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Court grants Texas man a stay of execution just before his scheduled lethal injection
Court Issues | 2024/07/17 19:32
The U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay of execution for a Texas man 20 minutes before he was to receive a lethal injection Tuesday evening. The inmate has long maintained DNA testing would help prove he wasn’t responsible for the fatal stabbing of an 85-year-old woman during a home robbery decades ago.

The nation’s high court issued the indefinite stay shortly before inmate Ruben Gutierrez was to have been taken to the death chamber of a Huntsville prison.

Gutierrez was condemned for the 1998 killing of Escolastica Harrison at her home in Brownsville in Texas’ southern tip. Prosecutors said the killing of the mobile home park manager and retired teacher was part of an attempt to steal more than $600,000 she had hidden in her home because of her mistrust of banks.

Gutierrez has sought DNA testing that he claims would help prove he had no role in her death. His attorneys have said there’s no physical or forensic evidence connecting him to the killing. Two others also were charged in the case.

The high court’s brief order, released about 5:40 p.m. CDT, said its stay of execution would remain in effect until the justices decide whether they should review his appeal request. If the court denies the request, the execution reprieve would automatically be lifted.

Gutierrez, who had been set to die after 6 p.m. CDT, was in a holding cell near the death chamber when prison warden Kelly Strong advised him of the court’s intervention.

“He was visibly emotional,” prison spokeswoman Amanda Hernandez said, adding he was not expecting the court stay. “We asked him if he wanted to make a statement but he needed a minute.”

“He turned around to the back of the cell, covered his mouth. He was tearing up, speechless. He was shocked.”

She said Gutierrez then prayed with a prison chaplain and added: “God is great!”

Gutierrez has had several previous execution dates in recent years that have been delayed, including over issues related to having a spiritual adviser in the death chamber. In June 2020, Gutierrez was about an hour away from execution when he got a stay from the Supreme Court.

In the most recent appeal, Gutierrez’s attorneys had asked the Supreme Court to intervene, arguing Texas has denied his right under state law to post-conviction DNA testing that would show he would not have been eligible for the death penalty.


A US appeals court will review its prior order keeping banned books
Legal Interview | 2024/07/08 21:41
A federal appeals court in New Orleans is taking another look at its own order requiring a Texas county to keep eight books on public library shelves that deal with subjects including sex, gender identity and racism.

Llano County officials had removed 17 books from its shelves amid complaints about the subject matter. Seven library patrons claimed the books were illegally removed in a lawsuit against county officials. U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman ruled last year that the books must be returned. Attorneys for Llano County say the books were returned while they appeal Pittman’s order.

While the library patrons say removing the books constitutes an illegal government squelching of viewpoints, county officials have argued that they have broad authority to decide which books belong on library shelves and that those decisions are a form of constitutionally protected government speech.

On June 6, a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals split three ways on the case, resulting in an order that eight of the books had to be kept on the shelves, while nine others could be kept off.

That order was vacated Wednesday evening after a majority of the 17-member court granted Llano County officials a new hearing before the full court. The order did not state reasons and the hearing hasn’t yet been scheduled.

In his 2023 ruling, Pitman, nominated to the federal bench by former President Barack Obama, ruled that the library plaintiffs had shown Llano officials were “driven by their antipathy to the ideas in the banned books.” The works ranged from children’s books to award-winning nonfiction, including “They Called Themselves the K.K.K: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group,” by Susan Campbell Bartoletti; and “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health,” by Robie Harris.

Pitman was largely upheld by the 5th Circuit panel that ruled June 6. The main opinion was by Judge Jacques Wiener, nominated to the court by former President George H. W. Bush. Wiener said the books were clearly removed at the behest of county officials who disagreed with the books’ messages.


