Mississippi court: Woman has parent rights in same-sex split
Court Watch | 2018/04/07 12:04
Mississippi's Supreme Court says a woman has parental rights to a 6-year-old boy born to her ex-wife when the two were married, in a case watched by gay rights activists and groups aiding in vitro fertilization.

Chris Strickland brought the appeal, challenging a lower court decision that an anonymous sperm donor had parental rights and that Strickland didn't.

Strickland argued that the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage requires same-sex couples to be treated equally. She ultimately hopes to win 50-50 custody of a boy who bears her last name.

All nine justices, citing different reasons, found the original ruling flawed, although some wouldn't have gone as far as the main opinion. The case was ordered back to a lower court for the original judge to decide on custody.



Court clerk: Despite memo, staff not required to campaign
Legal Interview | 2018/04/06 12:03
The clerk of court in one North Carolina county says she never meant to require any of her employees to work for her re-election even though that's what a leaked memo said.

After the memo was published, Surry County Clerk of Court Teresa O'Dell told the Mount Airy News that she doesn't require staff to work for her campaign. She acknowledged that the memo "seemed to indicate otherwise" and sent a follow-up note.

A memo distributed March 27th said employees would be required to campaign for her, including taking vacation time so they weren't doing political work while on the clock.

She also told staffers that she wouldn't be in the office before the primary.

O'Dell is facing a challenge from Neil Brendle in the May 8 Republican primary.



SUPREME COURT NOTEBOOK: Diabetes, decisions and justice math
Court News | 2018/04/05 12:03
Visitors attending Supreme Court arguments surrender their electronics on entering the courtroom. So if something rings, chimes or buzzes, it's likely the device's owner is dressed in a black robe.

Last year, a justice's cellphone went off. But last month, when four electronic pings sounded during an argument, the device was different. It belonged to Justice Sonia Sotomayor and was alerting the justice, who is diabetic, that her blood sugar was urgently low.

The 63-year-old justice has had diabetes since childhood, but the sound was the first public notice that she was using a continuous glucose monitor.

Sotomayor's use of the device doesn't indicate a change in her health, experts told The Associated Press, but it does show her embracing a technology that has become more popular with Type 1 diabetics.

In 2013, when Sotomayor did an interview with the American Diabetes Association's "Diabetes Forecast," the magazine reported she was not using one. But in recent years the devices, which use sensors inserted under the skin, have become more accurate, said Cleveland Clinic endocrinologist Kevin Pantalone.

Monitors give users continuous information about glucose levels, rather than the snapshot they get from testing their blood with a finger prick. Information from the sensor gets sent every few minutes to a device where a user can see it charted. Most devices sound alarms at low and high glucose levels. Some monitors work with an insulin pump, which continuously delivers insulin.

It's not clear when Sotomayor began using the technology. She declined comment through a court spokeswoman. But the dinging during arguments on March 21 followed an incident in January where emergency medical personnel treated her at home for symptoms of low blood sugar.

Aaron Kowalski, an expert in diabetes technologies, said an event like that can prompt a person to try a monitor, but even people using the devices can experience low blood sugar that might result in an emergency call. Kowalski, who leads the research and advocacy efforts of JDRF, the Type 1 diabetes research organization, said about 15 percent to 20 percent of Type 1 diabetics now use such a device.



Russian authorities asks court to block messaging app
Court Watch | 2018/04/04 12:03
Russia's communications watchdog says it has asked a court to block access to a popular messaging app.

The Russian Communications Agency said on Friday it has filed a lawsuit against the messaging app Telegram after it refused to hand over encryption keys to Russian intelligence.

The announcement follows a months-long row between Telegram and Russian authorities, who insist they need access to the keys to investigate serious crimes including terrorist attacks.

Russia's Supreme Court last month threw out an appeal by Telegram against demands from the Federal Security Service intelligence agency to provide access to user data.

Telegram argues that the FSB violates consumer rights, while authorities say the app has been used by violent extremists.


Supreme Court rejects appeal from Middle East attack victims
Attorney News | 2018/04/02 15:52
The Supreme Court is rejecting an appeal from American victims of terrorist attacks in the Middle East more than a decade ago.

The justices are not commenting Monday in ending a lawsuit against the PLO and Palestinian Authority in connection with attacks in Israel in 2002 and 2004 that killed 33 people. A lower court tossed out a $654 million verdict against the Palestinians.

The Trump administration sided with the Palestinians in calling on the high court to leave the lower court ruling in place. The federal appeals court in New York said U.S. courts can't consider lawsuits against foreign-based groups over random attacks that were not aimed at the United States.

The victims sued under the Anti-Terrorism Act, passed to open U.S. courts to American victims of international terrorism.




Drug companies want Supreme Court to take eye drop dispute
Court News | 2018/04/01 22:53
Eye drop users everywhere have had it happen. Tilt your head back, drip a drop in your eye and part of that drop always seems to dribble down your cheek.

But what most people see as an annoyance, some prescription drop users say is grounds for a lawsuit. Drug companies' bottles dispense drops that are too large, leaving wasted medication running down their faces, they say.

Don't roll your eyes. Major players in Americans' medicine cabinets — including Allergan, Bausch & Lomb, Merck and Pfizer — are asking the Supreme Court to get involved in the case.

On the other side are patients using the companies' drops to treat glaucoma and other eye conditions. Wasted medication affects their wallets, they say. They argue they would pay less for their treatment if their bottles of medication were designed to drip smaller drops. That would mean they could squeeze more doses out of every bottle. And they say companies could redesign the droppers on their bottles but have chosen not to.

The companies, for their part, have said the patients shouldn't be able to sue in federal court because their argument they would have paid less for treatment is based on a bottle that doesn't exist and speculation about how it would affect their costs if it did. They point out that the size of their drops was approved by the Food and Drug Administration and redesigned bottles would require FDA approval. The cost of changes could be passed on to patients, possibly resulting in treatment that costs more, they say.

Courts haven't seen eye to eye on whether patients should be able to sue. That's why the drugmakers are asking the Supreme Court to step in. A federal appeals court in Chicago threw out one lawsuit over drop size. But a federal appeals court in Philadelphia let the similar case now before the Supreme Court go forward. That kind of disagreement tends to get the Supreme Court's attention.

And if a drop-size lawsuit can go forward, so too could other packaging design lawsuits, like one by "toothpaste users whose tubes of toothpaste did not allow every bit of toothpaste to be used," wrote Kannon Shanmugam, a frequent advocate before the Supreme Court who is representing the drug companies in asking the high court to take the case.


Arkansas high court: Some execution drug info can be secret
Court Watch | 2018/03/30 19:31
The Arkansas Supreme Court says the state prison system must continue to identify the manufacturers of its execution drugs but that it can conceal information that could identify those who obtain the drugs for the state.

Pharmaceutical companies won't sell their drugs for use in executions, which has led some states to obtain execution drugs through middle men or from made-to-order compounding pharmacies.

Arkansas prison officials insist secrecy is needed to ensure a steady supply of the drugs. They argued that secrecy for the middle men who obtain the drugs should also extend to manufacturers, but a Pulaski County judge said it should not and justices on Thursday agreed with that ruling.


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