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Condemned inmate's last meal includes pancakes
Law Firm Topics | 2018/10/25 12:41

A South Dakota inmate facing execution has received a last meal that included pancakes, waffles, breakfast sausage, scrambled eggs and French fries.

South Dakota's attorney general says the state Supreme Court has rejected two motions to stop the execution of a man who killed a prison guard in a failed 2011 escape attempt.

Attorney General Marty Jackley says there are currently no court orders to stop or delay Rodney Berget's execution, which is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday. One motion was filed by a woman whose son is serving a life sentence, the other by an attorney without Berget's support.

Berget is to be put to death for the slaying of Ronald "R.J." Johnson. Berget and fellow inmate Eric Robert beat Johnson with a pipe and covered his head in plastic wrap.

He's to be put to death for the slaying of prison guard Ronald "R.J." Johnson in a failed 2011 escape attempt. Berget and fellow inmate Eric Robert beat Johnson with a pipe and covered his head in plastic wrap.

Robert was executed in October 2012. Berget in 2016 appealed his death sentence, but later asked to withdraw it.


High court pick Kavanaugh and his carefully constructed life
Law Firm Topics | 2018/08/31 13:11

Judge Brett Kavanaugh's life seems as carefully constructed as the Supreme Court arguments he will hear if he is confirmed to the high court. He checks all the boxes of the ways of Washington, or at least the way Washington used to be.

He's a team player — the conservative team — stepping up to make a play at key moments in politics, government and the law dating to the Bill Clinton era and the salacious dramas of that time.

Yet in a capital and a country where politics has become poisonously tribal, Kavanaugh has tried to cover his bases, as Washington insiders have long done. He's got liberal friends, associates and role models. He was a complicated figure in the scandal-ridden 1990s, by turns zealous and restrained as an investigator.

If he wins confirmation, he'll be seated with Justice Elena Kagan, the Obama-era solicitor general who hired him to teach at Harvard when she was law school dean, as well as with his prep school mate, Justice Neil Gorsuch. Kavanaugh's law clerks have gone on to work for liberal justices. He's served with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in mock trials of characters in Shakespeare plays, a night out from the real-life dramas.

Amateur athlete, doer of Catholic good works, basketball-coaching dad, Yale degrees, progression from lawyer to White House aide to judge — it's all there in a rarefied life of talent and privilege, though strikingly not one of great personal wealth.

The only skeleton in Kavanaugh's closet that the White House has owned up to is as American as apple pie.

Spending on baseball games helped drive him into debt one year, the White House said. He's also been ribbed for hoarding gummy bears when he worked as an aide to President George W. Bush. Because Republicans are not releasing critical documents for the hearings, it remains to be seen if anything else is rattling around.

With some ideological mashup, Kavanaugh's judicial record has been conservative in the main, reflecting views that could swing the court right on abortion, gay rights, executive power and more for decades to come.

Kavanaugh heads into the confirmation hearings, which begin Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, representing the hopes of President Donald Trump and the right that he will do just that.

Kavanaugh, who's 53, has seen a steady career progression: law clerk for federal appeals judges, fellowship with then-Solicitor General Starr, law clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy (with Gorsuch), associate counsel in the Starr investigation, law-firm partner, Bush White House associate counsel, White House staff secretary, judge. He first dated Ashley Estes, then Bush


Poland likely to ignore EU court ruling on justice overhaul
Law Firm Topics | 2018/08/24 10:12

Poland's deputy prime minister says his government will likely ignore the European Court of Justice if it suspends a new Polish law compelling numerous Supreme Court judges to retire early.

The attempted forced retirements are part of a broader overhaul of the justice system by Poland's nationalist ruling party, Law and Justice. The changes have alarmed the European Union, which says rule of law is under threat in Poland.

The government insists it is reforming a corrupt system.

Polish Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin says if the EU court suspends the retirement law, "our government will probably have no choice" but to ignore the ruling. His comments were published Monday by a pro-government weekly, Do Rzeczy.


US Supreme Court ruling in union dues impacts case in Oregon
Law Firm Topics | 2018/08/01 23:37

An Oregon state employee and a labor union have reached a settlement over her lawsuit seeking payback of obligatory union fees, marking the first refund of forced fees since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in late June that government workers can't be required to contribute to labor groups, the employee's lawyers said Monday.

Debora Nearman, a systems analyst with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, said in her lawsuit filed in April in federal court that the state's practice of forcing her to pay fees to fund union activity violated her First Amendment freedoms. She said the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, opposes her political and religious views and even led a campaign against her husband Mike when he successfully ran as a Republican candidate for the state Legislature in 2016.

Nearman is a member of a state-wide bargaining unit represented by SEIU but doesn't belong to the union. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which was involved in both the Supreme Court case and Nearman's, is handling some 200 other cases across the country, including a class-action lawsuit in California by 30,000 state employees, said Patrick Semmens, the group's vice president.

If the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules in favor of the plaintiffs in the California case, they stand to be refunded more than $100 million, Semmens estimated.

Nearman said in a telephone interview the mailers sent by a political action committee funded by the union were "disgusting."

One showed a photo of her husband superimposed in front of a police car with flashing lights, giving the impression that he was a criminal, she said. Another hinted he didn't care about disabled people, said Nearman, who suffers from a progressive neuro-muscular disease. "I was just heartbroken to see that," she said.


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Law Firm Topics | 2018/07/06 13:12

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