News Roundup

Afternoon Briefs: US to resume federal executions; immigration lawyer accused of paying bribes for roster lists

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The U.S. Department of Justice plans to resume executions after a 16-year hiatus. Attorney General William Barr adopted a new lethal-injection protocol that replaces a three-drug cocktail with a single drug—pentobarbital. Executions have been scheduled for five death-row inmates. (The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, U.S. Department of Justice)

Although white men make up less than a third of the population, they have a majority of seats on state supreme courts, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice. People of color make up nearly 40% of the U.S. population, but they have only 15% of state supreme court seats. Twenty-four states have all-white supreme courts. (The Brennan Center for Justice summary, the Brennan Center for Justice report, the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle)

A Texas immigration lawyer is accused of bribing detention center employees to give him roster lists of detainees he could solicit for business. A seven-count indictment accuses 39-year-old Weslaco lawyer Roel Alaniz of bribery and conspiracy. Three detention center employees previously were indicted in the alleged scheme. Alanis looks forward to defending the charges, his lawyer told Law360. (Law360, the Monitor, Houston U.S. attorney)

A federal judge in San Francisco has blocked a new asylum rule that requires asylum applicants to first apply for asylum in at least one country they pass through on their way to the United States. U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar cited a “mountain of evidence” showing migrants couldn’t safely seek asylum in Mexico. His decision came the same day that a different federal judge in Washington, D.C., refused to enjoin the rule. (The New York Times, the Washington Post, ACLU press release, Tigar’s order)

A Washington, D.C., bar ethics panel is seeking to suspend lawyer Larry Klayman, a “Washington fixture” and “notably combative litigant” who founded the Judicial Watch legal watchdog group, according to the Washington Post. Klayman was accused of increasing his compensation demands after his client refused his romantic advances. The panel also alleged that Klayman named unnecessary and high-profile defendants in the woman’s case and refused to withdraw from the case after he was fired. Klayman told the Washington Post that the hearing committee that made the recommendation is “very politicized” and “I’m confident of success in the end.” (The Washington Post, D.C. hearing committee)

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told NPR Tuesday that she opposes proposals by some Democratic presidential candidates to increase the number of Supreme Court justices if they win the presidency. “Nine seems to be a good number. It’s been that way for a long time,” she said. Speaking at an event for prospective law students Wednesday, Ginsburg criticized the dysfunctional confirmation process for Supreme Court justices. She said Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh are “decent and smart,” but their confirmations were divisive. (NPR, Bloomberg Law)

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker has issued a temporary restraining order that blocks three new Arkansas laws restricting abortions. One of the laws bans abortions at 18 weeks of pregnancy. (The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, BuzzFeed News, the TRO via How Appealing)

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