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Weekly Briefs: Judge slashes $24M award for Unite the Right victims; judge accused of offering sex for early trial

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Judge slashes $24M punitive award in Unite the Right trial

U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon of the Western District of Virginia has slashed an award of $24 million in punitive damages assessed against white supremacists associated with the violent 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Moon said damages could not exceed $350,000 because of a state cap. Lawyers for the nine plaintiffs had argued that the punitives cap doesn’t apply to a conspiracy to commit violence, and, if it did apply, it would allow $350,000 in damages for each plaintiff. Co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs, Karen Dunn and Roberta Kaplan, told that they were considering an appeal. (, the Washington Post, Moon’s Dec. 30 opinion)

Judge accused of offering earlier trial for sex

A former Arkansas judge has been arrested based on allegations that he sought sex from the girlfriend of a criminal defendant in exchange for an earlier trial date. Former Judge Thomas David Carruth, 63, of Clarendon, Arkansas, faces federal charges of honest services wire fraud, bribery, false statements, obstruction of justice and using a facility in interstate commerce in furtherance of unlawful activity. Carruth resigned from the part-time position in August to run for another local public office. He did not comment when contacted by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He told KARK-TV when his home was raided in June that he was being subjected to blackmail by a woman who would “do anything” to get her boyfriend out of jail. (Department of Justice press release, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

Justice Jackson will publish memoir

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson will publish a memoir called Lovely One, a reference to the meaning of the name given to her at birth, Ketanji Onyika. The book will be published by Penguin Random House. According to a statement by Jackson, the book will be a “transparent accounting of what it takes to rise through the ranks of the legal profession, especially as a woman of color with an unusual name and as a mother and a wife striving to reconcile the demands of a high-profile career with the private needs of my loved ones.” (Bloomberg Law, the Washington Post)

UC Hastings name change becomes official after judge denies injunction

The University of California’s Hastings College of the Law changed its name Jan. 1 to the University of California College of the Law in San Francisco. The name change follows a judge’s denial of a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit citing an 1878 law that says the school “should be forever known and designated” by the Hastings name. The school was named after Serranus Clinton Hastings, a wealthy landowner and state supreme court chief justice who donated $100,000 to found the school. The school wanted to change the name after revelations that Hastings helped organize the massacres of Native Americans living near land that he claimed for himself. (, press release)

Lawyer is sentenced for COVID-19 loan fraud

Florida lawyer Derek James Acree, 47, of Palm Beach County, Florida, has been sentenced to 41 months in prison for submitting fraudulent applications for forgivable COVID-19 relief loans. Acree obtained $1.6 million as a result, prosecutors say. He used part of the money to make a down payment on his home and to pay for jewelry, travel and boat and home repairs. He was also ordered to pay $1.26 million in restitution and $1.6 million in asset forfeiture. (Department of Justice press release, Law360)

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