A unanimous Supreme Court is siding with Goodyear Rubber & Tire Co. in a dispute over $2.7 million the company and its lawyers were ordered to pay in a personal injury case.
The justices on Tuesday sent the case back to a lower court to decide whether an Arizona family injured in a 2003 motor home accident is entitled to the entire amount.
The family sued Goodyear after they were seriously injured when a tire failed on their motor home, causing it to flip off the road. After settling the case in 2010, the family discovered the company hadn't turned over key testing data.
A federal judge said nearly all of the family's attorney fees could be blamed on the misconduct. A federal appeals court agreed.
Justice Neil Gorsuch dived into the public side of his new job Monday, piping up early and often as he took his seat on the Supreme Court bench for the first time to hear arguments.
The new justice waited just 11 minutes before asking questions in the first of three cases the court heard Monday, its first session since President Donald Trump's pick was sworn in one week earlier.
The 49-year-old Gorsuch echoed his own confirmation hearing testimony with questions focused on the text of federal laws and rules at issue before the court. He employed a bit of humor, expressed a modicum of humility, showed a hint of irritation and even channeled Justice Antonin Scalia, the man he replaced, with a touch of sarcasm.
"Wouldn't it be a lot easier if we just followed the plain text of the statute?" Gorsuch asked during the first argument, a highly technical case about which court federal employees go to with some discrimination claims.
That question sounded a lot like the answer Gorsuch gave last month, when he was pressed to defend an opinion he wrote against a fired trucker. "Senator, all I can tell you is my job is to apply the law you write," he said then.
While some of the other justices slouched, rocked back in their chairs or leaned their chin or forehead on their hands, Gorsuch sat straight in his high-backed chair, to the far left of Chief Justice John Roberts.
The justices sit by order of seniority, with the two longest-serving members of the court flanking the chief justice. The two newest justices sit on either end of the bench. The justices had removed one chair from the bench after Scalia died more than 14 months ago. Monday's session was the first since then with the ninth chair restored, and nine justices present.
The New Hampshire Supreme Court says members of a former Dartmouth College fraternity aren't allowed to live in their house after the college banned the frat from campus.
The Hanover zoning board revoked the $1.4 million Alpha Delta house's status as a student residence when the fraternity was de-recognized for burning brands into the skin of new members in 2015.
Zoning rules require that such residences operate "in conjunction with" an institution, such as the college. Alpha Delta argued it should be considered "grandfathered" under an older zoning ordinance, but the court on Tuesday rejected that argument.
Alpha Delta had been a fraternity at Dartmouth since the 1840s, and since 1920 has housed 18-22 students. It partially served as the inspiration for the 1978 movie "Animal House."
A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected Ohio's new three-drug lethal injection process, jeopardizing the upcoming executions of several condemned killers.
In a 2-1 decision, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati found the proposed use of a contested sedative, midazolam, unconstitutional. The court also ruled that Ohio's planned use of two other drugs the state abandoned years ago prevents their reintroduction in a new execution system.
After repeatedly saying it would no longer use those drugs — pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride — "but now attempting to execute condemned inmates with these very drugs, the State had taken directly contradictory positions," Judge Karen Nelson Moore ruled for the majority.
The court also favored arguments by attorneys for death row inmates that use of another drug altogether — pentobarbital — is still an option, despite Ohio's arguments that it can't find supplies of that drug.
An appeal is likely. Options including asking the full appeals court to consider the case or appealing straight to the U.S. Supreme Court, said Dan Tierney, a spokesman for the Ohio attorney general's office.
The ruling was a blow to the state, which hoped to begin executing several condemned killers next month. The first of those, Ronald Phillips, is scheduled to die May 10 for raping and killing his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter in Akron in 1993.
Allen Bohnert, a lawyer for death row inmates challenging Ohio's lethal injection system, applauded the decision, saying the appeals court was correct in rejecting the execution process.
Executions have been on hold since January 2014, when inmate Dennis McGuire took 26 minutes to die under a never-before-tried two-drug method that began with midazolam. The same drug was involved in a problematic execution later that year in Arizona.
Ohio announced its three-drug method in October and said it had enough for at least four executions, though records obtained by The Associated Press indicated the supply could cover dozens of executions.
The drugs are midazolam, rocuronium bromide — like pancuronium bromide, a drug used to paralyze inmates — and potassium chloride.
