CBS News Logo Supreme Court makes new legal filings available online

WASHINGTON — Surely but slowly, the Supreme Court is entering the 21st century. The court is making new legal filings available online starting Monday, years behind the rest of the federal court system. Can livestreamed audio of arguments and even televised sessions be far behind? Yes, they can. But advocates of court openness will take what they can get for now, especially because the Supreme Court will not charge for documents. The federal courts' PACER system does charge fees. "Though the Supreme Court has moved glacially to join the rest of the judiciary in permitting online filing, that's better than not at all, and the institution should be commended for creating an e-filing system that, unlike PACER, will be free and easily accessible to the public," said Gabe Roth, executive director of Fix the Court. Over the years, the justices have at times shown a glancing familiarity with technology. Some carry computer tablets with high court briefs loaded on them. But notes between justices are routinely sent on paper, definitely not by email. Chief Justice John Roberts himself noted a few years back that the court stuck with pneumatic tubes to transmit newly released opinions from the courtroom to reporters waiting one floor below until 1971, long after their heyday. Roberts said that it's appropriate for courts "to be late to the harvest of American ingenuity" because their primary role is to resolve disputes fairly. Many Supreme Court legal briefs already are available online and for free from several sources. obtains and posts many of them, along with opinions. The Justice Department has an easily accessible archive of its extensive high court filings on its website, and the American Bar Association posts briefs in the 70 to 80 cases the court agrees to hear each term. But the public may not know to look elsewhere. When the justices issued their highly anticipated decision upholding President Barack Obama's health care overhaul in 2012, the Continue Reading

Monroe County District Court judge accused of hiring prostitutes

Share Tweet Share Email Comments Print MONROE — A Monroe County District Court judge accused of hiring prostitutes was arraigned Friday, according to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. Judge Jarod Calkins Enlarge Judge Jarod Calkins, 41, of Carleton, Mich., is charged with one felony count of transporting a person for the purposes of prostitution as well as four misdemeanor counts of hiring women for the purpose of prostitution following an investigation by the Michigan State Police, according to the attorney general’s office. The felony transportation charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Judge Calkins was arraigned Friday in the 1st District Court, with bond set at $25,000. No further court dates have been set as of Friday afternoon. The investigation started after state police were told of “prostitution-related activities” at a Monroe Township hotel, according to the attorney general’s office. Investigators learned a person matching Judge Calkins’ description met women at the hotel for sex in exchange for money, according to a press release. According to the criminal complaint, Judge Calkins set up accounts on the dating app Tinder, dating website OkCupid, and on Facebook to meet women for sex. He told them he wanted to be their “sugar daddy,” and said he would provide gifts and money in exchange for sex. He also discussed engaging in BDSM, or bondage, sadism, dominance, and masochism, and women described to police violent sex acts that sometimes ignored the women’s boundaries, according to the criminal complaint.  The transportation charges are related to Judge Calkins using his Uber account to pay for the women to meet him in Monroe County. The criminal complaint details sexual encounters in exchange for money with three women, each involving violent sex. One of the women said Judge Calkins ignored a safe word and instead hit her harder, Continue Reading

DC-area school systems prepare for national school walkout to protest gun violence

WASHINGTON — D.C.-area school systems are letting students and parents know what they can expect if their children opt to take part in the National School Walkout next week. Organizers of the event, intended to protest gun violence and urge action in Congress, are calling on students to walk out of class at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14, one month after the shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 students and staff members dead. As part of the walkout, students are being encouraged to leave class for 17 minutes. Superintendents and principals throughout the D.C. region have been reminding students of school policies on disruptions to the school day, while trying to strike a balance to allow students to express themselves. In Montgomery County, school spokesman Derek Turner said principals are working on providing students with the opportunity to take part in activities including letter-writing, moments of silence, and an on-campus walkout. If students leave campus without permission, they’ll be marked down for an unexcused absence, he said. In Loudon County, parents and students have been reminded of the school system’s positions on walkouts. Officials included this statement on the school system’s website: “We do not support walkouts or other activities that interrupt instruction, disrupt school, and/or cause a threat to safety.” But school spokesman Wade Bayard said school officials are working with students to come up with curriculum-related activities that allow for students to express varying and opposing points of view. Should students take part in walkout, Bayard said they’ll likely be given a lunch detention — the same penalty they’d get for unexcused absences or lateness. Charles County, Maryland, schools have advised students that if they take part in a walkout, they will not be allowed to make up any graded assignments that are given out during class. They will be able to get their homework Continue Reading

