AP via WBAY: Two more lawsuits filed over Wisconsin redistricting.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A conservative group filed a redistricting lawsuit with the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday, an action that comes after Democrats filed their own legal challenge in federal court less than two weeks ago.
A third lawsuit on behalf of voting rights advocacy groups was also filed in federal court on Monday. The lawsuits mean there are fights in both state and federal courts in Wisconsin over redistricting, even before the Legislature proposes a map or takes a vote on new political boundary lines.
All of the lawsuits argue that the current maps, adopted in 2011, are unconstitutional and courts should establish a plan to draw new lines because the Republican-controlled Legislature and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers will not be able to agree.
Newsweek: Washington state jail offers ramen noodles as incentive for COVID vaccines.
The Benton County Corrections Department began offering packets of the wavy instant noodles to inmates who got their first shot on August 1 as part of a program called "Soup for Shots." So far, the program has seen success, with around 900 packets being doled out to 90 inmates, out of the prison's 360 overall, Scott Souza, chief of corrections for the department, said.
Ramen noodles were chosen as the incentive because they were among the institution's most popular commissary items. Posters placed around the prison—located in Kennewick, Washington—make the pitch to inmates.
Alaska Public Media: Federal judge nixes environmental approval for major Alaska oil project.
CNN: Proud Boys leader gets five months incarceration for burning BLM banner and bringing ammunition magazines to Washington, D.C.
The Washington Post: Corporate America's half-hearted commitment to racial justice after George Floyd.
To date, America’s 50 biggest public companies and their foundations collectively committed at least $49.5 billion since Floyd’s murder last May to addressing racial inequality — an amount that appears unequaled in sheer scale.
Looking deeper, more than 90 percent of that amount — $45.2 billion — is allocated as loans or investments they could stand to profit from, more than half in the form of mortgages. Two banks — JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America — accounted for nearly all of those commitments.
Reuters: California gig worker rule is unconstitutional, judge says.
AP: Police posts of crises may traumatize.
The short clips were posted on official law enforcement social media accounts, part of a longstanding practice by police agencies to showcase their lifesaving efforts online — especially in 2021 as desperation grows for positive press amid accusations of excessive force and racism following George Floyd’s murder, and rising gun violence and killings.
But with renewed attention on officer interactions with people who are suffering from mental health issues, experts and advocates are taking another look at these posts with an eye toward whether they exploit the very victims law enforcement just saved.
“It’s like we were living in this tragedy with them,” said Kevin Berthia, a mental health advocate who has survived his own suicide attempts. “Now how is that not creating trauma for anybody else? Who else is this triggering?”
The Washington Post: Portland protests descend into violence.
BuzzFeed: Infowars host charged in Jan. 6 riot.
WASHINGTON — Infowars host Owen Shroyer is facing criminal charges in connection with the Jan. 6 riots at the US Capitol.
In a new complaint filed on Friday, the US attorney’s office in Washington charged Shroyer with illegally going into a restricted area on the Capitol grounds and disorderly conduct. He’s one of the highest-profile right-wing media personalities to be prosecuted in connection with the insurrection so far.
Law360: Non-English speakers can be lost in American justice system.
Many courts, especially at the federal level, have improved language access for these non-English-speaking litigants, defendants and witnesses in recent years, Michelsen-King and other advocates say.
But a shortage of interpreters, uneven training and credentialing, and a lack of information and funding still hamper language access in even the most proactive state courts, according to experts. As a result, that access is inconsistent from state to state, with some courts leading the way and others failing to keep up.
y Gretchen Schuldt
A federal appeals court hammered the Wisconsin court system last week in a ruling that may finally provide a hearing to a man who has waited in vain for more than four years to get his appeal considered by a state court.
Marvin Carter, the federal court said, can pursue his habeas corpus petition in federal court.
"Though we recognize that state court remedies exist in theory in Wisconsin and should be available, the last four years have demonstrated that those remedies are, at least for Carter, inaccessible," U.S. Circuit Judge Michael Y. Scudder Jr. wrote.
