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Legal News Roundup: January 1, 2016

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by Greg Hamblin

on 01 January, 2016

As we begin the new year, we remember the final weeks of 2015. Here is a roundup of some of the major legal news stories this past week:

TAMIR RICE

In a controversial decision, an Ohio grand jury chose not to indict two police officers involved in the 2014 shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. This sparked protests, and again brought attention to the difficult issue of police shootings across the country. The Cleveland police department has been under particular scrutiny in 2015, resulting in federal intervention.

DISPUTED TRADEMARKS

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal circuit ruled that the government cannot refuse to register potentially disparaging or offensive trademarks, citing First Amendment free speech protections. While this case was not directly related, this decision may have an impact on current and future cases surrounding the naming of sports teams. Stay tuned!

WHOLE FOODS, WHOLE PAYCHECK

We’ve all left Whole Foods with a bag full of groceries and a nagging question as to where all of our money went. The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs confirmed this week that New Yorkers have, indeed, been spending too much, and it’s not their fault. Whole Foods has agreed to a $500,000 settlement to resolve the agency’s investigation, and agreed to standards that should prevent future overcharging.

HAWAII, THE NATION?

Residents of Hawaii are pushing forward with plans to establish a self-governing native Hawaiian nation within the state, and have asked the U.S.  Supreme Court to weigh in. Read more about the cases here.

CHIEF JUSTICE ASKS FOR LESS LAWYERLY GAMESMANSHIP IN 2016

In Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.’s year-end report, he urged lawyers practicing in federal courts to improve the efficiency and reduce the costs of trying cases. He specifically addressed the discovery process, stating, ““I cannot believe that many members of the bar went to law school because of a burning desire to spend their professional life wearing down opponents with creatively burdensome discovery requests or evading legitimate requests through dilatory tactics.”  Lawyers, he added, must work together cooperatively to chart cost-effective litigation and to achieve “just results.” He then turned his attention to presiding federal judges, urging them to increase their involvement early on in the litigation process, rather than allowing lawyers to “dictate the scope of discovery and the pace of litigation.” Read his full year-end report here.

TODAY IN LEGAL HISTORY

January 1st isn’t just the annual event of re-upping our resolutions to workout more and get better sleep, it is also the anniversary of a historical presidential declaration – on January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the the final version of the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves across the Union.