Hundreds of hidden LI court cases often sealed improperly

by Will Van Sant [email protected] Published: Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 When investment adviser William Landberg appeared on Fox Business’ “Bulls & Bears” in 2009, he warned viewers against big gambles and described the careful approach of his firm, West End Financial Advisors. “What we are looking at for our clients is to be only in spaces where our investors have a very high probability of getting not only a return of their capital,” he said, “but a return on their capital.” Hidden in a Suffolk County records room was a lawsuit that strongly disputed Landberg’s claims of probity, charging him with being a deadbeat and fraud. The lawsuit could have served as a warning to those who had entrusted their money to Landberg, many of whom would lose their life savings, but a judge’s faulty order sealed the case, preventing investors and the public from seeing the records. The Landberg case is one of more than 300 identified by Newsday that Long Island judges sealed — often without justification — despite government agencies, hospitals and other entities key to the public’s welfare being parties. Some cases involved matters more troubling than Landberg’s financial crimes, which landed him in federal prison and cost his investors $66 million. Judges have sealed cases involving sexual abuse at a taxpayer-funded program for disadvantaged kids; a doctor alleged to have serially molested a mentally disabled woman at his medical office; a toddler who died at an unlicensed day care center; and nursing homes that evicted residents unable to pay for their beds. Cases that involved allegations of misconduct by prominent local figures in finance, politics and law have also been sealed. Read Part 2 Other names known beyond the region who have been party to sealed cases include the late John R. “Bunky” Hearst Jr., an heir to the Hearst fortune, and James H. Simons, a pioneering hedge Continue Reading

California’s attorney general pushes state bail system toward major overhaul

By Bob Egelko and Annie Ma Updated 5:07 pm, Tuesday, February 20, 2018 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 5', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-10', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 10', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); Photo: Jessica Christian, The Chronicle Image 1of/10 CaptionClose Image 1 of 10 Buy photo S.F. Public Defender Jeff Adachi hugs Amika Mota of Young Women’s Freedom Center before a bail system protest rally. S.F. Public Defender Jeff Adachi hugs Amika Mota of Young Women’s Freedom Center before a bail system protest rally. Photo: Jessica Christian, The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 2 of 10 Buy photo Activists gather on the steps of the San Francisco Hall of Justice during a rally calling for the end to California’s bail system based on a defendant’s ability to pay. Activists gather on the steps of the San Francisco Hall of Justice during a rally calling for the end to California’s bail system based on a defendant’s ability to pay. Photo: Jessica Christian, The Chronicle Buy this photo Image 3 of 10 California Attorney General Xavier Becerra says: “Bail decisions should be based on danger to the public, not dollars in your pocket.” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra says: “Bail decisions should be based on danger to the public, not dollars in your pocket.” Photo: Rich Continue Reading

Rainwater disrupts systems for unemployment benefits office

Published 10:43 am, Saturday, January 13, 2018 CRANSTON, R.I. (AP) — The Rhode Island department that oversees unemployment benefits has lost phone and internet access after rainwater seeped into its data center. The Providence Journal reports water from overnight storms prompted an automatic shutdown of systems that support the Department of Labor and Training's website and other systems. The website where users can file unemployment-insurance claims and access other services was down as of Saturday morning. A department spokesman says officials are working to restore the systems as soon as possible. The National Weather Service says it recorded wind gusts of up to 51 miles per hour in Rhode Island on Saturday morning amid storms that led to flooding and wind damage. Local Channel Now Playing: Now Playing SAPD makes arrest in 2015 'Hell's Gate' murder case mysa Gregg Popovich: LaMarcus Aldridge Asked to be Traded Last Summer SITime Search for drunk man last seen at S.A. bar ends in rush to the hospital mysa SAPD: Robber made man get on ground, then shot him mysa Alleged stalker at apartment complex on camera mysa Church Shooting Victim Goes Home on Fire Truck AP Motorcyclist being tailed by police crashes in North Side mysa San Antonio's Confluence Park seen from the sky mysa Woman hit by driver after running into North Side street mysa Mayor and others discuss the symphony's new schedule mysa ___ Information from: The Providence Journal, Continue Reading

BPS website foul-up gives parents flawed data

Visit The Boston Globe Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Comment on this Scroll to top of page James Vaznis Globe Staff  January 13, 2018 When it comes time to register their children in public school, many Boston parents turn to the district’s website to sift through their options. By answering a few questions, parents are given a slate of schools to choose from, including at least six with solid test scores. But for the past month, the website has fueled chaos, providing parents with incomplete lists, as well as misleading information about the quality of schools, and prompting officials to scramble for a fix in recent days. In many cases, the lists included misleading quality ratings, making some schools appear stronger academically than they are. For instance, the Higginson-Lewis K-8 School in Roxbury received a Tier 1 rating — which requires a score of at least 65 — although its actual score was just 31. The ratings are based largely on standardized test scores. Advertisement The flawed results, which school officials blamed on the state’s changing of standardized testing systems twice in recent years, have frustrated parents and prompted some advocacy groups to call for a review of the entire school-choice process, a complex system designed to provide all students equitable access to quality schools. Get Fast Forward in your inbox: Forget yesterday's news. Get what you need today in this early-morning email. Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here “There’s too much Wizard-of-Oz-behind-the-curtain with this system,” said Peggy Weisenberg, an education advocate who has studied Boston’s school assignment method for years. “How are parents supposed to trust the system?”The website began producing flawed results after the school department updated its school quality data on Dec. 7 and officials eventually posted a note on the site warning Continue Reading

