Within the Scope

Blogging on Administrative Law and the Public Sector

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Criminal Law Case That is Too Interesting to Pass Up

In this web log, I have tried to avoid commenting on cases involving the criminal law – not because these cases do not occur “in the public sector,” as they surely do, but more because these cases involve a range of substantive law and policy questions that are quite different than the bulwarks of administrative law.

But every good rule has its exceptions; and so I am urging every learned Minnesotan to take time to read, and think about, the opinion issued on Thursday in State v. Losh.

In the context of an appeal by Stephanie Losh (who was involved in a brutal murder and kidnapping in the fall of 2002), the Minnesota Supreme Court touched upon the separation of powers between the Legislative and Judicial branches of government. In Losh, the Court asserts that because the Minnesota Constitution gives it “appellate jurisdiction in all cases,” the Court, and not the Minnesota Legislature, likewise has the power to set the time limits for filing appeals.

While I am not sure if that proposition is true, and I have not read the briefs on this point, I think that this is a conclusion that is truly profound in its scope and reach.

Likewise interesting, while the Court split 6 to 3 in Losh, none of the dissenting justices quarreled with the idea that the Minnesota Legislature crossed the constitutional boundary when it set a time limit for certain appeals.

The full opinion is accessible here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Employee Memo at the Center of Federal Contractor Corruption Case

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted for review the case of James Stone. Stone is a one-time engineer with Rockwell International, and now a “private attorney general,” who is seeking damages against his former employer for submitting false claims to the U.S Government. The False Claims Act permits private citizens to sue government contractors for the purpose of recovering sums improperly billed to the government -- and to share in any of the proceeds that these private attorneys general obtain for Uncle Sam.

In 1987, Stone provided information to an FBI agent that later led to a raid of Rockwell International's Rocky Flatts facility. After the federal authorities completed the raid, and the swirl of media coverage surrounding the government's claims that Rockwell had improperly disposed of hazardous materials at the site, Stone filed suit against Rockwell under the False Claims Act.

Rockwell International claims, however, that Stone may not sue under the False Claims Act because he was not an “original source” of information on Rockwell's environmental misconduct. The FCA limits recovery to those who have a “direct and independent knowledge of the information on which the allegations are based ....”

In an effort to counter the claim that he learned the specifics of Rockwell's misconduct from news reports, Stone reaches for an engineering memo that he wrote while he was employed at Rockwell, years earlier. Stone argues that his notations on the memo to the effect that one of Rockwell's proposed methods of disposing of hazardous materials “will not work,” demonstrates that he knew of Rockwell's illegal environmental practices independent of the later media reports.

In granting review, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider this term what it means to be an “original source” of contractor misconduct and to be permitted to submit claims for money damages under the False Claims Act.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

House Committee to Review the Integrity of Minnesota's Public Assistance Programs

The House Committee on Health Policy and Finance will conduct an oversight hearing on the integrity of Minnesota's public assistance programs tomorrow afternoon in the State Office Building.

While a complete agenda will not be printed and available until Wednesday morning, the Committee’s Meeting Notice is accessible here.

In April of this year, the Office of the Legislative Auditor issued a report asserting that 13 percent of the beneficiaries in its study had immigration documentation that was expired, meaning that “the county, and therefore the state, does not know if they are currently eligible for the benefits they are receiving.”

A summary of the Auditor's April Report is accessible here and a copy of the complete report is accessible here.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Standing and Special Ed: Do Parents Have a Right to Sue in Their Own Name to Obtain Benefits for their Children?

Last week, the U.S. Solicitor General filed a brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case of two Ohio parents – Jeff and Sandee Winkelman. The Winkelmans, neither of whom are attorneys, filed a suit pro se in the hopes of obtaining “appropriate” educational services for their son, Jacob. Jacob has a form of autism.

The Circuit Courts of Appeal are divided on the question of whether parents may proceed in court, in their own name and without a lawyer, in the hopes of obtaining benefits for their children. And the stakes can be significant, for both the children and the parents. In April, the Cleveland Bar Association filed a complaint against another set of Ohio parents – Brian and Susan Woods – charging that by proceeding in a suit in their own name, the Woods were engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. This complaint, and the Bar Association’s request that a $10,000 fine be levied against them, was later withdrawn.

