Posts Tagged ‘Maryland’

November 18 roundup

  • Judge Kozinski ate a sandwich paid for by the ACLU and the National Law Journal and American Bar Association are totally on it;
  • Update: “Ohio court says city can’t use ‘quick-take’ to seize property” [Watchdog, earlier on town of Perrysburg’s effort to seize property in adjoining Middleton Township]
  • Regarding the wildly one-sided attacks on arbitration of late, I’ve noticed that the people who call contractually agreed-to arbitration “forced” are usually the same people who don’t call taxation “forced”;
  • “‘Underground Regulations’ Violate the Constitution as Much as Headline-Grabbing Executive Actions” [Ilya Shapiro, earlier on subregulatory guidance]
  • Reminder: if you’re interested in Maryland policy you should be keeping abreast of my blog Free State Notes;
  • Business litigants battle it out, sugar v. corn syrup [L.A. Times]
  • Obama just backed ENDA-on-steroids Equality Act [Washington Post, earlier, Scott Shackford/Reason (bill would cover not only employment but “housing, lending, jury duty, and public accommodations” while “massively expand[ing] what the federal government counts as a public accommodation,” thus turning into federal cases what are currently local disputes like the Arlene’s Flowers case)]

My adventures in redistricting reform

What the reform panel is proposing is about as far removed from party bosses as feasible. …. one thing is clear, the commission is headed in the proper direction.

Baltimore Sun editorial, November 2

Gerrymandering is rife across the country, resulting in artificially drawn districts intended to protect or defeat certain incumbents, maximize one party’s share of power, or achieve other political goals. My own state of Maryland suffers from a famously awful Congressional gerrymander, including the notorious District 3, compared with a “broken-winged pterodactyl” or the blood splatters from a crime scene.

I’ve had a chance to do something about this problem over the past three months as co-chair of the Maryland Redistricting Reform Commission, created by Gov. Larry Hogan in August to gather information and draft recommendations for a new and better way of doing things. Following public hearings, testimony from experts and considerable research, we filed our report with the governor on Tuesday.

Len Lazarick at Maryland Reporter sums up some of the key points. If enacted, our plan would make Maryland the only state in which elected legislators and the governor would no say at all — zero — in deciding who should sit on a line-drawing commission. Our plan follows several elements of California’s ground-breaking plan, including screening of volunteers and randomized pools, simplified and adapted to the circumstances of our smaller state. In addition to requiring congruence with county and city boundaries where possible, contiguity, and compactness, we would join a very few states in instructing the drafters of lines to ignore partisan indicators such as voter registration and past voting results, as well as the place of residence of incumbents or any other person.

Full report here. Some more coverage: Carroll County Times editorial; Naomi Eide, Capital News Service; Josh Hicks, Washington Post; Erin Cox, Baltimore Sun; Fox Baltimore; Jen Fifield, Frederick News-Post (this last quoting me at length, and see also this profile in August).

Schools roundup

  • Bernie Sanders proposals on college finance would not only cost megabucks but homogenize/bureaucratize higher ed [David Fahrenthold, WaPo] While Sen. Sanders “understands that health care and education are the New Commanding Heights”, his colleague Sen. Warren knows how to inquisit-ize them [Arnold Kling]
  • It’s often said that student loans are undischargeable in bankruptcy, truth seems to be a bit more complicated [George Leef]
  • The zombie programs that just won’t die at the Department of Education [Danny Vinik, Politico]
  • If you wonder why the construction costs of a new high school in my area clock $115 million, look to changes in state prevailing wage law [Charles Jenkins, Frederick News-Post]
  • Modest ideas for federal-level education reform: repeal IDEA, English-language-learner mandates [Education Realist]
  • How Title IX came to shape college procedures on sexual assault allegations [Scott Greenfield]
  • British Columbia Supreme Court: not negligent to allow middle schoolers to play variety of tag called “grounders” [Erik Magraken]

