ABA Journal

The National Pulse

428 ABA Journal The National Pulse articles.

Cross-section: Pandemic-era challenges spur civil litigators to shift approach to representative juries

The coronavirus pandemic’s strain on the jury system is clear to civil trial lawyers. Some are even tailoring their trial strategies to account for how the threat of disease could be changing jurors’ attitudes toward serving and cutting into the pool of available jurors in ways that could sway their cases.

I Spy: As more companies surveil workers at home, do laws do enough to protect privacy?

When demand for employee monitoring technology soared as millions moved from the office to remote work during the coronavirus pandemic, class action lawyer Benjamin F. Johns took note. “When everyone went remote, it heightened the concerns about privacy. And while employees do have to give up some of their rights, just by virtue of the employer-employee relationship, they don’t give up all their privacy rights,” Johns says.

Shortage of forensic pathologists, coupled with COVID-19, has caused major delays in cases

Nonexistent ‘Critical Race Theory’ curriculum is caught in the crosshairs

More than 30 years ago, law professor Richard Delgado began writing law review articles emphasizing the pervasive and pernicious role of race in law and society. Delgado and other pioneering law professors called for a fundamental reorientation of legal studies on race. Concepts of how race impacts society and the legal system were at the forefront of the discussion, often through telling stories of those impacted by race and societal discrimination. These scholars became known as critical race theorists and their approach known as critical race theory.

For some civil rights lawyers, police body camera video can be hard to come by

Many civil rights attorneys seeking body camera video find police departments, officials and judges can stand in their way. Sometimes, according to lawyers and legal experts, the video is selectively released or edited. That can leave lawyers with little choice but to file a lawsuit and use discovery and subpoena power to obtain recordings, delaying justice for families wanting a more complete picture of what happened to their loved ones. Even so, police say there are good reasons to withhold, edit or redact footage to protect the privacy rights of people who appear on camera and prevent interference in ongoing investigations.

Is the right to assemble and demonstrate under threat?

Legislators who are now seeking to restrict protesters say the measures are necessary to establish law and order; provide security; protect businesses; ensure the free flow of highways; and distinguish between peaceful protesters and rioters. But free speech experts warn that the legislative trend against protesting is harmful to fundamental First Amendment freedoms.

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?

Few physicians will admit to ghosting a patient. It’s the type of behavior that could lead to a lawsuit or a patient complaint to a state medical board. 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

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