Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: An in-depth look at the connection between childhood trauma and incarceration.
USA Today: House subcommittee discusses ethics rules for U.S. Supreme Court justices.
"I believe that Black men in America face racism and that Justice Thomas likely has faced racism in his past," Donald Sherman, vice president and chief counsel of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said in his testimony. "I also think that there are a litany of ethics abuses committed by Justice Thomas that raise significant questions about his conduct in his role as a Supreme Court justice."
Marijuana Moment: Banker associations push Senate for marijuana banking reform.
The banking groups wrote that the current lack of banking access for cannabis businesses means that the “industry is operating primarily in cash, which causes significant public safety concerns and undermines the ability of cannabis regulators, tax collectors, law enforcement and national security organizations to monitor the industry effectively.”
“The SAFE Banking Act is a narrowly tailored solution designed to bring this growing industry into the regulated banking system and provide much-needed visibility into its financial activity,” the letter says, adding that the measure would promote transparency and improve tax collection.
Mondaq: Seventh Circuit says directors and officers liability insurer is on the hook for USA Gymnastics' payments to victims of Larry Nassar abuse.
Above the Law: More problems with Florida's elimination of Disney's tax district.
Barron News-Shield: State Bar of Wisconsin names Barron County Circuit Judge James Babler as judge of the year.
U.S. News & World Report: Congress passes greater financial disclosure obligations for federal judges.
Jacobin: Opinion calling for serious look at the U.S. Supreme Court's legitimacy in light of Justice Thomas' ethics problems.
While the Thomases flouted judicial norms and interbranch relations to build and sustain an unprecedented husband-and-wife conservative-judicial-political network, Democratic lawmakers are still citing the very norms (“separation of power issues”) the Thomases ignored.
A better strategy would be to openly challenge the power of the Supreme Court: if the connections between Ginni, Clarence, conservative legal networks, and the Court make one thing clear, it’s that the Right firmly grasps the connection between politics and the law. We should too. But instead of a Supreme Court that upholds the privileges of the rich and powerful, we need a Court that defers to the power of the people.
Courthouse News Service: At Senate committee hearing federal-court nominee Nancy Abudu faces criticism of her work at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas argued that the Southern Poverty Law Center was responsible for a 2012 shooting at the Family Research Council. Conservative groups at the time of the shooting connected the crime to the civil rights organization’s decision to call the council a hate group, although the center condemned the attack which was carried out by a gunman not associated with the center.
“The Southern Poverty Law Center is a hateful and extreme place and their hate, among other things, has led to horrific violence,” Cruz said, referencing the attack. “You went to work for them knowing that their hate had led to this violence?”
“I went to work for the SPLC to help lead its voting rights practice group,” Abudu replied.
CNN: Judge finds that Trump Organization appraiser was not consistent about quality control practices.
Axios: Minnesota probe finds pattern of racial discrimination by Minneapolis police.
Details: The probe found significant differences in how MPD officers treat people of color and white individuals in similar situations.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Kewaunee County farm sues Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources over permit requirements.
Kinnard Farms filed a petition in Kewaunee County Circuit Court asking that the DNR's permit terms be altered and contending the business will be harmed if it is not allowed to grow its herd size and by the requirement to pay for a groundwater monitoring system.
Kinnard Farms is one of Wisconsin's largest dairy farms. Kewaunee County, in northeastern Wisconsin, is home to 16 industrial farms and has been struggling with agricultural pollution for years after testing showed levels of contaminants in residents' private drinking water wells. The farms are known as CAFOs, concentrated animal feeding operations.
NPR: U.S. Supreme Court hearing case on Remain in Mexico immigration policy.
At the heart of all this is a separate legal question: whether the courts should second-guess the foreign policy judgments that undergird this and other immigration policies. At this point, neither Mexico nor the Biden administration wants Remain in Mexico to continue. Both see it as a flawed program in which migrants in squalid camps at the border have little ability to find lawyers or information for their hearings and are subject to violent attacks, kidnapping, extortion and rape by criminal cartels.
NPR: President Joe Biden pardons three, commutes sentences of 75, and talks about reentry assistance.
As part of the effort to address inequities in the justice system, the White House announced new steps to help those reentering society after incarceration, including expanding hiring for formerly incarcerated people. The Biden administration will allocate $145 million to developing "reentry plans" for incarcerated persons, which would connect them to resources, such as jobs, housing and loans upon being released.
Biden said in a statement that "helping those who served their time return to their families and become contributing members of their communities is one of the most effective ways to reduce recidivism and decrease crime."
Marquette Law School: Charles Franklin releases latest poll on voter views.
To study bail jumping in Wisconsin, WJI and the Mastantuono Coffee & Thomas law firm are looking county by county at 2021 bail-jumping charges. Which counties are charging bail jumping the most? Who are some of the defendants? What happens to those cases? We'll report the statistics from individual counties and tell you the stories from randomly chosen cases.
