Decided - FindLaw Important Court Decisions and Settlements Blog

Decided - The FindLaw Noteworthy Decisions and Settlements Blog


Good news for teachers in the Golden State: the California Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal challenging teacher tenure and other job protections for educators. This means seniority rules and due process protections for teachers will remain in place, after a trial court judge threw them out in 2014.

This case is just one flashpoint in the current push-and-pull of traditional teacher protections and unionization and a platform of education reform that aims to re-make schools in the image of private businesses. Here's a closer look at the court's ruling.

For anyone watching 'Making a Murder,' from seasoned attorneys to your average layperson, it was fairly obvious what happened to Brendan Dassey, nephew of the documentary's subject Steven Avery. An impressionable and possibly mentally impaired teen was hauled into a police station and bolstered, berated, and badgered in turns until he confessed to a gruesome murder. (This followed similar treatment from his own attorney.) And it was also apparent to viewers, as it must have been to the officers interviewing him, that Dassey's confession failed to match the facts of the case.

Today, a federal judge agreed, saying that Dassey's constitutional rights had been violated by both his attorney and police investigators, overturned his conviction, and ordered him to be released, ten years after his conviction.

Delaware's highest court ruled that the state's death penalty statute is unconstitutional, which could signal the end of capital punishment in the state. The decision, based on the Supreme Court's invalidation of Florida's death penalty law, held that judges were given too great a role in imposing death sentences.

While Delaware could appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court or re-write the statute to comply with constitutional requirements, the state legislature's push to abolish capital punishment could be an indicator that the ruling will stand. Here's what the court said.

Fed Appeals Court Tosses $19 Trillion Claim Against Google

Have you ever googled yourself? Did you find anything disconcerting? Do you wish you could do something about it? That is how Colin O'Kroley felt when he saw his name associated with a child indecency case in a Google search.

He sued Google and other defendants for $19 trillion, claiming "severe mental anguish" from the listing. A federal appeals court this month rejected O'Kroley's claim. Although the plaintiff really wasn't involved in the indecency case, reports the American Bar Association Journal, the search engine is protected by the Communications Decency Act.

A federal judge has tentatively approved the largest class action settlement in U.S. history, allowing Volkswagen's agreement to pay $15 billion to consumers to move forward. The car manufacturer settlement claims that it doctored emissions data on hundreds of thousands of cars, leading consumers to think they were more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly.

With judicial approval, Volkswagen can now start gathering information on some 475,000 consumers eligible for compensation, which could begin as early as October. Here's what you need to know.

In a reminder that state statutes can be woefully behind the times when it comes to technology and crime, a Georgia appeals court overturned a man's conviction for surreptitiously taking cell phone video underneath a woman's skirt without her consent. The practice, known as "upskirting," is disgusting, odious, and morally reprehensible, but, as the court in this case pointed out, not technically illegal under some current state statutes.

So how was the man convicted in the first place? And how did he ultimately end up going free? Here's a look at Georgia's privacy law and what the court said.

A Win for Nature: Fed Court Strikes Navy Sonar Program

Nature's lawyers won a victory for marine life last week. The Natural Resources Defense Counsel and other activists had challenged a U.S. Navy sonar detection program that places loudspeakers in the ocean, creating walls of sound that travel hundreds of miles and have been found to harm marine mammals.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the ocean's advocates, saying that the Navy did not do enough to protect marine life. The sonar blasts reportedly deafen mammals, drive them from breeding grounds, and impede their ability to navigate, communicate, and catch prey. The court found that the government must do more to protect the marine mammals, and not just in waters near the United States.

Spark Networks Settles: Dating Sites to Recognize LGBT Users

Love is blind. It does not discriminate. The same now applies to Christian Mingle and other targeted dating sites owned by Spark Networks, according to an approved settlement in a California court case seeking accommodation for LGBT singles.

The lawsuit was brought by two gay men on behalf of a class of plaintiffs and alleged successfully that the Spark Networks dating websites violate state law by not allowing certain preferences to be expressed in a profile or in site searches. According to the terms of the settlement, this will change within two years, CBC News reports.

Supreme Ct: Abortion Clinic Restrictions Can't Unduly Burden Women

Today the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated Texas legal provisions that would have severely restricted access to abortions in that state. Five justices agreed that the law placed an undue burden on women in violation of constitutional rights, and the decision is considered significant nationwide.

At question were provisions in a law that added requirements for clinics performing abortions and their physicians, ostensibly to protect women. But the majority of the court found the contrary, writing that the restrictions did little for women's health. Let's consider the decision.

No Deportation Relief for Undocumented Parents of Americans and LPRs

The Supreme Court announced a deadlock today in a case about an immigration reform measure by President Obama. It would have allowed millions of undocumented parents of American citizens and permanent residents to avoid deportation and live in the light.

Texas led 26 states in opposing the Obama administration's measure, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA. After the ruling's release, the President issued a statement expressing regret that he could do no more for immigrants before his term ended.