The Washington Post: Judge offers defendants opportunity to get Covid vaccine in lieu of performing community service.
FiveThirtyEight: Cities that reduced arrests for minor violations also saw decline in police shootings.
Verdict: We need a people's commission on the U.S. Supreme Court.
WBUR: Massachusetts uses faulty tests to detect drugs on prison mail, suit says.
Prison Policy Initiative: MailGuard is a bad deal all around for incarcerated people - it makes them pay for their own mail, scanned so badly they can't read it.
Filter: U.S. faces a naxolone shortage at the worst possible time.
The Trace: NRA chief and his wife had their elephant trophies turned into stools and a trashcan.
Taxidermy work orders containing the LaPierres’ names called for the elephants’ four front feet to be turned into “stools,” an “umbrella stand,” and a “trash can.” At their request, tusks were mounted, skulls were preserved, and the hyena became a rug. The episode represents a rare instance in which the gun group’s embattled chief executive is captured, on paper, unambiguously violating NRA rules; the emails show that Susan directed the process while Makris’s company, Under Wild Skies Inc., which received millions of dollars from the NRA, picked up the tab.
Andrew Arulanandam, the NRA’s managing director of public affairs, said, over email, that the LaPierres’ “activity in Botswana—from more than seven years ago—was legal and fully permitted.” The couple’s safari trips, he added, were meant to “extol the benefits of hunting and promote the brand of the NRA with one of its core audiences.” Moreover, he claimed, “Many of the most notable hunting trophies in question are at the NRA museum or have been donated by the NRA to other public attractions.”
ImmigrationProf Blog: Immigration cases up in June; backlog doubles.
The number of new deportation cases filed by the Biden administration is on the rise. Deportation orders sought by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) jumped by nearly 50 percent in June, compared with the number filed in May. The number of new cases continues to severely outpace the rate at which judges can keep up. As a result, the Immigration Court backlog has increased by almost 100,000 cases since September 2020 at the end of the fiscal year 2020. The total backlog as of the end of June 2021 had reached its highest level ever at 1,357,820 cases waiting to be heard.
Gallup: U.S. Supreme Court approval rating drops below 50%.
Above the Law: Lawsuit by Republican U.S. reps allege face masks are "compelled speech."
Simple Justice: Greetings from the Pasco, FL, Sheriff's Office! You're under surveillance.
What are the chances that anybody who gets the letter will read four pages? Frankly, it’s shocking that the sheriff would be able to write a four page letter, but it becomes more understandable if you assume it was written by the lawyers, and then it’s surprising it was only four pages. So what was this about?
“You may wonder why you were enrolled in this program,” the letter continues. “You were selected as a result of an evaluation of your recent criminal behavior using an unbiased, evidence-based risk assessment designed to identify prolific offenders in our community. As a result of this designation, we will go to great efforts to encourage change in your life through enhanced support and increased accountability.”
AP: A KKK murder plot to avenge a bitten prison guard.
Wisconsin Examiner: Ethics Commission investigating allegation of Marsy's Law violation by Shawano County district attorney.
The complaint alleges that Parker’s post violates provisions in the Wisconsin constitution that protect victims’ rights as well as Marsy’s Law, a constitutional amendment passed last year that increased protections for crime victims.
“The post potentially violates a domestic violence victim’s right to dignity, respect, courtesy, and sensitivity,” the complaint states.
The complaint also alleges that Parker used government resources and staff in the district attorney’s office to benefit his re-election campaign — directing the staff in his victim/witness office to do the research that informed his Facebook post.
WPR: Kenosha police officer at center of $1.75 million wrongful death settlement for killing Michael Bell is running for Kenosha County Sheriff.
"It is the truth, I am running for sheriff," (Albert) Gonzales said. "The platform I'm going to have is what I'm running for. I'm just looking toward the future."
Nearly 17 years ago, Michael Bell Jr. pulled up to his house in Kenosha and an officer followed him after observing his driving. Dashcam footage shows the two men talked and then struggled. The officer shot Bell pointblank in the head in front of his mother and sister. The officer said Bell took his gun.
Within 48 hours, Kenosha police ruled the shooting justified. Bell's father, Michael Bell Sr., hired his own investigators, who discovered considerable inconsistencies with the police account. The family later received a $1.75 million wrongful death settlement.
Reuters: U.S. Supreme Court's shadow docket favored religion and Trump.
Note: We are crunching Supreme Court of Wisconsin decisions down to size. The rule for this is that no justice gets more than 10 paragraphs as written in the actual decision. The "upshot" and "background" sections do not count as part of the 10 paragraphs because of their summary and very necessary nature. We've also removed citations from the opinion for ease of reading, but have linked to important cases cited or information about them. Italics indicate WJI insertions.
The case: Fond du Lac County v. S.N.W.