Special Education Lawyers in Connecticut - Maya Murphy, P.C.
Press Release | 2024/07/05 02:53
Parental awareness of a child’s special needs is the best way for the child to exceed expectations and achieve maximum potential. Special education laws and regulations are designed to protect and provide for students with disabilities and ensure that they receive the proper services and necessary assistance for a meaningful educational experience.

Special education needs may include:

-Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
-Auditory or Visual Impairment
-Autism Spectrum Disorder
-Dyslexia
-Physical Disabilities
-Speech or Language Impairment

Knowledge of your child’s special education rights will help ensure that their unique needs are met. It is critical to be knowledgeable about laws, regulations, and school procedures impacting your child’s access to the general curriculum prescribed by the school district. The following will provide you with an overview of specific federal laws, such as the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Connecticut and New York state laws pertaining to special education.

Such legislation protects students with disabilities and ensures that they receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Being an active voice on the Planning & Placement Team (PPT)/Individualized Education Program Team (IEP Team) and providing valuable input to formulate your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) will impact your child’s future success. This guide will provide you with the essential knowledge and tools to optimize your child’s educational opportunities. Each child is different and you may want to consult with 14 attorneys to ensure that your child’s educational requirements are properly assessed and fully met.

Our firm proudly serves clients with special education assistance in private and public schools all over Fairfield County. Please do not hesitate to contact our team of experienced attorneys at (203) 221-3100 or by email at JMaya@Mayalaw.com if you are in need of a special education advocate.

https://mayalaw.com/special-education-law/


The Supreme Court strips the SEC of a critical enforcement tool in fraud cases
Law Firm News | 2024/07/02 17:42
The Supreme Court on Thursday stripped the Securities and Exchange Commission of a major tool in fighting securities fraud in a decision that also could have far-reaching effects on other regulatory agencies.

The justices ruled in a 6-3 vote that people accused of fraud by the SEC, which regulates securities markets, have the right to a jury trial in federal court. The in-house proceedings the SEC has used in some civil fraud complaints, including against Houston hedge fund manager George Jarkesy, violate the Constitution, the court said.

“A defendant facing a fraud suit has the right to be tried by a jury of his peers before a neutral adjudicator,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court’s conservative majority.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who read from her dissent in the courtroom, said that “litigants who seek to dismantle the administrative state” would rejoice in the decision.

Federal agencies that oversee safety in mines and other workplaces are among many that can only impose civil penalties in in-house, administrative proceedings, Sotomayor wrote, joined by Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson and Elena Kagan.

“For those and countless other agencies, all the majority can say is tough luck; get a new statute from Congress,” she wrote.

The case is among several this term in which conservative and business interests are urging the nine-member court to constrict federal regulators. The court’s six conservatives already have done so, including in a decision last year that sharply limited environmental regulators’ ability to police water pollution in wetlands.

Still awaiting decision are cases calling on the court to overturn the 40-year-old ruling colloquially known as Chevron, which has made it easier to sustain regulation of the environment, public, health, worker safety and consumer protection. Some of the same parties that supported Jarkesy at the Supreme Court are calling for Chevron to be overturned.

The SEC was awarded more than $5 billion in civil penalties in the 2023 government spending year that ended Sept. 30, the agency said in a news release. It was unclear how much of that money came through in-house proceedings or lawsuits in federal court.

The agency had already reduced the number of cases it brings in administrative proceedings pending the Supreme Court’s resolution of the case.

The high court rejected arguments advanced by President Joe Biden’s Democratic administration that relied on a 50-year-old decision in which the court ruled that in-house proceedings did not violate the Constitution’s right to a jury trial in civil lawsuits.

The justices ruled in favor of Jarkesy after the SEC appealed a decision in which the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out stiff financial penalties against Jarkesy and his Patriot28 investment adviser.

The appeals court found that the SEC’s case against Jarkesy, resulting in a $300,000 civil fine and the repayment of $680,000 in allegedly ill-gotten gains, should have been heard in a federal court instead of before one of the SEC’s administrative law judges.


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