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Supreme Court declines to take up 'Dreamers' case for now
Legal Network | 2018/03/02 12:16
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the Trump administration's highly unusual bid to bypass a federals appeals court and get the justices to intervene in the fate of a program that protects hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation.

The decision affecting "Dreamers" means the case will almost certainly have to work its way through the lower courts before any Supreme Court ruling is possible. And because that could take weeks or months, Monday's decision also is likely to further reduce pressure on Congress to act quickly on the matter.

The ruling on the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, wasn't unexpected.

Justice Department spokesman Devin O'Malley acknowledged that the court "very rarely" hears a case before a lower appeals court has considered it, though he said the administration's view was "it was warranted" in this case.

O'Malley said the administration would continue to defend the Homeland Security Department's "lawful authority to wind down DACA in an orderly manner."

DACA has provided protection from deportation and work permits for about 700,000 young people who came to the U.S. as children and stayed illegally.

Last fall, Trump argued that Obama had exceeded his executive powers when he created the program. Trump gave lawmakers until March 5 to send him legislation to renew the program.

But in recent weeks, federal judges in San Francisco and New York have made Trump's deadline temporarily moot. They've issued injunctions ordering the Trump administration to keep DACA in place while courts consider legal challenges to Trump's termination of the program.

Court leaves black judge on case against white officer
Legal Network | 2018/02/26 12:17
The Alabama Supreme Court is refusing to make a black judge quit the case of a white police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of a black man.

The justices without comment Friday turned down a request from officer Aaron Cody Smith of the Montgomery Police Department.

Smith is charged in the shooting death two years ago of 58-year-old Greg Gunn, who authorities say was walking in his neighborhood when Smith shot him.

Defense attorneys sought a new judge based on social media posts of Circuit Judge Greg Griffin, who wrote about being stopped by police because he is black.

Griffin refused to step aside and accused the defense of injecting race into the case. Smith's lawyers appealed.

Courts: Bail reform working, but sustainable funding needed
Legal Network | 2018/02/19 15:11
The number of defendants being held before trial since New Jersey overhauled its bail system last year dropped by 20 percent, but the judge overseeing the program says it faces financial difficulties.

A report submitted last week by Judge Glenn Grant, who runs the state's court system, also shows the program faces financial difficulties because it relies on court fees instead of a "stable sustainable funding stream."

Proponents say the reforms championed by former Republican Gov. Chris Christie keep violent offenders detained until trial while providing poor, low-level defendants the opportunity to be freed.

But critics — including some lawmakers, law enforcement officials and the bail bond industry — say it has led to the quick release of some who weren't deemed a threat but were soon re-arrested on new charges.

The data shows 44,319 people were issued complaint warrants in New Jersey last year. Prosecutors sought to have 19,366 defendants detained until trial, but only 8,043 of those people were ordered held.

That means the state's pretrial jail population dropped by 20 percent from January 2017 to January 2018, and by 35 percent from January 2015 to January 2018.

At least two lawsuits have been filed seeking to overturn the changes, including one from a group backed by reality TV star Dog the Bounty Hunter.

Wisconsin Supreme Court primary will leave just two
Legal Network | 2018/02/11 23:25
The latest battle over the ideological balance of the Wisconsin Supreme Court plays out in the Feb. 20 primary, where one of three candidates will be eliminated a head of a spring election.

Partisan politics have weighed heavy over weeks of campaigning. Madison attorney Tim Burns has most embraced his liberal beliefs, while Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Rebecca Dallet sought to appear as a moderate. Sauk County Circuit Judge Michael Screnock, an appointee of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, has the backing of conservatives.

The primary is the first statewide race this year, and while officially nonpartisan, it could be a bellwether for how Republicans and Democrats stand heading into the fall. Turnout is expected to be low, likely less than 10 percent.

The top two vote-getters advance to the April 3 general election, with the winner replacing outgoing conservative Justice Michael Gableman. He decided against seeking another 10-year term.

The court is currently controlled 5-2 by conservatives, so no matter who wins the ideological control will not change. Burns, who represents clients nationwide in lawsuits against insurance companies, is the only non-judge in the race. He also has little experience litigating in Wisconsin courtrooms, having argued only one case in state court and six in federal court in Wisconsin.

Burns argues his experience outside of Wisconsin is a strength that will help him fix what he views as a broken system. And, he argues a victory for him will energize liberals across the state headed into the fall.

Dallet argues that Burns has gotten too political. But she's walking a fine line trying to win over many of the same liberal voters Burns is appealing to. She ran a commercial attacking Trump and has criticized the current Supreme Court for voting in 2015 to end an investigation into Walker and conservatives.

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