December 2020 Archives

Courts and lawyers struggle with growing prevalence of deepfakes--ABA Journal

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A deepfake video uses machine learning to transform a person's image so they resemble someone else and can manipulate people's words and actions.

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n their paper Deep Fakes: A Looming Challenge for Privacy, Democracy, and National Security, Robert Chesney and Danielle Citron, describe how the technology could damage the public's trust in institutions, including the justice system.

"One can readily imagine, in the current climate especially, a fake-but-viral video purporting to show FBI special agents discussing ways to abuse their authority to pursue a Trump family member. Conversely, we might see a fraudulent video of ICE officers speaking with racist language about immigrants or acting cruelly towards a detained child. Particularly where strong narratives of distrust already exist, provocative deep fakes will find a primed audience," the paper states.


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How the Biden administration should tackle AI oversight--Brookings

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Alex Engler

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The use of algorithmic decision-making in many industries poses serious challenges for regulatory enforcement of existing laws. Health insurance companies implement risk prediction tools that are likely prioritizing care in racially biased ways, which is illegal for any providers receiving federal funds from programs like CHIP and Medicaid or insurers participating in the Affordable Care Act exchanges. AI systems used to perform automated video interviews are undoubtedly deeply flawed as well, and there is cause for investigation to see if they discriminate against people with disabilities in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The algorithms that manage Uber and Lyft drivers can make decisions that obscure the lines between employee and independent contractor for purposes of enforcing the Fair Labor Standards Act. However, the Office of Civil Rights within the Department of Health and Human Services, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, and the Department of Labor, respectively, may not be equipped to handle these questions.

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By Rhys Dipshan 

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The legal research company has stopped accepting customers this week, and will cease offering its platform by the end of January. But ROSS CEO Andrew M.J. Arruda said the company plans a comeback should it prevail in its legal battle with Thomson Reuters.

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Today, ROSS Intelligence has announced that it will shut down its operations. In a statement published on its website, the company noted that it has stopped accepting new customers on Dec. 7, and will stop offering its legal research platform as of Jan. 31, 2021. It will also help customers export their data and transition to other legal research tools starting in January.

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COVID Tax Tip 2020-167, December 8, 2020

The IRS and it's Security Summit partners are warning people to be aware of a new text message scam. The thief's goal is to trick people into revealing bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 Economic Impact Payment.


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People get a text message saying they have "received a direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 TREAS FUND. Further action is required to accept this payment... Continue here to accept this payment ..." The text includes a link to a phishing web address.

This fake link appears to come from a state agency or relief organization. It takes people to a fake website that looks like the IRS.gov Get My Payment website. If people visit the fake website and enter their personal and financial account information, the scammers collect it.

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House Passes Open Courts Act Targeting PACER Reform - FindLaw

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By Joseph Fawbush, Esq.

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Over adamant opposition from federal courts, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday, December 8, to make it easier for the public to immediately access court filings online at no cost. The public can currently access electronic court documents through Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER). However, to use the service, you must register as either a lawyer or a reporter to access court records that you are not a party to. In addition, PACER charges per use, up to $3.00 per document accessed. While anyone who accrues less than $30 in fees every three months doesn't have to pay, and it does not charge to access court opinions, it has long been a source of ire for lawyers and news organizations that report on court proceedings. The Department of Justice itself spends over $100 million on PACER every year.

In August, the Federal Circuit held that PACER was too expensive. That decision, combined with long-running efforts to make PACER free to use, led to the bipartisan Open Courts Act, which the House passed by voice vote. President Trump may not sign the bill before he leaves office, however, and it is not yet clear what the Senate will do, so the bill is by no means certain to become law.

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Special Tax Deduction for Cash Donations to Charities in 2020

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In the latest post on A Closer Look, Tax Exempt and Government Entities Commissioner Edward Killen reminds taxpayers there's a special deduction for cash donations of up to $300 to a qualified charity in 2020. This $300 deduction is designed for taxpayers who take the standard deduction and aren't normally able to deduct their donations.

