January 15, 2021
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Late-Breaking Legal News
The execution of federal inmate Corey Johnson, who was convicted of killing seven people in Richmond, Va., in 1992, was carried out Thursday night after the US Supreme Court declined to issue a stay based on intellectual disability claims and the fact that Johnson had contracted COVID-19 in recent weeks. Dustin Higgs, another federal inmate who has contracted COVID-19, is scheduled to be executed today.
Full Story: Richmond Times-Dispatch (Va.) (1/15),  CNN (1/15) 
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Report: DOJ was aware of family-separation risk at border
Sessions (Michael DeMocker/Getty Images)
A Justice Department inspector general's report says former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was aware in 2018 that a policy focused on increasing immigration prosecutions would result in children being separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border. The report says Sessions underestimated the complexities of the "zero tolerance" policy and that Justice Department officials did not coordinate adequately with the US Marshals Service and other agencies regarding the policy.
Full Story: National Public Radio (1/14) 
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The US Supreme Court has ruled 8-0 that Chicago is not breaking the law by retaining debtors' property as the city continues to impound vehicles after their owners have filed for bankruptcy. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that bankruptcy courts "are not powerless" to develop arrangements for vehicles to be released so that their owners can commute to work and repay their debts.
Full Story: Chicago Sun-Times (tiered subscription model) (1/14) 
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Technology
US District Judge James Donato has indicated that he will approve a $650 million settlement of allegations that Facebook violated an Illinois privacy law through facial-recognition technology used for the company's "Photo Tag Suggest" feature. Plaintiffs argue that Facebook collected and stored facial-recognition data in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act of 2008.
Full Story: Courthouse News Service (1/14),  Law (tiered subscription model) (1/15) 
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The advocate general of the European Court of Justice said complaints of General Data Protection Regulation violations can be investigated by any EU state, not only one in which a company has based its EU presence. If affirmed, the opinion will "give equal right to any of the 27 data protection commissioners across Europe to take action for a breach of the rules," said Cillian Kieran of Ethyca, a privacy company.
Full Story: CNBC (1/14) 
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Business Practices and Professional Development
Kanban, a visual method of agile legal project management, can help firms improve their flexibility and speed in managing legal projects, and starting is as simple as organizing tasks on a board, technology strategist Don Philmlee writes. Philmlee suggests separating work into three columns -- pending, in progress and completed -- and using sticky notes to create a visual representation of workflow.
Full Story: Thomson Reuters (1/14) 
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Weekly Poll Results
How likely is national data privacy legislation to emerge in the near future?
Highly likely
 30.77%
Somewhat likely
 50.77%
Unlikely
 15.39%
Not sure
 3.07%
Laws, Cases and Regulations
Employers must retroactively apply the "ABC test" designed to assess whether California workers should be classified as independent contractors or employees, the state Supreme Court has held. The challenge centered on a state high court decision from 2018 that established the test's criteria, which were established as state law last year.
Full Story: MarketWatch (tiered subscription model) (1/14),  San Francisco Chronicle (tiered subscription model) (1/14) 
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The Navajo Nation will receive $10 million from a unit of Canada's Kinross Gold to resolve a lawsuit over a toxic spill that occurred when a crew was preparing for a potential mine cleanup and contaminated rivers in three Western states. Meanwhile, New Mexico has arrived at an $11 million settlement for costs stemming from the spill.
Full Story: The Associated Press (1/14) 
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D.C. Bar News
Join the Bar for an investment management year in review
(iStock)
On Jan. 21 the D.C. Bar Corporation, Finance and Securities Law Community will host a webcast covering regulatory changes and other developments in investment management during 2020. Experienced practitioners, in-house counsel and former regulators will focus on funds and investment advisers, with a discussion of final Securities and Exchange Commission rules and risk alerts. Panelists will also discuss what to expect in 2021. The second part of the webinar, to be held Feb. 1, will cover broker-dealer developments.
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Embrace technology to thrive in the new normal
(iStock)
The impacts of COVID-19 have forced law firms to reconsider how they work, interact and profit. Although some changes to business practices were inevitable and already on the horizon, the need to adjust so quickly was unexpected. Implementing useful technology is what will allow firms to survive and thrive. In the January/February issue of Washington Lawyer, the D.C. Bar's practice management advisors detail three things to consider to keep your firm running smoothly.
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Editor's Note
SmartBrief will not publish Monday
In observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the US, SmartBrief will not publish Monday. Publication will resume Tuesday.
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Connect deeply with others. Our humanity is the one thing that we all have in common.
Melinda Gates,
philanthropist, advocate for women and girls
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