Carter "has weathered a ten-month transcript delay, three different public defenders, and 14 extension requests by counsel and the trial court itself," Scudder wrote. "At no point during these four years has a single court in Wisconsin ruled on the merits of Carter’s colorable challenge to his sentence. None of this is Carter’s fault."
"Carter contends that state court remedies in Wisconsin are ineffective to protect his rights. We agree, for the facts in this case afford no other reasonable conclusion....The length of the delay should have sounded an alarm bell within the Wisconsin courts, the public defender’s office, and even the Attorney General’s office," Scudder said.
Carter's experience in the state court system has been "extreme and tragic," Scudder wrote for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals panel. Circuit Judge Michael B. Brennan joined the opinion and Circuit Judge Frank H. Easterbrook concurred, saying the decision did not go far enough in some areas of analysis.
Carter's odyssey began in 2016, when he was charged in Milwaukee County Circuit Court with possessing heroin, cocaine, and other drugs with intent to deliver and with felon in possession of a firearm.
He reached a plea agreement in the middle of trial, agreeing to plead guilty to the heroin and gun charges. The district attorney's office agreed to recommend a six-year sentence.
When sentencing time rolled around, though, Assistant District Attorney Laura Crivello (now a Milwaukee County circuit judge) retreated from the deal.
She told the court: “In hindsight, I so wish we would have allowed this to proceed through to the end of the trial and let the jury make their verdict because then I would have had four counts on the table today.”
Circuit Judge Janet Protasiewicz, instead of honoring the plea agreement, sentenced Carter to nine years, three more than agreed upon.
It was 2017 by then. Carter tried to appeal, arguing that Crivello breached the plea agreement and that Protasaiewicz sentenced him based on inaccurate information, both violations of his 14th Amendment due process rights.
Things went wrong almost from the beginning.
Carter filed a notice of his intent to seek postconviction relief with the trial court well within the 20-day time limit. The state public defender's office assigned him a lawyer.
"But stagnation soon followed," Scudder said. "The clerk and court reporter took 10 months to locate and share the trial transcripts that Carter’s counsel requested – a step that should have been completed within 60 days."
Carter's lawyer, on the day the postconviction motion was due, asked for more time.
"He explained that his heavy caseload prevented him from meeting with Carter or reviewing the case materials," Scudder said. The lawyer, Leon Todd, also asked for a retroactive extension of time to request certain transcripts. The state Court of Appeals granted both. (Full disclosure: Todd is a WJI Board member.)
"With the benefit of hindsight, we now know that the delay for Carter was just beginning. Carter’s counsel followed his first request to extend the deadline to file the postconviction motion with a second. And a third. And a fourth," Scudder wrote. "This pattern continued for months, with Carter’s counsel filing a new extension request on each day the prior request was due to expire. By late 2019 – more than two years after Carter’s July 2017 conviction and sentence – counsel had filed seven requests to extend the motion deadline. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals granted each motion in rote fashion."
"Wisconsin’s courts need to fix the systemic deficiency that has resulted in how Carter’s case has been treated, and become more transparent about how discretion is exercised, for the benefit of the parties, their counsel, other courts, and the public," – Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
Carter turned to federal court and filed a habeas corpus motion, a type of motion alleging that a person's incarceration violates the Constitution.
Another year passed before U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson issued a decision denying Carter's request. In it, Peterson recognized Carter's difficult position.
"The delay in Carter’s postconviction or appellate process is inordinate. It has been more than three years after his judgment of conviction, and his case has gone nowhere," Peterson wrote.
Peterson told Carter to give the state courts one more chance, questioning whether the courts knew Carter "disapproves" of Todd's repeated requests for more time.
"By our tally, then," Scudder wrote, "Carter’s counsel filed twelve consecutive extension requests, collectively pushing the deadline to file the motion to Nov. 24, 2020. And, as best we can tell, not once has the Wisconsin Court of Appeals – or any other Wisconsin court for that matter—recognized that Carter’s case has been stalled for over four years."
