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Trump's personal attorney has dropped a pair of libel suits
Attorney News | 2018/04/19 17:02
President Donald Trump's personal attorney dropped a pair of libel lawsuits against BuzzFeed and investigation firm Fusion GPS amid the stir caused by an FBI search of the lawyer's files.

Michael Cohen had sued in New York City over publication of the unverified dossier detailing alleged ties between Trump and Russia. He dropped the suits late Wednesday amid a separate legal battle over the seizure of documents and electronic files from his home, office and hotel room last week in a federal investigation of possible financial fraud.

The dossier claims that Cohen met with Russian operatives in Europe for a meeting to "clean up the mess" over disclosures of other Trump associates' reported ties to Russia.

Cohen's attorney, David Schwartz, said Thursday the decision to abandon the suits was difficult.

"We believe the defendants defamed my client, and vindicating Mr. Cohen's rights was - and still remains - important," he said in a statement. "But given the events that have unfolded, and the time, attention and resources needed to prosecute these matters, we have dismissed the matters, despite their merits."

In a statement, BuzzFeed called the suit against it meritless.

"Today's news suggests that Donald Trump's personal lawyer no longer thinks an attack on the free press is worth his time," it said.

Fusion GPS said in a statement that it welcomed Cohen's decision.

"With his decision, it appears that Mr. Cohen can now focus on his many other legal travails," it said.


Supreme Court upholds audit law, ending Otto's lawsuit
Attorney News | 2018/04/17 17:02
The Minnesota Supreme Court has upheld a 2015 law limiting State Auditor Rebecca Otto's duties.

Wednesday's unanimous decision ends Otto's years of challenges and mounting legal fees. A district court and the Minnesota Court of Appeals had previously ruled against Otto, triggering her appeal to the Supreme Court.

The legal saga began after the Legislature passed a law allowing more counties to hire private firms for annual financial audits. Otto has argued that law was a constitutional breach of her duties that significantly downgraded the state's oversight of county finances.

But the state's high court disagreed. Wednesday's ruling maintained that the law left the auditor's oversight of those private audits intact. A spokesman for Otto did not immediately return a request for comment.


Dayton appoints Democratic Rep. Thissen to Supreme Court
Attorney News | 2018/04/14 17:03
Gov. Mark Dayton appointed longtime Democratic state Rep. Paul Thissen to the Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday, the latest in a long line of partisans to join the state's highest court.

Thissen is an attorney and Minneapolis lawmaker who has served eight terms in the House — including one as House Speaker and two as its Minority Leader — and had eyes on the governor's office until he suspended his campaign in February. He'll resign from his House seat on Friday and join the court soon after.

He replaces Justice David Stras, who was nominated by Donald Trump to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and recently confirmed. Thissen's addition means Dayton has picked five of the seven members on the state's highest court, and while the court has not been openly partisan, it's a mark that will long outlast the Democratic governor's tenure ending early next year.

The other two members were appointed by former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

"Judicial appointments are one of, if not the most, important appointments I make," Dayton said, noting he had emphasized increasing the diversity throughout state courts during his time in office.

Thissen was one of four finalists on the shortlist to replace Stras that also included Lucinda Jesson, Dayton's former commissioner at the Department of Human Services who he appointed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals in 2016. Minnesota Tax Court Chief Judge Bradford Delapena and District Court Judge Jeffrey Bryan were also in the running.

Dayton and others said Thissen's blend of legal work and political experience made him the perfect choice for the Supreme Court.

"Under the intense pressures of end of session deal-making, he always stood firm on his own principled convictions and to the high standards of proper Minnesota governance," Dayton said.

Neither Dayton nor his predecessors have shied away from party allies when filling seats on the state's highest court. Dayton appointed longtime Democratic attorney David Lillheaug to the court in 2013. Lillehaug helped Dayton during his 2010 recount victory and also worked on former Sen. Al Franken's 2008 recount and other Democratic elections. Pawlenty named both his campaign attorney Christopher Dietzen and Minnesota Republican Party attorney Barry Anderson to the Supreme Court.


Supreme Court rejects appeal from Middle East attack victims
Attorney News | 2018/04/02 21:27
The Supreme Court is rejecting an appeal from American victims of terrorist attacks in the Middle East more than a decade ago.

The justices are not commenting Monday in ending a lawsuit against the PLO and Palestinian Authority in connection with attacks in Israel in 2002 and 2004 that killed 33 people. A lower court tossed out a $654 million verdict against the Palestinians.

The Trump administration sided with the Palestinians in calling on the high court to leave the lower court ruling in place. The federal appeals court in New York said U.S. courts can't consider lawsuits against foreign-based groups over random attacks that were not aimed at the United States.

The victims sued under the Anti-Terrorism Act, passed to open U.S. courts to American victims of international terrorism.




Large Midwest energy project turns to ex-Missouri governor
Attorney News | 2018/03/30 21:28
Stymied by state regulators, a renewable energy company seeking to build one of the nation's longest power lines across a large swath of the Midwest has turned to a prominent politician in an attempt to revive its $2.3 billion project.

Former Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, now working as a private attorney after recently finishing 30 years in public office, is to argue Tuesday to the Missouri Supreme Court that utility regulators he appointed wrongly rejected the power line while relying on an incorrect court ruling written by a judge whom Nixon also appointed.

Should Nixon prevail in court, it could help clear a path for Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partners LLC to build a 780-mile (1,255-kilometer), high-voltage transmission line from the wind farms of western Kansas across Missouri and Illinois to Indiana, where it would feed into a power grid serving eastern states. Missouri had been the lone state blocking the project, until an Illinois appeals court in March also overturned that state's approval.


Courts weighing numerous challenges to political boundaries
Attorney News | 2018/03/22 15:36
The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday on a lawsuit alleging partisan gerrymandering in the drawing of a Maryland congressional district. Eight years after the 2010 Census provided the basis for legislative redistricting, several other cases alleging unconstitutional gerrymandering in various states also are still working their way through the court system.

In Pennsylvania, a recent court ruling reshaped congressional districts for this year's elections. But many of the other cases could have a greater impact in the years to come. That's because they could set precedents that states must follow during the next round of redistricting after the 2020 Census.

Here's a look at some key redistricting cases ruled upon recently or still pending in courts: A federal court in November 2016 struck down Wisconsin's state Assembly districts enacted in 2011 by the Republican-led Legislature and Republican governor as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander in violation of Democratic voters' rights to representation. The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in October 2017 and has yet to rule in the case. It could set a precedent for whether and how courts can determine if partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional.


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