 

Before making a donation, use the Tax Exempt Organization Search (TEOS) tool on IRS.gov/TEOS to make sure the charitable organization is eligible for tax-deductible donations.

 

The post also includes several other important reminders for taxpayers and charities, along with information and links to other temporary provisions of the relief provided in the CARES Act.

 

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WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused a request from Pennsylvania Republicans to overturn the state's election results. The justices said they would not block a ruling from Pennsylvania's highest court that had rejected a challenge to the use of mail ballots in the state. The Supreme Court's order was all of one sentence, and there were no noted dissents.

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BY HARPER NEIDIG 

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A federal judge on Monday rejected Michigan Republicans' effort to have their state's election results decertified.

Judge Linda Parker denied a request for an injunction submitted by a group of President Trump's electors against state officials, finding that their lawsuit is "far from likely to succeed in this matter."

"In fact, this lawsuit seems to be less about achieving the relief Plaintiffs seek--as much of that relief is beyond the power of this Court--and more about the impact of their allegations on People's faith in the democratic process and their trust in our government," Parker wrote in her 36-page decision. "Plaintiffs ask this Court to ignore the orderly statutory scheme established to challenge elections and to ignore the will of millions of voters.  This, the Court cannot, and will not, do." 

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A growing group of lawyers are uncovering, navigating, and fighting the automated systems that deny the poor housing, jobs, and basic services.

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Credit-scoring algorithms are not the only ones that affect people's economic well-being and access to basic services. Algorithms now decide which children enter foster care, which patients receive medical care, which families get access to stable housing. Those of us with means can pass our lives unaware of any of this. But for low-income individuals, the rapid growth and adoption of automated decision-making systems has created a hidden web of interlocking traps.

Fortunately, a growing group of civil lawyers are beginning to organize around this issue. Borrowing a playbook from the criminal defense world's pushback against risk-assessment algorithms, they're seeking to educate themselves on these systems, build a community, and develop litigation strategies. "Basically every civil lawyer is starting to deal with this stuff, because all of our clients are in some way or another being touched by these systems," says Michele Gilman, a clinical law professor at the University of Baltimore. "We need to wake up, get training. If we want to be really good holistic lawyers, we need to be aware of that."


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By M. Tyler Gillett | U. Pittsburgh School of Law, US 

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A US federal district court judge in New York on Friday ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reinstate the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The DACA program allows people who immigrated to the United States illegally as children to apply for a forbearance of removal, and permits them authorization to work and access other federal benefits. In 2017 DHS under President Trump issued a memorandum terminating the popular program, but this past summer the Supreme Court ruled that DHS acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner when it issued the memorandum and therefore could not end the DACA program.

Following that decision, acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf issued a memo ordering the department to reject all pending and future DACA requests and shortening the forbearance time from two years to one. However, Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the Eastern District of New York ruled in November that, because DHS had not followed its own procedures in appointing an acting secretary, Wolf lacked the authority to act as head of the department and his memo was invalid.

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Read full text of decision & order...




By Dartunorro Clark

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U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said in his six-page ruling that he was fully reinstating the DACA program based on the terms established under former President Barack Obama's administration. Trump tried to end the program in September 2017, and this past July Chad Wolf, the acting secretary for the Department of Homeland Security,  suspended DACA pending a "comprehensive" review.

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The judiciary is freaking out and trying to snuff out this threat to its stash. 



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The Open Courts Act is a bipartisan proposal to make PACER free so the public can access the documents its court system generates every day.

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BY SOPHIA CHANG

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A federal court has upheld New York's law allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for driver's licenses against a lawsuit brought by an upstate county clerk who claimed the law would make him personally liable for violating U.S. immigration policy.


In a ruling issued Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a lower court's dismissal of Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns's 2019 lawsuit seeking to block the state's Green Light law.


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"Jury Trials are Innately Human Experiences." | JDSupra

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McDermott Will & Emery 

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Judge Rodney Gilstrap of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas:

"...This Court is persuaded that the remote, sterile, and disjointed reality of virtual proceedings cannot at present replicate the totality of human experience embodied in and required by our Sixth and Seventh Amendments...".

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