Law News Digest – Week of April 26, 2015

5/1

Baltimore police officers today were charged with crimes for their involvement in Freddie Gray‘s death. Of the six officers, one was charged with murder, and the others with manslaughter, assault and/or misconduct. Rioting and protests have calmed since the announcement.

Grooveshark streaming music app to shut down after long legal battle, admitting it infringed on the copyright of “the vast majority of music” on its service. Unfortunately they did not admit that their name sounds like it’s part of a Katy Perry performance.

Remember Bridgegate, in which New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was alleged to be involved in shutting down the George Washington Bridge as revenge for a mayor’s refusal to endorse him? Well, today a former ally of Christie pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy for his involvement in the scandal. So a “President Christie” is probably not in the cards.

Santa Monica allowed Christmas nativity displays in a public park until 2011, when it decided to prohibit all displays in order to remain neutral towards religion. Did the city violate 1st amendment free speech rights in doing so? No, said a federal appeals court today; the city has the right to ban such displays in the park.

A Florida hospital allegedly threw out a man’s amputated leg in the garbage with his name tag still on it. The man found out and is now suing the hospital for emotional distress. (I’m emotionally distressed just reading about it!)

4/30

Hiker injured on New Hampshire trail ordered to pay $9,200 rescue bill. The court found he was “negligent” (failed to take proper care) in ignoring weather reports and in jumping backward over a hedge despite a history of multiple hip dislocations. So many questions for this guy, but mainly, who jumps backward over a hedge??

ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) of California launches mobile app to allow people to record police encounters and immediately send the video to ACLU. This helps ensure the video is preserved in case the police try to delete the video or the phone gets destroyed (it happens!). The ACLU has already launched similar apps for New York, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, and Oregon.

4/29

Public companies (those listed on stock exchanges) may be required to reveal how much their top executives make and how this relates to company performance, under new rules proposed by a federal agency today. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is proposing the new rules in order to give shareholders more information for when they vote on certain major company decisions.

Florida prohibits candidates running for elected judge positions from raising money for their campaigns. Does this violate the 1st amendment? No, the Supreme Court said today that “judges are not politicians” and that “A state may assure its people that judges will apply the law without fear or favor – and without having personally asked anyone for money.”

4/28

Did you know banks can’t charge you overdraft fees without asking you to opt in (the alternative being that your purchase would be declined)? Well maybe Regions Bank didn’t (they should read Law Soup). The government just fined them $7.5 mil for doing that, and they’ve had to refund consumers $49 million in fees.

Marriage equality: The Supreme Court heard arguments today about whether same sex marriage should be legalized nationwide (currently legal in 36 states). A decision on the case is due by June.

4/27

Verizon recently began offering new TV plans featuring only certain types of channels, like news, sports, kid friendly, etc. ESPN, NBC, and FOX say this violates their contracts, which require their channels to be included as part of a general TV plan. Now ESPN is suing Verizon. NBC and FOX have not yet followed suit (pun intended).

NPR has an interesting interview with an independent police auditor in San Jose, California on how that system works to “police” the police. Could it be a model for the rest of the country?

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