Decided - The FindLaw Noteworthy Decisions and Settlements Blog

April 2014 Archives

Mont. Supreme Court Overturns Teacher's 30-Day Rape Sentence

The Montana Supreme Court has reversed a 30-day sentence for a convicted rapist teacher, sending the case back for sentencing with a new judge.

Ex-teacher Stacey Dean Rambold had been previously sentenced to only a month in jail for the rape of one of his former freshman students who later committed suicide. State attorneys argued that Rambold should have served the mandatory minimum of four years in prison, reports the Billings Gazette.

Why did Montana's highest court strike down Rambold's 30-day rape sentence?

Supreme Court Vacates Child Porn Victim's $3.4M Award

The U.S. Supreme Court has knocked down a multimillion-dollar restitution award to a child pornography victim, stating there needs to be more of a connection between the dollar amount and responsibility for the damage.

Paroline v. U.S. is one of many involving "Amy," a woman who was photographed as a child being raped by her uncle and whose images are commonly found on the computers of child porn offenders, reports The Associated Press. "Amy" had received $3.4 million in restitution from Doyle Randall Paroline, a man whose computer contained two images of her, but the High Court disagreed with the calculation in a 5-4 ruling.

How much restitution do these "Amy" cases warrant?

Mich. Affirmative Action Ban Upheld by U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld Michigan's ban on affirmative action in a 6-2 ruling issued Tuesday.

This decision affirms Michigan's Proposal 2, a constitutional amendment that prohibits discriminatory or preferential practices like affirmative action in public education, public employment, or government contracts, reports The New York Times.

What does this mean for affirmative action in Michigan and nationwide?

Will 'Company Doe's' Secrets Be Revealed After 4th Circuit Ruling?

"Company Doe's" secrets could soon be revealed after a federal appeals court panel determined the corporation cannot keep product-safety litigation secret to protect its image.

The case involved the death of an infant, and the corporation wished to be only known as "Company Doe" in court papers to maintain confidentiality. But a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that sealing court records in this case violated the public's constitutional rights to "obtain access to civil proceedings," Reuters reports.

So when will "Company Doe" and its secrets be revealed? It's still not quite clear.

Ohio's Out-of-State Gay Marriage Ruling On Hold Pending Appeal

A federal judge announced Monday that Ohio must recognize legally performed out-of-state gay marriages, but his order will not immediately go into effect.

Judge Timothy Black of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio determined that Ohio's refusal to recognize out-of-state gay marriages was "unconstitutional and unenforceable," reports The Columbus Dispatch. The ruling avoided dealing directly with Ohio's ban on performing in-state gay marriages.

With Black's ruling stayed pending appeal, what can we learn from this federal decision on gay marriage in Ohio?

Unneeded Heart Stents Settlement: $37M for Mark Midei's Patients

A $37 million settlement agreement has been reached between the former owner of a Maryland hospital and patients of Dr. Mark Midei who went through unnecessary heart stent procedures.

Although Midei wasn't a party to the lawsuit, the settlement agreement seeks to do away with the class action lawsuits against Catholic Health Initiatives for Midei's actions, according to The Baltimore Sun.

The settlement agreement must be finalized by a judge before it's binding, but if approved on the current terms, as many as 273 patients could receive compensation.

Aggregate Campaign Donation Caps for Individuals Struck Down by Sup. Ct.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that aggregate campaign contribution limits for individual donors are unconstitutional in light of the First Amendment.

According to The New York Times, Wednesday's 5-4 ruling is a "sequel" to the High Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United, which struck down limits on independent campaign spending by corporations and unions.

Now, thanks to the Court's decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, individuals are free to spend an unlimited aggregate amount on direct contributions to candidates, political parties, and political action committees.

Supreme Court Strengthens Federal Domestic Violence Gun Law

The U.S. Supreme Court has beefed up a federal law preventing domestic violence convicts from possessing a gun, even if there was no proof of actual "violence" or injury.

In a unanimous decision, the High Court ruled last week that the federal ban applied even to those domestic violence convicts who had pleaded guilty without there being evidence of physical abuse, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote this opinion for the Court, which may close a loophole that had existed in federal law for almost 20 years.