Health care law in limbo during government shutdown

 The appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker may be delayed to the government shutdown. Photo Credit: Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo as reported by Roll Call, 1/11/19.

The appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker may be delayed to the government shutdown. Photo Credit: Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo as reported by Roll Call, 1/11/19.

In December, a federal judge in Texas struck down the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but under appeal, the status of the health care law remains in limbo during a partial government shutdown.

“The partial government shutdown halted a major challenge to the 2010 health care law among other civil litigation on Friday, as Justice Department lawyers sought the same in a challenge from three Senate Democrats to the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general,” reports Rollcall.com.

“The federal court system will start feeling the crunch of the shutdown on Jan. 18 when the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts estimates it will run out of the court fee balances and other non-appropriated funds that so far allowed for regular operations,” notes an article by Roll Call.

“Courts have been asked to delay or defer non-mission critical expenses, such as new hires, non-case related travel, and certain contracts to stretch funds to that date. Criminal cases are expected to proceed uninterrupted.”

California federal judge blocks Trump birth control coverage rules in 13 states

Photo credit: AP File Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, as reported by AP on 1/13/19.

Photo credit: AP File Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, as reported by AP on 1/13/19.

According to the AP, on Sunday, 1/13/19, Judge Haywood Gilliam of California granted a request for a preliminary injunction by California, 12 other states and Washington, D.C.,  to block Trump administration rules, which would allow more employers to opt out of providing women with no-cost birth control. According to the report, “The plaintiffs sought to prevent the rules from taking effect as scheduled today while a lawsuit against them moved forward… But Gilliam limited the scope of the ruling to the plaintiffs, rejecting their request that he block the rules nationwide.”

Calif. Gov. Brown makes final judicial appointments

Gov. Brown of California announces final judicial appointments during his last few weeks in office. Photo credit: https://www.gov.ca.gov

Gov. Brown of California announces final judicial appointments during his last few weeks in office. Photo credit: https://www.gov.ca.gov

Less than a week before leaving office, California Gov. Jerry Brown made his final judicial appointments, filling 12 open trial court seats.

“Like many of the approximately 600 judicial appointments Brown has made over the last eight years, the latest batch of soon-to-be bench officers is ethnically diverse and includes many women (nine) and Democrats (10),” The Recorder at law.com reports.

The appointees include Clifford Blakely Jr. and Karin Schwartz in Alameda County; John Devine in Contra Costa County; Vedica Puri to the San Francisco Superior Court; Nicole Isger in Santa Clara County; Terrye Davis in Solano County; Heather Mardel Jones in Fresno County; and Maria Cavalluzzi, Gail Killefer, Pamela M. Villanueva, David Yaroslavsky and Jennifer H. Cops in  Los Angeles County.

Brown’s full announcement is posted online.

Courts Monitor publisher thinks that the newly emerging cannabis industry can learn a thing or two from the alcohol industry

Sara Corcoran is correspondent, contributing editor, and founding publisher of the National Courts Monitor & California Courts Monitor.

Sara Corcoran is a correspondent, contributing editor, and founding publisher of the National Courts Monitor & California Courts Monitor.

Sara Corcoran, the Courts Monitor publisher, thinks that the newly emerging cannabis industry can learn a thing or two from the alcohol industry. For example, as the repeal of alcohol prohibition turns 85 years old, the feuds between the “beer and wine” crowd and the “distilled spirits” companies could easily be repeated as cannabis regulation takes shape amid conflicted industry sectors. She is published at CityWatch LA, the regionally prominent Los Angeles-based opinion-and-politics website here.
 

Judges volunteer to hear cases in jurisdictions burdened by heavy caseloads

 Royce Lamberth, Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, participates in the Judiciary’s intercircuit assignments program and helps the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals with a busy docket. Photo credit: Wikipedia.

Royce Lamberth, Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, participates in the Judiciary’s intercircuit assignments program and helps the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals with a busy docket. Photo credit: Wikipedia.

Judicial vacancies and other factors have prompted a rise in the number of intercircuit judicial assignments, when judges volunteer in other jurisdictions to ease crushing caseloads.

“The demand for intercircuit assignments increased by 27 percent in 2017 from the previous year, as many courts juggling heavy caseloads looked for relief,” reports the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. “The increase was caused primarily by a large number of judicial vacancies. Other factors contributed, such as natural disasters and extended illnesses that temporarily impacted the availability of judges.”

For example, Senior Judge Royce C. Lamberth participates in the Judiciary’s intercircuit assignments program and helps the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals with a busy docket.

“Intercircuit assignment requests typically are made by the chief judge of a court experiencing high caseloads. They must be approved by the circuit chief, and as required by statute, authorized by the Chief Justice,” the article explains.

