Decided - The FindLaw Noteworthy Decisions and Settlements Blog

November 2012 Archives

N.Y. Concealed Carry Law's 'Proper Cause' Provision Upheld

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld New York's concealed carry law, a ruling that the state Attorney General's office is hailing as a "major victory" for gun safety.

The court rejected a constitutional challenge to New York's handgun licensing statute, which requires an individual to show "proper cause" in order to carry concealed handguns in public. The court unanimously found that the law does not violate the Second Amendment, reports the Buffalo Law Journal.

As a result, New Yorkers will need to demonstrate "a special need for self protection distinguishable from that of the general community or of persons engaged in the same profession" in order to carry a concealed handgun in public.

Supreme Court Won't Revive Chicago's Police Recording Law

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to reinstate a Chicago law that sought to prohibit audiotaping police officers in public places.

The Chicago law made it a felony to record audio conversations of police officers in public places unless there was consent from the parties involved, reports Reuters. However, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the law, complaining that it violated First Amendment rights.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the ACLU and blocked enforcement of the law. Without comment, the nation's highest court suggested it agreed with the 7th Circuit's decision.

Donald Rumsfeld Torture Lawsuit Dismissed

Donald Rumsfeld cannot be personally sued in a torture lawsuit, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.

Two American citizens sued the former Secretary of Defense over allegations that they were tortured by U.S. military forces in Iraq, reports Reuters.

However, the federal court found that Rumsfeld and others in the military's chain of command could not be held personally liable for any injuries.

BP to Plead Guilty in Oil Spill Case; Civil Settlement Pending

It's been more than two years since the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and BP has finally reached a settlement with prosecutors.

The London-based company has agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges including manslaughter, and will pay $4 billion in fees and fines over the next five years, The Washington Post reports. That's in addition to a $525 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission that will be paid over the next three years.

The plea will settle many of the criminal charges against BP, which has also moved to settle thousands of of civil claims brought by individuals, Reuters reports.

Smoking Not a Fundamental Right, Says Court

A federal court of appeals found that smokers do not have the fundamental right to smoke.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld a smoking ban in city parks put in place by the City of Clayton in Missouri.

A visitor of the parks, Arthur Gallagher, challenged the city ban arguing that the law was unconstitutional. Gallagher, an avid smoker, asked the federal courts to recognize smoking as a fundamental right, therefore deserving strict scrutiny, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Anti-Abortion Protester Entitled to Fees in Free-Speech Dispute

An anti-abortion protester who won the right to carry signs showing graphic images of aborted fetuses is also entitled to win attorneys' fees, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled.

Justices ruled that Steven Lafemine qualified as a civil rights advocate, entitling him to claim fees after winning his lawsuit against a local government, reports the Los Angeles Times.

In 2005, Lefemine was protesting abortion at a busy intersection in Greenwood County, S.C. He and a group of about 20 protesters were holding up signs with graphic images of aborted fetuses. Several motorists complained, and a local law-enforcement officer told Lefemine to take down the signs because they were causing a traffic disturbance.

DEA's Warrantless Use of Hidden Cameras OK: Court

To keep tabs on a piece of private property suspected of growing marijuana, the Drug Enforcement Administration set up warrantless hidden cameras.

The cameras did their job and the DEA allegedly found Manuel Mendoza and Marco Magana of Green Bay, Wis. growing over 1000 marijuana plants on Magana's property. But the defendants asked the court to discard evidence obtained from the hidden cameras as a violation of their Fourth Amendment rights.

Unfortunately for the two, a court ruled against them on Monday. The decision was that warrantless camera surveillance can be ok in some circumstances.

Is a Website's Name Protected Speech?

The question of whether a website name can ever be considered protected speech was raised by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas, but it wasn't answered.

The issue started when Texas attorney, John Gibson, bought the domain for his firm. The state demanded that he give up the name which they claim violates state law on deceptive practices. Rather than submit, Gibson filed suit.

His suit was dismissed by a federal court claiming that the law related to commercial speech which is not as heavily protected. But Gibson appealed and received a much more interesting ruling.