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Mandatory Arbitration Agreements for Employees OK, 5th Cir. Rules

The National Labor Relations Board has been a thorn in the Fifth Circuit's said these past few years. Several days ago, however, the panel court made it perfectly clear that it hadn't changed its mind with regards to the proper scope of the National Labor Standards Act.

The issue at bar (now apparently settled) is whether or not employers can require the signing of mandatory arbitration clauses that preclude employee lawsuits against the company. The answer? Such clauses are allowed.

Race Abuse by Students Not Within Title VI's Scope, 5th Cir. Rules

What's a school's liability for discrimination suffered by its students at the hands of other students? This was the broad legal question posed by the Fennell family in Kyana Fennell v. Marion Independent School District.

The Fifth Circuit dismiss the complaint against a Marion Independent School District (MISD) and several of its employees. The circuit court found that school officials were not "deliberately indifferent" to racist student behaviors.

The principle of "one person, one vote" seems abundantly straightforward in principle. In application, this principle seems to elicit never-ending conflict. In Evenwel v. Abbott, the Supreme Court will have another say in the matter.

The desire for a vote to be heard is presumably driven by a desire for fairness. That's the underlying basis of the appellant's argument: the current voting arraignment for state Senate districts in Texas in not fair.

Two 5th Cir. Cases That Might Be Headed to SCOTUS

The Fifth Circuit never fails at providing an abundance of cases for the Supreme Court to hear. With about a month and a half left in the term, the Court has several petitions from the Fifth Circuit itself -- as well as other courts in that circuit -- to consider. Here are two of the big ones that you should be watching.

5th Circuit Clerk Lyle Cayce Writes Us About Court's Website

A few months back, I got a good chuckle out of a strange notice posted on the Fifth Circuit's website about the clerk's office declining to provide change to cash-paying customers. After How Appealing's Howard Bashman poked fun at the new policy, the court's clerk Lyle Cayce explained the intelligent rationale for the change to the change policy.

Still, when I wrote a mixed review of the Fifth Circuit's website, I didn't expect a response from Cayce. And I really didn't expect the court to make changes in response to my criticisms.

But they did both.

A Review of the 5th Cir.'s Redesigned Website: We've Seen Worse

There's a trend happening: Each federal circuit court of appeals is redesigning its website. Though all of the new sites are visually similar, and perhaps based on a common template or codebase, each has its own pros and cons.

Previously, I wrote a long, hateful rant about the Tenth Circuit's website. Little has changed -- it is still terrible. Most of the other circuit courts' redesigns have gone far more smoothly.

But what about the Fifth Circuit's shiny new website?

Judge Edith Jones Cleared in Bias Complaint; Appeal Coming

Last June, Fifth Circuit Judge Edith Jones was accused of making racist comments about a person's propensity for violent crime and otherwise biased comments about the death penalty. A week later, she was pulled off of a death penalty case.

How about a year later? It turns out that Judge Jones was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Judicial Council of the District of Columbia Circuit (the complaint was transferred out of the Fifth Circuit, for obvious reasons) back in August, though the order was finally made public yesterday after the complainants filed an appeal, reports the ABA Journal.

The conclusion (for now): Jones' racial comments were not about racial predispositions, but were instead about statistics. And the death penalty comments? A mere musing on the viability of certain defenses that rarely succeed.

Ch-Ch-Changes: 5th Cir. Vacancies; Exact Change for Cashiers

For a long, long while, we've wondered what was up with the Fifth Circuit's longstanding vacancies. In fact, just last week, I was speculating about the cause of the vacancies (a Democratic president versus two Republican senators) on FindLaw's Strategist blog. Looks like I'm not the only one wondering what's up: A blog post on the Thomson Reuters Legal Solutions blog goes into detail on the vacancies, as well as possible upcoming vacancies that could drastically change the court.

And speaking of change, the Clerk's Office at the Fifth Circuit has announced that starting this Wednesday, there will be none -- exact change is required for cash payments. I thought the announcement and new policy were pretty hilarious and inconvenient, but then the court, responding to jokes at its expense, explained the really good reason behind the change regarding change.

Costa Confirmed: Meet Your New 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge

And then there were two (vacancies).

Congratulations to Judge Gregg Jeffrey Costa, who, yesterday, moved from the district court bench to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals after a unanimous confirmation. The filled seat leaves two more vacancies, one from mid-2012, the other from the end of last year, on the Fifth Circuit bench.

Who is this new, and highly uncontroversial judge? Read on, local practitioners:

Move Clients' Cases More Quickly: 3 Ways FindLaw Can Help

Volume practices get a bad rap. People assume that just because you move a lot of clients' cases through the system, that you are doing a lesser job on the cases.

Bollocks. Moving a case quickly, or more accurately, efficiently from intake to completion is good for you (because it frees up time for more clients) and great for your client (fewer billable hours, obviously).

Of course, efficiency and volume have to be balanced with diligence, ethics, and customer service. Fortunately, we've got a few resources that can help.