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 ​​​​​​​​​​​The Latest Legal News & Industry Information

Protests in Washington Continue
Over Supreme Court Abortion Ruling

     Words of concern and anger continued this week among the Washington area’s political and civic leaders about the Supreme Court ruling last week that overturned a constitutional right to abortion.
     Leading the outrage was Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, who said in a message to constituents, “We are not going back and we are not backing down.”
     She also said, “I want to be clear: abortion remains legal in Washington, D.C. We stand with the majority of Americans who believe that a woman should have autonomy over her own body.”
     In deciding to uphold a Mississippi abortion ban, the Supreme Court also authorized severe restrictions by states nationwide.
     Thirteen states plan complete abortion bans. Thirteen others said they would place strict limits on them.
     The Supreme Court said Mississippi was acting within its states’ rights to ban most abortions after 15 weeks. Until now, women’s right to abortion was protected as a Fourth Amendment right of privacy and by Fourteenth Amendment due process. 
     Rep. Eleanor Holmes-Norton, the District’s Democratic delegate to Congress, said the abortion ruling demonstrates the need for Washington to be granted statehood rather than making local residents dependent on decisions of the federal government.
     “Republicans have repeatedly used D.C. to try to impose policies they cannot or do not have the support to impose nationally,” Holmes-Norton said in a statement.
     She agreed with President Joe Biden that Congress should approve a federal law guaranteeing a woman’s right to abortion to override the Supreme Court.
     In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) put out a statement saying, “In 1992, Maryland voters approved a constitutional referendum legalizing and protecting access to abortion as a matter of state law -- that measure remains in effect today following the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson. I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of Maryland, and that is what I have always done and will continue to do as governor."
     The story was different in Virginia, where Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) called for a new state law modeled on the Mississippi statute that led to the Supreme Court ruling.
     Youngkin asked four anti-abortion Republicans in the General Assembly to write a statute that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It would grant exceptions for rape, incest and cases where the life of the mother is at risk.
     For more information, contact The Legal Forum (www.legal-forum.net) at email: tramstack@gmail.com or phone: 202-479-7240.

Supreme Court’s Gun Ruling
Conflicts with Maryland Law

     The Supreme Court’s ruling last week expanding rights of private citizens to carry concealed handguns is likely to upend very different laws in Maryland and seven other states.
     “[T]he Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion.
     The ruling struck down a New York law requiring gun owners to show “proper cause” for carrying a concealed gun. Proper cause normally refers to a life-threatening situation.
     The Supreme Court decision said the law’s requirement “is demanding,” which is not required by the Second Amendment.
     Forty-two states and Washington, D.C., are “shall issue” jurisdictions, which means applicants for gun ownership do not need to show a special need before winning local government permits.
     Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler (D) said the Supreme Court ruling makes it inevitable the Maryland gun law will be overturned in a court challenge. But he added that state lawmakers still would be able to place reasonable restrictions on gun ownership, such as excluding persons with criminal records, mental health issues or histories of domestic violence.
     President Joe Biden and New York Mayor Eric Adams said they were disappointed with the decision. They predicted it would lead to more unnecessary shootings.
     The Supreme Court announced the decision while the United States confronts an upsurge in high-profile mass shootings, such as at a grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y., and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
     The District of Columbia has tried unsuccessfully to ban nearly all private gun ownership but the Supreme Court struck down the local laws, such as in the 2008 case of District of Columbia v. Heller.
     A day after the ruling last week, Congress approved a law that would diminish some of the expansive gun rights the Supreme Court granted. 
     Called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, it enhances background checks for gun buyers under 21 years old and provides billions of dollars for mental health services and to protect schools. It also closes the "boyfriend loophole" by prohibiting convicted domestic abusers from purchasing firearms for five years.
     Other provisions stiffen the penalties for unauthorized gun trafficking and appropriate $750 million in grants for states to develop crisis intervention programs.
     The Supreme Court case is New York State Rifle & Pistol Assoc. v. Bruen.
     For more information, contact The Legal Forum (www.legal-forum.net) at email: tramstack@gmail.com or phone: 202-479-7240.

