Short Circuit: A Roundup of Recent Federal Court Decisions
Please enjoy the latest edition of Short Circuit, a weekly feature from the Institute for Justice.
Each state has its own constitution, and each state court has the chance to interpret its own constitution independently from the federal one. One state that’s more constitutionally independent than many is Pennsylvania. On Friday, October 16, please join IJ’s Center for Judicial Engagement for an online forum on judicial engagement and the Pennsylvania Constitution, featuring many of the state’s foremost constitutional scholars and litigators, including a keynote address by blawgmaster Howard Bashman. Plus, free CLE for Pennsylvania lawyers. Register today!
Meanwhile, you can listen to this week’s Short Circuit podcast, talking all Pennsylvania, all the time, including some innocuous speculation on whether the state’s governor could veto the legislature’s appointments to the Electoral College.
- In the mid-1980s, a Biddeford, Me. police officer offered a teenager a ride home from school. Years of alleged sexual abuse ensued. First Circuit: The district court erred when it dismissed the teen’s (now adult’s) claims as barred by the statute of limitations, since he only recently learned that the officer’s supervisors were aware of additional allegations of abuse.
- Penalty-phase jury in Puerto Rico reports that it has not reached a unanimous verdict on whether to impose the death penalty and that, as a result, it understands the court will sentence the defendant to life in prison. First Circuit: If the jury had truly deadlocked, the Double Jeopardy Clause would allow the government to seek the death penalty again. But the verdict here is ambiguous and must be construed in favor of the defendant, meaning the death penalty is barred.
- The president has long sought to keep his tax returns private. And it’s not going well for him lately, given the recent New York Times exposé and this week’s Second Circuit decision refusing to set aside New York grand jury subpoenas demanding that the president’s accounting firm hand over the documents.
- Pocky is a chocolate-covered stick-shaped cookie. Its design makes it work better as a snack: one end is uncoated (to avoid sticky fingers), and the compact shape makes it portable and easy to eat without having to open one’s mouth wide. But because that design is useful, says the Third Circuit, trade-dress law does not protect Pocky from competitors. Come for the patent and trademark law primer, stay for the cookie puns.
- The city of Englewood, N.J. requires assisted living facilities to obtain a variance if they want to bu
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