Weekly Legal News Roundup

Friday Legal News Roundup:  What are the legal news stories you should know from this week?


Newspaper and coffee

The President’s former attorney and “fixer,” Michael Cohen, testified before the House of Representatives. Read more at NPR, Washington Post, and/or Fox News.

In North Carolina, an election fraud scandal, which forced the state to hold a new election for North Carolina’s 9th District, culminates in the indictment of the operative allegedly responsible for the fraud. He is charged with three felony counts of obstruction, two counts of conspiracy to commit obstruction, and possession of absentee ballots. Read the story at Vox or The Daily Beast.

The U.S. Supreme Court made the keen observation this week that once a judge has died, he or she is no longer on the bench. Sarcasm aside, what happened here is that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers the entire west coast of the U.S (plus Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, Idaho, Arizona, and Nevada) counted Judge Stephen Reinhardt as part of the majority in a case. Judge Reinhardt heard oral argument in the case, but died before the decision was released. The Supreme Court said this was a no-go and vacated and remanded the case. Read the story at the L.A. Times, or you can read the decision in its entirety here.

In another story from the west coast, San Francisco prosecutors announced this week that they would be expunging over 9,000 marijuana-related convictions. They decided this was the best course of action now that recreational marijuana is legal in California. Read more at the L.A. Times.

The U.S. Supreme Court remanded an Alabama death penalty case in Madison v. Alabama. The petitioner in the case, Vernon Madison, has been on death row for 30 years. Since his conviction, he has suffered several strokes which have left him with dementia. The Supreme Court drew a distinction between a person who merely cannot remember his crime but who nonetheless understands why the State is executing him, and a person who does not have the capacity to understand why the State wishes to execute him. Under the Eighth Amendment, the former may be executed, while the latter may not. SCOTUS remanded the case to determine whether Mr. Madison falls into the latter category or the former. Read the full case here, or check out SCOTUSBlog’s analysis here.

And finally, a federal district court judge in Texas ruled that excluding women from being required to register for the draft is unconstitutional now that women are free to serve in combat roles. The Obama administration removed the last of the barriers for women in the military in 2015. Read more at NPR.


Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, who is also a practicing criminal defense attorney, is facing allegations that he abused a state law that allows legislators to request continuances in their pending cases. According to the AJC, Ralston requested 57 continuances over a two-year period. Ralston denies any wrongdoing. The AJC continues to report on this matter here and here.

And that’s it!

It was a slow news week in Georgia, but stay tuned next week, and maybe it will be more exciting. Please let me know your thoughts on Facebook or here.

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