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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.

Cosby Wins Defamation Case and His Lawyers Celebrate Online

Bill Cosby won a case and his lawyers are proud of it. Really?

Even as Hollywood's sexual predators are getting shamed in the media, Cosby's lawyers have no shame about their client's pyrrhic victory. Their press release was posted on the entertainer's Facebook page.

"Allen A. Greenberg of the Los Angeles-based firm Greenberg Gross LLP successfully argued on behalf of Mr. Crosby," the release said. Is this that rare occasion when good press is bad press?

In the month of April, all eyes were on the Fourth and Ninth Circuits as they took on the president's controversial travel ban. But the First Circuit was also busy handing down major decisions. Whether you're keeping an eye on space law, tort law, or gaming law, the First Circuit's recent decisions are worth reviewing.

Here's a quick look at the top six cases from the First Circuit:

Judge Erred in Ruling on Issue Not Raised

Sending back a wrongful death case, a federal appeals court said a trial judge erroneously ruled on a summary judgment issue that had not been raised in the case.

The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals said neither party had argued whether the StudentCity tour company caused the accident that took the life of 18-year-old Lisa Tam Chung. Borrowing a quote from Shakespeare, Judge Bruce M. Selya said it was clear that causation was never before the court.

"To say more would be to paint the lily," Selya wrote in Chung v. StudentCity.Com. "The record reflects that the district court granted summary judgment for StudentCity on an issue -- causation -- as to which no discovery had been allowed and no notice had been afforded."

'Animal House' Fraternity Party Is Over

It took almost 40 years, but the Animal House fraternity finally got kicked out for real.

A New Hampshire court upheld a ruling to ban the fraternity from the house that inspired the raunchy 1978 movie. In "National Lampoon's Animal House," John Belushi leads a cast of unruly frat brothers who seek revenge against the dean who kicked them out.

The movie immortalized the Alpha Delta fraternity, which had been affiliated with Dartmouth College since the 1840's. But the college revoked the fraternity's status as a student organization for violating the school's code of conduct in 2015, and the town then sought to terminate its use of the house.

Court Affirms Convictions with Lay Testimony about Drug Slang "Tweezy"

A federals appeals court affirmed convictions against three defendants based in part on lay witness testimony about the meaning of slang words used in drug sales such as "tweezy."

"Tweezy" means crack cocaine, and "step up a yard" means turning powder into crack, the witness testified in United States of America v. Dunston. The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals said Timothy Boyle, a DEA agent who had reviewed hundreds of undercover recordings of crack cocaine deals, was well qualified to testify about the meaning of drug slang.

"Where malefactors try to mask their criminal activities by using codes, a law enforcement officer who is equipped by knowledge, experience, and training to break those codes can help to inform the factfinder's understanding," wrote Judge Bruce M. Selya, who is also known for his particular manner of expression.

"So it is here: the government provided the district court with ample reason to conclude that Boyle was knowledgeable about the idiom of the drug trade and, in particular, the vernacular of this group of miscreants."

Man Who Sold Parts to Iran for WWIII Denied Lighter Sentence

What part of "World War III" did Sihai Cheng not understand?

Cheng, a Chinese national convicted of selling parts to Iran for "World War III," asked a federal appeals court to reduce his sentence. He basically said it was just a sales pitch, apparently forgetting that China sentences people to death just for selling sensitive information.

The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals summarily dispatched Cheng's appeal, ruling that the trial judge did not exceed her authority in sentencing him to 108 months in prison. The parties had agreed on a lesser sentence, but the judge saw it differently.

"You're not the first case I've seen like this, and I think there has to be a deterrent message sent out there, particularly if you know you're helping a nuclear weapons program," Chief Judge Patti B. Saris said.