Courtesy of SCOTUSblog, the U.S. Solicitor General's brief is accessible here.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Israel at Rosh Hashanah: 5767 Has a Woman Leading its High Court

Tonight is the close of the first night of Rosh Hashanah – beginning not only the Hebrew calendar year 5767, but also the annual season of Jewish reflection, reorienting and renewal.

And so it is this season in Israel and its courts. Earlier this month, Justice Dorit Beinisch took the oath of office becoming the first woman to be chosen president of Israel's Supreme Court.

As reported in the Jerusalem Post, despite the fact that her investiture ceremony was conducted in one of the meeting rooms of the Israeli Parliament, among Beinisch's first words at the helm of the Supreme Court were to warn against entangling the tribunal in the broader political battles of the country. She remarked:

“The Supreme Court must be excluded from the disagreement raging in political life.… It must be protected from those who aspire to turn it into an institution based on political representation or one that reflects in its composition and work procedures the party divisions in Israeli society.”
The complete Post story is accessible here, and the remarks delivered by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the occasion are accessible here.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Even on Busy Day, Justice Scalia Charms a Room

En route to the investiture ceremony of his former law clerk, Patrick J. Schiltz, who is the newest federal District Court Judge for the District of Minnesota, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia arrived early at the University of Saint Thomas Law School for a series of other speeches. Justice Scalia spoke first to a private reception of the Minnesota Chapter of the Federalist Society, and then to a broader group of the Law School students and faculty.

At each gathering, Scalia spoke extemporaneously and openly. He responded to all-comers on a very wide range of topics – from the historical development of “the incorporation doctrine” to the workings of the High Court as an appellate tribunal. Scalia was pointed and funny; engaging both his critics and his admirers in warm-hearted exchanges.

The one bit of news Scalia made during his appearances, was that his wife, Maureen, had been urging him to undertake some writing as a follow on to his earlier book A Matter of Interpretation – which is now in paperback.

Among the bon mots from Justice Scalia that I managed to scribble down for you, were:

On the intellectual caliber of the Justices: “They are very smart people. There are no dummies on the Court – a matter that has not always been true in our nation’s history.”

On the “incorporation doctrine”: “The incorporation doctrine makes applicable to the states those parts of the Bill of Rights that we like, but less so, the parts we don’t like…. Such as the Second Amendment….”

On the methods of interpreting the U.S. Constitution: “Originalism doesn’t give you all of the answers. I can accept that… The alternative, however, gives you no answers. No answers.”

On Catholicism and judicial duties: “Do I have to come out with opinions that run counter to my religion? Of course.”

On media coverage of the Court: “As a general rule, don’t believe anything that you read about the Court….”

Krause, Tingelstad to Address 11th Annual Rulemaking Seminar

Chief Administrative Law Judge Raymond Krause and State Representative Kathy Tingelstad, Chairwoman of the House Governmental Operations and Veterans Affairs Committee, will each give remarks at the 11th Annual Rulemaking Seminar on Wednesday.

This year's seminar will also include presentations on revisions to the Minnesota Rulemaking Manual, effective rule writing techniques, Gubernatorial review, and preparing for public hearings.

And the price is right: The cost of this 3 ½ hour continuing legal education seminar is a $10 donation to that morning’s coffee and donut fund.

For additional registration information, please contact Paula at: (651) 201-5739

Identity Politics: This Week and Photo ID Requirements

On Wednesday, the U.S House of Representatives approved H.R. 4844 – entitled the Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006. Among other provisions, the bill obliges voters to present a current, government-issued photo identification as a "condition of receiving a ballot" in federal elections. A copy of the engrossed bill as it was approved by the U.S. House is accessible here.

The vote in Congress this week comes against the backdrop of state court actions in both Georgia and Missouri. Trial courts in each of those states recently enjoined state-developed photo identification requirements, on the grounds that these requirements impermissibly added (by way of an ordinary statute) conditions on the right to vote that were beyond those found in the respective state constitutions.

The Georgia court's analysis is accessible here, and the Missouri court's analysis is accessible here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

For Cashiers There is No Free Lunch

In a published opinion issued today, the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the ruling of an Unemployment Law Judge to the effect that a cashier's failure to pay for food that she obtained from her employer – a popular pizza and sandwich shop – was serious misconduct. The value of the food taken by the cashier was approximately four dollars.

