement and others.

The ACLU said at least 32 teens, mostly from Long Island, have been held in immigration detention over allegations that they are gang members. 

According to court hearings attended by WNYC, immigration judges were saying over and over again that they were not convinced many of the teens were gang members. But they didn't have the jurisdiction to release them from detention. Now, under a federal ruling, they do.

A federal judge in Northern California granted immigration judges temporary authority to release unaccompanied minors from detention if they are convinced they do not pose a danger. 

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The Department of Justice declined to comment on the judge's decision. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Suffolk County Police Commissioner, who has been collaborating with immigration agents to combat the presence of MS-13 on Long Island, did not respond to requests for comment. But police commissioner Timothy Sini told News 12 he stands by "every single detention" his department collaborated on, and said he makes no apologies for his strategy.

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The iPhone Upgrade Program: A Year in Review - TidBITS

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by Josh Centers Send Email to Author 

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Now, to take some of the mystique out of all of this: the iPhone Upgrade Program is actually an interest-free loan administered by Citizens One. Every year, when you order a new iPhone through the program, Citizens One checks your credit (a "hard pull," which can negatively affect your credit score) and issues you a new loan if you're approved.

Despite being administered by a third party, the iPhone Upgrade Program has some uniquely Apple pros and cons.

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Read more, including reviews abd comments on Apple iPhone Upgrade...

Regulation and the Local Food Movement | The Regulatory Review

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The local food movement has been booming over the last several years. The number of farmers' markets across the country has nearly doubled in the last decade, and a recent Pew Research Center poll found that a majority of people in the United States had bought locally grown produce in the previous month. The enormous interest in eating locally has even led to the coinage of a new word: locavore.

Local food production and consumption offer a variety of benefits, which two legal scholars, Patricia Salkin and Amy Lavine, discuss in a recent paper. Because of these purported benefits, Salkin and Lavine argue that local and state governments should follow the example of some of their peers and update their zoning and land use regulations to encourage more local food production.

Salkin and Lavine tout the advantages of "foodsheds"--geographic areas surrounding urban areas that can provide some of the food that city-dwellers consume. For instance, Salkin and Lavine point to potential environmental benefits: Small farms may use fewer chemicals and produce less waste than large industrial farms. And it requires much less fuel to transport produce to a nearby city than it does to transport produce across the country.

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Posted by Nicole Pallotta, Academic Outreach Manager on November 17, 2017


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Soon after, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed New York's SB 2098B, also known as the "Elephant Protection Act," into law on October 19, 2017. It amends the state's Agriculture and Markets Law and its Environmental Conservation Law to prohibit the use of elephants in entertainment acts. The New York law does not specifying "traveling" acts but expressly exempts accredited zoos and aquariums. It takes effect in two years.  In contrast to the Illinois law, which makes violation a Class A misdemeanor, the New York law provides a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for each violation because offenses against animals are not part of New York's Penal Code.

The legislation was drafted by undergraduate students in Pace University's Environmental Policy Clinic, who also lobbied for its passage and collected student signatures in support of the bill. Several New York chapters of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund submitted letters in support of the bill to Governor Cuomo over the summer.

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Depression and the Legal Profession - Jim Calloway's Law Practice Tips Blog

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Jim Calloway:

Did you know that students entering law school have same rate of depression as the general population (approximately 7%), but by the time they finish their first year of law school 34% experience depression? This statistic is from a new book from the ABA, The Full Weight of the Law: How Legal Professionals Can Recognize and Rebound from Depression.

I'm no expert, but that statistic indicates something is wrong. It is well documented that lawyers suffer from depression and problems related to stress and depression at rates greater than the general public.



Ciao, Chrome: Firefox Quantum Is The Browser Built for 2017 | WIRED

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IT'S BEEN YEARS since I gave a second thought to my web browser. Safari's fine, Microsoft Edge is whatever, I think Opera still exists? None have ever offered much reason to switch away from Chrome, Google's fast, simple web tool. I'm not the only one who feels this way, either: Chrome commands nearly 60 percent of the browser market, and is more than four times as popular as the second-place finisher, Firefox. Chrome won the browser wars.

So my expectations for Firefox Quantum, the new browser from Mozilla, were not particularly high.

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By  - Bloomberg

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As the U.S. prison population has surged over the decades, the legal profession's distaste for former inmates has become more conspicuous.

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Roughly 70 million people in the U.S. are estimated to have a criminal record of some kind, and nearly 700,000 are released from incarceration annually, according to the National Employment Law Project. More than 60 percent of formerly incarcerated people are unemployed a year after their release, according to the Sentencing Project, and those who do find work take home 40 percent a year less than those who haven't served time.

Nationwide, 150 cities and counties have adopted laws that prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their criminal histories, as part of the "ban the box"movement.

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