News Roundup

Afternoon Briefs: State supreme court limits use of bail; prosecutors in this state may face stricter discipline

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California judges must consider defendant’s ability to pay when setting bail, ruling says

The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that it is unconstitutional to keep criminal defendants behind bars simply because they cannot afford to post bail. The decision upholds an earlier ruling that ordered a new bail hearing for Kenneth Humphrey, whose bail was set at $350,000 after he allegedly stole $7 and a bottle of cologne. While California judges and legislators have long tried to reform its money bail system, voters rejected a ballot measure to end cash bail in the state in November. (The Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Sacramento Bee, Courthouse News Service, the March 25 opinion)

Prosecutors in Georgia could face disbarment under new discipline proposal

The State Bar of Georgia is considering stricter penalties for prosecutorial misconduct. Prosecutors currently face a public reprimand if they fail to follow the rules. But under a proposal recently approved by the state bar association’s board of governors, their maximum punishment could be disbarment. The changes, which have to be adopted by the Georgia Supreme Court, are supported by the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Author of ‘The Last Unicorn’ wins back intellectual property rights

Peter Beagle, the author of bestselling 1968 novel The Last Unicorn, has reclaimed the rights to most of his intellectual property. He filed a lawsuit in 2015 against his ex-manager, Connor Cochran, alleging that he subjected him to elder abuse and pushed him to “transfer his intellectual property (IP) rights to a sham corporation.” The Superior Court of California ultimately ruled in Beagle’s favor, but then Cochran filed for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy court has now approved a sale that will facilitate the return of Beagle’s body of work to an ownership group that includes the author. (Cartoon Brew, March 23 press release)

University of Iowa officials held liable for discriminating against religious student group

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at St. Louis held Monday that the University of Iowa can be held liable for improperly barring Business Leaders in Christ, a Christian student group that rejects homosexual relationships. University administrators had ruled that the group disqualified some students based on sexual orientation or gender identity after a student complained that he was excluded from its leadership because he was gay. The three-judge panel of the appellate court cited precedent from the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts in deciding that student groups cannot be discriminated against because of their viewpoints. (The Gazette, the Associated Press, Courthouse News Service, March 22 opinion)

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