Afternoon Briefs: First Step Act frees crack cocaine offender; judge vacates port-of-entry asylum rule
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• A San Antonio man sentenced to life in prison for dealing crack cocaine has been freed under the First Step Act, the criminal justice reform measure that reduces the sentencing disparity for crack and powder cocaine offenses. Alta Lee Kemper, 62, had served 27 years in prison. (My San Antonio)
• A federal judge in Washington, D.C., vacated a Trump administration rule Friday that denies asylum to immigrants who cross the southern border outside ports of entry. The decision by U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss said immigrants have the right to seek asylum no matter how they enter the United States, and the government “may not extinguish that statutory right by regulation or proclamation.” (The National Law Journal, Courthouse News Service, opinion in O.A. v. Trump, press release)
• President Donald Trump’s remain-in-Mexico policy for asylum-seekers is hurting the migrants’ ability to get legal representation. Only 1.2% of such migrants had lawyers in cases decided by the end of June, and only 1.3% of pending cases were filed with the help of a lawyer. It’s a different story for people pursuing claims in the United States: 37% of those immigrants had a lawyer. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at San Francisco has refused to block the policy while a challenge proceeds. (The New York Times)
• The Philadelphia Phillies filed a lawsuit Friday against the company that helped create the costume for the Phillie Phanatic mascot in 1978. The suit says the company, Harrison/Erickson, threatened to make the mascot a “free agent” if the Phillies didn’t renegotiate a 1984 agreement “forever” assigning Phanatic rights to the team. (Courthouse News Service, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the lawsuit)
• Gatorade didn’t infringe the trademark of a sports nutrition company when it used the term sports fuel in its slogan, according to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Chicago. The Gatorade slogan was “Gatorade The Sports Fuel Company;” the company that filed the infringement suit was called SportFuel Inc. The 7th Circuit said the “sports fuel” phrase is “widespread” in the nutrition products industry, and Gatorade’s use of the term as a description was fair use. (Law360; the 7th Circuit opinion)