The prison system used 10 milligrams of midazolam on McGuire. The new system calls for 500 milligrams. The state said there's plenty of evidence proving the larger amount will keep inmates from feeling pain.
Ohio also said the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of midazolam in 2015 in a case out of Oklahoma.
The court on Thursday said arguments by death row inmates that even 500 milligrams of midazolam could lead to a risk of pain were more convincing than counterarguments from the state.
Dan Lilley, a brash defense lawyer who was involved in many of Maine's highest profile cases including a prostitution scandal at a Zumba studio and the case of a restaurateur who shot her husband 15 times, has died. He was 79.
Lilley died Saturday night at Maine Medical Center, his law office said Monday. The cause of death was not immediately released.
Lilley was known as a tough, old-school defense attorney and was sometimes called a maverick in the courtroom.
"He was a guy to be cherished if you had a good cause and had Dan at your side — and feared if you were on the wrong side," said F. Lee Bailey, another prominent attorney who was part of the defense team at O.J. Simpson's murder trial.
Lilley used a "battered wife syndrome" defense to win acquittal for an Ogunquit (oh-GUHNG'-kwit) restaurateur who in 1990 shot her husband so many times she had to stop to reload.
More recently, he represented insurance agent Mark Strong, who was accused of serving as the business partner of a Zumba instructor accused of running a brothel in Kennebunk.
The scandal in Kennebunk, a village known more for its sea captains' homes and beaches than crime, attracted international attention.
"In the middle of the circus that was Mark Strong's trial, Dan was undoubtedly the ringleader, bringing an air of drama and comedy — in equal measure — to the proceedings," said Tina Nadeau, who served alongside him during that trial.
Years after she left the Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor remained enthusiastic about the early morning exercise class she started at the highest court in the land — the basketball court that sits one floor above the courtroom where she heard arguments for nearly a quarter-century.
While the first female justice never managed to persuade her fellow justices to join her regularly, her class became a court fixture and a hit with a devoted group of women who live in the court's Capitol Hill neighborhood.
Now, more than 35 years after the class began and more than a decade after O'Connor left the bench, the court has ruled that the women must take their workout somewhere else.
"Unfortunately, the time had come for the class to relocate," Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Few employees attended the class and for some time now, the Justice has not been a participant and cannot oversee the group's access to the gym, which is in a private area of the building open only to Court employees."
Allowing area residents to attend the class was a "rare exception" to court policy made because of O'Connor's role in the class, Arberg wrote. O'Connor is now 86. Her family was informed of the change, Arberg said.
According to a New York Times article from 1981, the year O'Connor joined the court, O'Connor on her third day at the court sent a notice to all female Supreme Court employees that she was starting an exercise class. The class would meet five mornings a week beginning at 8 a.m. and a YWCA instructor would lead the class, which would cost $35 monthly. The letter said that the class would include "conditioning in slimnastics with some aerobic dance."
In addition to court employees, O'Connor's female clerks were encouraged to join, but others got invites, too. In time there were yearly T-shirts with slogans like "Cool Out with the Supremes."
Until recently, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday there was aerobics and work with weights and resistance bands. Tuesdays was for yoga. Participants often grabbed a post-workout coffee at the court's public cafeteria. These days, the group of about 20 exercisers includes women in their 60s, 70s and 80s, with one participant in her 90s.
A U.S. Supreme Court decision reviving a challenge to several Virginia legislative districts could send lawmakers back to the drawing board, but Republicans say they are confident the state's current electoral map will withstand further scrutiny.
The justices on Wednesday tossed out a ruling that upheld 11 districts in which African-Americans made up at least 55 percent of eligible voters and ordered the lower court to re-examine the boundaries. The lawsuit accused lawmakers of illegally packing black voters into certain districts to make surrounding districts whiter and more Republican.
Democrats say they're certain the lower court will find the districts unconstitutional and force lawmakers to redraw them. Marc Elias, an attorney for the Virginia voters who brought the case, said they will push for that to happen before the November elections.
"It's important that the people of the Commonwealth don't have to have another election using unconstitutional district lines, and we will move forward as quickly as possible to make sure we have constitutional and fair lines in place for the 2017 elections," Elias said.
The top Republican in the Virginia House, however, said he's confident that the current boundaries will stand.