Great moments in public employment: correctional officers’ rights

“Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan blamed the state’s largest employee’s union for not being able to remove corrections employees who face charges that range from driving under the influence to assault….Since 2013, more than 200 Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services employees have been charged with crimes that include DUI, assault and having sexual relations with an inmate, yet they remain on the job.” Union officials, however, say the governor is in error, and that it’s state law, rather than AFSCME contract terms, that restrict dismissals. So no problem! [WBAL, auto-plays; earlier on Maryland’s Correctional Officers Bill of Rights law, a younger sibling to its Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR) law for police]

More background on police bill of rights laws, and their origin in the wake of the Kerner commission report on 1960s civil unrest [Scott Greenfield] Veteran police lawyer Herbert Weiner, general counsel to Maryland State FOP Lodge, defends the state’s LEOBR [Al-Jazeera] And commenter Daniel Martin at Popehat on some curious implications of Maryland’s LEOBR, which prohibits investigating cops for some types of misconduct “until the victim, their immediate family, or a direct witness swears out a complaint.”

Yet more: In Pennsylvania, “members of the Fraternal Order of Police are rallying behind legislation to shield the identities of officers who use force.” It’s backed in Harrisburg by Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) and Sen. John Sabatina, D-Philadelphia. [Watchdog] And with respect to our post of the other day, a commenter writes that the city of Tucson’s two-tiered informational release — withholding the names of police in a prostitution investigation while releasing those of civilians — was not done at city authorities’ discretion but in compliance with a newspaper’s public records request, in conjunction with a state law shielding police privacy.

August 26 roundup

  • Government as source of product misinformation [David Henderson notes my City Journal discussion of NY AG Eric Schneiderman’s crusade on herbal supplements]
  • “Under Armour is suing pretty much every company using the name ‘Armor'” [Washington Post]
  • Maryland police unions defend LEOBR (“bill of rights”) tenure laws [my Free State Notes, Ed Krayewski, Scott Greenfield]
  • Someone uses an iPhone to transact Islamic State business; could a court find Apple liable for providing material support for terrorism? [Benjamin Wittes, Zoe Bedell, Lawfare]
  • Maybe green-lighting a union for tax collecting staff wasn’t such a hot idea in the first place [Washington Post]
  • Seventh Circuit: “Appeals court apologizes for literally misplacing case for five years as lawyers wondered what was taking so long” [Jacob Gershman, WSJ Law Blog]
  • For the sake of professional dignity, in future employ authorized methods only: “Italian lawyer steals French tourist’s wallet” [The Local, Italy]

August 19 roundup

  • “Photos of Your Meal Could be Copyright Infringement in Germany” [Petapixel]
  • National Labor Relations Board opts to dodge a fight with college football [Daniel Fisher, Forbes]
  • Governor’s commission charged with recommending new redistricting system in Maryland includes possibly recognizable name [Washington Post, Southern Maryland Newspapers; thanks to Jen Fifield for nice profile at Frederick News-Post]
  • Trial bar’s assault on arbitration falls short: California Supreme Court won’t overturn auto dealers’ standard arbitration clause [Cal Biz Lit]
  • Ontario lawyer on trial after prosecutors say sting operation revealed willingness to draft false refugee application [Windsor Star, more]
  • “Vaping shops say FDA regulation could put them out of business” [L.A. Times, The Hill] Meanwhile: “e-cigarettes safer than smoking, says Public Health England” [Guardian]
  • I was honored to be a panelist last month in NYC at the 15th annual Michael R. Diehl Civil Rights Forum, sponsored by the law firm of Fried, Frank, alongside Prof. Marci Hamilton (Cardozo) and Rose Saxe (ACLU) discussing the intersection of religious accommodation and gay rights [Fried, Frank] Also related to that very current topic, the Southern California Law Review has a symposium on “Religious Accommodation in the Age of Civil Rights” [Paul Horwitz, PrawfsBlawg]