Total number of cases with bail-jumping charges: 199
Total number of misdemeanor and felony cases: 649
Percent of misdemeanor and felony cases that include bail-jumping charges: 31%
Total number of felony cases with bail-jumping charges: 138*
Total number of all felony cases: 412
Percent of felony cases that include bail-jumping charges: 33%
Total number of misdemeanor cases with bail-jumping charges: 61
Total number of all misdemeanor cases: 237
Percent of misdemeanor cases that include bail-jumping charges: 26%
Largest number of bail-jumping charges issued in a single case: 7
Number of felony bail-jumping charges issued: 189
Number of misdemeanor bail-jumping charges issued: 147
*Felony cases can include felony or misdemeanor bail-jumping charges or both; misdemeanor cases can include only misdemeanor bail-jumping charges. Case counts reported as of January 2022.
Sam's first felony bail-jumping charge had roots in his June 2019 arrest and April 2020 charges for felony second-offense possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine, misdemeanor obstructing an officer, and two counts of misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.
Sam, now 56, was busted on a warrant. When police tried to take him into custody at a gas station, he resisted, though he eventually was cuffed, according to the criminal complaint.
Sam told the officer "he believed the warrant for him was unjustified, as he only missed one appointment with his (supervision) agent."
Police searched Sam's car and found 25 unused gem bags in the glove compartment.
Later, at the jail, Sam told one of the officers, "I should have beat your ass," according to the complaint.
Police also searched Sam's house, where they found a lone Superman sock, one that matched another found in the squad used to transport Sam earlier.
Police found meth and a meth pipe in the sock at Sam's house and five bullets. All together, police found 3.56 grams of meth.
Barron County Circuit Judge J.M. Bitney set a $5,000 signature bond and Sam was released.
All was well until about 18 months later when Sam was arrested again and charged with another second-offense possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine. He also was charged with felony second-offense delivery of methamphetamine and felony bail jumping. The bail-jumping charge was a felony because the underlying charge, the April 2020 methamphetamine charge, was a felony.
Police caught on to Sam again when they questioned a different dealer who said he "got high" in exchange for helping people out "here and there" in obtaining drugs, according to the criminal complaint. He also told them Sam was his source of drugs.
The dealer cooperated with police in setting Sam up. Sam arrived at the dealer's house with 6.7 grams of meth in his car. Police were waiting.
Barron County Circuit Judge James C. Babler on Jan. 26 set a $200 cash bond for Sam but Sam did not post it. On Feb. 17, Babler modified the bond to allow Sam out of jail to receive treatment, according to online court records. Sam completed treatment and the judge – this time Bitney – allowed Sam to be released on a $1,000 signature bond. He ordered Sam to maintain absolute sobriety and not to possess alcohol. The prosecution did not object, according to court records.
In December, Sam was arrested again, this time on a misdemeanor charge of obstructing an officer, which carries a maximum sentence of nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine; and felony bail jumping, which carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
In this case, police trying to track Sam down in connection with a potential domestic violence incident learned that he had a felony warrant issued by the Department of Corrections "in connection with his probationary status," the complaint said.
They found him at a hotel, but he refused to unlock his door. Sam "stated that he had done nothing wrong and was going to contact his probation officer," the complaint said.
Officers turned to hotel staff for help getting into Sam's room, but the staff couldn't find a master key.
"The officers ultimately had to utilize a forced entry into the motel room to take [Sam] into custody," the complaint said.
Sam was not charged in the alleged domestic abuse incident.
Bitney this time set a $2,500 signature bond.
Sam eventually reached a plea agreement in the two 2021 cases. He pleaded guilty in March of this year to one count of possession with intent to deliver methamphetamines. The remaining charges, including the bail-jumping charges, were dismissed but read into the record.
Babler sentenced him in April to nine years in prison and three years of extended supervision.
Sam went to trial in February of this year on the 2020 charges and was convicted by a jury on all counts. He was sentenced by Barron County Circuit Judge Maureen D. Boyle to five years of probation to be served after he finishes his sentence for the 2021 cases. Boyle stayed a sentence of three years in prison and three years of extended supervision.
Sam was represented by the State Public Defender's Office in all his cases, indicating poverty.
Our methodology: WJI and Mastantuono Coffee & Thomas determined the number of felony and misdemeanor bail-jumping cases and charges in each county through court data. The total number of felony and misdemeanor cases filed in a county was obtained through the state's online court system. Cases selected for the "case file" section are chosen randomly through a random number-generator web site. The intent of the project is to show a variety of bail-jumping cases.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Mount Pleasant citizen moves to dismiss village attorney's lawsuit seeking emotional distress damages arising from social media posts about village politics.
