News Roundup

Afternoon Briefs: Lawyer can't avoid pro bono appointment, AG Barr wants Apple to unlock gunman’s iPhones

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Lawyer appointed to pro bono case can’t avoid representation, federal judge rules

A Connecticut lawyer appointed as pro bono counsel in a prisoner’s civil rights case doesn’t qualify for an exception relieving him of the assignment, a federal judge has ruled. Lawyer Michael Satti had contended that the assignment would be unreasonably burdensome to his small practice with only one other attorney. But U.S. District Judge Vanessa Bryant noted that about half the lawyers in Connecticut practice in small firms or solo practices. The fact that Satti is a small firm practitioner does not alone establish the financial burden would be unjust, Bryant said. Satti’s firm focuses on employment and labor law, contract law and municipal law. (Bloomberg Law, Law360, the Jan. 9 opinion)

AG Barr wants Apple to unlock iPhones of Pensacola shooter

U.S. Attorney General William Barr called on Apple on Monday to provide access to two cellphones belonging to the shooter at the naval air station in Pensacola, Florida, last month. Mohammed Saeed Alshamran killed three sailors Dec. 6 before he was shot by security officers. Apple said it had provided access to the gunman’s iCloud account and transaction data for multiple accounts. The Department of Justice wants access to the phones to see data from encrypted apps and determine whether others aided the gunman. Barr said evidence available to the DOJ showed that the Saudi gunmen, who was receiving training from the U.S. military, was “motivated by jihadist ideology.” (The New York Times, the Washington Post)

Law prof’s murder case apparently inspires bill expanding right to grandparent visitation

The parents of murdered law professor Dan Markel might have the right to petition for visitation with his children under a bill introduced Monday by a Florida state legislator. The bill would expand a current law that allows grandparents to petition for visitation when one parent is deceased and the other parent has been convicted of a felony. The bill introduced by Sen. Jeff Brandes, a Republican, would allow grandparents to petition for visitation when the surviving parent is either a person of interest in the investigation or has allowed the children to be supervised by persons of interest. Prosecutors have focused on the mother and the brother of Markel’s ex-wife in the alleged murder-for-hire plot. Neither had been charged, and they deny any involvement. The accused triggerman, Sigfredo Garcia, has been convicted of murder. (Florida SB 1886, the Tallahassee Democrat, Above the Law)

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