News Roundup

Afternoon Briefs: Judge who won't perform same-sex marriages gets warning; hemp growers no longer seen as suspicious

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Judge gets public warning after claiming religious exemption to performing same-sex weddings

A Texas justice of the peace who refuses to perform same-sex weddings has received a public warning from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. The judge, Dianne Hensley, has said she is entitled to a religious exemption. When same-sex couples ask to be married, Hensley provides a list of other people who could officiate. She will perform opposite-sex marriages, however. The commission says Hensley has cast doubt on her capacity to act impartially. She has 30 days to appeal. (The Houston Chronicle, the Waco Tribune-Herald, the Nov. 12 public warning)

Banks no longer have to file suspicious activity reports for hemp producers, guidance says

New guidance from federal banking regulators says banks don’t have to routinely file suspicious activity reports when serving authorized producers of hemp, the plant that is used to make cannabidiol (CBD) oil. Hemp was legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill. Guidance hasn’t changed for marijuana businesses, however. Although some states have legalized marijuana, suspicious activity reports must still be filed, albeit on a lower-priority-tier form. (Law360, the Nevada Independent, hemp guidance)

Judge refuses to recuses himself for ‘copyright troll’ reference

Copyright lawyer Richard Liebowitz was unable to get a federal judge to recuse himself for comments about the numerous lawsuits filed by the attorney. Liebowitz says U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan called him a “copyright troll,” which Liebowitz labeled a “pejorative schoolyard epithet.” But Kaplan says he didn’t refer to Liebowitz as a copyright troll; he only noted that another judge had referred to the attorney by that term. (Law360)

Ad campaign targets law firms that helped fund Federalist Society event featuring Kavanaugh

A digital ad campaign by Demand Justice, a liberal advocacy group, is targeting employees of six law firms who were “gold circle” sponsors of a dinner hosted by the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group, featuring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh as a speaker. “The Federalist Society is rehabilitating Kavanaugh’s image,” says one of the ads from Demand Justice. “Why is WilmerHale paying for it?” Besides Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, the targeted firms are Consovoy McCarthy, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, Kasowitz Benson Torres, Kirkland & Ellis, and Sullivan & Cromwell. (Law360, Demand Justice press release)

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