News Roundup

Afternoon Briefs: Political climate motivates would-be lawyers; Avenatti trial begins

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Is the ‘Trump Bump’ still a thing?

Politics continue to play a role in law school applicants’ decision-making processes, according to recent surveys from Kaplan Test Prep, but less so than it did last year. Out of 421 people who took the company’s LSAT course, 41% indicated that the country’s political climate influenced their decision to apply to law school, and 46% reported that they wanted to go to law schools where students shared their political and social beliefs, according to a news release. In a similar survey from 2019, 45% said that politics played a role in them applying for law school. In a separate Kaplan study of 101 ABA-accredited law schools, conducted by phone between August and September 2019, 84% of the admissions officers surveyed thought that the country’s political climate was a significant factor in the past admissions cycle increase, which was 3.3%. (Kaplan press release)

Extortion trial begins for Stormy Daniels’ former lawyer

Lawyer Michael Avenatti’s trial for allegedly trying to extort millions of dollars from Nike began Monday with jury selection. Avenatti is accused of seeking money from Nike in exchange for keeping quiet about its payments to young athletes. U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe refused to force prominent defense lawyer Mark Geragos to testify about his role in the Nike negotiations after Geragos invoked the Fifth Amendment. The defense plans to argue that Avenatti thought he was acting properly because of Geragos’ involvement. Avenatti is known for his representation of adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her bid to invalidate her confidentiality agreement with President Donald Trump. He has since been charged with stealing from Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, and will face a separate New York trial on that charge in April. He also faces charges in California for allegedly stealing millions of dollars from former clients. (CNN, NBC, the Associated Press)

9th Circuit rules Arizona discriminates against minority voters

An Arizona law that bans third parties from delivering the ballots of early voters to polling places violates the Voting Rights Act because it disproportionately affects minority voters, according to the en banc 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at San Francisco. The court also struck down a state policy that rejects provisional ballots of voters who vote in the wrong precinct. (The Arizona Republic, Law360)

Who is paying for Trump’s impeachment lawyers?

The Republican National Committee is paying at least two of President Donald Trump’s impeachment defense lawyers, according to recent campaign finance reports. The RNC paid $225,000 to the law firms of Trump lawyers Jay Sekulow and Jane Raskin through November. Trump is benefiting from a 2014 law that increases the amount of money national parties can raise for legal proceedings, presidential conventions and building renovations. An RNC spokesperson says the impeachment proceedings have boosted coffers; more than 600,000 new donors surfaced after announcement of the impeachment inquiry in late September. (The Washington Post)

Cop is charged in shooting of handcuffed suspect

A police officer in Maryland has been charged with second-degree murder for allegedly shooting a handcuffed suspect in his patrol car Monday. The officer is Michael Owen Jr. of the Prince George’s County Police Department. The victim is William Green, a Megabus employee. (The New York Times, the Washington Post)

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