September 2012 Court Decisions: Decided
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September 2012 Archives

Landmark Katrina Ruling Overturned On Appeal

The Army Corps of Engineers is not liable for property damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, according to a ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Three years ago, U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. ruled that the federal government is not immune from suits blaming post-Katrina damage on corps' operation and maintenance. The appeals court overturned that decision on Monday.

The same panel of judges had originally ruled in favor of plaintiffs but reversed their decision, reports MSNBC. That ruling changes everything for families who lost their property during Katrina.

Cops Can Enforce 'Show Me Papers' Provision of AZ Immigration Law

Arizona's controversial immigration law was passed back in 2010 but Tuesday was the first time one of the more hotly contested provisions could be enforced.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled that police can start enforcing the 'show me your papers' provision of the law after a two year legal battle. The ruling comes after a Supreme Court decision earlier this year that upheld the provision, reports CNN.

The provision doesn't mean police can check anyone's papers. But it does give them additional power to question immigration status in certain circumstances.

Wisconsin's Anti-Union Laws Struck Down by State Court

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker worked hard to pass a law to significantly restricted unions' collective bargaining rights. A ruling by a Wisconsin judge on Friday has effectively undone all of that.

The law was the subject of national debate when it was passed over a year ago. It's been in effect for months and while Walker's popularity suffered for it, he survived a recall election in June. The law also survive a previous suit brought before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, according to Fox News.

This decision throws into doubt about where the law is still in effect. Unions are claiming victory but Walker isn't out of this fight yet.

Medical Marijuana is Not a Right, Montana Supreme Court Rules

So much for the Big High in Big Sky country. The Montana Supreme Court ruled that the use of medical marijuana is not a right.

The court found that just because individuals have the freedom to make medical decisions over their own bodies, this does not give them the right to use illegal drugs.

The Montana Supreme Court sent the case back down to the lower court to determine if a state law blocking the use of medicinal marijuana is legal, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Steve Wynn's $20M Slander Award From 'Girls Gone Wild' Founder

Steve Wynn was awarded a hefty sum by the jury in the ruling of his slander lawsuit against 'Girl's Gone Wild' founder Joe Francis.

The ruling is only the latest in a string of lawsuits between the two men over Francis's gambling debt and the statements he's made surrounding Wynn's conduct over the debt. The jury found on Monday that Francis's statements were false and awarded $20 million in damages to Wynn.

In their decision, the jury also found that Francis knew the statements were false when he made them. That could result in a higher penalty for the flashy entrepreneur.

Tattoos are a Form of Protected Speech, AZ Supreme Court Rules

The Arizona Supreme Court found that tattoos are a constitutionally protected form of free speech.

The question of whether tattooing is protected speech had been litigated in several states with mixed results, reports Reuters. However, this Arizona decision is significant as it is the first decision by a state Supreme Court to find that tattoos can be protected speech.

So does this decision mean that tattoo parlors can just open everywhere and anywhere in Arizona? Not exactly.

State Must Provide Sex-Change Operation for Prisoner: Judge

Massachusetts must provide a sex-change operation for prisoner Michelle Kosilek, a federal judge ruled Tuesday, according to The Boston Globe.

Kosilek is currently living as a woman at an all-male prison in Massachusetts, the Associated Press reports. She was arrested as Robert Kosilek but has lived for more than a decade as "Michelle." U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf ruled she is entitled to treatment for gender-identity disorder, and ordered the state to provide a sex-change operation as treatment.

Wolf's ruling is only binding in Massachusetts, but it could have a big impact nationally where other prisoners in similar situations have tried to get gender-reassignment surgery.