“Because neither the First Amendment nor Wisconsin law allows thin-skinned officials to muzzle their critics with lawsuits, this case should be dismissed with prejudice,” the motion states.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Robin Vos extends Gableman election investigation after pressure from Donald Trump.
The Vetting Room: Info on John Lee, nominee for Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Politico: U.S. Supreme Court hears case of high-school football coach suspended for on-field prayers.
(U.S.Supreme Court Justice Sonia) Sotomayor took it a step further to make a point about when a school district may have the authority to step in.
“Why can’t the school fire a coach who decides to put a Nazi swastika on their arm and go to the middle of the field to pray? If someone comes up and says that’s part of my religion, could the school say no to them?” she asked, prompting several justices to pile on, adding more hypotheticals during the arguments, which extended for almost 50 minutes beyond the allotted one hour.
Daily Beast: Judge orders Donald Trump to pay fine of $10,000 per day until he hands documents over to the New York attorney general.
Reuters: Sonny & Cher & copyright law.
On April 13, 2022, Dane County Circuit Judge Everett Mitchell discussed the pipeline from child welfare to adult prison and his efforts to turn that pipeline off, how to address trauma among the youth he sees in juvenile court, shortcomings in the justice system when it comes to dealing with kids, and the role of a judge.
WUWM: The private attorney assisting Special Counsel Michael Gableman.
Although he lacks a contract or official role in Gableman’s taxpayer-funded investigation, Kaardal has become a de facto lead investigator. A Wisconsin Watch analysis shows roughly half of the chapters in Gableman’s 136-page interim report are based on Kaardal’s work.
Slate: Mark Joseph Stern on Justice Clarence Thomas' erratic reasoning. (Come hear Stern talk at WJI's May 19 event! Register here.)
If embraced by the court, (U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence) Thomas’ view would wipe away precedents limiting discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, and, in many contexts, race. It would also relegate noncitizens to second-class status, depriving them of the most basic rights. The nation might reasonably expect such a radical diminution of liberty to be rooted in a clear and definitive interpretation of the Constitution. But Thomas offered no such certitude, acknowledging instead that “my conclusions remain tentative.”
Although conservatives often credit the justice for his alleged consistency, he is, in fact, one of the most erratic and capricious justices in the history of the court. In his eternal quest to divine the original meaning of the Constitution, Thomas zigzags wildly between cases, seeking to destabilize the law on the basis of his underinformed stabs in the dark.
The Art Newspaper: U.S. Supreme Court remands case alleging Nazi theft of artwork from Jewish owner.
In a resounding unanimous decision, the US Supreme Court on 21 April vacated Spain’s lower court victory in a dispute over a painting stolen by a Nazi from a German Jew, and remanded the case back to court in California for more proceedings.
The Court did not decide who owns the work, Rue St Honoré, apres-midi, effet de pluie (1897) by Camille Pissarro, which the owner, Lilly Cassirer Neubauer, to get exit visas so she and her husband could flee Germany, sold to a Nazi appraiser in 1939 for a small sum that, as a Jew, she was then barred from accessing. The circumstances of the transfer meant that the lawsuit acknowledged it as a theft or unlawful forced sale. The work is held by the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation (TBF), an instrumentality of the government of Spain that manages the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid.
The Oakland Press: New book analyzes history of juvenile life-without-parole sentencing.
The Guardian: Florida bride and caterer criminally charged for serving marijuana-laced food to unsuspecting wedding guests.
U.S. News & World Report: Arizona judge rejects lawsuit seeking to keep three Republicans off ballot due to their ties to Jan 6, 2021 rally.
“Therefore, given the current state of the law and in accordance with the United States Constitution, plaintiffs have no private right of action to assert claims under the disqualification clause,” (Maricopa County Judge Christopher) Coury wrote.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Senate Republican opines about investigator Michael Gableman.
"I am so over Michael Gableman. He's not right," said state Sen. Kathy Bernier, a Lake Hallie Republican who leads the Senate Elections Committee.
"I can speculate as to why he didn't run for Supreme Court again (in 2018) and the speculation would be he's incompetent, in my opinion," she said. "You would never see that in a real investigator, that they go on to speculate on things. They deal with facts. He is an absolute joke."
Reuters: U.S. Supreme Court upholds exclusion of Puerto Rico residents from supplemental security insurance benefits.
Jose Luis Vaello Madero, the disabled 67-year-old man at the center of the case, received SSI benefits when he lived in New York but lost eligibility when he moved to Puerto Rico in 2013. The U.S. government sued him in federal court in Washington in 2017 seeking more than $28,000 for SSI payments he received after moving to Puerto Rico.
