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The years-long fight between farm organizations and animal rights activists over laws prohibiting secretly filmed documentation of animal abuse is moving from state legislatures to federal courts as laws in Utah and Idaho face constitutional challenges.

Half of U.S. states have attempted to pass so-called ag-gag laws, but only seven have been successful. Among them are Idaho, where this year's law says unauthorized recording is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine, and Utah, whose 2012 law makes it a crime to provide false information to gain access to a farm. Both states now face separate but similarly worded lawsuits that say the measures violate federal statutes offering whistleblower protections and free-speech guarantees.

Farm organizations and livestock producers say ag-gag laws are aimed at protecting their homes and businesses from intruders, and some plan to use social media to assure the public they have nothing to hide. But animal rights groups, free-speech activists and investigative journalists want to throw out the laws because they say the secrecy puts consumers at higher risk of food safety problems and animals at higher risk of abuse.



A dispute over a Montana wind farm's potential to harm nearby nesting eagles and other birds should be heard in California, the Montana Supreme Court said Friday, in an opinion that deals a legal setback to the project's developers.

The legal row over the Rim Rock wind farm near Cut Bank began last year, when San Diego Gas & Electric accused developer NaturEner of concealing the possibility that eagles and other birds could be harmed by the 126-turbine project.

NaturEner, whose parent company is based in Spain, filed a competing lawsuit in Montana. Its attorneys alleged SDG&E was trying to get out of an unfavorable contract and using the eagle issue as an excuse.

The Rim Rock wind farm is near an area with seven golden eagle nests and Montana's densest concentration of ferruginous hawks. Under federal law, a take permit is required for activities that could injure, kill or otherwise harm protected birds such as eagles.

SDG&E alleges federal officials recommended to NaturEner that the wind farm needed such a permit. NaturEner has denied the claim.

Montana District Judge Brenda Gilbert ruled in May that the case should be heard in Montana because of Rim Rock's importance to the economies of Glacier and Toole counties. She also issued an injunction requiring the utility to pay NaturEner nearly $2 million a month.



A federal appeals court on Monday cleared the path for seismic testing off the coast of New Jersey that will blast the floor of the Atlantic Ocean with loud noises as part of a climate change research project.

The 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rejected New Jersey's request to block the testing off Long Beach Island, which aims to use acoustic research to examine sediment dating back tens of millions of years. The barrier island stretches along the central New Jersey coast for about 18 miles.

Environmentalists, fishing groups and some elected officials oppose the work, saying it could harm or kill marine life including dolphins, turtles and whales. But the groups planning the research say they will do everything possible to minimize disruptions to marine life, including stopping the project when animals are seen nearby.

"Needless to say, we are extremely disappointed with this ruling and the fact that the federal government is pushing it at this time of year," said Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, which had sought a court order to block the testing.



A last-minute stay from a federal judge has put a Missouri inmate's execution temporarily on hold.

John Middleton was scheduled to die one minute after midnight Wednesday for killing three people in rural northern Missouri in 1995. With less than two hours to go before the execution, U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry granted a stay, ruling there was enough evidence of mental illness that a new hearing should be held.

Courts have established that executing the mentally ill is unconstitutional.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster appealed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but that court adjourned for the night without a ruling.

It was a confusing end to a day that saw a flurry of court actions. Perry first granted a stay early Tuesday, but that was overturned by the appeals court. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to overturn the appeals court ruling and declined to halt the execution on several other grounds, including the contention by Middleton's attorneys that he was innocent of the crimes.

Middleton's attorneys then went back to Perry, who once again granted a stay.

However the appeals court eventually rules, the case is likely to end up again in the U.S. Supreme Court.

If the stay is lifted, the state could execute Middleton at any time Wednesday. The death warrant expires at midnight Thursday and if Middleton is not executed by then, the Missouri Supreme Court would have to set a new date. State witnesses and media were told to report back to the prison by 10:30 a.m.

Middleton, 54, would be the sixth man put to death in Missouri this year — only Florida and Texas have performed more executions in 2014 with seven each.



Accidents are always occurring, and this means that personal injuries of all kinds, including automobile accidents, bicycle accidents, defective product accidents, medical malpractice, pedestrian accidents, slip and falls, and wrongful death, are happening every day. When victims or the families of victims contact the Salazar Law Firm, they are extremely traumatized and looking for someone who will bring justice to the situation. Often they or their loved one’s have been hurt because of another’s negligence or carelessness. We aggressively pursue compensation from these responsible parties to get our clients their deserved compensation.

You can find pages on our website that provide details on the following Personal Injury subcategories:

18-Wheeler Accidents
Auto Accidents & Insurance Claims
Catastrophic Injury
Class Actions
Motorcycle Accidents
Product Liability
Wrongful Death

Personal injuries are extremely stressful for victims and their families. Both victims with major and minor injuries are going to have many questions when trying to get compensation for their accident. Our attorneys can guide you during this difficult time and hold the right parties responsible for damages done to you. Call today to set up a free consultation with our Houston personal injury team.


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