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A transgender student’s fight over school bathrooms comes before a federal appeals court Thursday, setting the stage for a groundbreaking ruling.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta will hear arguments about whether a Florida school district should be ordered to allow students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

Drew Adams, who has since graduated from Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, won a lower court ruling last year ordering the St. Johns County school district to allow him to use the boys’ restroom. The district has appealed, arguing that although it will permit transgender students to use single-occupancy, gender-neutral restrooms, it shouldn’t be forced to let students use the restroom of the gender they identify with.

The 11th Circuit could become the first federal appeals court to issue a binding ruling on the issue, which has arisen in several states. The ruling would cover schools in Florida, Georgia and Alabama, and could carry the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 4th Circuit had ruled in favor of a Virginia student, but the Supreme Court sent the case back down for further consideration. That’s because the U.S. Department of Education, under President Donald Trump, withdrew guidance that said federal law called for treating transgender students equally, including allowing them to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.



An influential Brexit expert at the European Parliament says the legislature might even meet in an extraordinary plenary next week if that is what is needed to push the Brexit deal through.

The EU parliament is awaiting approval for the Brexit deal in the House of Commons, which could come in the next hours or days. After that, the EU could move speedily.

Greens lawmaker Philippe Lamberts said Monday that "we could ratify next week, if not this one."

He added the Brexit deal could also spill into November, beyond the current Oct. 31 deadline for Britain to leave the EU.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already asked for a Brexit extension even though he is still trying to get out of the EU by the end of the month.


A federal appeals court has expanded a lawsuit by minor league baseball players alleging they are being paid less than minimum wage.

Players sued major league teams in February 2014, claiming most earn less than $7,500 annually in violation of several laws. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero granted class-action status to a California class of players in March 2017, but denied the status to Arizona and Florida classes.

In a 2-1 decision Friday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said class action status should be given to the Arizona and Florida classes, too, and sent the case back to U.S. District Court for additional proceedings.

Circuit Judges Richard A. Paez and Michael R. Murphy, both appointed by President Bill Clinton, voted to expand the classes in a decision written by Paez. Circuit Judge Sandra S. Ikuta, appointed by President George W. Bush, dissented and said the District Court erred in granting class-action status to the California class without completing an analysis of California’s choice-of-law rules.


The Supreme Court won’t revive Alabama’s attempt to ban the most commonly used procedure in second-trimester abortions after the measure was blocked by lower courts.

The justices on Friday rejected the state’s appeal and declined to review a lower court ruling that blocked the law. The 2016 Alabama law sought to ban the abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation, a procedure Alabama referred to in court filings as “dismemberment abortion.”

Lower courts have blocked similar laws in Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas, but this was the first case to go before the Supreme Court, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the Alabama law.

Court records show 93% of abortions in Alabama occur before 15 weeks of pregnancy. For the 7% of abortions that occur later, almost all are by dilation and evacuation.

Randall Marshall, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, said the ban would have effectively ended access to second trimester abortions in Alabama if it had been allowed to take effect.

“We are not surprised by the Supreme Court’s decision to deny reviewing this case. In doing so, they are upholding the Supreme Court’s own precedent in protecting a woman’s right to access the healthcare she needs. A woman’s health, not Alabama politicians, should drive personal medical decisions,” Marshall said.

Planned Parenthood said the decision was a victory for abortion access in the state, but warned of the continuing push to enact new restrictions on abortion.

“This is a major victory for Alabamians and people everywhere. The courts have for now protected our constitutional right to access abortion. But the fight is far from over,” said Staci Fox, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Southeast.


Recent statements and actions by Gov. Mike DeWine suggest Ohio could go years without executing another death row inmate.

Last month, the Republican governor ordered the prison system to come up with a new lethal drug protocol after a federal judge's scathing critique of the first drug in Ohio's method.

Last week, DeWine said Ohio "certainly could have no executions" during that search and the court challenges that would follow adopting a new system.

After Ohio started looking for new drugs in 2014, it took the state more than three years to establish its current three-drug lethal injection protocol. Since then, it has become even more difficult for states to find drugs, meaning a new search could easily last as long.

The first drug in Ohio's new system, the sedative midazolam, has been subject to lawsuits that argue it exposes inmates to the possibility of severe pain because it doesn't render them deeply enough unconscious.

Because of Ohio's use of midazolam, federal Judge Michael Merz called the constitutionality of the state's system into question in a Jan. 14 ruling and said inmates could suffer an experience similar to waterboarding.

But because attorneys for death row inmate Keith Henness didn't prove a viable alternative exists, Merz declined to stop the execution. But DeWine did, postponing Henness' execution from Feb. 13 until Sept. 12, although that would be contingent on the state having a new, court-approved lethal injection system in place, which is unlikely in that time frame.

Ohio is also scheduled to execute Cleveland Jackson on May 29, a timeline Merz questioned last week, given the governor's order.


A top official at the European Union's highest court advised Tuesday that Britain can unilaterally change its mind about leaving the European Union, boosting hopes among to pro-EU campaigners in the U.K. that Brexit can be stopped.

Prime Minister Theresa May's government insists it will never reverse the decision to leave, but May faces a tough battle to win backing in Parliament before lawmakers vote next week on whether to accept or reject the divorce agreement negotiated with the bloc. Defeat would leave the U.K. facing a chaotic "no-deal" Brexit and could topple the prime minister, her government, or both.

Advocate General Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona told the European Court of Justice that a decision by the British government to change its mind about invoking the countdown to departure would be legally valid. The advice of the advocate general is often, but not always, followed by the full court.

The court is assessing the issue under an accelerated procedure, since Britain is due to leave the bloc on March 29. The final verdict is expected within weeks.

Britain voted in 2016 to leave the 28-nation bloc, and invoked Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty in March 2017, triggering a two-year exit process. Article 50 is scant on details — largely because the idea of any country leaving the bloc was considered unlikely — so a group of Scottish legislators asked the courts to rule on whether the U.K. can pull out of the withdrawal procedure on its own.

The EU's governing Commission and Council oppose unilateral revocation, arguing it requires unanimous agreement of the 27 remaining members of the bloc.

The court's advocate general said that Article 50 "allows the unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU."

The advice bolstered anti-Brexit campaigners, who hope the decision to leave can be reversed.



An attorney for six young people who want the state to impose tougher safeguards on the energy industry told the Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday that the law requires regulators to protect public health from the hazards of drilling.

A lawyer for the state countered that regulators acted properly when they rejected a request for stronger health protections on the grounds that they did not have the authority to impose them.

The justices heard oral arguments in the high-stakes case but did not say when they would rule.

The case revolves around how much weight energy regulators should give public health and the environment — a contentious issue in Colorado, where cities often overlap lucrative oil and gas fields and drilling rigs sit within sight of homes and schools.

The six young plaintiffs in the case asked the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission, which regulates the industry, to enact a rule that would require energy companies to show they would not harm human health or the environment before regulators issued a drilling permit.

The commission responded that it did not have that authority. Commission members said Colorado law required them to balance public safety with responsible oil and gas production.

Colorado Solicitor General Frederick R. Yarger, representing the attorney general's office, told the Supreme Court that the commission correctly interpreted state law to mean it must consider other factors in addition to public health.

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