Site Map - Legal Issues

Officer Guilty of Negligence for Shooting Unarmed Man

- A police officer is guilty of gross negligence after shooting an unarmed man who was being arrested for failure to pay child support. The officer, who claimed that he intended to draw his Taser, violated the law when he neglected to verify that he had mistakenly drawn his gun, according to a federal appeals court. The officer’s actions, ruled the court, were objectively unreasonable.

Domestic Spying

- A federal appeals court has ruled that the plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of the government’s domestic spying law do have standing to pursue their case. The plaintiffs, including Amnesty International as well as journalists, international aid groups, labor organizations, and attorneys, argued that the amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) violate the U.S. Constitution. The appellate court overturned a lower court’s decision—that the plaintiffs had no grounds to sue because they had no evidence that they had been harmed by the law.

Some Countries Fight Organized Crime with a Tool Called Unexplained Wealth Orders

- Unexplained wealth orders (UWO) have been successful at helping Ireland combat organized crime, experts said at a panel exploring ways to counter transnational organized crime at the National Institute of Justice 2011 Conference today.

Legal Report

- Courts issue rulings on discrimination, the release of sensitive data, and protected speech while Congress considers bills on trespassing, airport screening, and terrorism.

Elsewhere in the Courts: Privacy

- The Illinois Court of Appeals has ruled that a public school and a printing company had no duty to safeguard the personal information of school employees and complied with data breach laws. In the case, the school contracted with the printing company to send a notice to former school employees. The employees were erroneously sent a list containing the names, addresses, Social Security numbers, marital status, medical and dental insurers, and insurance plan information for all of the employees. The school sent a letter to the employees asking them to return the list or destroy it. The school also offered the employees one year of credit protection. The employees sued, but the court dismissed the lawsuit, finding that the school and printing company were not guilty of negligence because they had no legal duty to protect the information except under data breach laws, which they complied with.


- A U.S. appeals court upheld the conviction of a U.S. citizen and licensed physician who had sworn an oath of allegiance to al Qaeda and promised to treat wounded members in Saudi Arabia. Rafiq Sabir had appealed the decision, arguing that the law was unconstitutionally broad and violated his right to practice medicine. The court noted that the U.S. Constitution does not protect a person’s right to practice medicine.

Legal Report

- A company's media policy is overbroad, and a police officer is not liable for a recordkeeping error, according to the courts. Lawmakers consider chemical facility security, corporate crime, and airport screening.

Elsewhere in the Courts: Background Checks

- A decision by a federal appeals court clarifies that a private employer may consider an applicant’s bankruptcy filings in hiring decisions. The plaintiff, who was not hired for a job because he had filed for bankruptcy seven years earlier, sued his prospective employers, claiming they had violated a federal law that prohibits the government from making hiring decisions based on bankruptcy status. The court noted that the private sector is not bound by the law.

U.S. Judicial Decisions: Background Screening

- The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a background screening program used by a government agency does not violate employee privacy rights. In the case, 28 employees of the California Institute of Technology, under contract to do work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), claim that the government’s screening policy is too intrusive. The policy was implemented in 2004 under a government homeland security directive.


- An employee’s e-mails to her attorney are not privileged because she sent them over the company’s e-mail system, a California appellate court has ruled (.pdf). The employee had no expectation of privacy, ruled the court, because the company had clearly noted that e-mails were not private and could be inspected at any time.

Plaintiffs May Sue the Government Over Warrantless Spying

- A federal appeals court has ruled that the plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of the government’s warrantless wiretapping law do have standing to pursue their case.

Supreme Court Rules that Employer Discriminated Against Reservist Employee

- The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that an employer is liable for discrimination against an employee who was also a member of the U.S. Army Reserves. The Court ruled that even though the person who fired the reservist had no discriminatory motives, she relied on information from those who did.


- The Supreme Court of Texas has ruled that the state may withhold the birth dates of employees. In the case, reporters from The Dallas Morning News sued the state when it refused to release employee birth dates, citing a rise in identity theft and a need to protect employee privacy. The newspaper argued that other courts have ruled that the birth dates of state employees are public records.

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