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Hawaii Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald has announced an order to postpone all state court trials amid the coronavirus pandemic, the state Judiciary said.

The order states all state trials in civil, criminal and family courts be postponed until May 29 or the termination of Gov. David Ige’s state of emergency, whichever is sooner, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

The exception would be if the chief judge of a circuit court orders otherwise.

“While our community has responded well to stay-at-home orders and the results of these public health measures have been encouraging, the Judiciary must continue to do our part to protect the health and safety of our court personnel and court users," Recktenwald said.

The Committee on Operational Solutions was also formed under the order. The committee would accelerate the courts’ capabilities to conduct proceedings remotely due to the pandemic and would plan for the timely transition to return to increased court operations in the coming months.

Recktenwald has encouraged teleconferencing and videoconferencing to address as many cases as possible and appropriate to combat the spread of COVID-19.



A leading Democratic super PAC has promised it will tangle in court with President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign to keep airing television ads the Republican president is trying to keep off the airwaves.

Priorities USA Action chief Guy Cecil said Thursday that his group will intervene as a defendant in a lawsuit that Trump’s campaign filed in Wisconsin state court to block a local NBC affiliate from airing one of the super PAC’s ads that blasts the president’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Trump campaign is trying to railroad a TV station into censorship of ads critical of the president, and we will not let that stand,” Cecil said. “We stand by the facts in the ad and will defend it in court if necessary.”

The lawsuit, filed against WJFW-TV, an NBC affiliate in northern Wisconsin, sets up a notable battle between Trump’s financially flush reelection campaign and one of the biggest spending groups in Democratic politics. Priorities USA has spent much of Trump’s term researching voters’ views in key battleground states, including Wisconsin, that delivered Trump his Electoral College victory in 2016, and the PAC has committed to an extended television and digital advertising campaign to potential swing voters in those states.

The ad in question pieces together audio clips of the president downplaying the threat posed by the COVID-19 virus, while a chart that is splashed across the screen gradually begins to shoot upward as cases of the virus skyrocketed across the nation.



The Virginia Supreme Court has rejected a petition to prohibit the city of Fredericksburg from moving a historic slave auction block.

The sandstone block was installed in the city’s downtown in the 1840s. After years of debate the city council voted to moved the block to a museum.

A judge upheld the move after business owners in the city sued to keep the stone where it is. But in February the judge delayed implementation of the order so the Supreme Court could take up the case.

City officials say plans to move the block are currently on hold because of the coronavirus.



Dane County Judge Jill Karofsky won a dominant victory in last week’s Wisconsin’s Supreme Court race, defeating Justice Dan Kelly after more than a week of high drama over whether the election should go on amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The result was a major boost for liberals, who last year had their hopes of flipping the Supreme Court’s conservative majority in 2020 dashed when their candidate lost by a half-percentage point. They next have a chance to retake the majority in 2023 when Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, a member of the four-member conservative majority is up for re-election.

Karofsky’s win follows a flurry of executive and legal action to delay the election, which was set against a backdrop of coronavirus pandemonium and a surge in absentee voting.



A federal appeals court panel ruled that medication abortions, in which pills are taken to terminate a pregnancy, can be provided in Texas during the coronavirus pandemic.

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order last month that bars non-essential medical procedures so that health resources can go to treating coronavirus patients. Texas’ Republican attorney general has said that providing abortions other than for an immediate medical emergency would violate the order.

In a ruling Monday, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that medication abortions can go forward. In a concurrence, Judge James L. Dennis wrote that Texas' move to ban medication abortions “is a strong indication that the enforcement is pretextual and does not bear a ‘real or substantial relation’ to the public health crisis we are experiencing.”

Over the weekend, Texas abortion clinics asked the Supreme Court to step in to allow medication abortions.

Such an abortion involves taking one pill at a clinic, then taking a second pill 24 to 48 hours later, typically at home. Clinics have argued that medication abortions do not require personal protective equipment like masks, gloves and gowns that might be needed for coronavirus patients.


A liberal challenger on Monday ousted a conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court justice endorsed by President Donald Trump, overcoming a successful push by Republicans to forge ahead with last week’s election even as numerous other states postponed theirs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Joe Biden also emerged victorious, as expected, in the state’s Democratic presidential primary. Biden’s easy victory became academic when Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped out, one day after Wisconsin held in-person voting.

But the absentee-ballot-fueled victory by liberal Supreme Court candidate Jill Karofsky was a huge win for Democrats. It reduced conservative control of the court to 4-3, giving liberals a chance to take control in 2023.

Karofsky will now be on the court when the Republican-controlled Legislature tackles redistricting next year, a fight many expect to be decided by the state Supreme Court.

Her win will also certainly be seen as a bellwether in battleground Wisconsin ahead of the November presidential election. Trump barely carried the state four years ago, and both parties see it as critical this year.


A lawn care company hoping to harvest a significant tax break has failed to break ground at the Michigan appeals court.

TruGreen said it should qualify for a certain tax exemption on seed, fertilizer, insecticides and other products used to enhance the lawns of customers. It wants to be treated like farmers who till and plant or raise livestock.

TruGreen latched on to a key phrase in Michigan law referring to “things of the soil.” But the appeals court, in a 2-1 decision  Friday, said the company’s services don’t qualify.

“TruGreen plants grass and cares for it. ... The term ‘things of the soil’ pertains to the products of farms and horticultural businesses, not blades of well-tended grass,” said Judge Elizabeth Gleicher.

Judge Brock Swartzle wrote a 13-page dissent, chiding Gleicher and Judge Douglas Shapiro. He said there is no phrase in the law applying the tax exemption strictly to “agricultural production.”

Lawmakers “instead chose a logically broader one, ‘things of the soil,’” Swartzle said. “Under the plain meaning and statutory context of the use-tax exemption, TruGreen remains on solid ground.”


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