Court tosses ruling against Pennsylvania COVID-19 measures
Legal Topics | 2021/08/11 17:48
A federal appeals court has dismissed a judge’s ruling that threw out Gov. Tom Wolf’s sweeping COVID-19 restrictions, saying the issue is now moot because statewide mitigation measures have expired and Pennsylvania voters have since constrained a governor’s emergency powers.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that since Wolf’s stay-at-home order, limits on crowd size and business closures are no longer in effect, there is “consequently no relief that this court can grant.”

The Philadelphia-based appeals court also noted that Pennsylvania voters in May approved amendments to the state constitution that give lawmakers much more power over disaster declarations.

The appeals court’s order instructed U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV to vacate his nearly year-old ruling that Wolf’s pandemic restrictions were overreaching and arbitrary and violated citizens’ constitutional rights. The appeals court had previously put the ruling on hold while the Wolf administration appealed.

Stickman, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, had sided with plaintiffs that included hair salons, drive-in movie theaters, a farmer’s market vendor, a horse trainer and several Republican officeholders in their lawsuit against Wolf, a Democrat, and his health secretary.

Writing separately, 3rd Circuit Judge Kent Jordan said that while he agreed with the majority that the case is legally moot, he noted the Wolf administration has said the constitutional amendments do not affect a state health secretary’s disease-prevention authority to issue mask-wearing and stay-at-home orders or shut down schools and nonessential businesses.

At the same time, Wolf administration officials have said they have no intention of restoring such statewide mitigation measures, even as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus has led to sharply rising infections and hospitalizations.


Order: Mississippi judges have discretion for COVID safety
Legal Topics | 2021/08/09 08:28
Mississippi judges have the power to delay trials, limit the number of spectators in courtrooms or take other steps to try to slow the spread of COVID-19, the leader of the state Supreme Court says in an emergency order.

Chief Justice Michael Randolph issued the order Thursday in response to the rapid spread of illness caused by highly contagious delta variant of the virus.

Mississippi has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the nation, and the state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, said Friday that 97% of new cases of COVID-19 in Mississippi are among people who are unvaccinated.

Randolph’s order said judges may postpone jury trials that are scheduled through Sept. 10. In addition to limiting the number of spectators in courtrooms, judges may require people to wear masks and maintain distance between each other. The order encouraged courts to use teleconferencing and videoconferencing, when possible.

Plea hearings in felony cases must still take place in person, but defendants and others in the courtrooms should wear masks and maintain social distancing.

“Any in-person proceedings shall be limited to attorneys, parties, witnesses, security officers, members of the press and other necessary persons, as determined by the trial judge,” Randolph wrote.


Starting Up: The Balanced Approach
Court News | 2021/08/06 22:36
Starting Up: The Balanced Approach. The last two decades have been a period of metamorphosis for the worldwide web. The development of new technologies has not only made the web more advanced but also more accessible as well. Just as with law in the United States, societal shifts pave way for new standards and values in the world of digital marketing as well. At one point in time, the Constitution was sufficient according to modern standards and then a series of Amendments over time were passed to tailor to the changing American landscape. Technology is not all that different.

Websites used to be simpler. A web address in itself once gave potential clients the impression that you meant business. The content was always valuable but the user experience was not emphasized by many, designers did the best they could with what they had.



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West African court to rule on Venezuelan’s extradition to US
Legal Business | 2021/08/06 22:29
A protracted legal battle over the extradition from Cape Verde to the United States of a businessman close to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro comes to a head next week when the West African country’s Constitutional Court is due to rule on the case.

Alex Saab was arrested when his jet made a refueling stop on the small island chain, formerly a Portuguese colony, on a June 2020 flight to Iran.

U.S. officials believe Saab holds numerous secrets about how Maduro, the president’s family and his top aides allegedly siphoned off millions of dollars in government contracts amid widespread hunger in oil-rich Venezuela.

Saab is fighting extradition. His lawyers argue that he has diplomatic immunity because he was acting as a special envoy for Venezuela when he was detained in Cape Verde.

José Pinto Monteiro, Saab’s lead counsel in Cape Verde, said Friday there are two possible outcomes when the Constitutional Court sits on Aug. 13.

Either the judges throw out Saab’s appeal and the extradition goes ahead, or they accept that there are unconstitutional elements in the case and send it back to a lower court to correct them, Pinto Monteiro told a press conference via video link.

Cape Verde’s Supreme Court ruled last March that the extradition could proceed, and the Constitutional Court appeal is Saab’s last hope.

Saab’s international legal team argues that the extradition has a political motive.

Federal prosecutors in Miami indicted Saab in 2019 on money-laundering charges connected to an alleged bribery scheme that pocketed more than $350 million from a low-income housing project for the Venezuelan government that was never built.



Biden’s new evictions moratorium faces doubts on legality
Headline Legal News | 2021/08/06 22:25
President Joe Biden may have averted a flood of evictions and solved a growing political problem when his administration reinstated a temporary ban on evictions because of the COVID-19 crisis. But he left his lawyers with legal arguments that even he acknowledges might not stand up in court.

The new eviction moratorium announced Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could run into opposition at the Supreme Court, where one justice in late June warned the administration not to act further without explicit congressional approval.

Landlords from Alabama whose bid to lift the earlier pause on evictions failed returned to federal court in Washington late Wednesday, asking for an order that would allow evictions to resume.

The administration is counting on differences between the new order, scheduled to last until Oct. 3, and the eviction pause that lapsed over the weekend to bolster its legal case. At the very least, as Biden himself said, the new moratorium will buy some time to protect the estimated 3.6 million Americans who could face eviction from their homes.

Some legal scholars who doubt the new eviction ban will stand up say its legal underpinnings are strikingly similar to the old one.

“Meet the new moratorium, same as the old moratorium!” Ilya Somin, a George Mason University law professor who backed Biden over former President Donald Trump last year, wrote on Reason.com.



Men ordered to pay back $2.4M in health care fraud case
Legal Business | 2021/08/02 05:24
A federal judge has ordered two men to pay back a total of more than $2.4 million for their role in defrauding a health care insurance provider for low-income people in Maine.

One man also was sentenced to two years in prison on Friday and the other was sentenced to three years of probation. Both had pleaded guilty in 2019.

According to court records, the two were Somali interpreters who conspired with several mental health counseling services in the Lewiston and Auburn areas to submit claims to MaineCare for services that weren’t rendered as billed from 2015 to 2018.

In some cases, one of the men conspired with a counseling center director to change the diagnosis of many clients so they could remain eligible to receive MaineCare reimbursement.

A lawyer for the man sentenced to three years probation said she thought the judge took a thoughtful approach to his sentencing. Unlike other defendants in the case, her client is not an American citizen and may face the possibility of being deported. She said the sentence will allow her client, who didn’t have a criminal record, to spend time with his family and work to support them.


How to Make Calls to Action Works
Legal Business | 2021/07/31 11:45
When creating your law firm website you will need a strong Call to Action, or what we’ll abbreviate to CTA.

While most CTAs are just 2-7 words, they’re one of the most important parts of a legal business website. You will need a small but mighty CTA. Why? Because the CTA tells your visitors exactly how you can be of assistance to them drawing them into your business’s services.


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