"It is unfortunate the court failed to see the discrimination faced by the most needy Puerto Rican Americans whose only distinguishing feature is that they choose to remain in Puerto Rico, their home on U.S. soil. This is a devastating day for Mr. Vaello Madero and for Puerto Rico," said Hermann Ferre, Vaello Madero's lawyer.
Washington Monthly: Even some of Donald Trump's "well-qualified" federal judges issue shoddy opinions.
NC Policy Watch: Federal attempts to legalize marijuana will likely die in Senate.
Reuters: Massachusetts high court holds that restaurants cannot recover for COVID losses under property-insurance policies.
Vera Institute: New York saves $142 million by closing six prisons.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin Supreme Court shifts burden regarding attacks on prior OWI convictions.
It may have just gotten harder for Wisconsin drunken drivers to knock old tickets and convictions out of the equation when scoring a new offense.
In a case involving the common tactic of "collateral attack" on prior cases, the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled when old records aren't available, it's the driver's burden to prove their rights to have an attorney weren't adequately explained at the time, not prosecutors' burden to prove they were.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin Legislature holds hearing on medical marijuana.
Rep. John Macco, R-Ledgeview, said he supported the plan for similar reasons, citing the benefits from marijuana his wife experienced as she dealt with cancer for 14 years until her death in 2021 — treatment he and his wife sought illegally because of Wisconsin's marijuana laws.
"Many cancer patients like my wife are not looking for a buzz that many associate with marijuana but instead seek the increase in appetite and the calming effect that it brings them," he said.
Wisconsin Watch and Wisconsin Public Radio: Podcast on unchecked power of prosecutors looks at Outagamie County case brought by former DA Vince Biskupic.
Los Angeles Times: U.S. Supreme Court hears argument on whether officers can be sued for failure to provide Miranda warning.
The court’s conservatives agreed Wednesday that the landmark 1966 Miranda decision bars forced confessions from being used in court. But they were skeptical of “extending” it to allow damage suits against officers who don’t advise a suspect of the right to remain silent or consult a lawyer.
The outcome could have an effect on everyday encounters between police and people they question, some legal experts warn, if officers cannot be held liable for violating the Miranda rules.
Clarion Ledger: Federal investigation finds that Mississippi violates constitutional rights at state penitentiary for failure to provide mental health treatment and other reasons.
“For years, the incarcerated population has been forced to live inside rat-infested conditions and survive with a water system contaminated with human feces all with non-existent health care resources available to them,” (Roc Nation CEO Desiree) Perez said. “Over the past three years, the death toll has been utterly devastating and we hope today’s report brings many families and their loved ones one step closer toward getting the justice they deserve. We applaud the Department of Justice for their report.”
Slate: Connecticut enhances abortion protections before any change in Roe v. Wade.
At least 26 states will ban most or all abortions if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade this summer, as it appears poised to do. Many blue states have strengthened abortion rights in the run-up to Roe’s potential demise. But few are planning for red states’ campaign to punish abortion providers and patients in places where it remains legal.
Connecticut, however, will not be caught off guard. On Tuesday, the state’s House of Representatives passed a bill spearheaded by Rep. Matt Blumenthal that would transform Connecticut into a sanctuary for legal abortion. The measure, H.B. 5414, bars state courts from enforcing another state’s penalties against someone who performed or facilitated an abortion that’s legal in Connecticut. It allows people sued under vigilante abortion bans, like Texas’ S.B. 8, to countersue in Connecticut court, collecting both damages and attorneys’ fees if they prevail. And it broadly prohibits state authorities from complying with another state’s request to investigate, penalize, or extradite individuals for providing or facilitating reproductive health services.
Associated Press: Claims of racism filed against University School of Milwaukee.
In a civil lawsuit filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, Craig and Kelly Robinson accuse University School of Milwaukee of terminating their 9- and 11-year-old sons’ re-enrollment contracts for the 2021-2022 school year after the couple complained that teachers treated students of color and socioeconomically underrepresented students unfairly.
According to the lawsuit filed Monday, the school failed to provide the supportive and inclusive learning environment it had promised in its enrollment contracts with the Robinsons. The boys had attended the pre-kindergarten through grade 12 school for about five years, the Robinsons said Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press.
Associated Press: U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear case that could shut down natural-gas pipeline in Missouri and Illinois.
Reuters: Legal ethics lawyers urge reforms to rules limiting practice of law in other states.
Under the proposal, lawyers admitted in any U.S. jurisdiction could practice and represent clients without "regard to the geographic location of the lawyer or the client," where the services are given and which state's rules apply, the group said.
A lawyer would be able to live and work wherever they want, and advise on another state's law, as long as they are transparent about where their license is issued, (Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers president Brian) Faughnan said.
Reuters: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals remands climate-change case against ExxonMobil and Chevron to California state court.
Nashville Tennessean: Tennessee Legislature passes bill criminalizing camping on public property (i.e., homelessness).
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