Justice Dept. Suspects Trump Supporter
Of Influencing Jan. 6 Riot Prosecutions

     The Justice Department is asking a federal judge to investigate whether former Trump attorney Sidney Powell is contributing funds to the legal defense of the right ring extremist Oath Keepers accused of raiding the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
     The Justice Department says any funding from Powell's nonprofit organization, called Defending the Republic, could create a conflict of interest for defense attorneys.
     Media reports suggest Powell raised millions of dollars by spreading conspiracy theories about the 2020 election while asking for donations from supporters of the former president.
     The Justice Department's court filing last week in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is another example of the rift between Donald Trump and federal prosecutors that started while he still was president.
     Hundreds of them threatened to resign if he required them to use legal action to continue his voter fraud allegations, according to congressional testimony this week from Justice Department officials testifying about Trump’s role in the insurrection.
     In their court filing this week, prosecutors wrote that they wanted federal court oversight “in the process of addressing a potential conflict before it undermines a proceeding and a defendant’s right to competent and conflict-free representation.”
     Four defendants accused of obstructing the official business of Congress through the insurrection took funds from Powell’s organization, according to media reports that started with BuzzFeed and Mother Jones.
     They include Oath Keeper founder Stewart Rhodes. He and two others are charged with seditious conspiracy against the United States.
     The Justice Department prosecutors said they wanted to ensure defense attorneys complied with legal ethics rules that bar them from taking funding from outside sources unless the clients give consent. The rules also forbid the attorneys from sharing confidential client information.
     The prosecutors’ court filing says the judge should make sure Powell’s organization is creating “no interference with the lawyer’s independence ... or with the client-lawyer relationship.”
     Prosecutors were concerned Powell was discouraging the defendants from accepting plea bargains that might result in reduced sentences for them. Four defendants charged with conspiracy already accepted plea deals that required them to cooperate with the government.
     At least 865 accused insurrectionists have been charged with a variety of crimes. Many have accepted plea bargains.
     For more information, contact The Legal Forum (www.legal-forum.net) at email: tramstack@gmail.com or phone: 202-479-7240.

Ketanji Brown Jackson Becomes
Supreme Court’s First Black Woman

     Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in Thursday as an associate justice of the Supreme Court on the same day Justice Stephen Breyer's retirement took effect.
     Jackson, 51, is the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.
     "I am truly grateful to be part of the promise of our great nation," Jackson said in a statement after the swearing-in ceremony.
     She also is the Supreme Court’s first former public defender, a job she held before becoming a federal trial judge in Washington and serving on the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
     Some Republicans during her confirmation hearing in Congress three months ago criticized her as being soft on crime. Her supporters said she distinguished herself for her even temperament, scholarly opinions and adherence to the letter of the law.
     Chief Justice John Roberts administered one oath of office to Jackson while Breyer administered the second, thereby ending his 28-year-term on the Supreme Court. She clerked for Breyer more than 20 years ago while she was a law student at Harvard University.
     "I am pleased to welcome Justice Jackson to the court and to our common calling," Roberts said. 
     As a liberal, Jackson is in a 6-to-3 minority at a time of intense criticism of the conservative majority. She is headed into another session in the fall expected to be fraught with controversial decisions.
     For more information, contact The Legal Forum (www.legal-forum.net) at email: tramstack@gmail.com or phone: 202-479-7240.

Trump Advisor Navarro Arraigned,
Denied Continuance for Book Tour

     Former Trump administration trade advisor Peter Navarro is scheduled for trial Nov. 17 despite his attempt to delay it to April.
     A D.C. federal judge ruled last month that the public interest takes precedence over Navarro’s concern that his planned book tour would create a schedule conflict in November.
    Navarro is charged with contempt of Congress after refusing to testify to the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. He argued the executive privilege of the presidency made him exempt from the committee’s subpoena.
     Navarro asked for a continuance during his arraignment, where he pleaded not guilty.
     His attorney said Navarro plans to release a book in September about post-Trump White House politics. His promotional tour is set to begin in August and run through the rest of the year.
     "He's going to be on the road a lot to promote that book, which is important to him for his income" and "livelihood," attorney John Irving said at the arraignment. The promotional tour is likely to "distract him" from helping his lawyers prepare for trial, he added.
     U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta responded, "I just don't think it's in the public interest to wait until April."
     The House committee subpoenaed Navarro to ask about evidence Trump and his supporters might have incited the insurrection at the Capitol.
     Navarro led a hardline trade policy against China while he was in the Trump administration. He also echoed Trump’s belief of a conspiracy to steal the 2020 election through voter fraud.
     He is the second Trump advisor to be indicted for contempt of Congress. Political strategist Steve Bannon also refused to comply with a subpoena.
     If convicted, both men face the possibility of at least 30 days and a maximum of one year in jail for each count, as well as fines as high as $1,000.
     The case is USA v. Navarro, case number 1:22-cr-00200, in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
     For more information, contact The Legal Forum (www.legal-forum.net) at email: tramstack@gmail.com or phone: 202-479-7240.