Friday Legal News Roundup: What are the legal news stories you should know from this week?
Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former attorney, filed suit against the Trump Organization. He alleged, according to CNN, that the Organization failed to “fulfill its contractual obligations to indemnify him or pay his attorneys’ fees relating to his work after he began cooperating with federal investigators.” According to Cohen, his attorneys fees total $1.9 million.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders v. Freedom from Religion Foundation. This leaves in place a New Jersey Supreme Court decision upholding a New Jersey Constitutional provision barring the use of public funds for the restoration of religious buildings. Read more in Slate, Reuters.
Chinese telecommunications company Huawei sued the U.S. government, alleging that it violated the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, Congress passed a bill prohibiting U.S. government agencies from using Huawei equipment, contracting with Huawei, or contracting with companies that use Huawei equipment. It cited concerns that Huawei, and by extension the Chinese government, could use the access to spy on U.S. citizens and the government. Huawei alleged that the law violates the Constitution’s Bill of Attainder clause. Read more in the Washington Post here.
On Thursday, Former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced to 47 months in prison for tax and bank fraud. He still faces sentencing in D.C. for additional charges. Read more on NPR here.
Both the Georgia House and Senate took steps to “temporarily fix” the Georgia Implied Consent law, which was found to be unconstitutional last month in Elliott v. State. I wrote an analysis of the Elliott case in a blog post a few weeks ago. Based on a quick reading of these proposed amendments, it is unclear to me whether these changes would pass constitutional muster under Elliott. Rather, as the Georgia Supreme Court hinted (and not very subtly) in Elliott, a constitutional amendment to the self-incrimination paragraph of the Georgia Constitution may be required. As of right now, neither bill has become law, so the implied consent statute remains unconstitutional under Elliott. Click here to read SB 208, and here for HB 471. You can read the AJC story here.
A new bill in the Georgia legislature would prohibit Georgia police and prosecutors from charging individuals under 18 years old with prostitution. House Bill 234 unanimously passed in the House this week and has moved on to the Senate. In my view, there are sound reasons for such a law. Not least of which is that all criminal charges are stigmatizing, and many individuals (particularly young people) who end up charged with prostitution are trafficking victims, not criminals. Read more in the AJC here.
The U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee opened an investigation into potential election irregularities in the Georgia 2018 election. The election, in which Brian Kemp narrowly defeated Stacey Abrams, was viewed by Democrats as being rife with problems for voters. Read more in the AJC, the Fulton Daily Report, or CNN.
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