Key to the determination of whether the cashier might be eligible for unemployment benefits, following her dismissal, was whether a single instance of such misconduct had a “significant adverse impact on the employer”? Concluding that it did, the appellate panel reasoned that as soon as the restaurant learned that the cashier had not accounted for her own purchases of food, it could no longer entrust her with the broader duties of handling receipts or correctly accounting for the purchases of others.

The complete opinion is accessible here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Mandate, the Governor, the Professor and Me

I don’t think that I have ever enjoyed a federal mandate as much as I did today.

Apparently, according to Section 111, of Division J, of Public Law 108-447 each educational institution that receives Federal funds shall, on or about September 17th of each year, hold an educational program on the United States Constitution. History buffs will recall that the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. (For us administrative law types, the interpretative guidance that calls us to remember the birth of the nation, can be found here.)

As part of this year's observance at the Hamline University School of Law, former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson, Professor Evon Spangler, and myself, were asked to give remarks on the topic of “the meaning of judicial independence and its role in judicial elections.” A copy of my introductory remarks appears as a "Within the Scope – Extra," that is accessible here.

The Agency’s Demand for Price Rebates: Is it a Request, an Order, an Interpretation, or an Unpromulgated Rule?

In October of 2004, the Veterans Administration sent a letter to pharmaceutical manufacturers stating that covered drugs made by those companies that were later purchased from the Veterans Administration’s retail “network” of pharmacies, would be subject to federal price ceilings and special rebates for drugs that exceeded established prices. Up until that time, these price ceilings and rebates were only associated with bulk sales to “federal depot contracting systems.”

Last week, a unanimous panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that this “Dear Manufacturer” letter was an unpromulgated rule. While the panel’s opinion is densely-worded, it does describe how the judges considered, and disposed of, the Veterans Administration’s alternative arguments that the letter was anything but a rule. For that reason the opinion is instructive. In a series of alternative arguments, the agency asserted that its October 2004 letter was: a “request” for rebates; an “order” to the manufacturers to rebate; or an “interpretation” that rebates from the manufacturers were due.

The complete opinion is accessible here.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Never on a Sunday: Does Regulating Retail Sales Promote Public Morality?

A team of economists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Notre Dame has published a paper exploring the relationship between state repeals of "blue laws," and later impacts upon church attendence, charitable giving and use of alcohol and illegal drugs. "Blue laws" restrict or prohibit the sale of non-essential items -- such as consumer goods, liquor and tobacco -- on Sundays.

In their published monograph, Professors Gruber and Hungerman assert that following the repeal of state restrictions on Sunday retailing, there is an increase in drug and alcohol use, and a decline in both church
attendance and donations to religious organizations.

The complete paper is available, for a charge of $5, at this link, from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Unemployment Benefits and Answering the Jailer’s Call

In an opinion issued yesterday, a divided Minnesota Supreme Court overturned the conclusions of an Unemployment Law Judge, a Senior Unemployment Review Judge, and a panel of the Court of Appeals in a case involving a jailed employee. The petitioning employee was fired for failing to report to work. At the time of her unapproved absences, the employee was incarcerated on a non-work-related assault conviction. The employee was denied state unemployment benefits by successive panels on the grounds that she was at fault for these absences.

A majority of the Supreme Court, however, was apparently moved by the fact that the respondent-employer had advance notice of the employee’s impending commitment to the County Workhouse, and her eligibility for daytime “work release” from custody, but did not respond to requests from local jailers seeking verification of the employee’s work status. Without this verification, no work release was approved.

The complete opinion, and Justice Gildea’s dissent, is accessible here.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Tale of Two Petition Requirements

In a Per Curiam opinion issued today, the Minnesota Supreme Court detailed the reasons for its August 22 denial of the challenge of would-be U.S. Senate candidate Peter Idusogie.

In July, Mr. Idusogie filed with the Secretary of State's office a set of petitions that he was using for two purposes -- in support of his request for placement on the ballot as an independent candidate for the U.S. Senate, and that those same signatures on the petitions be used in lieu of the customary $400 filing fee. In Minnesota, petitions may be circulated for both ballot access purposes and as a mechanism to avoid the candidate filing fee.

Mr. Idusogie challenged the rejection of his petitions for want of having the required number of signatures, and for the Secretary of State’s refusal to accept supplements of additional signatures beyond the July 18th deadline for nominating petitions.

The Supreme Court disagreed. It held that the requirement that candidates from minor parties, or no parties, circulate nominating petitions within a specific time-frame did not violate these candidates' rights to free association or equal protection.