Government Technology: Dallas Police Department employee deletes 22 terabytes of data in transfer error.
In Dallas, at least one murder trial has been delayed after a police employee accidentally destroyed 8 terabytes of digital case files and materials during a routine data migration process gone wrong.
A Dallas Police Department (DPD) employee attempting to move older case files out of a cloud-based archive and onto an on-premise server housed in the city’s data center accidentally deleted 22 terabytes worth of files, the DPD told media in an emailed statement.
Constitutional Law Prof Blog: Federal appeals court tosses OAN defamation suit against Rachel Maddow.
Slate: House Dems just got serious about reigning in the U.S. Supreme Court.
But one crucial section takes a more creative approach: The House bill actually repeals the court’s own rules for deciding election-related cases—which strongly favor states’ ability to suppress votes—replacing them with voter-friendly directives that would force the justices to safeguard equal suffrage. H.R. 4 also takes on the “shadow docket,” prohibiting the Supreme Court from issuing unreasoned emergency orders reversing lower court decisions that protected the franchise. And it abolishes the legal doctrine that allows the justices to shield anti-voting laws from judicial scrutiny in the run-up to an election.
Wisconsin Watch: Nearly 200 Wisconsin cops back on the job after being fired or forced out.
SCOTUSblog: Real estate agents ask U.S. Supreme Court to freeze latest version of eviction moratorium.
In their 40-page filing, the challengers reiterated the same argument that they made in June, noting that it has the apparent support of five members of the court: “Congress never gave the CDC the staggering amount of power it now claims.” Instead, the challengers observed, the CDC invoked as authority for the eviction ban “a rarely-used statute from 1944 whose domain has previously been limited to matters such as the sale of baby turtles.”
The Hill: Biden administration asks U.S. Supreme Court to block order reviving "remain in Mexico" policy.
Above the Law: Court reporters deserve more respect.
The Brookings Institution: The societal benefits of postsecondary prison education.
It is hard to overstate the benefits of providing postsecondary education to incarcerated students. The incarcerated population has lower average education levels than the general population, which, coupled with the stigma of a criminal record, makes it difficult for returning citizens to find jobs—especially if they are Black. Individuals who enroll in postsecondary education programs are 48% less likely to be reincarcerated than those who do not, and the odds of being employed post-release are 12% higher for individuals who participate in any type of correctional education. Estimates suggest that for every $1 spent on correctional education, $4 to $5 are saved on reincarceration costs. Additionally, individuals who complete college courses are eligible for higher-paying jobs compared to people without a college education.
Beyond fiscal benefits and inspiring stories of transformation, postsecondary prison education programs are inextricably linked to advancing racial equity, especially given inequality in K-12 education that feeds low-income Black and Latinx students into the school-to-prison pipeline. The prison population is disproportionately comprised of people from racially segregated low-income communities. Individuals returning home from prison with college credentials play an important role in encouraging family members and friends to pursue additional education.
WBAY: Brown County asks for governor's help in easing public defender shortage.
Defendants in the county are continuing to have trouble finding public defenders.
“If these people end up getting released because they cannot get through the system, it’s a public safety risk,” Brown County Board of Supervisors Chairman Patrick Buckley said.
The board of supervisors approved a resolution Wednesday addressing the lack of attorneys in the State Public Defender’s Office. The agency appoints lawyers to defendants who can’t afford one and its Green Bay office represents clients in Brown, Door, and Kewaunee counties.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: State asks U.S. Supreme Court to overturn State Supreme Court in high-profile homicide case.
Courthouse News: Federal judge halts Biden deportation policy.
VICTORIA, Texas (CN) — Siding with Texas and Louisiana, a federal judge ruled Thursday the Biden administration's new policies limiting deportations violate standards set by Congress.
In the latest blow to President Joe Biden’s immigration policies, U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton in Texas agreed with the two states in finding the Department of Homeland Security is unlawfully allowing some immigrants to go free when it should be deporting them due to their criminal records.