Majority: Per curiam (1 paragraph)
Dissent: Justice Ann Walsh Bradley (5 pages)
The Wisconsin Supreme Court dismissed the case, but not until after the time, effort and expense of briefing and oral argument. The court determined, without explanation, that it should not have granted permission for review in the first place.
Fond du Lac County Circuit Court Judge Dale English ordered S.N.W. involuntarily committed and subject to involuntary medication and treatment, even though S.N.W. and his counsel had not received all psychiatric or medical reports at least 48 hours before S.N.W.’s final hearing, in violation of a state statutory requirement. A doctor’s report was submitted to S.N.W.’s attorney after the 48-hour deadline had passed yet before the final hearing took place. Over S.N.W.’s objection, Judge English admitted the report into evidence and allowed the doctor to testify at the final hearing. He then concluded that the County proved that S.N.W. was mentally ill, a proper subject for treatment, and dangerous.
S.N.W. appealed, arguing that because the doctor’s report was late, the circuit court lacked competency to proceed with the final hearing and the case had to be dismissed. S.N.W. argued in the alternative that if the court retained jurisdiction over the case, the report and doctor’s testimony should have been excluded from evidence.
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District II, affirmed. Presiding Judge Paul F. Reilly held that the 48-hour requirement did not affect the court’s competency to hold the final hearing. Further, he said, the doctor’s failure to submit the report in time “did not affect S.N.W.’s substantial rights” and the circuit court did not err in admitting the doctor’s report or testimony. S.N.W., said Reilly, “has not identified any prejudice that S.N.W. suffered as a result of having twenty-four hours as opposed to forty-eight hours” to review the doctor’s report.
S.N.W. petitioned the Wisconsin Supreme Court for review, and the court granted permission to proceed and scheduled briefing. The issues raised on review included (1) whether the appeal was moot, (2) whether the circuit court lacked competency to proceed with the final hearing due to violation of the 48-hour rule, (3) if the court retained competency to hear the matter, whether the circuit erred in admitting the report and testimony, and (4) whether the evidence presented at the final hearing was sufficient to prove S.N.W. dangerous.
After reviewing the record and the briefs of both parties, and after hearing oral arguments, we conclude that this matter should be dismissed as improvidently granted.
I write separately because I believe that this court should explain to the litigants and public the reason for the dismissal. The litigants, after all, have expended substantial effort and resources arguing the case before us.
Additionally, I write because this case implicates substantial rights and presents important questions of mental health commitment law. We granted review in order to address these novel issues of statewide public concern. And now, without explanation, we dispose of the case in a two-sentence per curiam decision, dismissing the case as improvidently granted.
[T]his dearth of explanation has not always been the norm. For example, in Michael J. Waldvogel Trucking, LLC v. LIRC, the court explained that dismissal as improvidently granted was inappropriate because a change in the law rendered the issue in question unlikely to recur and a decision in the case “would not develop or clarify the law.”
Similarly, in Smith v. Anderson, the court examined the issues in the case and ultimately explained that the dismissal as improvidently granted was based on the presence of outstanding coverage questions “for which no argument or briefing was provided” and on the premise that deciding the issues before the court only would “cause confusion and provide no answer to the parties on how they are to proceed.” Indeed, in Smith, two separate writings provided further nuanced discussion.
In a footnote, Walsh Bradley cited additional cases in which the court explained why it dismissed review as improvidently granted.
The result of the court’s inconsistent practice is a lack of guidance for potential litigants and the public, as well as an effective negation of the numerous hours of work and sums of money spent seeking a decision on the merits. Acknowledging the strong public policy rationale behind providing reasons for a dismissal as improvidently granted, the court’s general practice should be to provide an explanation for such a dismissal, and as such it should have provided an explanation in this case. It is the least we can do for parties who have expended time, energy, and money seeking a resolution from this court.
"The result of the court’s inconsistent practice is a lack of guidance for potential litigants and the public, as well as an effective negation of the numerous hours of work and sums of money spent seeking a decision on the merits." – Justice Ann Walsh Bradley
I not only take issue with the majority’s lack of explanation of its decision, but I also disagree with the decision itself. In my view, we should decide this case on the merits and not dismiss it as improvidently granted.
Mootness provides no obstacle to our review. Although S.N.W. has passed away, we knew that when we granted the petition for review in this case. In any event, our decision in Langlade County v. D.J.W. controls. There, citing State v. McDonald, which determined in the criminal context that the right to bring an appeal survives the defendant’s death, we concluded that the same rule applied to a ch. 51 involuntary commitment proceeding “[g]iven the significant liberty interests at stake.” We should simply apply this rule here.
Further, even if the case is moot, exceptions to mootness apply that allow for an otherwise moot case to be decided. Because the issues here are of great public importance and are capable of repetition, yet evade review, mootness exceptions are met. This case should proceed to a full written opinion.
Issues of great public importance substantially affecting the rights of those subject to mental health commitments should not be curtly discarded by the court with no explanation, Rather, these important issues in mental health commitment law, if decided, will serve to develop the law in a meaningful way.