The full opinion is accessible here.

Court Enjoins Ohio Plan to Register the Registrars

Last week, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio entered a Preliminary Injunction barring the enforcement of recently-enacted provisions of Ohio's election laws. The enjoined provisions obliged those who perform voter registration in return for “compensation,” to register with the state, receive specified training and to execute a sworn statement acknowledging certain provisions of Ohio law, before undertaking voter registration activities.

Wrote the District Court: “The fact that election workers with whom defense counsel spoke might generally assume that compensated voter registration workers are more prone to fraud than volunteers is insufficient as a matter of law to justify legislation that imposes substantial burdens on the First Amendment rights of those compensated workers and the entities with whom they are affiliated.”

The full opinion is accessible here.

Line Item Vetoes and the Legislators Who Oppose Them

On Tuesday, the Arizona Supreme Court set aside a line-item veto made by Governor Janet Napolitano to an emergency spending measure. In the bill, the Arizona Legislature provided that new state employees in certain occupations would be "exempt employees" under the state's civil service laws – a matter that the Governor purported to strike from the bill on the grounds that the provisions had a fiscal impact to the state.

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that this was not an appropriate exercise of the Governor's line-item veto power. As the court reasoned, the veto of the policy provisions was improper because the veto is limited to striking "a defined amount of public revenue from [a] specific funding source."

Likewise interesting was the Court's discussion of legislator standing. The Arizona Court returned to a point that, from time to time, has been litigated here in Minnesota; namely, that legislators acting collectively, as a majority of one or another legislative chamber, have different standing to raise claims of injury to their institution than when they act as smaller collections of individual office-holders.

The full opinion is accessible here.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

OAH Resolves Two Important Fair Campaign Practices Cases

This week, three-judge panels from the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings issued opinions in two important Fair Campaign Practices cases.

Aggressive Literature in Party Endorsement Contests: On Monday, an OAH panel resolved a Complaint involving the inaccurate attribution of a newspaper article in literature that was sent to Republican delegates in State Senate District 28. The panel concluded that the Complainant, Steve Drazkowski, a candidate for the GOP endorsement, “failed to demonstrate that Respondent Miller violated Minn. Stat. § 211B.06, because the evidence is insufficient to prove by clear and convincing evidence that Miller knew the attribution of the headline to the Winona Daily News was false or that he likely knew it was probably false.”

Likewise interesting, was the Special Concurrence of Administrative Law Judge Steve M. Mihalchick, in which he separately urged dismissal on the grounds that the controversial literature was not “campaign material” as defined in Minnesota Statutes 211B.01. As Judge Mihalchick reasoned, the literature was not “campaign material” because it was intended to influence a party endorsement contest, but not, as 211B.01 describes, “voting at a primary or other election.”

The full opinion, reproductions of the controversial literature, and Judge Mihalchick’s thought-provoking concurrence, are all accessible here.

Use of the Term “Re-Elect”: In the second of the two cases, the OAH considered former State Representative Carla Nelson’s use of the term “re-elect” in her campaign materials. Representative Nelson was seeking to be returned to the Minnesota House of Representatives from District 30A, but is not the current incumbent; State Representative Tina Liebling is the incumbent. The panel concluded that “[r]easonable people can disagree as to the propriety of using the word ‘re-elect’ when the candidate has held the same office in the past but is not the incumbent.” In this circumstance, the panel continued, “the evidence is insufficient to prove by clear and convincing evidence that Respondents either knew that use of the word ‘re-elect’ rendered Ms. Nelson’s campaign material false or that they likely knew it was probably false.”

The complete opinion is accessible here.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A New Openness for the Sentencing Guidelines Commission?

While the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission studies, considers and reports upon important issues relating to the sentencing of criminal defendants, its regular meetings can be a stand-offish affair: Commission Members sit in a closed circle, facing each other, at one end of the meeting room; while the gaggle of interested hangers-on (much like the small children at Thanksgiving dinner) are segregated to their own table at the opposite end of the hearing room. In this setting, comments from audience members are a rare event.

But perhaps no more. The agenda for the Commission's September 20 meeting urges consideration of a "public forum" so that interested non-members -- presumably including "the usual suspects" of prosecutors, defense lawyers, corrections officials and legislative staff, who follow the Commission from meeting to meeting -- might have a chance to share their perspectives, as well.