Tipton, appointed by former President Donald Trump last year, ordered DHS to stop enforcing memos the agency’s officials issued in the first month of Biden’s presidency that established new guidelines for deportations.
AP: $850 million Boy Scout sex abuse fund gets partial approval in bankruptcy case.
The Washington Post: $532,000 in fines proposed for 34 unruly airline passengers.
The FAA summaries of the cases portray passengers determined not to wear masks, intent on drinking their own alcohol or vaping, and behaving abusively to other travelers and airline crews.
The proposed fines bring the total that the agency has sought to impose this year to more than $1 million. It’s the latest enforcement effort seeking to maintain order in the skies, as the FAA turns to what previously had been little-used powers to punish passengers who break federal rules governing conduct on planes.
The Cap Times: WILL sues Dane County over new mask mandate.
In June, the state Supreme Court ruled local public health officials do not have the authority to close schools and that an order from PHMDC last year infringed on religious rights.
WILL argues that the June ruling establishes that (Public Health Madison & Dane County Director Janel) Heinrich's authority is narrower than local government currently perceives it. The law firm is asking the court to issue a temporary injunction blocking enforcement of the order, followed by a permanent injunction after considering the arguments presented.
Wisconsin law only confers a “series of discrete powers” upon health officials, and if the power is not “specifically conferred,” then “that power is not authorized," WILL argues.
Wisconsin State Journal: Beagle rescue(?) brings criminal charges.
Animal rights activists from out of state were charged Wednesday in Dane County for allegedly stealing three beagles from an animal testing and breeding facility in the town of Blue Mounds more than four years ago.
Eva Hamer, of Illinois, Wayne Hsiung, of California, and Paul Picklesimer, of California, are facing felony theft and burglary charges for the April 2017 incident.
A criminal complaint alleges they worked together to steal three dogs reportedly worth $3,600 from Ridglan Farms, a facility in the town of Blue Mounds that breeds and sells more than 3,000 beagles annually to medical researchers, including UW-Madison.
The New York Times: San Francisco sues three online sellers for dealing in "ghost guns."
Fox6 News: Thousands petition Wisconsin Department of Corrections to reverse monopoly vendor plan.
Missouri Independent via The Joplin Globe: U.S. Department of Justice asks court to block Missouri's new Second Amendment sanctuary law.
As part of an ongoing lawsuit set for a hearing Thursday afternoon, the Justice Department is asking Cole County Judge Daniel Green to block the Second Amendment Preservation Act, a law approved by the state Legislature in May and signed by Gov. Mike Parson.
Among its provisions, the law says law enforcement agencies will face $50,000 fines if they “infringe” on Missourians’ Second Amendment rights.
Some of those laws would include imposing certain taxes on firearms, requiring gun owners to register their weapons and laws prohibiting “law-abiding” residents from possessing or transferring their guns.
Brian M. Boynton, the acting head of the Justice Department’s civil division, wrote that the law violates the U.S. Constitution and “has caused, and will continue to cause, significant harms to law enforcement within the state of Missouri.”
AP: Democrats unveil new voting rights bill.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama, seeks to restore a key provision of the federal law that compelled states with a history of discrimination to undergo a federal review of changes to voting and elections. The Supreme Court set aside the formula that decided which jurisdictions were subject to the requirement in a 2013 decision and weakened the law further in a ruling this summer.
Reuters: Some Dems now saying, "Fund the police."
CBS News: Sackler family insisting on escape from lawsuits before it will OK bankruptcy court settlement.
Members of the family that owns OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma won't contribute billions of dollars to a legal settlement unless they get off the hook for all current and future lawsuits over the company's activities, one of them told a court Tuesday in a rare public appearance.
David Sackler, grandson of one of the brothers who nearly 70 years ago bought the company that later became Purdue, testified at a hearing in federal bankruptcy court in White Plains, New York, that without those protections, "I believe we would litigate the claims to their final outcomes."
"We need a release that's sufficient to get our goals accomplished," Sackler said in response to questions from a lawyer for the U.S. bankruptcy trustee. "If the release fails to do that, we will not support it."
