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Another Pipeline Hits a Legal Snag in Federal Court

It's been a bad couple of weeks for two American pipelines.

Federal judges shut down part of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and another judge stalled the Keystone XL Pipeline. The pipelines are not connected, but the court decisions have a common thread.

As all the judges said, everybody needs to slow down so we don't harm the environment.

First Fentanyl Execution in the U.S.

Carey Dean Moore died by lethal injection. It took about 20 minutes for the drugs to do their work.

Moore was executed for murdering two men in five days. It took almost 40 years for the legal system to do its part.

In Nebraska, everything about the death penalty changed during that time. The last thing that mattered legally in Moore's case was one of the drugs injected into him.

Appeals Court Affirms Convictions Against Minnesota Terrorists

Minnesota is erroneously known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

It has 12,000, but that's not important right now. What is important is a federal appeals court decision involving three convicted terrorists in Minnesota.

The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed decades-long sentences in the nation's largest probe of terrorist recruitment. But why Minnesota?

Attorneys General Urge Circuit Court Not to Expand Title VII

The states have aligned in the battle over LGBT employment rights in the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Attorneys general from Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Michigan, Nebraska, and South Dakota have cast their opinions against a man who claims he lost a job because he is gay. Half of those states are in the Eighth Circuit's boundaries.

Meanwhile, eighteen other states have filed on behalf of the plaintiff in Horton v. Midwest Geriatric Management, LLC. The appeals court will decide his fate, but will also push the pendulum forward or backward for LGBT rights in America.

Sad news broke last week that federal appeals court judge, Diana Murphy, passed away. She was reportedly not in good health, and was at home last Wednesday when it happened.

Judge Murphy, who was 84 years-old, will be remembered as a legal pioneer. When she was appointed in 1994, she was the first woman justice to sit on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, and was still on the bench until her passing, just on senior status. She had planned to fully retire this coming July.

TD Ameritrade Securities Cases Get Kicked Back

A "bung," in the English vernacular, is a payment made to someone to do something dishonest.

Like "kickback," it has its origins in football. Some speculate it started with cheating in exchange for "snuff, moustache wax and several pints of pale ale."

Some two hundred years later, a kickback and a bung seem wrong by any definition. In any case, the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said three kickback cases based on state laws certainly don't belong in federal court.

City May Be Liable for 'Pay-to-Play' Bail

'My way or the highway,' says the Riverfront Times.

That's how the newspaper describes the situation over traffic fines in the city of Maplewood, a small suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. The city makes drivers pay a bond or go to jail when they're ticketed.

"Pay-to-play" bail is business as usual in many municipal courts, but the cities could have a problem. In Webb v. City of Maplewood, the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals says the city may be liable for giving drivers nothing more than a "Hobson's choice."

The federal district court in Missouri refused to dismiss a potential class action case against Dr. Pepper and Snapple over the claim that Canada Dry Ginger Ale is "Made from Real Ginger."

The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff, Arnold Webb, sent out Canada Dry Ginger Ale for testing, which discovered that the soda did not actually contain any real ginger. The lawsuit not only claims that Webb would not have purchased the ginger ale had he known it didn't contain any ginger, it states that the company was unjustly enriched because "he was induced into purchasing the product and did not obtain the full value of the benefit conferred on defendants." Though seemingly light-hearted, this case contains some spicy fraud allegations.

Court: Zoo Animals Protected by Endangered Species Act

A federal appeals court said a family-owned zoo violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to care properly for its tigers and lemurs.

In Kuehl v. Sellner, the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decision to send several exotic animals at the zoo to a better facility. It was a victory for animal rights activists, who said the decision means endangered species living in captivity deserve the same care as animals in the wild.

But the appeals court also denied their request for $239,979 in attorneys fees. In other words, taking care of tigers and lemurs can be very expensive.

Missouri Defends Campaign Donation Limits

Missouri's campaign finance reform law protects against political corruption, an attorney argued to the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Without the voter-approved restrictions on campaign contributions, the deputy attorney general said, political action committees and other entities could circumvent the law. Section 23 of the Missouri Constitution limits contributions to $2,600 per donor.

What's more, Ryan Bangert said, 70 percent of the voters can't be wrong. Unfortunately for them, a trial judge said something different.