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Federal Courts Running Out of Money -- Now

Federal courts are going dark as the government shutdown becomes the longest in history.

Court administrators, trying to keep the courts going, are running on empty. Without paychecks, they are tapping reserves and deciding which workers are essential for basic justice.

All 94 federal district courts are figuring how to stay open until the political stalemate lets up. Some will run out of money this week.

Governor Can't Block Users From Official Facebook Page

Maine Gov. Paul LePage took a page from President Trump, and that was the problem.

The president blocked people from his Twitter account, and a judge said that violated the First Amendment. LePage blocked people from his Facebook page, and another judge said he violated the First Amendment.

It's hard to believe some high officials know so little about the First Amendment. In Leuthy v. LePage, it didn't seem to surprise the court.

Federal Judge Stands Up for Czech Whistleblower in Pollution Case

Jaroslav Hornof, a seaman from the Czech Republic, is like a real-life version of Jason Bourne.

He is not an assassin with long-term memory loss, but he was on a mission to uncover an explosive situation at sea. He secretly filmed a cargo ship pouring toxic oil into the water in violation of international law.

Just as the shipping company was about to cut a deal with authorities, a federal judge in Maine shut it down. She said Hornoff deserved a reward for putting himself at risk.

Judge: Case Against Cell Phone Searches Goes Forward

In a blow to the Trump administration's border battles, a federal judge in Colorado said plaintiffs may continue their lawsuit against warrantless searches of cell phones and laptops.

The complaint claims the searches violate the Fourth Amendment, and Judge Denise Casper said they have a case. She said the law was unclear, but cited a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that said police need warrants to search a suspect's cell phone.

It comes at a time when federal officials have more than doubled cell phone searches of people coming into the United States.

ADA Appellant Loses in 'School of Hard Knocks'

Victor Sepulveda-Vargas, working late as an assistant manager at Burger King, had a really bad day.

While attempting to make a deposit, he was attacked at gunpoint, hit over the head and had his car stolen. But that was just the beginning of what an appeals court called, "a lesson straight out of the school of hard knocks."

In Sepulveda-Vargas v. Caribbean Restaurants, LLC, the former Burger King manager sued because his employer declined his request to change his shift. The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals said sometimes the law is just not on your side.

Zambia Immigrant Can Compete in Poetry Contest

Call it poetic justice.

Allan Monga, a Maine high school student, won the state's Poetry Outloud Competition. But the sponsoring organization said he could not compete at the national level because he was not a permanent resident.

Monga complained in federal court that it wasn't fair, and the judge agreed in Monga v. National Endowment for the Arts. The student provided poetry; the judge added justice.

Court Hears Case Against Maine Governor for Blackmail (Again)

Lawyers threw a political football into a federal appeals court, arguing whether Maine's governor wrongfully tried to keep his Democratic opponent from getting a job.

Gov. Paul LePage allegedly blackmailed a charter school, threatening to withhold funding if it gave a job to former House Speaker Mark Eves. A trial judge dismissed the case, but an appeal put the controversy back in the news.

At oral arguments before the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals, the judges seemed to show little interest in a political game. Two of the six jurists didn't even show up.

Invasion of Privacy Claim Against Howard Stern Thrown Out

Nothing is sacred on Howard Stern's radio show.

Famous for making fun of everyone from politicians to prostitutes, Stern will do most anything for ratings. Except broadcast Judith Barrigas' tax information; that was a mistake.

Or so said his lawyers in Barrigas v. United States of America. Barrigas sued Stern for invasion of privacy, and the judge dismissed it.

Massachusetts Sues Mental Health Company for Fraud

Christine Martino-Fleming wasn't going to take it anymore. So she filed a whistleblower suit against her former employer.

That prompted the Massachusetts attorney general to take a long look at South Bay Mental Health Center. AG Maura Healey concluded the business was fraudulently billing the state for "unlicensed, unqualified and unsupervised" services.

It goes to show that sometimes you should bite the hand that feeds you. And when a company serves 50,000 people, that's a lot of bites.

Bad Prescription Case Against Target Goes Badly

Frank Andrews got his prescription at Target.

Unfortunately, the dosage was ten times the prescribed amount and he suffered renal failure. He lost his negligence suit because he failed to present timely expert evidence and other reasons in Andrews v. Target Pharmacy..

Maybe this is why you shouldn't necessarily buy prescriptions at the same counter where you buy household cleansers. Be careful where you find your lawyer, too.