ABA Journal

The National Pulse

422 ABA Journal The National Pulse articles.

As more courts use facility dogs, some defense lawyers object

In a justice system that can sometimes appear hostile, facility dogs can comfort child witnesses as they talk about the most traumatic experiences of their lives. Because the dogs lie at children’s feet in the witness box, jurors may never see them. But according to some defense lawyers, when judges say witnesses will be assisted by canines, that makes them appear more sympathetic or believable, violating the due process rights of their clients.

An increasing number of physicians are dismissing patients, but are they doing it legally?

In some areas of medicine, patient dismissal rates are increasing, with physicians firing their patients directly and telling them to seek care elsewhere.

States drive a wave of bills affecting transgender youth

States have filed more than 250 bills affecting LGBTQ people this year—including more than 120 anti-trans bills. Opponents say the proposed legislation promotes discrimination and prejudice and could negatively impact trans youths’ mental health.

Judicial portraits and Confederate monuments stir debate on bias in the justice system

“It is my goal—and my duty as a judge—to provide a trial setting that is perceived by all participants as fair, neutral and without so much as a hint of prejudice,” Judge Martin Clark wrote in a 2015 order. “Confederate symbols are, simply put, offensive to African Americans.”

California often leads the way in passing environmental and consumer protection laws

A slew of measures passed in California in recent years in hopes of expanding consumer or environmental protections further afield. Whether it’s product ingredients or data privacy or pollution prevention, California is frequently where such laws start.

Former inmates are battling legal barriers to work as firefighters

Like their civilian counterparts, inmate fire crew members help protect people’s lives and property, and when they are released, some try to find employment in the fire service. For many, though, full-time jobs can be hard to come by.

Attorneys lend skills to help current and former service members

When attorney Timothy L. McHugh, a retired Army paratrooper, meets with a veteran to discuss a frustrating medical benefits issue or a confounding GI Bill problem, he can relate. His own experience as an enlisted soldier gives him insight into the tribulations veterans and service members can face.

Costly municipal fines and fees spark a movement for reform

Across the country, Americans are being hit with hefty fines and fees for petty violations, advocates for reform say, igniting a movement pressing for change. “Code enforcement exists to promote public health and safety, but the way we’re seeing it happen across the country right now is to make money,” Institute for Justice attorney Kirby Thomas West says.

Successful ballot measures for marijuana and other drugs create opportunities for lawyers

New laws aim to quash racial profiling in 911 calls

Rep. Janelle Bynum, a Black member of the Oregon House of Representatives, was inspired to sponsor a bill against racial profiling in 911 calls after someone called the police on her as she went door-to-door in a Portland suburb to speak to constituents in an effort to keep her seat in the state house. The incident prompted her to co-sponsor a bill to deter biased 911 calls, allowing civil claims for up to $250 in damages.

Friends remember Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her longtime association with the ABA

Over the years, Ginsburg received various ABA honors, including the Margaret Brent Award in 1993. In June of that year, President Bill Clinton announced her nomination to the Supreme Court. The nomination hearings were in July, and the Brent Award ceremony, which she attended, was in August. The same month, she took her seat on the Supreme Court.

Law enforcement is using location tracking on mobile devices to identify suspects, but is it unconstitutional?

The use of reverse location warrants with Google and other companies tracking location data has exploded since that type of warrant first was used by federal authorities in 2016. As the use of geofence warrants has grown, so have controversies surrounding them.

Oregon and Louisiana grapple with past criminal convictions made with split verdicts

In April, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Ramos v. Louisiana that split verdicts in state trials for serious criminal offenses violated the Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial, overturning a high court ruling in 1972 that upheld them. The effect of the court’s ruling in Ramos is that state courts will now vacate cases with split verdicts on direct appeal. Prosecutors will next decide whether to retry them. What is unclear is whether the ruling will apply retroactively.

Racial disparities in maternal mortality are exacerbated by COVID-19

New concerns about maternal risks in pregnancy emerged as COVID-19 plowed its way across the country this year. Maternal mortality across the spectrum shows stunning increases in the United States. The number of deaths has risen while declining in almost every other nation.

High-profile killings of unarmed Black people spark calls for reform

The seeds that inflamed America’s intense national debate over race and criminal justice were planted months before George Floyd was killed by police on a Minneapolis street in late May. The buildup to the country’s summer of civil unrest began in a quiet subdivision just outside of Brunswick, Georgia, where an unarmed Black man out jogging was shot and killed on Feb. 23 by two armed white men.

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