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Company's Call to Police for Union Activity Was Legal, Court Rules

A federal appeals court ruled that a company did not violate labor laws by asking police to remove union organizers who were promoting the union on a public road and company property.

The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the National Labor Relations Board, which had ruled in favor of the Service Employees International Union. The appeals court said the union organizers had walked repeatedly onto the company's driveway.

Under the circumstances, the company acted reasonably in calling the police. That's the story in National Labor Relations Board v. ImageFIRST Uniform Rental Service.

Third Circuit Upholds Bulk of 'Bridgegate' Convictions

It was a really bad idea, they just didn't realize how bad until years later when their convictions were upheld.

Their plan was to close lanes and lock up traffic to make the city look bad. It would be four days of angry commuters stuck on a bridge and revenge against the mayor for not endorsing the governor.

Yeah, that's the ticket. Wait, you put that in an email?!

Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooter Pleads Not Guilty to Federal Charges

Attorney Michael Novara has done a good job in the law, but now has a terrible job to do.

He is defending Robert Bowers, who is accused of gunning down 11 people and injuring six others at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Bowers has pleaded not guilty, even as he raged against Jews during and after the massacre.

Novara, a public defender, told reporters his client pleaded not guilty because it is "typical at this stage of the proceedings."

Ex-Congressman Wins Reversal of Bribery Convictions, But...

It's news when a congressman's bribery convictions are overturned, but that's because sometimes the news and politics are backwards.

In United States of America v. Fattah, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals threw out four bribery convictions against Chaka Fattah. The real news, however, is that the appeals court affirmed 13 other corruption convictions -- each carrying a 10-year sentence.

If you do the math, it was not exactly a win for the decades-long congressman. In any case, his political career is definitely over.

No Constitutional Right to Cash Money Bail, 3rd Circuit Rules

The Constitution does not guarantee the right to bail. That's not news, and the Eighth Amendment explains it.

The Constitution does not guarantee the right to cash-money bail, either. That is news and probably requires some explanation.

In Holland v. Rosen, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals said a criminal defendant has no federal right to deposit money or to obtain a corporate surety to ensure future appearance in court. It confirmed what lawmakers had been saying in New Jersey for years.

Convicted Rapist Gets Hearing on Bias Based on Old Email

A convicted rapist will get a hearing to see if his case was improperly transferred due to bias, a state appeals court said.

Tito Rivera was sentenced to 80 to 160 years in prison for robbing five men and raping a woman in 2008. But in Rivera v. Sci, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals said he deserves another hearing.

The appeals panel said a trial judge erred by not allowing Rivera to present evidence of bias. According to reports, the rape victim's uncle requested the transfer to the sentencing judge.

A litterbug out of the state of New Jersey has filed, and basically won, a federal lawsuit over being jailed after pleading guilty to a fine-only offense. Notably, that fine was less than $250, including all the garbage administrative fees courts tack on.

After explaining to the court that he could not afford to pay the fine immediately, but could enter a payment plan, or do community service, he was jailed. Fortunately, for Anthony Kneisser, a family member paid the fine for him shortly after being taking into custody. But, unfortunately for the Burlington Township Municipal Court, the federal district court ruled in the plaintiff's favor on their motion for summary judgment.

New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez 'Dodges Bullet' in Mistrial

In the criminal defense world, a 10-2 deadlock is a pretty big win.

A complete acquittal would be like a home run, but jurors voted 10-2 and sent a big message to the prosecutors in United States of America v. Menendez. Don't try it again.

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, whose bribery case ended in a mistrial, hopes the Department of Justice doesn't refile charges against him. But for Senate Democrats, the mistrial was a ticket to the big game where they need every vote.

Charlton Heston, the late Hollywood actor and conservative activist, played an unusual role in overturning Paul McKernan's 1998 conviction for the murder of his roommate. McKernan's bench trial was held before Judge Lisa Richette. The trial went a bit awry after Judge Richette discovered a blog post criticizing her as a "bleeding heart judge" and quoting Charlton Heston's characterization of her as "Let 'em Loose Lisa."

That blog post caused Judge Richette to lose her impartiality, McKernan argued, and his counsel should have demanded her recusal. The Third Circuit agreed, finding that McKernan had received ineffective assistance of counsel.

3rd Cir. Refuses to Kill Corruption Charges Against Sen. Menendez

The Third Circuit has refused to dismiss corruption and fraud charges against U.S. Senator Robert Menendez. The New Jersey senator is accused of accepting gifts in exchange for political favors, but he sought to have the charges dismissed, on the basis that the Constitution's "speech or debate" clause shielded him from prosecution.

That argument did not sway a three-judge panel. This is the last major obstacle to be cleared between the New Jersey legislator from what is most likely going to be a very uncomfortable trial.