August 5 roundup

  • Makes perfect sense: to make transportation more accessible to its residents, Montgomery County, Maryland orders 20 taxi companies to close down [Washington Post]
  • “New ‘Gainful Employment’ Rule Spells Trouble For For-Profit Law Schools (And Would For 50 Non-Profit Law Schools)” [Caron, TaxProf]
  • “To comply with a twisted interpretation of TCPA, Twitter would have to stop providing certain services altogether.” [Harold Furchtgott-Roth] “New FCC Rules Could Make Polling More Expensive, Less Accurate” [HuffPost Pollster]
  • To draft the unpassable bill: Scott Shackford on the politics and bad policy behind the omnibus LGBT Equality Act [Reason] “So How Can Anyone Be Opposed to Non-Discrimination Laws?” [Coyote] More: Establishment liberalism reluctant to admit it’s changed its thinking on religious accommodation, but that’s what’s happened [Ramesh Ponnuru/Bloomberg View]
  • Update: “Court rejects claim over goat goring in Olympic National Park” [AP, earlier here and here]
  • “I would receive 100 other identical stories [from asylum seekers] with only the names changed.” [The Australian, 2013]
  • “Some protested that DNA testing amounted to a violation of canine privacy because dogs were not capable of consent.” [New York Times on Brooklyn condo dispute via @orinkerr]

Police and prosecution roundup

  • NYC Legal Aid lawyer “represented four defendants in a row who had been arrested for having a foot up on a subway seat” [Gothamist, including report of arrests for “manspreading”]
  • Recommendations would expand federal role: “President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing” [Tim Lynch]
  • Profile of Pat Nolan and momentum of criminal justice reform on the right [Marshall Project] Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan shows how Republicans are experimenting with criminal justice reform [Ovetta Wiggins, Washington Post]
  • “Though we weren’t at any toll plazas, something was reading the E-ZPass tag in our car.” [Mariko Hirose, ACLU on New York monitoring of car transponders, presently for transport management purposes] DEA license plate tracking has been subject to mission creep [L.A. Times editorial via Amy Alkon, earlier]
  • “Texas’s governor signs a bill that will end the ‘key man’ grand jury system, also known as the ‘pick-a-pal’ system.” [Houston Chronicle via @radleybalko, earlier]
  • “There’s little dispute overincarceration is a problem demanding immediate redress. Except when it comes to sex.” [Scott Greenfield]
  • Massachusetts SWAT teams retreat from position that they’re private corporations and needn’t comply with public records laws [Radley Balko, earlier]

Forfeiture roundup

  • How does your state rank on asset forfeiture laws? [Michael Greibok, FreedomWorks via Scott Shackford] Maryland delegate alleges that vetoed bill “would have made it easier for criminals to get their forfeited property back,” seemingly unaware that it focused on rights of owners *not* found guilty of anything [Haven Shoemaker, Carroll County Times] Arizona counties said to have nearly free rein in spending money [Arizona Republic via Coyote]
  • I took part last week in a panel discussion in Washington, D.C. on civil asset forfeiture, sponsored by Right on Crime, and it went very well I thought [Sarah Gompper, FreedomWorks]
  • “Nail Salon Owner Sues For Return Of Life Savings Seized By DEA Agents At Airport” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt] And: “A federal judge has just ordered the government to return $167,000 it took from a man passing through Nevada on his way to visit his girlfriend in California.” [Cushing]
  • “How Philadelphia seizes millions in ‘pocket change’ from some of the city’s poorest residents” [Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post “Wonkblog”]
  • IRS drops structuring forfeiture case against N.C. convenience store owner Lyndon McLellan, will return more than $107,000 it seized [Institute for Justice]
  • Canada, too, has civil forfeiture when there has been no criminal conviction [British Columbia Civil Liberties Association]
  • Michigan testimony: “After they breached the door at gunpoint with masks, they proceeded to take every belonging in my house” [Jacob Sullum]
  • Town of Richland, Mississippi, population 7,000, builds $4.1 million police headquarters with forfeiture money. Thanks, passing motorists! [Steve Wilson, Mississippi Watchdog via Radley Balko]