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N Carolina court: State retirees should pay health premiums
Attorneys News | 2019/03/06 03:44
A North Carolina appeals court is throwing out a judge's ruling that a former Supreme Court chief justice and other retired state government workers can't be forced to pay part of their health insurance premiums.

A state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday the retirees don't have a contract preventing them from contributing to their coverage. A three-judge panel ruled unanimously that retired state employees were promised nothing more than what is offered to current workers.

Legislators passed a law in 2011 requiring retirees to pay premiums they didn't pay while working. Retirees including former Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake sued, saying that broke the state's promise to provide health insurance.

The State Health Plan covers more than 700,000 employees, retirees and their dependents.


Supreme Court won't hear Planned Parenthood case
Attorneys News | 2018/12/10 04:14
The Supreme Court is avoiding a high-profile case by rejecting appeals from Kansas and Louisiana in their effort to strip Medicaid money from Planned Parenthood over the dissenting votes of three justices.

Lower courts in both states had blocked the states from withholding money that is used for health services for low-income women. The money is not used for abortions. Abortion opponents have said Planned Parenthood should not receive any government money because of heavily edited videos that claimed to show the nation's largest abortion provider profiting from sales of fetal tissue for medical research.

Investigations sparked by the videos in several states didn't result in criminal charges.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch said they would have heard the case.

It takes four votes on the nine-justice court to grant review, so neither Chief Justice John Roberts nor new Justice Brett Kavanaugh was willing to join their conservative colleagues to hear the Medicaid funding challenge.

Thomas wrote for the three dissenters that the court seems to be ducking a case it should decide because it involves Planned Parenthood. "But these cases are not about abortion rights," Thomas wrote.

The issue is who has the right to challenge a state's Medicaid funding decisions, private individuals or only the federal government. The states say that the Medicaid program, a joint venture of federal and state governments to provide health care to poorer Americans, makes clear that only the Secretary of Health and Human Services can intervene, by withholding money from a state.


Group asks court to reject Arkansas justice's ad lawsuit
Attorneys News | 2018/10/30 13:12
A Washington-based conservative group is asking a federal court to reject an Arkansas Supreme Court justice's attempt to halt its attack ads and mailers against her.

Attorneys for the Republican State Leadership Committee's Judicial Fairness Initiative on Monday asked the court to reject Justice Courtney Goodson's request for a preliminary injunction against the ads and mailers.

Goodson is running against David Sterling, an attorney for the Department of Human Services, in next month's election. The group's filing Monday said blocking the ads and mailers would be "patently unconstitutional."

RSLC says it's spent $1.1 million so far this fall on the high court race. A state judge in the spring temporarily blocked another group's TV ad attacking Goodson through the May 22 judicial election.



Missouri court lets redistricting initiative go to voters
Attorneys News | 2018/09/19 09:59
could shake up of the state Legislature by requiring districts to be drawn to achieve "partisan fairness" and imposing new lobbying limits.

The ruling overturned a decision issued a week ago by a state judge who said the so-called Clean Missouri initiative violated the state constitution by addressing multiple topics.

The Western District appeals panel disagreed, ruling that the "multiple provisions all relate to a single central purpose: regulating the legislature to limit the influence of partisan or other special interests."

Republican-aligned attorneys for those opposing the measure said they would appeal to the state Supreme Court. But time is running short. Missouri law sets a Tuesday deadline to make changes to the Nov. 6. ballot. The state's high court previously turned down a chance to hear the case in place of the appeals panel.

As it stands, the measure would appear on the ballot as Constitutional Amendment 1.

"We hope this brings an end to it and that the people can vote in November on whether they want to adopt these changes," said attorney Chuck Hatfield, who represents Clean Missouri.

The initiative has been opposed in court by the president of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a Republican voter who was represented by the law firm of Missouri Republican Party Chairman Todd Graves.




EU backs ICC after US questions court's legitimacy
Attorneys News | 2018/09/12 18:32
The European Union's top diplomat says the bloc remains a staunch supporter of the International Criminal Court despite U.S. condemnation of the tribunal.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Thursday that "we will continue to fully and strongly support the ICC and its work."

The Hague-based court was created in 2002 to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in areas where perpetrators might not otherwise face justice.

Mogherini said the ICC "has strengthened universal justice beyond power politics and beyond geopolitical interests," and added that "accountability is essential to build the foundations for peace."

U.S. National security adviser John Bolton denounced the ICC earlier this week just as a judge weighs whether to investigate allegations of war crimes against U.S. and Afghan personnel in Afghanistan since 2003.



Appeals court won't block ruling on candidate party label
Attorneys News | 2018/08/25 00:37
North Carolina Republicans have been dealt another setback in their efforts to remove a state Supreme Court candidate's party affiliation from the ballot.

The state Court of Appeals declined Monday to hear the request of GOP legislative leaders to block a lower court's order that candidate Chris Anglin be listed as a Republican on the November ballot.

A trial court judge this month halted enforcement of a new law removing party designations next to the names of Anglin and a few other judicial candidates because they had switched their affiliation too close to filing.

Anglin was a registered Democrat until three weeks before he filed to run. He says the law unfairly targeted him.

The state Supreme Court could still step in, but time is dwindling before ballots must be printed.


Supreme Court examines Kentucky's medical review panels
Attorneys News | 2018/08/09 13:34
After Ezra Claycomb was born with severe brain damage and cerebral palsy, his mother considered filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. But in 2017, Kentucky's Republican-controlled legislature passed a law requiring all such lawsuits first be reviewed by a panel of doctors.

The law gave the panel nine months to issue an opinion on whether the lawsuit is frivolous — yet section 14 of Kentucky's Constitution says every person has access to the courts "without ... delay."

Claycomb's parents sued to block the new law, making Kentucky the latest state to have its medical review panels challenged in court.

A circuit judge agreed the law was unconstitutional. But Republican Gov. Matt Bevin appealed that decision to the state Supreme Court, which heard arguments Wednesday.

"This is a modern day version of the poll tax," said attorney J. Guthrie True, who represents Claycomb in a lawsuit he says has class action status to represent all patients. "This has one purpose, and that is to obstruct the courthouse door."

Matthew Kuhn, an attorney for the governor, said the state Constitution's ban on delaying access to the courts only applies to the court system itself. It does not apply to the legislature, which he says has the power to impose rules on the court system. He noted Kentucky has other laws that limit when people can file lawsuits. For example, heirs wanting to sue the executor of an estate must wait at least six months after the executor has been appointed before they can do so. Kuhn says that law has never been challenged.

Kuhn said the medical review process is helpful because it gets the two sides talking before a lawsuit is filed, which could jumpstart settlement discussions. It also makes sure both sides have all the evidence collected before they go to a judge.



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