Thursday, September 27, 2012

John Maxwell Weighs in on Juvenile Detention

Attorney John Maxwell, a seasoned criminal attorney at Brown, Paindiris & Scott weighed in on the frequency of juvenile detention in Connecticut this week. He was quoted in an article appearing in the Hartford Courant on September 26, 2012. Read the full article here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A District Without Judges

Our system of formal dispute resolution and criminal justice essentially relies on all the actors being in place.  When you go to court, you need your lawyer.  Your opponent needs his.  The court reporter keeps a record of what goes on.  The bailiff ensures public safety and enforces decorum.  The judge presides.  The judge can be the arbiter of the dispute, or the referee of procedure.  The judge can make an enforceable ruling, or refrain from acting.  The judge is an indispensable component of our system.

How does the judge get to the bench?  Under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution of the United States of America, federal judges are nominated by the President and confirmed with advice and consent of the Senate.  Thus, like any initiative that passes through Congress, the appointment of judges can be bogged down by the democratic process and party politicking.  This partisanship can be intense in judicial appointments, as those appointments are often more enduring then legislative positions since a federal judge keeps his or her seat for life (i.e. “during good behavior”).  

The judicial appointment process becomes increasingly politicized in the midst of a highly contested election season.   Presently, 17 appointments are being held up in the Senate due to partisan blocking, including that of Attorney Michael Shea for the District of Connecticut.   The delay of judicial appointments, such as that of Mr. Shea, are sorely felt in the District of Connecticut, where district court judge Peter C. Dorsey passed away earlier this year, another judge is ill and judge Christopher Droney was raised up to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

The result:  A backlog of civil cases without a judge to preside over them.  The further result: the importation of judges from other districts to preside in Connecticut.  Chief U.S. District Judge Alvin Thompson has asked judges from other districts around the country to come to Connecticut in order to relieve a backlog of civil cases.  So far, judges from district courts in New York, Ohio, Kentucky, Montana and South Dakota are en route or have arrived in Connecticut to attempt to help the District of Connecticut judges out of this litigation backlog. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Facebook “Like” not Constitutionally Protected Speech

In a recent Virginia District Court decision, the court held that “merely ‘liking’ a Facebook page is insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection.” Bland v. Roberts, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57530 (E.D. Va. 2012).  The case in question came before the U.S. District Court of Eastern Virginia after B.J. Roberts of the Hampton, Virginia Sheriff's Department fired five employees following his successful reelection in 2009.  The fired employees filed an action alleging that they were fired in retaliation for their exercise of freedom of speech because before the election, they each "Liked" the Facebook campaign page of Roberts' opponent, Jim Adams.
Although holding a Facebook “Like” was unprotected speech, the court recognized cases in which Facebook posts were afforded constitutional protection.  In those cases, there were actual posts, either on a wall or in a comment, containing actual statements and therefore sufficient speech to be protected by the First Amendment.  The court, holding a “Like” as unprotected speech, determined that a “Like” is “not the kind of substantive statement that has previously warranted constitutional protection. The Court [would] not attempt to infer the actual content of [Plaintiffs’] posts from one click of a button on [a] Facebook page.” Bland v. Roberts, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57530 (E.D. Va. 2012).

Friday, September 14, 2012

Attorney David Rintoul to present at ERISA Claim Litigation Seminar

Attorney David Rintoul will be presenting at the ERISA Claim Litigation 101 Seminar sponsored by the Connecticut Bar Association on September 19, 2012.  He will be addressing the law, regulations and practice of administrative appeals of disability benefit and health insurance benefit claims.    
The process of appealing benefit denials with the plan is crucial to a successful suit for benefits under the plan, since claimants generally can only present evidence and argument in court that they have raised during the appeal process.  Patrick Begos and Alexander Schwartz will also be presenting on other issues involving ERISA litigation.