The Trace: Missouri Second Amendment sanctuary law making difficulties for police trying to solve gun crimes.
Governing: Sacramento sheriff silent on jail deaths.
Despite six men dying in jail custody this year, a Sacramento Bee review found the Sheriff's Office publicly announced just one of the fatalities — Timothy Noble, who died last month. Since the start of the pandemic, 10 people have died in Sacramento's jails, including four men between August and December 2020.
Incarceration experts say notifying the public when someone dies in a jail should be a basic expectation, particularly during a pandemic. Failing to tell the public makes it harder for watchdogs and families to understand what's going on inside the jails. It fuels distrust, particularly in an era when law enforcement practices are under scrutiny, they said.
"There's too great a likelihood that something can be termed a 'natural death' but it is actually preventable," said Michele Deitch, an expert on jails and prisons who teaches at the University of Texas at Austin's School of Law. "So, in a jail, I would be more skeptical of 'natural deaths' and would want more information about them."
Politico: Lawmakers drop efforts to reform qualified immunity.
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: State of Wisconsin v. James Timothy Genous
Majority: Justice Brian Hagedorn (7 pages), joined by Justices Annette K. Ziegler, Patience Roggensack, and Rebecca Grassl Bradley
Dissent: Justice Rebecca F. Dallet (10 pages), joined by Justices Ann Walsh Bradley and Jill J. Karofsky
The question in this case is whether a vehicle stop was supported by reasonable suspicion of drug activity. Examining the totality of the circumstances, we hold the stop was lawful and reverse the court of appeals.
In mid-August 2016, the West Allis Police Department circulated an intra-department email regarding K.S., a known heroin and narcotics user who previously had worked with the department. The email said that K.S. was no longer working with the department but officers were to “keep an eye on her because she does obviously still use.” Two weeks later, around 3:30 a.m., West Allis Patrol Officer Adam Stikl sat in an unmarked squad car near K.S.’s single-family house on a residential street.
Around 3:36 a.m., James Timothy Genous parked his car in front of K.S.’s house and turned off the headlights. A woman emerged from the house, got in the front passenger seat, and after 10 or 15 seconds left the vehicle and went back into the house. Genous turned the headlights on and drove away.
Stikl observed that the woman who sat briefly in Genous’s car matched K.S.’s physical description. He also knew from information at the department that the residential area had a reputation for drug-trafficking activity. Based on his observations and training, Stikl thought he had witnessed a drug transaction.
Stikl followed Genous for three blocks and executed a traffic stop, which uncovered a handgun in Genous’s car.
Genous was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. He moved to suppress the handgun, challenging the legality of the stop. The circuit court denied the motion, but the court of appeals sided with Genous.
Police officers are allowed to execute an investigatory stop, known as a Terry stop to briefly detain someone to investigate possible criminal behavior. For a valid Terry stop, police must have reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed, is being committed, or is about to be committed.
Reasonable suspicion must be supported by specific and articulable facts. While it is a low bar, a mere hunch is insufficient. Yet “officers are not required to rule out the possibility of innocent behavior before initiating a brief stop.” The question is, “What would a reasonable police officer reasonably suspect in light of his or her training and experience?”
A reasonable suspicion determination is based on the totality of the circumstances. We focus not on isolated, independent facts, but on “the whole picture” viewed together.
In this case, Officer Stikl suspected that the interaction he witnessed in Genous’ car was a drug deal. The facts show that his suspicion was objectively reasonable. Informed by his training, experience, and department communications, Officer Stikl could reasonably infer quite a bit about the events he observed that night. He knew that drug transactions often occur during brief exchanges in vehicles, which was consistent with the 10-15 second contact in Genous’ car. He also knew that a brief meeting in a vehicle at 3:36 a.m., immediately after the vehicle’s headlights are turned off, and in an area with a reputation for drug-trafficking, are potential indicators of illegal activity. And perhaps most significantly, Officer Stikl had good reason to believe that the woman Genous met in his vehicle was a known drug user with whom his department had a documented history. All these factors, viewed collectively in the eye of a trained and experienced law enforcement officer, support the conclusion that Officer Stikl reasonably suspected a drug transaction had occurred.
