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High court sides with Crow tribe member in hunting dispute
Law Firm News | 2019/05/20 04:48
The Supreme Court on Monday sided with a member of the Crow tribe who was fined for hunting elk in Wyoming's Bighorn National Forest, giving him a good chance to get a more than $8,000 fine against him overturned.

The case the justices decided 5-4 is a win for Clayvin Herrera and his tribe, which had argued they had hunting rights in the forest.

Herrera's case began in 2014 when he went hunting with family. The group began on the Crow tribe's reservation in southern Montana but crossed into the neighboring Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming, where they killed several elk.

Soon after, a game warden saw photos Herrera posted on a bragging website for hunters, including one of him crouched in the snow behind an elk he shot and another with its antlers balanced on his shoulders. The game warden ultimately identified the area where the photos were taken in the Bighorn National Forrest, and Herrera was cited for killing an elk there during the winter, when it is prohibited.

But Herrera, backed by the federal government, argued that when his tribe gave up land in present-day Montana and Wyoming under an 1868 treaty, the tribe retained the right to hunt on the land, including land that became Wyoming's Bighorn National Forest.

The state of Wyoming had argued that the Crow tribe's hunting rights ceased to exist after Wyoming became a state in 1890 or after Bighorn National Forest was established in 1897. But the Supreme Court disagreed, with Justice Neil Gorsuch joining his four liberal colleagues - justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan - in ruling for Herrera.

The court's four other justices said they would have ruled that a prior case settled that Crow tribe members like Herrera don't have an unrestricted right to hunt and fish in the Bighorn National Forest and are subject to the game laws of Wyoming.


Feds: US Supreme Court should turn down 'Bridgegate' appeal
Legal Network | 2019/05/16 16:00
The U.S. solicitor general's office has recommended that the U.S. Supreme Court not hear the appeal of two convicted defendants in the "Bridgegate" case, nudging the four-year legal saga of New Jersey's most famous traffic jam toward a conclusion.

"Further review is not warranted," the brief filed late Wednesday said. The Supreme Court is expected to decide whether to hear the case by the end of its term next month.

Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni want the court to hear the appeal of their 2016 convictions for causing gridlock near the George Washington Bridge to punish a mayor for not endorsing their boss, former Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

Christie wasn't charged, but the revelations from the scandal and conflicting accounts of when he knew about the plot combined to sabotage his 2016 presidential aspirations.

Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff at the time of the 2013 lane realignments in the town of Fort Lee, and Baroni, deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, had their sentences reduced this spring after a federal appeals court tossed some convictions last fall. Kelly petitioned the Supreme Court to consider the rest of the convictions, and Baroni joined in the appeal.

They argued that while their actions may have been ethically questionable, they weren't illegal because neither derived personal benefit, and the Port Authority, which operated the bridge, wasn't deprived of tangible benefits as a result of the scheme.


Apps cost too much? Court allows suit adding to Apple’s woes
Court Watch | 2019/05/13 22:53
Consumers can pursue a lawsuit complaining that iPhone apps cost too much, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday, adding to Apple’s woes that already include falling iPhone sales and a European investigation.

The lawsuit could have major implications for the tech giant’s handling of the more than 2 million apps in Apple’s App Store, where users get much of the software for their smartphones. While most of those apps are free to download, some impose fees for people to use the software and subscribe to the services.

In those cases, Apple charges a commission of 30%, a practice that the lawsuit contends unfairly drives up the price for the apps. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote the majority opinion that agreed the antitrust lawsuit can move forward in a lower court.

The court’s four liberal justices joined Kavanaugh, one of President Donald Trump’s two high court appointees, to reject a plea from Apple to end the lawsuit at this early stage. The decision did not involve the merits of the suit.

Apple argues it’s merely a pipeline between app developers and consumers, and that iPhone users have no claims against Apple under antitrust law and a 1977 Supreme Court decision. Tens of thousands of developers create the software and set the price, Apple says.

“We’re confident we will prevail when the facts are presented and that the App Store is not a monopoly by any metric,” Apple said in statement issued in response to Monday’s ruling. The lawsuit could take years to wind to its conclusion.


Supreme Court says 1 state can’t be sued in another’s courts
Law Firm News | 2019/05/08 22:51
The Supreme Court decided Monday that one state cannot unwillingly be sued in the courts of another, overruling a 40-year precedent and perhaps, foreshadowing an argument over the viability of other high court decisions.

The outcome left one dissenting justice wondering “which cases the court will overrule next.”

The justices divided 5-4 to end a long-running dispute between California officials and Nevada inventor Gilbert Hyatt.

Hyatt is a former California resident who sued California’s tax agency for being too zealous in seeking back taxes from him. Hyatt won a judgment in Nevada courts.

But Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court’s conservative justices that the Constitution forbids states from opening the doors of their courts to a private citizen’s lawsuit against another state. In 1979, the high court concluded otherwise.

The four liberal justices dissented, saying they would have left alone the court’s decision in Nevada v. Hall. Justice Stephen Breyer said there are good reasons to overrule an earlier case, including that it is no longer workable or a vestige of an otherwise abandoned legal doctrine.

But Breyer said that justices should otherwise adhere to the principle of stare decisis, Latin for to stand by things decided.

“It is far more dangerous to overrule a decision only because five members of a later court come to agree with earlier dissenters on a difficult legal question,” Breyer wrote. He included a reference to the court’s 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey that reaffirmed the right to abortion the court declared in Roe v. Wade in 1973.

The future of abortion rights at the court is a matter of intense interest as several states have enacted increasingly restrictive abortion laws in the hope that a more conservative Supreme Court majority will uphold them.

In his majority opinion, Thomas cited other Supreme Court precedent that held “stare decisis is not an inexorable command.”

The Hyatt case had been to the Supreme Court twice before. In 2016, the justices split 4-4 over the same question that was finally answered on Monday.


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