The National Pulse

402 ABA Journal The National Pulse articles.

States help trafficking survivors overcome criminal records

In recent years, Hawaii, Nebraska and Nevada introduced laws to help trafficking survivors clear their records and overcome obstacles to employment, housing and education. Other states, including Connecticut, Kansas, New Jersey and New York, are moving forward with more proposed legislation.

State laws provide for civil actions and other creative remedies for trafficking survivors

States are implementing or updating their own laws to better protect and support survivors. While criminal protections may permit survivors to seal, vacate or expunge records or provide them with immunity, civil remedies can help them restore lost income and pay off significant debts.

The Bail Project pays defendants’ bail as part of a plan to end money bail entirely

Modeled after a fund started by public defenders more than a decade ago, the Bail Project not only pays defendants’ bail but connects them to social services and makes sure they show up to court.

Commercial landlords increasingly found liable for actions of rogue tenants who sell counterfeit goods

Counterfeits are big business, estimated at $509 billion worldwide in 2016. Increasingly since the 1990s, brands are finding a strategy in going after commercial landlords, who often have deeper pockets than the sellers.

Supreme Court taking on big issues that have been percolating for a while

The U.S. Supreme Court will tackle some pretty big issues in its next term, including cases on LGBT rights, immigration and its first major case on gun rights in nearly a decade. And that’s with only about half of its docket filled for the term that begins Oct. 7.

Pelvic exams performed without patients’ permission spur new legislation
How to make a website accessible
ADA questions remain over web accessibility cases and the lack of DOJ regulations

Disability rights advocates say web accessibility, the practice of designing and coding websites so that people with disabilities can use them, can be accomplished through simple changes, such as changing color contrast and adding video captions. However, the legal landscape surrounding web accessibility has become more complex.

Videoconferencing’s promise of increased access to justice has a disconnect in immigration courts

Advocates for immigrants say misuse of videoconferencing could violate their due process rights, bit many state courts see it as a money-saver or a way to increase access to the courts. The most experienced state courts are already following at least some of the best practices outlined by a 2014 report from the Center for Legal & Court Technology at William & Mary Law School. Immigration courts appear to be faltering in a way that might affect the outcomes of the cases.

Drug crimes prosecutions could be taking a back seat as the DOJ focuses on unlawful entry

As misdemeanor unlawful entry prosecutions rose between 2017 and 2018 in the five federal districts along the southwest border, federal prosecutions for nonmarijuana drug offenses dropped. U.S. Customs and Border Protection drug seizure statistics were largely up, suggesting no lack of referrals.

Are pets assets or part of the family?

California became the third state in the U.S. to adopt a law that allows judges to consider what’s in the best interests of the animal rather than treating the pet like other inanimate property, such as a car. Alaska and Illinois have passed similar laws since 2016. The new laws are groundbreaking because they come amid growing interest in protecting pets and settling disputes over them.

Oregon may finally join 49 other states that require unanimous jury decisions in criminal cases

In 49 U.S. states and the federal court system, a 10-2 vote would not have been enough to convict. Oregon is currently the only state that permits convictions (for felonies other than murder) on a 10-2 or 11-1 vote of the jury. That practice has come under criticism in recent years by people who say it was enacted for racist reasons; it denies minority viewpoints on the jury a voice and removes an important safeguard against wrongful convictions.

Lawsuit says diversion program meant to keep troubled kids out of the criminal justice system violates their constitutional rights

A class action lawsuit, pending in federal court for the Central District of California, alleges that the Riverside County Probation Department violates youths’ due process rights, their Fourth Amendment right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures and their First Amendment right to associate with others. The ACLU argues that placement on “informal” probation leaves juveniles worse off than no intervention at all. One reason is that information gleaned through the program can be used against juveniles in future court cases; another is that children who participate in the program are presumed ineligible for diversion if they’re subsequently arrested.

Dutch doctor’s abortion-drug prescription service faces legal landmines

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating a mail-order abortion-drug practice, and abortion foes are vowing to fight back with federal legislation.

Plaintiffs seeking more school funding are using states’ own performance requirements to win

Parents and school districts have been suing over school funding, using state-mandated performance standards to argue that states aren’t living up to their end of the bargain—and they’re winning.

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