Decided - The FindLaw Noteworthy Decisions and Settlements Blog

January 2016 Archives

Last summer, anti-abortion advocates thought they had a smoking gun when they secretly taped Planned Parenthood executives allegedly discussing the donation and sale of fetal tissue. Threats to defund Planned Parenthood were made, and a grand jury was convened to investigate whether the health services provider committed any crimes.

Well, the grand jury investigation is complete, only it didn't hand down the indictments those who made the videos probably expected. Planned Parenthood was cleared of any wrongdoing, and instead the Harris County grand jury indicted two of the people behind creating the videos.

Back in 2012, the Supreme Court held that mandatory life sentences for juveniles without the possibility for parole are unconstitutional. The question at the time, and one that has been posed to state courts ever since, was whether that ruling applied to inmates already serving life sentences for juvenile convictions.

And now we know the answer. In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court decided that its ruling in Miller v. Alabama is retroactive, and those that were previously sentenced to mandatory life terms as juveniles must be eligible for parole. Let's take a look at the Court's ruling.

Jinia Armstrong Lopez was worried that her brother Ronald Armstrong might be a danger to himself. Armstrong had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia, was off his medication, and was poking holes in his leg "to let the air out." She tried to have him admitted into a hospital, but when he fled, a doctor drafted involuntary commitment papers and the police were dispatched to make sure he didn't hurt himself.

The officers succeeded, but not in the way anyone imagined. Armstrong never had the opportunity to do himself harm because mere minutes after the commitment papers were finalized, Armstrong was declared dead after officers Tased him five times and forcefully restrained him.

In its first major decision of 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Florida's capital punishment sentencing scheme is unconstitutional. The Court held that juries, and not judges, should be the final arbiters of any facts related to handing down a death penalty sentence.

So what does this mean for capital punishment in Florida, and the death penalty nationwide?

Court Finds Monkey Can't Own Selfie Copyright

Intellectual property law for now remains the domain of humans exclusively. A monkey cannot own the copyright to his selfie, a federal judge ruled yesterday.

An Indonesian macaque does not own the world-famous image he snapped of himself in 2011, District Judge William Orrick decided. In a tentative opinion issued Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco, he wrote that there is "no indication" that the Copyright Act extends to animals, according to National Public Radio.

Lumosity Game Maker Settles Over False Health Claims in Ads

Advertisers must limit their claims by law. They can't just say a certain snake oil will cure all ills without any evidence to support it. When they do, the advertiser pays. Lumosity, a company that claims to transform science into games, was advertising the preventative health powers of its gaming products and caught the attention of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection.

The company has settled with the agency and will pay consumers $2 million. It also owes a $50 million penalty, which has been suspended because it cannot pay, and the company is barred from continuing to claim that its games stave off dementia and dementia and Alzheimer's disease.