U.S. Dept. of Justice Monitor Criticizes Juvenile Courts in Tennessee

Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 10.58.35 AMAccording to a recent AP article published in U.S. News & World Report, “Despite the end to federal oversight of a Tennessee county’s juvenile justice system, a U.S. Department of Justice monitor says ‘blatantly unfair” practices persist.'”

Monitor Sandra Simkins outlined in her report two main areas where the county still doesn’t comply with the agreement reached in 2012: 1) the court exerts “inappropriate influence” over defense appointments; and 2) that children are transferred to adult criminal court without due process.

California official sues maker of Humira, alleging kickbacks

Photo credit: www.abbvie.com

Photo credit: www.abbvie.com

The state of California is suing AbbVie Inc. over its flagship drug, Humira, alleging the pharmaceutical company gave kickbacks to healthcare providers.

Reuters reported in mid-September on the complaint, brought by Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

“The regulator alleged that AbbVie engaged in a far-reaching scheme including cash, meals, drinks, gifts, trips, and patient referrals, as well as free and valuable professional goods and services to physicians to induce and reward Humira prescriptions,” Reuters reported.

“The case, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, alleged that private insurers have paid out $1.2 billion in Humira-related pharmacy claims.”

AbbVie defended its actions, saying it complies with state and federal law and that “it provides a number of support services for patients, once they are prescribed Humira, that both educate and assist patients with their therapy, including nursing support.”

Girl Scouts sue Boy Scouts for trademark infringement

Photo credit: From North Charleston, SC, United States [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: From North Charleston, SC, United States [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Scouts are on the outs.

National Public Radio reports that the Girl Scouts of the USA filed a federal lawsuit “accusing the Boy Scouts of trademark infringement.”

The dispute started last October, “when the Boy Scouts said it would start allowing girls to join its programs,” NPR reports.

The Boy Scouts of America explained its policy in a summary sheet.

“Cub Scouting is organized in packs and dens. In 2018, an existing pack may choose to establish a new girl pack, establish a pack that consists of girl dens and boy dens or remain an all-boy pack. Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls. Cub Scout packs, meanwhile, can include any combination of all-boy or all-girl dens,” the Boy Scouts explained.

NPR noted that Girl Scouts National President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan accused the Boy Scouts’ national president at the time, Randall Stephenson, “of carrying out a ‘covert campaign’ to recruit girls.”

“We are confused as to why, rather than working to appeal to the 90 percent of boys who are not involved in BSA programs, you would choose to target girls,” Hannan wrote.

Due to customer agreements, scooter companies could steer around lawsuits

Photo Credit: Eduardo Contreras / The San Diego Union-Tribune as reported in The San Diego Union-Tribune on 11/5/18.

Photo Credit: Eduardo Contreras / The San Diego Union-Tribune as reported in The San Diego Union-Tribune on 11/5/18.

Scooter makers face legal action filed on behalf of injured riders, but contracts with customers could shield the companies, according to reporting out of California.

Attorney Catherine Lerer with McGee, Lerer & Associates filed a class action lawsuit against scooter companies Lime and Bird last month “alleging, among other things, ‘products liability and gross negligence, as well as aiding and abetting assault,” The San Diego Union-Tribune reported on Nov. 5.

“The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeks damages on behalf of nine plaintiffs, including pedestrians hit by scooter riders,” the article noted.

Legal action could face difficult odds, the Union-Tribune reported. “So far scooter companies such as Lime and Bird — now valued in the billions — have avoided having to take legal responsibility for such accidents,” the article noted. “That’s largely because scooter companies require riders to agree to a lengthy legal contract through their smart-phone apps before renting a device.”

DACA program, upheld by 9th Circuit, faces its day in Supreme Court

Photo Credit: Darin Moriki/Bay Area News Group as reported by The Mercury News, 11/8/18.

Photo Credit: Darin Moriki/Bay Area News Group as reported by The Mercury News, 11/8/18.

The subject of continued court battles, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could see its fate decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“An Obama-era program granting hundreds of thousands of so-called Dreamers protection from deportation will live on, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday, dealing the Trump administration a significant blow and setting the stage for a showdown in the Supreme Court next year,” The Mercury News reported on Nov. 8.

“The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a nationwide injunction blocking the White House from rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has protected about 700,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children, including 200,000 in California,” The Mercury News reported.

The Atlantic speculated about how the legal battle could play out at the nation’s highest court.

“The Court could do a number of things. It could grant a stay, which would temporarily stop further legal proceedings or the enforcement of orders. If a stay isn’t granted, confusion could reign, with DACA continued in some states and not in others. In any case, at least five justices would have to agree on next steps, and with a split Court a consensus would be difficult to achieve,” The Atlantic noted.