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Florida Jurors Banned From Using Social Media to Discuss Criminal Cases

The Florida Supreme Court banned jurors from using electronic devices or social media to talk about their cases Thursday. The detailed opinion adopts the work of the court’s Committee on Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases, which builds on more broad-ranged 2010 juror instructions prohibiting the use of social media, the Daily Business Review reports. The opinion comes at a time when courts are increasingly aware of the challenges social media and electronic devices present in the courtroom. At least 90 verdicts were subject to challenge from 1999 to 2010 because of internet-related juror misconduct, according to a 2010 Reuters…

Workers Who Drive While Using Cellphones Are Big Risks for Employers

As cellphone-related car crash rates continue to rise, so does employer liability for workers who chat and drive on the job. The National Safety Council estimates that about 1.2 million car crashes each year involve drivers talking or texting on cellphones, a statistic that also means a greater number of lawsuits aimed at corporations that allow employees to talk or text while behind the wheel, the Washington Post reports. And with jurors and judges awarding payouts in the millions for injuries—$21.6 million in one case—caused by cellphone-distracted drivers, corporations would be wise to consider employee bans on talking or texting…

Mass. Bar Task Force: Legal Education Could Take a Page from Medical Education’s Book

The Massachusetts Bar Association’s Task Force on the Law, the Economy and Underemployment released a report last week exploring the causes of and solutions for underemployment of law school graduates. The task force, made up of 12 licensed lawyers, one law student and one university pre-law adviser devoted six months to the report, titled “Beginning the Conversation” (PDF) and focused to a certain extent on how law schools contribute to the problem. The first section of the report compared how law school admissions rates and total numbers of graduates compare with those of medical schools and dental schools. The report…

More Than 2,000 Exonerations for False Convictions in the US Since 1989, New Report Says

An unprecedented report asserted today that more than 2,000 falsely convicted people of serious crimes have been exonerated in the United States in the past 23 years. In the most complete database of exonerations ever compiled, the new national registry closely examines 873 exonerations from 1989 through March 1, 2012 in close detail, of which nearly half were wrongly convicted of murder. Of those, 101 were sentenced to death, the Washington Post reports. The first-ever published report (PDF) of the National Registry of Exonerations, assembled by the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern…

Senators Sessions and Grassley Question Decision to Hold 9th Circuit Conference in Maui

Maui will be hosting the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ annual conference this year, and two Republican U.S. Senators are questioning the wisdom of that, as the federal court system faces potential funding cuts. The court conference, set to take place in August, is booked at the Hyatt Regency Maui, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports. Rooms cost between $230 and $250 a night. All of the circuit’s appellate, district and bankruptcy judges are expected to attend the three-day meeting. Senators Jeff Sessions, ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, and Charles Grassley, ranking member of the Senate…

Lawyer’s Suit Saying Ex-Senate Candidate Christine O’Donnell Owes Him $20K Heads to Court

A lawsuit that a lawyer aide filed against former Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell alleging that he wasn’t paid opened today in Delaware’s New Castle County Court of Common Pleas. Jonathan Moseley, a Virginia lawyer, claims O’Donnell owes him more than $20,000, the Associated Press reports. He testified today that he served as her campaign manager and treasurer in 2008, and developed responses for 2010 allegations that she misused campaign finances. Rich Abbott, who represents O’Donnell in this matter, described Moseley as an “obsessed fan fixated on having some connection with O’Donnell,” the Delaware News Journal reports. According to…

Former Rutgers Student Gets 30 Days for Webcam Spying on Roommate

The former Rutgers University student convicted of using a webcam to spy on his roommate has been sentenced to 30 days in jail after rejecting a plea deal that called for no prison time. Dharun Ravi could have been sentenced to 10 years in prison, according to the New York Times and the New Jersey Star-Ledger. The roommate, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide shortly after Ravi spied on Clementi’s romantic encounter with another man in September 2010. Ravi was convicted of multiple counts in his March trial, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation. New Jersey Judge Glenn Berman imposed the…

Supreme Court to Consider Standing in ACLU Suit Challenging ‘Dragnet Surveillance’

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether lawyers, journalists and human rights groups have standing to challenge a federal wiretap law. The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed suit on behalf of the plaintiffs, says in a press release that the law allows the National Security Agency “to conduct dragnet surveillance of Americans’ international emails and phone calls.” At issue are 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act giving the government broader power to monitor electronic communications if the targets are foreigners outside the United States. The plaintiffs claim they fear their conversations with people overseas are…

Supreme Court Turns Down File-Sharing Appeal Challenging Remittitur Procedure

The U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear the case of Joel Tenenbaum, a doctoral graduate who was originally ordered to pay $675,000 for downloading copyrighted music. The trial judge had found the verdict was constitutionally excessive and reduced the amount to $67,500. On appeal the Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the judge should have avoided the constitutional question through remittitur. The court reinstated the $675,000 award, but ordered the trial judge to consider remittitur. A Supreme Court petition filed by Harvard University law professor Charles Nesson had objected to the remittitur procedure because it allows the plaintiffs to…

Supreme Court Rules Immigrants Can’t Avoid Deportation Based on Length of Parents’ Stay

Two immigrants who came to the United States as children have failed to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court that they should be able to use the length of their parents’ stay and legal residency here to avoid deportation for criminal offenses. Justice Elena Kagan wrote the unanimous opinion (PDF) rejecting the claims of Carlos Gutierrez, accused of smuggling three minors into the country, and Damien Sawyers, convicted of a drug offense. Under federal immigration law, immigrants who have been lawful permanent residents for at least five years and have lived continuously here for at least seven years may seek leniency…