News Roundup

Afternoon Briefs: Judge prevented from fixing jobless system; state will stop sharing COVID-19 data

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Separation of powers stops Florida judge from ordering unemployment system fix

Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper said Thursday that Florida law and the Constitution’s separation of powers doctrine is stopping him from getting involved with issues in the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s unemployment system. In response to a class action suit filed earlier this month, Cooper declined to order the department to fix its faulty website or pay outstanding unemployment claims. “I can’t tell the governor what to do most of the time, and he can’t tell me what to do most of the time,” Cooper said. (The Tampa Bay Times, Courthouse News Service)

Tennessee governor will stop sharing COVID-19 data with first responders

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee decided this week that his state would stop sharing names and addresses of COVID-19 patients with first responders at the end of the month. Although his administration initially supported data sharing, Lee now says it could give those on the front lines a false sense of security. Todd Skelton, legal counsel for Lee’s coronavirus task force, wrote in an email that “individuals who have Covid-19 but who have not sought testing because they do not have symptoms may unintentionally transmit the virus to your personnel because the need to wear appropriate PPE was not apparent.” Prior to the announcement, a review by the Associated Press found that at least two-thirds of states permitted sharing the addresses of people who tested positive for the virus with first responders. (Courthouse News Service)

Ohio Supreme Court indefinitely suspends lawyer for tampering with case, taking cash

The Ohio Supreme Court has indefinitely suspended a lawyer for plotting to keep a woman from testifying against one of his clients. Jared Lee Wilson pleaded guilty to telecommunications fraud in 2017 and received a one-year sentence of community control after encouraging the girlfriend of a client who had been arrested for assault to recant her statement to police and leave town. He also accepted cash in exchange for helping her. In its Wednesday opinion, the state supreme court reiterated that Wilson “committed a felony with the intent to thwart or hamper the prosecution of a felony domestic-violence case and committed a series of ethical violations involving six other clients—some of which predated his criminal conduct.” However, the court also said indefinite suspension was the proper discipline in light of Wilson’s effort to make restitution and undergo rehabilitation and mental health counseling. (Bloomberg Law, the opinion)

Landlords sue New York governor for halting evictions during COVID-19 crisis

A group of landlords in Westchester County in New York filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in response to his executive order preventing landlords from evicting tenants through mid-August and also allowing tenants to allocate security deposits toward rent payments during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the complaint, the order “has given carte blanche to tenants to withhold rent without repercussion.” It also said that the plaintiffs and other landlords “are precluded from asserting their rights and obtaining relief to protect their property, all the while remaining obligated to pay all of their own carrying costs and other expenses, including taxes to the various governmental divisions of New York state.” (

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