Decided - The FindLaw Noteworthy Decisions and Settlements Blog

September 2011 Archives

Text Messages Inadmissible Hearsay, Penn. Appeals Court Rules

Text message evidence can be valuable, but according to a Pennsylvania appellate court, it may also be inadmissible hearsay.

Defendant Amy Koch was convicted of possession with intent to distribute marijuana. At trial, prosecutors introduced drug-related text messages sent from her phone. The goal was to show that Koch intended to sell the drugs.

That conviction was overturned after the court concluded the text messages had been improperly admitted.

Day Laborers Have First Amendment Right to Solicit Work: 9th Cir.

A challenge to Redondo Beach, Calif.'s day laborer law has left the validity of more than 50 local anti-solicitation ordinances in question.

Day laborer laws banning the solicitation of employment on roadways and sidewalks may violate the First Amendment, according to a new ruling from the 9th Circuit.

Even if the goal is to promote traffic flow and safety.

Fla. Doctor Gun Law Blocked by Fed. Judge

A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction on Wednesday blocking Florida's doctor gun law, which effectively bans doctors from asking patients about gun use and firearm safety.

As exhibited by its official name (Firearm Owners' Privacy Act), legislators passed the law in a bid to protect gun-owning patients from what they believe to be an invasion of privacy.

The court disagreed, finding the law to be an invasion of doctors' and patients' right to free speech.

Teacher Has No Right to Religious Banners: 9th Cir.

Finding that a San Diego teacher had no right to hang 7-foot-long religious banners in his classroom, the 9th Circuit has reiterated that a public teacher's free speech rights essentially cease to exist while on school property and in the presence of students.

Emphasizing the words "God" and "creator" as found in quotes throughout American history, high school math instructor Bradley Johnson was ordered to remove the large banners, which were deemed to promote a particular viewpoint and potentially make students feel uncomfortable.

Judge Tosses EA 'NCAA Football' Lawsuit Brought by Ex-Quarterback

U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson tossed the EA NCAA Football lawsuit on Friday, finding that the First Amendment rights of the video game developer outweigh the right of former Rutgers University quarterback Ryan Hart to control his likeness.

Hart sued Electronic Arts, arguing that the company violated his publicity rights by creating an in-game player with similar attributes and the same jersey number.

EA, however, did not use his actual name.

AZ Same-Sex Health Benefits for Govt Workers Protected by 9th Cir.

A state law ending Arizona same-sex health benefits for partners of government employees suffered a loss at the hands of the 9th Circuit on Tuesday when the court upheld a preliminary injunction blocking its enforcement.

Concluding that Proposition 102 violates both the principles of equal protection and due process under the 14th Amendment, the court quoted the seminal equal protection and gay rights case Lawrence v. Texas, stating that "some objectives, such as 'a bare ... desire to harm a politically unpopular group,' are not legitimate state interests."

Abercrombie's Hollister Porch Entries Not Legal, Court Rules

Hollister stores are not ADA-friendly, according to a recent federal ruling in Colorado. Hollister store "porches" are used as decorative entryways into many of the national clothing chain's stores.

District Court Judge Wiley Daniel says that Abercrombie & Fitch's Hollister stores were in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The porch entryways are aesthetically designed. And, they have several above-ground steps that make it difficult for customers in wheelchairs to access this entryway, according to the Denver Post.

Govt. Must Disclose Cell Phone Tracking, DC Cir. Rules

As a nation, we may soon learn more about warrantless cell phone tracking and the extent to which it is used by federal law enforcement.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia directed the Justice Department to provide the ACLU with a list of cases in which law enforcement obtained cell phone location data from telecommunication companies without first obtaining a warrant.

Though the initial list is limited to 255 cases resulting in a conviction or guilty plea, a lower court has been directed to consider a number of other incidents that ended in acquittal.

NM Plan to Verify Immigrant Driver's License Blocked by Judge

Controversy surrounding New Mexico's driver's license verification program continues this week as state District Judge Sarah Singleton issued a temporary restraining order blocking the plan on Wednesday.

Finding that the state's attempt to re-verify the residency of over 10,000 foreign nationals could cause "irreparable the form of constitutional deprivations," she set a September 13 injunction hearing, at which time she will consider making the order more permanent.

'' Can't Legally Change His Name to Website: CA Court

Ed Forchion's "" name change has been denied by a California court.

Who is Ed Forchion? Forchion is staunch advocate of marijuana, and runs the Liberty Bell Temple in Hollywood where he distributes marijuana. The mission statement for the temple is to provide "sacrament to our faith" which is in marijuana and to provide for "those in need of this Holy Medicine," according to the court opinion.

In addition to being a marijuana advocate, Forchion has tried running for office as an independent candidate in New Jersey. He has also battled criminal charges levied against him for possessing marijuana.