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Death Row Inmate Ruled Incompetent

Vernon Madison, one of the longest-tenured tenants on Alabama's death row, has cheated death again.

Seven hours before his scheduled date with death last year, an appellate court stayed his execution. A new U.S. Supreme Court case gave him a chance to challenge the constitutionality of the ultimate sentence.

Then last week, the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals said he was incompetent to be executed because strokes have left him unable to understand why he was sentenced to die.

"Mr. Madison may have been told that he is being executed because of the murder he committed, but he doesn't remember his capital offence, and according to his perception of reality he never committed murder," the federal appeals court said.

Lesson From Employee Hacking Case: Don't Use 'Password' for a Password

In the fast-paced computer world, people occasionally use "password" as a default password on their accounts. Bad idea.

It was an expensive lesson learned for furniture company Brown Jordan and one of its top executives. Christopher Carmicle used the password to access email of other employees, including superiors, leading to costly litigation and termination.

According to the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Brown Jordan rightfully terminated Carmicle for hacking into the email. The judges probably would have affirmed the judgment against him for other reasons, too, if the company had acted sooner.

ADA Doesn't Require Reassignment of a Disabled Employee

An employer does not have to reassign a disabled employee to a vacant position ahead of more qualified, non-disabled employees, a federal appeals court said.

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals said the American with Disabilities Act "only requires an employer allow a disabled person to compete equally with the rest of the world for a vacant position" as a reasonable accommodation.

"The ADA does not require reassignment without competition for, or preferential treatment of, the disabled," the panel said.

ACLU Wins Appeal for LGBT Club Against Middle School

A federal appeals court has ruled that LGBT students may proceed against a Florida middle school that denied its application for a student club.

In reversing the dismissal of the club's lawsuit, the Eleventh Circuit said that Florida law gives middle school and high school students the same rights to form extra-curricular clubs. The justices said Florida's law inconsistently defines "secondary education," but concluded that a middle school is a secondary school for equal access purposes.

"We conclude that 'secondary education,' under Florida law, means at least 'courses through which a person receives high school credit that leads to the award of a high school diploma,'" the justices said in reversing and remanding the case.

Unless the school district appeals, the district court will now decide whether Carver Middle School must accept the club. The appellate court decision has far-reaching implications, however.

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Refusal to Quash Subpoenas Ruled 'Abuse of Discretion' by 11th Circ.

In a case that is somewhat reminiscent of Citizens United, which revolves around the amorphous notion what constitutes valid speech, the 11th Circuit just ruled that a lower court abused its discretion when it did not quash subpoena's against state officials and granted them the benefit of doubt of privilege.

The subpoenas were directed at lawmakers; they alleged that the Act violated the First Amendment rights of the Alabama Education Association (AEA) because of alleged bad faith.

Georgia executed death row inmate Kelly Gissendaner Wednesday morning, having defeated an 11th hour legal appeal that sought to spare her life. Gissendaner, who was sentenced to death for conspiring with her boyfriend to kill her husband, became Georgia's first female prisoner to be executed in 70 years.

Advocates, including Pope Francis, had argued for clemency. The Pontifex Maximus wrote a letter urging Georgia to commute her sentence and her children attended a parole board hearing to argue on her behalf, missing her execution in the process. Despite that advocacy, Gissendaner was executed soon after a last minute 1983 complaint was rejected by the Eleventh Circuit last night.

Battery Charges Against Judge Mark Fuller Dropped

Last year, denizens of the Eleventh Circuit were shocked to learn that U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller had been charged with battery after his wife made a 911 call from a hotel.

Fuller was formally charged with battery, but that was just the start of his problems. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reassigned his cases and suspended him from receiving new ones. Both of Alabama's senators called for his to step down. Now, though, at least the criminal component of this saga is over: The battery charge against him has been dismissed.

Ala. Supreme Court Orders Halt to Same-Sex Marriages

Just when you thought it was safe to get a same-sex marriage in Alabama, the Alabama Supreme Court -- and not just Chief Justice Roy Moore -- issued a 148-page opinion yesterday ordering some of the state's probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The petition for a writ of mandamus was brought by the State of Alabama, along with another probate court judge, and asked for "a clear judicial pronouncement that Alabama law prohibits the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples."