Judge lets some border wall funding claims move forward | Calif. high court won't hear challenge to sanctuary law | Technology limitations create barriers in tax court
April 3, 2020
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Late-Breaking Legal News
Environmental groups can move forward with claims that President Donald Trump's plan to fund the US-Mexico border wall runs afoul of the budget approved by Congress in 2019, Judge Trevor McFadden of the US District Court for the District of Columbia has held. McFadden dismissed challenges to the funding plan's constitutionality and Trump's national emergency declaration for the border, ruling that such "policy decisions are for the political, not judicial, branches to resolve."
Full Story: Bloomberg Law (free content) (4/2),  Politico (4/3) 
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The California Supreme Court will not consider Huntington Beach's appeal of a lower court decision that the city must comply with the California Values Act, which restricts state and local law-enforcement agencies' cooperation in federal immigration enforcement. Huntington Beach had argued that its charter city status allows it to be exempt from the state law.
Full Story: Daily Pilot (Costa Mesa, Calif.) (4/2) 
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Technology limitations create barriers in tax court
Tax attorneys are facing additional technological hurdles, such as an inability to e-file petitions, during the pandemic-related shutdown of the US Tax Court building. The court's closing "accentuates the problems caused by the Tax Court's decision not to make its documents public except through a portal that becomes unavailable when it closes," said T. Keith Fogg, director of Harvard Law School's Federal Tax Clinic.
Full Story: Bloomberg Tax (free content) (4/3) 
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Survey: Time-strapped lawyers' data hygiene can suffer
More than half of employees in the legal sector admit to breaking company policy or knowing of it having been broken, putting clients' data at risk, finds a survey commissioned by Egress Software Technologies, a cybersecurity firm. The time pressures of practicing law and pleasing clients can lead to "bad data hygiene practices," says Alexander Urbelis of Blackstone Law Group.
Full Story: Legaltech News (4/1) 
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Make Your Message Stand Out
Launching a podcast? Live streaming a panel? Reach the audience you want and tell your story your way with the D.C. Bar's new broadcast studio, equipped with the latest in video and audio technology. We'll handle the technical side so you can focus on your content. Book your session today.
Business Practices and Professional Development
Building a law firm's brand platform requires establishing vision, values and a mission statement, writes Mark Homer of GNGF. Homer provides questionnaires for attorneys to assess how to define their firm's brand and how to streamline marketing toward an ideal client or market.
Full Story: Attorney at Work (3/31) 
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Weekly Poll Results
Is technology helping lawyers serve pro bono clients during the coronavirus pandemic?
Yes, significantly
Yes, somewhat
Not sure
Laws, Cases and Regulations
Oakland County, Mich., Circuit Court Judge Leo Bowman ordered two people to be jailed after they arrived late for court appearances in March, leading to objections from the defendants' lawyers amid the coronavirus pandemic. Lawyers said one of the defendants was a 61-year-old man who was vomiting into a wastebasket in court, while the other defendant was a young mother who was 20 minutes tardy because her bus ran late.
Full Story: Detroit Free Press (4/2) 
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Ancient laws may prevent cruise lawsuit success
Lawsuits accuse various cruise lines of not taking appropriate care to ensure the coronavirus wasn't transmitted to passengers. But the Death on the High Seas Act and a law passed nearly two centuries ago might offer little chance the suits will be successful, experts say.
Full Story: USA Today (4/2) 
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US District Judge William Conley has declined to postpone Wisconsin's presidential primary, which is scheduled for Tuesday, although he held that the absentee ballot deadline should be pushed to April 13. Conley recognized the potential for low voter turnout because of the coronavirus pandemic, but wrote that the court's role is only to "help avoid the impingement on citizens' rights to exercise their voting franchise as protected by" the Constitution and federal law.
Full Story: The Hill (4/2) 
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D.C. Bar News
Financial aid and other resources for managing the pandemic
Small law firms in need of financial assistance because of COVID-19 have several resources to rely on. The Small Business Administration's Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides working capital loans of up to $2 million to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue, and advances of up to $10,000 are available. Also, private banks are making loans available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, including non-recourse "paycheck protection loans." Go online for the D.C. Bar's guide to these and other resources.
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Communities to host webinar on hot topics in FOIA litigation
Disputes under the Freedom of Information Act are among the most prolific areas of litigation in Washington, D.C. FOIA litigation touches upon the core principles of good and open governance and affects every government agency. In this April 8 program sponsored by the D.C. Bar Litigation Community, an esteemed panel of practitioners from inside and outside the government will explore recent developments relating to FOIA litigation. The program is only being offered as a webinar.
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