And such an innovation may be very timely. The policy questions slated for the September 20 meeting are blockbusters. Among the questions that the Commission will discuss, are:

1. Are we spending too much on jails, at the expense of other fiscal priorities at the county level?

2. Are we using too large a share of prison resources on probation violators who have not committed a new offense?

3. Are we spending too much money on prison sentences for drug offenders?

Minnesota: The Center of the Administrative Law Universe

Well, at least this week it is.... The 2006 Central Panel Conference officially began in Minneapolis this evening.

This conference is an annual meeting of senior Administrative Law Judges from the fifty states and the District of Columbia. The focus of this year's conference, as in years past, are methods of improving the management and operations of administrative law tribunals.

It is estimated that three-fourths of the states will send delegations of judges to the Minneapolis conference in order to learn, confer and plan reform.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Challenge to Rulemaking on the "Morning After Pill" Survives a Motion to Dismiss

Last Wednesday, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois denied the state's motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Illinois pharmacists who have religious objections to dispensing emergency contraceptives – also known as the "morning after pill" or "Plan B."

Key to the District Court's analysis was the fact that while the state's rule permitted pharmacies to delay dispensing emergency contraceptives in some circumstances, or not stock them at all, Illinois sanctioned retail pharmacies if religious objections resulted in delays in dispensing these same drugs. Accordingly, the complaining pharmacists were permitted to proceed on their claim that the state formulary rules were really intended to regulate the pharmacists’ religious beliefs.

The Illinois Rule is accessible here.

The District Court's full opinion is accessible here.

Eighth Circuit Sides with Minnesota’s Sex Offender Program on Protective Isolation

In an opinion issued on Monday, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit disposed of a series of claims from one of the most well known civilly committed patients in the Minnesota Sex Offender program – Arthur Dale Senty-Haugen.

Earlier, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota had granted the government’s motion for summary judgment on the claims, stating that (among other things) the placement of Senty-Haugen into “protective isolation” did not violate clearly established constitutional rights.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the discussion is the Eighth Circuit’s reply to Senty-Haugen’s claim that his time in protective isolation delayed his progress in sex offender treatment, and thereby extended the overall length of his civil commitment to the Sex Offender Program. Concluding that misbehaving patients create their own misfortunes, the panel remarked that the “possibility that his period of isolation could lengthen his stay in the Offender program is too attenuated to invoke further due process protections.”

The full opinion is accessible here.

Federal Circuit: Bankruptcy Judge Had No Right to Reappointment

A unanimous panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled on Monday that an incumbent Bankruptcy Judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania neither had a legal right to reappointment to a second, fourteen year term, nor a right to back pay when he was not reappointed by the judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Early in the year 2000, the active judges of the Third Circuit voted to consider Judge David A. Scholl for reappointment to a second term, but after the receipt of some 300 questionnaire responses from the litigants who appeared before Judge Scholl, the judges voted 11 to 1 against reappointing him to the post. Following the expiration of his term, Judge Scholl filed suit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

Among the rich nuggets in the Federal Circuit panel's opinion, is a discussion of the "judicial function privilege" which shields the deliberations of judges and court staff from inquiries by outsiders. Quoting a sister Circuit Court, the panel observed:
Judges, like Presidents, depend upon open and candid discourse with their colleagues and staff to promote the effective discharge of their duties. There exists a [qualified] privilege protecting confidential communications among judges and their staffs in the performance of their judicial duties. The judicial privilege is grounded in the need for confidentiality in the effective discharge of the federal judge’s duties. In the main, the privilege can extend only to communications among judges and others relating to official judicial business such as, for example, the framing and researching of opinions, orders, and rulings.
The full opinion is accessible here.

Although rendered many years earlier, Jimmy Durante offered his own assessment of the case, here.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Court Injunction on Legislative Prayer Argued at the Seventh Circuit

On Thursday, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit heard argument in an appeal of a 2005 District Court order permanently enjoining Brian Bosma, Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives, from permitting prayers that mention specific Deities at the start of meetings in the Indiana House.

The oral argument is a rollicking affair – with both rapid-fire questions from an engaged panel and broad implications that extend far beyond Indianapolis. An audio file of this argument is accessible here.

Accessible at this link here, is an opinion that the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Atlanta issued on Friday. In that Memorandum Opinion and Order the District Court held that the procedures by which the Cobb County Commission used to select those who would deliver the invocation at the start of Commission meetings, was unlawful.