Our Editorial: Court should lift license injunction

An appeals court should affirm today that states have considerable sovereignty to establish their own set of laws and regulations by which to govern themselves. And that includes deciding reasonable penalties for violating those rules. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati is expected to rule today whether to grant an emergency stay to allow Michigan to continue to suspend the driver’s licenses of motorists who don’t pay their traffic fines.Detroit Federal District Judge Linda Parker issued an injunction Dec. 14 temporarily barring the state from lifting the driving privileges of scofflaws until a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the license suspensions is heard.Parker’s injunction came at the request of a group called Equal Justice Under the Law, which filed the suit charging license suspensions unduly harm the poor.Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is asking the appeals court to lift the injunction, and the court should comply. A ruling is expected today.The injunction is a major intrusion into the right of Michigan to govern itself. Without the ability to suspend licenses for unpaid fines, the state loses the only enforcement tool it has to ensure its traffic laws are followed.Expecting people to pay their traffic fines is not an onerous burden, nor one that is uniquely borne by the poor. Paying a fine is a struggle for many, and an inconvenience for most.But part of the purpose of the penalties is to reinforce the notion that laws exist for a reason — and must be followed.Parker justified blocking the license suspensions because she said they likely violate constitutional due process protections. The judge cited the failure of the 43rd District Court website to warn violators that failure to pay the traffic fines could result in a license suspension.But Schuette, who is representing Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, argues notice is not required because the law specifically states that suspension is the penalty Continue Reading

Brent Dickson to leave Indiana Supreme Court after three decades

At 44, becoming one of the justices on the state's highest court became a possibility for Brent Dickson.It was the last thing the Lafayette lawyer had in mind. He was happy with his general law practice, which allowed him to handle a variety of cases, including criminal, family and tort laws and real estate transactions. But after encouragement from colleagues who told him that the nominating commission was looking for young people, Dickson decided to apply."As funny as it seemed, it was remotely possible ... I might have a chance," Dickson said. "If I didn't do it, would I regret it? Would I always wonder, 'What if?' "He became the Indiana Supreme Court's 100th justice in 1986, when he was appointed by then-Gov. Robert D. Orr. Now, three decades later, Dickson is retiring from the bench, becoming the second-longest-serving justice in the state's history and leaving behind a legacy that many say is characterized by integrity and fairness.Dickson's retirement was announced Monday, more than a year after he stepped down as chief justice, a position he held from 2012 to 2014. He then became an associate justice on the five-member court.Among the significant contributions he is proud of was the court's adoption of a rule that kept police interrogations of suspects from being presented in court unless they were recorded. Dickson said it was a big step for Indiana and made sure that an accused person's story was accurately told to jurors. Electronic recordings allowed jurors to see the suspect and the interrogator's facial expressions and body language and are meant to lessen factual disputes in court.Dickson also is known for his efforts to encourage civility among attorneys and increase legal services for Hoosiers who can't afford them.Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said attorneys who argue before the Supreme Court always expect penetrating and insightful questions from Dickson."During his remarkable Continue Reading

New Justice Reboot plan will cut number of city inmates by 25% over next 10 years, reduce court backlog

The number of city inmates will drop by 25% over the next 10 years under a new broad plan to clear hundreds of languishing criminal cases, city and state officials announced Tuesday. There are currently 400 people behind bars for more than two years without being convicted of a crime, according to court records. There are also six people who have been waiting for their cases to be adjudicated for more than six years. The sweeping new initiative, called Justice Reboot, will cut the court backlog by adding judges and by processing cases faster. Court dates will be scheduled within the next 45 days for all cases that have been stalled for longer than a year, authorities said. "Justice Reboot is about rethinking the way we approach criminal justice," Mayor de Blasio said in a statement. "Today's changes are part of my long-term commitment to bring the criminal justice system into the 21st century." The plan also calls for regular meetings with representatives from all the major players: the mayor's office, district attorneys, police and the defense bar. Officials at those gatherings will monitor progress of the oldest cases and develop reforms to cut through bureaucratic delays. The changes are not just for people stuck on Rikers Island for years. Court officials will also revamp the cumbersome summons process. That includes a redesigned summons form that makes the appearance date easier to figure out via a website. People will also soon be able to pay their fines online. "Justice Reboot is a novel undertaking that will lead to a fairer, more efficient criminal justice system in this city," New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said in a statement. The Daily News previously reported how the number of summonses issued each year has soared since "broken windows" was implemented in the early 1990s. Roughly 81% of the 7.3 million people hit with violations between 2001 and 2013 were black and Hispanic, Continue Reading