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Court to consider bathroom use by transgender student
Court Issues | 2019/12/06 04:38
A transgender student’s fight over school bathrooms comes before a federal appeals court Thursday, setting the stage for a groundbreaking ruling.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta will hear arguments about whether a Florida school district should be ordered to allow students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

Drew Adams, who has since graduated from Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, won a lower court ruling last year ordering the St. Johns County school district to allow him to use the boys’ restroom. The district has appealed, arguing that although it will permit transgender students to use single-occupancy, gender-neutral restrooms, it shouldn’t be forced to let students use the restroom of the gender they identify with.

The 11th Circuit could become the first federal appeals court to issue a binding ruling on the issue, which has arisen in several states. The ruling would cover schools in Florida, Georgia and Alabama, and could carry the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 4th Circuit had ruled in favor of a Virginia student, but the Supreme Court sent the case back down for further consideration. That’s because the U.S. Department of Education, under President Donald Trump, withdrew guidance that said federal law called for treating transgender students equally, including allowing them to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.


Afghanistan probe appeal begins at Hague international court
Law Firm News | 2019/12/04 12:40
The International Criminal Court opened a three-day hearing Wednesday at which prosecutors and victims aim to overturn a decision scrapping a proposed investigation into alleged crimes in Afghanistan’s brutal conflict.

Fergal Gaynor, a lawyer representing 82 Afghan victims, called it “a historic day for accountability in Afghanistan.”

In April, judges rejected a request by the court’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to open an investigation into crimes allegedly committed by the Taliban, Afghan security forces and American military and intelligence agencies.

In the ruling, which was condemned by victims and rights groups, the judges said that an investigation "would not serve the interests of justice" because it would likely fail due to lack of cooperation.

The decision came a month after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo banned visas for ICC staff seeking to investigate allegations of war crimes and other abuses by U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

“Whether the two events are in fact related is unknown, but for many ? victims as well as commentators ? the timing appeared more than coincidental,” said lawyer Katherine Gallagher, who was representing two men being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

The United States is not a member of the global court and refuses to cooperate with it, seeing the institution as a threat to U.S. sovereignty and arguing American courts are capable of dealing with allegations of abuse by U.S. nationals.


Ohio court will hear case over bullying, teacher liability
Court Issues | 2019/12/01 12:49
The Ohio Supreme Court this week agreed to hear a case over whether educators were reckless in failing to prevent an injury to a student even though they had been notified she was being bullied by a fellow kindergartner.

The court will consider whether teachers and principals can be sued when a student is bullied under their supervision, The (Toledo) Blade reported.

In this case, one girl reportedly punctured another girl’s cheek with a pencil at Toledo’s DeVeaux Elementary School several years ago.

A Lucas County court concluded a teacher and two principals were protected from the resulting lawsuit by statutory immunity. But a 2-1 ruling by a state appeals court panel resurrected the lawsuit on the recklessness issue.

State law makes educators immune from liability unless they act with “malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner.”

The appeals court panel concluded there was some evidence of ongoing verbal and physical abuse in the Toledo case but no sign that attempts were made to keep the two girls apart.

The school employees said they spoke with both students after being told about the teasing and bullying. The teacher said she saw no sign of the injury and didn’t learn about it until days afterward.

Their lawyers argue that unless the court decision is overturned, even diligent educators could face costly litigation that could deter others from staying in that field.



Supreme Court shields Trump’s financial records for now
Law Firm News | 2019/11/26 18:00
The Supreme Court is shielding President Donald Trump’s financial records from House Democrats for now.

The delay announced late Monday allows the justices to decide how to handle the House subpoena and a similar demand from the Manhattan district attorney at the same time.

The House’s quest for the records is not part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry, but the court’s action probably means Democrats will not have the records before an expected vote on impeachment by year’s end.

The justices are giving Trump until Dec. 5 to file a full appeal of a lower court ruling calling for his accountants to turn over the records. The president’s lawyers are certain to comply, and the court’s decision about whether to take up the case is expected by mid-January.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform had argued that Trump’s case was too weak to earn a delay from the court. There was no noted dissent from the court’s unsigned order.

The New York case centers on Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s subpoena for Trump’s tax returns from the same accounting firm, Mazars USA. Legal briefs have been filed by both sides in that case.

The justices now should be able to say at the same time whether they will take up the cases and decide them by late June.

If they opt to reject Trump’s appeals, the House and Vance would be able to enforce their subpoenas immediately. Mazars has said it would comply with any legal obligation.


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