News Roundup

Afternoon Briefs: Boston Marathon bomber wins death penalty appeal; what’s in the GOP coronavirus bill?

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Appeals court overturns Boston Marathon bomber’s death sentence

A federal appeals court has overturned the death sentence for convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Boston ruled Friday that the trial judge did not adequately screen jurors for potential bias. The judge “fell short” when he failed to require jurors to identify what they already knew about the case, the appeals court said. The case goes back to the trial level for a new death penalty hearing. (The Washington Post, NBC Boston, the 1st Circuit’s July 31 decision)

GOP coronavirus bill allows employers to sue workers

A GOP coronavirus bill contains a double whammy for workers. First, it makes it more difficult for workers to sue for contracting COVID-19 at work by requiring the employees to show—by clear and convincing evidence—that reckless behavior by their employer is what exposed them to the coronavirus. Only actual damages would be allowed, except in cases of “willful misconduct,” and then the punitive award couldn’t exceed actual damages. Second, the bill would allow employers to sue workers who make a “meritless” offer to settle out of court. Punitive damages would be allowed in the employer suits. (The Los Angeles Times via MSN, Vox)

New lawsuit filed over Trump’s blocking of critics on Twitter

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University has filed a lawsuit alleging that critics are still being blocked from President Donald Trump’s Twitter account, despite a federal appeals court ruling barring the practice. The White House has unblocked the plaintiffs in the lawsuit before the appeals court, along with others whose accounts were blocked because of their viewpoints. But two categories remain blocked, according to the Knight First Amendment Institute: those blocked before Trump’s inauguration and those who can’t identify the tweet that prompted their blocking. (Knight First Amendment Institute press release, the July 31 lawsuit)

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