Genous contests this conclusion largely by isolating various factors, attacking them one by one, and then excluding each factor from the totality-of-the-circumstances analysis. We reject “this sort of divide-and-conquer analysis.” It is true that a citizen visiting a vehicle at night does not automatically constitute grounds for law enforcement to intervene, nor do officers have a green light to detain and question anyone who has a short conversation with a known drug user. But the reasonable suspicion test is not an exercise in evaluating individual details in isolation. It is the whole picture, evaluated together, that serves as the proper analytical framework.
Considering the totality of the circumstances, we hold that a reasonable law enforcement officer knowing what Officer Stikl knew and seeing what he saw would reasonably suspect that the short-term contact he witnessed in Genous’ car was a drug transaction. His investigatory stop of Genous’ vehicle therefore complied with the Fourth Amendment. We reverse the court of appeals’ conclusion to the contrary and remand to the court of appeals to address Genous’ additional arguments not presented to this court.
The record contains insufficient particular facts, as opposed to generalized suspicions and hunches, that Genous had committed or was about to commit a crime. It appears that Genous’s presence in an alleged “high-drug-trafficking area” played a disproportionate role in the circuit court’s reasonable-suspicion analysis, coloring those general hunches as concrete suspicions. Allowing that designation to so heavily influence the analysis—particularly when it is unsupported by any empirical evidence—continues a troubling erosion of the Fourth Amendment’s particularized-suspicion requirement. I therefore respectfully dissent.
The circuit court here found the following facts:
The record evidence...undermines that conclusion that Genous was engaged in drug trafficking. Regarding the generic fact that “drug transactions often occur during brief exchanges in vehicles,” Officer Stikl testified that neither he nor the West Allis Police Department had any information that Genous’s car was “used to transport drugs,” “used by a known drug dealer,” or connected to a known drug user. As for this alleged “exchange,” Officer Stikl testified that he could not “see what was going on inside” Genous’s car. He testified that he saw no “physical contact” of any kind between Genous and the woman who got into his car, let alone an “exchange” that would resemble a drug transaction. Officer Stikl stated that he did not see the woman carrying anything on her way to or from Genous’s car. He further admitted that drug transactions do not occur only at certain hours.
The Washington Post: "Warrior police" mindset coming under increasing scrutiny.
Marijuana Moment: New Yorkers can smoke marijuana at this year's State Fair.
“State law allows marijuana use anywhere tobacco use is permitted,” Dave Bullard, a spokesperson for the Fair, told Marijuana Moment. “Smoking is not permitted in Fairgrounds buildings or in the open concert venues at Chevy Court and Chevy Park but is allowed elsewhere outdoors.”
“We encourage those who smoke to be considerate of others around them,” he added.
Seeking Alpha: Federal appeals court revives nearly 6,000 lawsuits over 3M surgical warming device.
Reason: States are beginning to reign in deceptive police interrogation techniques.
Threats, bluffs, and other ploys are all part of the police toolbox now in what's known as the Reid technique, the dominant method for conducting police interrogations for more than half a century. The Reid technique is guilt-presumptive, meaning the primary purpose is to get suspects to implicate themselves or confess.
Illinois and Oregon's new laws are part of a major shift in our understanding of how psychological manipulation can create false confessions. Brown says about 30 states now require interrogations to be recorded, and Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates, an interrogation consulting firm that also trains police, announced it would stop using the Reid technique in 2017. Washington passed a law earlier this year requiring attorney consultations for minors before police can interrogate them.
"I hope the Illinois law will serve as a model for other states," Lawrence T. White, professor emeritus of psychology at Beloit College, wrote in an email to Reason. "In the United Kingdom, police cannot lie to suspects under any circumstances. It's been that way since the PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence) Act was passed in 1984, 37 years ago."
CNN: U.S. Justice Department's civil rights chief calls on Congress to pass voting rights bill.
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