News Roundup

Weekly Briefs: Biden describes 4 potential SCOTUS nominees; US liable for over $230M in church shooting

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Biden does ‘deep dive’ on ‘about 4’ potential SCOTUS nominees

President Joe Biden told NBC Nightly News on Thursday that he has done a “deep dive” on “about four” potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees, meaning that they have been subjected to thorough background checks. Biden said his short list includes “incredibly well-qualified” people. “They were the honor students, they come from the best universities, they have experience—some on the bench, some in the practice of law,” he said. Biden has pledged to nominate a Black woman to replace retiring Justice Stephen G. Breyer. He told NBC News that he isn’t looking to make an ideological choice. Instead, he wants a nominee who has an open mind and who interprets the Constitution in a mainstream way. (NBC Nightly News video, Reuters, CNN)

US is ordered to pay more than $230M in Texas church shooting

U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez of the Western District of Texas ordered the U.S. Air Force on Monday to pay more than $230 million in damages to survivors and families of victims killed in a mass shooting at a Texas church in 2017. Rodriguez had previously found that the government was 60% responsible for the shooting because it failed to report the military domestic-abuse conviction of the shooter to the FBI background check system, which allowed him to buy a gun. Devin Patrick Kelley killed 26 people and wounded 22 others at the church before killing himself. (Reuters, NPR, the New York Times, Rodriguez’s Feb. 7 decision)

Pro-Trump lawyer ordered to refile brief because of errors

A pro-Trump lawyer sanctioned for unwarranted claims in a lawsuit seeking to overturn Michigan election results has been informed that she must refile her appellate brief. The clerk of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Cincinnati told lawyer Sidney Powell that her mistakes included missing descriptions in lower-court citations and a brief caption that doesn’t match the official court caption. Powell and another lawyer are seeking permission to file a brief that is more than 4,600 words over the limit. (, Above the Law)

Former prosecutor pleads guilty to client fraud

A former prosecutor in Pennsylvania pleaded guilty Wednesday to wire fraud for misappropriating more than $240,000 in client funds from his firm’s IOLTA account. The lawyer, 39-year-old John William “JW” Eddy of Fayette County, Pennsylvania, was formerly a part-time prosecutor in Fayette County and the solicitor for Uniontown. (U.S. Department of Justice press release, Law360)

2 law schools announce pipeline programs

The University of Virginia School of Law and the Suffolk University Law School recently announced initiatives to help build a pipeline of students into law school who are underrepresented in the legal profession, are first-generation college students or are from low-income backgrounds. The University of Virginia School of Law described its Roadmap Scholars Initiative as a comprehensive program that includes a four-week residency with free room and board, supplemented by a $3,000 stipend, in which participants will take minicourses from the school’s curriculum the summer after their sophomore year. Participants will also get mentoring and a stipend to take an LSAT prep course. The final stage of the program is a two-week law school application boot camp, followed by a legal internship. Participants in the Suffolk University Law School’s Summer Pre-law Pipeline Program will spend two weeks taking free legal classes and will get one-on-one application assistance. (University of Virginia School of Law press release, Suffolk University Law School press release,

Microsoft president, wife give $5M to Columbia Law

Microsoft president Brad Smith and his wife, biotech executive Kathy Surace-Smith, are donating $5 million to endow the human rights clinic at Columbia Law School. The couple previously gave $1.25 million to the clinic in 2017. Both graduated from the law school in 1984. (, Reuters, Columbia Law School press release)

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