In 1999 and 2000, the Minnesota House of Representatives had its own contretemps over sectarian legislative prayers – which it later addressed in this way.

Friday, September 08, 2006

That would never happen here – well, at least I don't think so….

Today, a divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled that a municipal charter provision which authorized the city government of Union City, Ohio to use public funds to campaign against a citizen-initiated ballot question, did not violate the U.S. Constitution.

The City of Union City had, at taxpayers' expense, posted banners, mailed leaflets and placed advertisements in local newspapers with messages that opposed a local initiative that was disfavored by members of the Union City Council.

The full opinion is accessible here.

In Minnesota, by contrast, the age-old understanding has been that political subdivisions of the state may not use public funds to advocate for either side of a ballot question. The understanding is based upon two venerable Attorney General Opinions – A.G. Op. 442-A-20 (July 10, 1952) and A. G. Op. 476-B-2 (April 29, 1954) – but this understanding has never been codified in Minnesota Statutes or the subject of a reported decision.

The Minnesota House of Representatives sought, on a bi-partisan basis, to remedy that defect in 2004; but the bill codifying the age-old understanding died in a State Senate committee.

Secretary of State's Office Ends Fee for While-You-Wait Counter Service

Secretary Kiffmeyer announced the end of the "expedited filing fee" -- a fee that was assessed on all business customers who wanted confirmation that their Minnesota business filings had been accepted while they wait.

The news that counter service no longer costs extra, is accessible here.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Extensive Regulation Alone is Not Enough for “State Action”

While acknowledging that the racetrack and card club at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota is a highly taxed and regulated enterprise, the Court of Appeals concludes that rigorous taxation and regulation alone is not sufficient to transform the Park’s decision to permanently bar an unruly patron from its facility into “state action for the purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Moreover, despite the State’s approval of the Park’s practices in excluding unruly patrons, the Court concludes that “the primary motivation” in excluding problem customers “was not a state interest, but was instead Canterbury Park’s economic and private interest in maintaining a safe business environment and preventing sexual harassment.”

The published opinion is accessible here.

Sjodin’s Murderer Denied Relief from Minnesota Courts

While jurors in North Dakota deliberate the penalty that he will face the abduction and murder of Dru Sjodin, the Minnesota Court of Appeals denied a second petition for post-conviction relief from Alfonso Rodriguez, Jr.

A unanimous panel of the Court of Appeals concluded that there was no reason to revisit its 1984 conclusion that a witness’ pre-hypnosis recollections are not barred from admission simply because other case evidence is developed later by placing the witness under hypnosis.

The complete opinion is accesible here.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Meaning of the Received Stamp: Errors and Omissions Oral Argument at the Minnesota Supreme Court

Is the State of Minnesota estopped from rejecting a candidate filing as untimely filed, if the candidate is able to submit an Affidavit of Candidacy, but files it in the wrong office?

Candidate Brian Smith filed for the Minnesota House of Representatives for District 58B at the Minnesota Secretary of State's office, when, according to statute, that filing was due to be made at the Hennepin County Auditor's office. Mr. Smith did not make the required filing in the correct office before the close of the filing deadline.

The oral argument before the Minnesota Supreme Court is accessible here.

Eighth Circuit: The State as Parent - Strip Search of Minors Detained for Curfew Violations Not Unreasonable

In a challenge to a 1999 policy of the Juvenile Detention Center in Minnehaha County, South Dakota, a unanimous panel of the Eighth Circuit ruled that obliging minors who are detained at a secure facility to strip to their undergarments, so that their outer clothes can be searched for contraband, was not violative of the minors' constitutional rights.

On the balancing of competing interests, the Court summarized:
'[The strip] searches of children pose the reasonableness inquiry in a context where both the interests supporting and opposing such searches appear to be greater than with searches of adults confined for minor offenses.' The State has a greater interest in conducting such a search, because '[w]here the state is exercising some legitimate custodial authority over children, its responsibility to act in the place of parents (in loco parentis) obliges it to take special care to protect those in its charge, and that protection must be concerned with dangers from others and self-inflicted harm.' The juvenile’s interest in privacy is greater than an adult’s, the court thought, because 'the adverse psychological effect of a strip search is likely to be more severe upon a child than an adult, especially a child who has been the victim of sexual abuse.'
The full opinion can be found here.