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Legal News for July

JURIST – News – Legal News & Commentary
United Kingdom domestic violence bill approved by House of Commons
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 19:01:45 +0000

The UK Domestic Abuse Bill was approved by the House of Commons on Monday. The bill introduces new clauses to better protect domestic violence victims in the UK.

The bill which was first introduced a year ago has moved onto the second reading in the House of Lords. The bill will include a clause banning the “rough sex defence” which has been controversially used as a defense for serious harm. The catalyst for change came from the case of Natalie Connolley, whose partner was cleared of murder after using the rough sex defense in court.

The Domestic Abuse Bill will further introduce the first legal definition of domestic violence in the UK, recognizing children as domestic abuse victims, as well as including non-physical behavior such as coercive and controlling behavior. However, campaigners have cautioned that the definition of domestic violence included in the bill could lead to the omission of protection for migrant women who are victims of domestic violence.

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Category: United Kingdom
Lawsuit filed against Education Secretary DeVos over pandemic relief funds
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 20:10:02 +0000

Five US states, as well as the District of Columbia (DC), filed a 46-page lawsuit against Betsy DeVos in her role as the Secretary of Education on Tuesday, asking a federal court to declare a recent Department of Education (DOED) rule interpreting the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) unlawful. Michigan, California, Maine, New Mexico, and Wisconsin joined DC, seeking both injunctive and declaratory relief in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. The declaratory relief sought would rule all versions of the DOED Rule unlawful while the injunctive relief would enjoin “the Department . . . its officers, employees, and agents from applying or enforcing the Rule.”

Last month, the DOED published the non-binding rule, stating that all students in private K-12 schools would benefit from the funds allocated for education in the CARES act. The States argue that Congress directed the local educational agencies (LEAs) to allocate CARES Act funds in proportion to Title I-A funds (funds from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 [ESEA]). If LEAs followed Title I-A to distribute CARES Act funds, funds would only be allocated to private schools based on their populations of “at-risk” students versus their entire student populations.

The lawsuit alleges that the Rule violates the separation of powers principles, the relatedness requirement of the Spending Clause, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and that the Rule is ultra vires.

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Category: education
US appeals court sends fossil fuel climate crisis lawsuit back to state court
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 20:19:55 +0000

The US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed a district court’s order refusing to remove a lawsuit against ExxonMobil and Suncor Energy from state to federal court on Tuesday. The lawsuit, originally filed in the District Court for the County of Boulder, Colorado in 2018, alleges that the two fossil-fuel companies are liable for the climate crisis, like “heatwaves, wildfires, droughts, and floods”, affecting the city and county of Boulder and the county of San Miguel.

In June of 2018, the defendant energy companies filed a notice of removal in an attempt to move the case to Federal court. In response, the plaintiffs filed a motion to remand the case to state court for lack of federal subject matter jurisdiction. After the district court granted the plaintiffs’ motion to remand, the defendants appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

After a lengthy discussion on appellate jurisdiction, the court determined it could only review one of the defendants’ six bases for removal: federal officer jurisdiction. ExxonMobil asserted federal officer removal jurisdiction, which allows removal with private persons who “lawfully assist” federal officers “in the performance of their official [duties]”, because of its mining of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) under government contract. The appellate court concluded that ExxonMobil’s drilling of the OCS did not satisfy the “acting under” requirement for removal based on federal officer jurisdiction: “We agree with the district court’s determination that under the OCS leases “the government does not control the manner in which Defendants drill for oil and gas, or develop and produce the product.”

This is the second judicial loss for the fossil-fuel industry this week: a judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to shut down pending an environmental impact review on Monday.

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Category: oil
Supreme Court denies Congress access to Trump finance records but rules Manhattan DA can pursue them
Thu, 09 Jul 2020 20:12:35 +0000

In two decisions issued on Thursday, the US Supreme Court ruled that Congress cannot access US President Donald Trump’s financial records, but the Manhattan District Attorney (DA) can pursue the records.

In Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP, the Supreme Court stated that the subpoenas issued by Congress for Trump’s financial records posed separation of powers concerns. Congressional committees wanted access to the records to guide legislative reform in areas concerning money laundering, terrorism, and foreign interference in United States elections. The Supreme Court stated that, when Congress seeks information that it needs to legislative action, citizens have a duty to cooperate. However, when Congress issues subpoenas for information from the president, there are “special concerns regarding the separation of powers.” The courts below did not adequately take this into account.

In Trump v. Vance, the case between Trump and Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, the Supreme Court stated that the court established two hundred years ago that “no citizen, not even the President, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding.” The court reaffirmed that principle, holding that the president is not absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers. The president is also not entitled to a heightened standard of need.

The court vacated the decision of the lower court in Trump v. Mazars USA LLP and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with the opinion. In Trump v. Vance, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgement of the Court of Appeals, remanding the case for proceedings consistent with the court’s opinion. The case will be returned to the district court, where Trump can raise further arguments.

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Category: US Supreme Court
Federal court denies motion to reconsider emptying of Dakota Access Pipeline
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 18:20:21 +0000

Judge James E. Boasberg, of the US District Court for the District of Columbia, denied an emergency motion by Dakota Access, LLC on Tuesday to stay his July 6 order directing the company to empty the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) within 30-days.

Since July 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes, along with several environmental groups, have challenged the validity of the federal permits which allowed the DAPL to carry oil under Lake Oahe, the main source of drinking water for the nearby tribes. Judge Boasberg’s July 6 opinion noted that the “U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had violated the National Environmental Policy Act [NEPA] when it granted an easement to Defendant-Intervenor Dakota Access, LLC to construct and operate a segment of that crude-oil pipeline running beneath the lake.” The violation occurred “because the Corps had failed to produce an Environmental Impact Statement [EIS] despite conditions that triggered such a requirement.” This failure resulted in the matter being remanded to the Corps back on June 14, 2017 for the preparation of an EIS and a separate briefing on the appropriate interim remedy.

However, over the years following the remand, the parties continued to battle over whether an EIS was required, each side moving for summary judgment. Ultimately, Judge Boasberg held in his July 6, 2020 opinion that the permits should be vacated pending the remand to the Corps. Under the test articulated in Allied-Signal, Inc. v. Director, Division of Taxation, the court reasoned that vacatur was the only appropriate remedy “given the seriousness of the Corps’ NEPA error, the impossibility of a simple fix, the fact that Dakota Access did assume much of its economic risk knowingly, and the potential harm [to nearby Tribes] each day the pipeline operates.”

Dakota Access filed a notice of appeal immediately following the July 6 order and according to the latest docket updates, “the Court will set a status hearing to discuss scheduling as soon as it receives Dakota Access’s motion for a stay pending appeal.”

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Category: South Dakota