News Roundup

Weekly Briefs: Emmett Till probe closed; Black couple's suit says appraisal changed with pretend white homeowner

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Emmett Till

Emmett Till. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

DOJ closes Emmett Till investigation

The U.S. Department of Justice has closed its reopened investigation into the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Black youth tortured and shot in Mississippi after he was accused of making sexual advances toward a white woman in her store. The woman had testified under oath, but not in front of jurors, that Till had propositioned her and physically touched her. But a historian claimed that the woman recanted in an interview by handing him a transcript and saying, “That part’s not true.” The woman denied to the FBI that she had recanted, however, and a tape and transcript provided by the historian did not show a recantation. The historian said the woman recanted before he was able to turn on his tape recorder, and his reporting is “rock solid.” (Department of Justice press release, the Washington Post, the New York Times)

Black couple sues appraiser for alleged race bias

A Black couple has sued a California appraiser who valued their Marin County, California, home nearly $500,000 less than a subsequent appraisal conducted when the couple’s white friend pretended to own the home. Paul Austin and Tenisha Tate-Austin filed the suit Dec. 2, along with Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California. (The Mercury News, the Washington Post, the Independent, the lawsuit)

SCOTUS appears likely to back religious school funding

During oral arguments Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court appeared ready to overturn Maine’s ban on tuition assistance for schools that teach religion. The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Boston had upheld Maine’s religious exclusion, reasoning that it was based on a school’s religious instruction, rather than religious status. But conservative justices suggested that the distinction did not make a constitutional difference. The case is Carson v. Makin. (The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Associated Press)

Legal sector gains 2,700 jobs in November

Job numbers for the legal sector continue their upward climb. The legal industry gained 2,700 jobs in November, according to seasonally adjusted and revised numbers by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The sector had 1,156,300 jobs in November, up 33,500 jobs from the same month a year ago. The industry had 1,153,600 jobs in October and 1,148,500 jobs in September, according to the bureau’s revised numbers. August legal services jobs, reported last month, were at 1,142,600. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics press release)

Allergan agrees to settle opioid case for $200M

Allergan, a maker of opioids and owned by AbbVie, has agreed to pay up to $200 million to settle claims that it helped fuel the opioid epidemic in New York. Only one defendant—Teva Pharmaceuticals USA—remains as the monthslong trial begins to wrap up, according to New York Attorney General Letitia James. Several defendants have reached multimillion dollar settlements, including Johnson & Johnson. The suit was brought by the state of New York and Nassau and Suffolk counties. (The New York Times, Reuters, Law360, New York attorney general press release)

Former Trump chief of staff sues to block subpoena

Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff for former President Donald Trump, has sued House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot in an effort to block subpoenas by the committee. The suit, filed Wednesday in federal court in Washington, D.C., says the subpoenas are “overly broad and unduly burdensome.” The suit says Meadows is in the “untenable position” of choosing between the risk of criminal prosecution by defying the subpoenas or the risk of abandoning Trump’s privilege claims. (The New York Times,, Politico, the lawsuit)

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