Center for American Progress: It is time for Congress to expand the courts.
Reuters: Subway says it's time to end a class-action lawsuit over the chain's tuna.
Vice: Police ask for ShotSpotter data changes long after the incidents recorded.
Wisconsin State Journal: Attitudes worsening among youth at state's juvenile prisons; staff feels defeated.
She (Monitor Teresa Abreau) wrote that she and the civil and youth advocates interviewed 42 youth inmates. They complained that staff used excessive force, confined them to their rooms for “observation,” make racial remarks and have become too quick to use physical force rather than de-escalate situations. They also complained about long stretches of downtime — Abreau reported that 42% of incidents involving inmates in April occurred on either Saturday or Sunday — and not being allowed to go outside.
Abreau and the attorneys also spoke with 33 staff members. She said their morale seemed lower than in April, they appeared less engaged with the inmates and seemed “frustrated and defeated.” They complained that they lacked the punitive tools to manage the children’s behavior and there were no consequences for the children’s actions.
Filter: Advocates say federal cannabis legalization bill fails in key areas.
Law360: Advocates frustrated by Biden's silence on justice reform.
Slate: What the FBI did with those 4,500 tips about Brett Kavanaugh.
It is, in a sense, hard to be horrified by the explicit confirmation from the FBI that this was indeed a sham investigation, simply because much of this was known at the time and more has emerged since. The sham occurred in plain view, as did the decision to dismiss all of the 83 judicial ethics complaints lodged against Kavanaugh at the time, because Supreme Court justices are not bound by the judicial ethics regime tasked with investigating them. In a sense, then, because the shamming always happened openly, the revelation that it was shamatory feels underwhelming. We have become so inured to all the shamming in plain sight that having it confirmed years later barely even feel like news.
Reuters: U.S. appeals court finds CDC eviction moratorium unlawful.
The New York Times: After 23 years in prison, a man's conviction is reversed in murder case it took four hours to "solve."
Law & Crime: ACLU defends woman's right to display "F*ck Biden" signs.
But ACLU of N.J. Legal Director Jeanne LoCicero told the outlet that government cannot be allowed to police citizens’ political speech.
“All New Jerseyans have the right to express themselves freely under the First Amendment,” LoCicero told NJ Advance Media. “Roselle Park’s ordinance against posting obscene signs should never have been applied to political signs.”
According to NJ Advance Media, the ACLU on Thursday filed court documents seeking to block enforcement of Bundy’s order until after the Superior Court appeal is adjudicated.
The Atlantic: The U.S. Supreme Court has abandoned democracy's most important element: The voters.
Mother Jones: President Biden cancels more border wall contracts.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Michelle Havas changes sentence of deputy who killed Ceasar Stinson.
Techdirt: Florida's new law against blocking roads during protests ignored when it is politically convenient.
The Brookings Institution: The shaky pillars of American democracy.
The Washington Post: U.S. drops charges against five Chinese nationals researchers accused of hiding ties to Chinese military.
Above the Law: Judge rejects weed-sniffing claim of cop who said he could smell pot sealed in bags in a car from his own traveling cruiser.
Reuters: Mississippi asks U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
CNN: President Biden signs crime victim fund replenishment bill.
The Washington Post: Suit argues that masking requirement hides faces made in God's image.
Attorneys for Resurrection School in Lansing and two parents will tell the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that Catholic doctrine holds that every person is made in God’s image.
“Unfortunately, a mask shields our humanity,” the school argued in its lawsuit. “And because God created us in His image, we are masking that image.”
ABA Journal: New Mexico Supreme Court rules gas stations can be held liable for selling gas to drunk people.
Reuters: U.S. Senate committee approves appeals court nominee after Republicans complain about his objections to laws adopted in the early 1900s.
Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary committee were divided over (Gustavo) Gelpi's criticism of a series of rulings in the early 1900s by the Supreme Court that many legal experts contend created a "subclass" of U.S. citizens living in unincorporated territories without full constitutional protections....
"Both liberal and conservative legal scholars have criticized the insular cases," Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) said on Thursday. "This is a line of Supreme Court decisions, from over 100 years ago, which held that U.S. citizens living in unincorporated territories like Puerto Rico may lack some of the same constitutional rights as U.S. citizens living in the states."
Reuters: U.S. Department of Justice issues new guidelines for communicating with the White House.
(U.S. Attorney General Merrick) Garland said in a statement that the new policies further "longstanding Departmental norms of independence from inappropriate influences" and "the principled exercise of discretion.”
SCOTUSblog: Term limits for U.S. Supreme Court justices a popular option at latest court-reform meeting.
Mother Jones: The federal prison population is growing under President Biden, who said he would cut it in half.
The Trace: Helping victims and survivors is harder when they are your friends.
WPR: Legislator proposes lifetime restraining orders to protect sexual assault survivors.
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