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Democrats Claim Victory In Wisconsin's Supreme Court Race
Legal Marketing News | 2018/04/05 21:25
In Wisconsin Tuesday, Milwaukee County Judge Rebecca Dallet won a seat on the state Supreme Court, riding a wave of Democratic enthusiasm to victory in this (officially) nonpartisan election.

The race drew national attention, mostly from big-name Democrats from around the country who saw it as an opportunity build momentum before the general election in November.

Dallet won the seat over her opponent, Judge Michael Screnock from Sauk County, Wisc., a former conservative-activist turned lawyer.

"I think my message resonated with Wisconsinites," Dallet told supporters in Milwaukee Tuesday night. "People are tired of special interests ruling and wanted to speak up."

With the win, she will replace outgoing conservative Justice Michael Gableman, bringing the court's 5-2 conservative majority down to 4-3.

While the state's Supreme Court seats are non-partisan, candidates have long found ways to send hints about their political leanings, but this year's race was overtly partisan.

Dallet's first TV ad featured grainy black and white footage of President Donald Trump, warning voters that their values were under attack.

Her endorsements came from former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, former Vice President Joe Biden and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

Holder's National Democratic Redistricting Committee ran ads on Dallet's behalf, and he campaigned for her last month during stops in Wisconsin. In a statement Tuesday night, Holder said, "Today, the voters of Wisconsin took a critical first step toward a state government that better reflects their needs and interests."

Screnock, meanwhile, argued Dallet's overtures to Democrats showed she would be an "activist" on the court, but Screnock himself received $300,000 from the Republican Party of Wisconsin, the most a political party has ever spent on a Supreme Court candidate in the state's history.



Liberal Dallet easily takes Wisconsin Supreme Court race
Legal Marketing News | 2018/04/03 21:27
Rebecca Dallet, a liberal Milwaukee judge, easily defeated conservative Michael Screnock on Tuesday in the race for Wisconsin Supreme Court, fueling optimism among Democrats for more victories in the fall midterms.

The win in the first statewide general election in the country this year forced Gov. Scott Walker, who endorsed Screnock, to warn his fellow Republicans.

"Tonight's results show we are at risk of a #BlueWave in WI," Walker, who is up for re-election in November, tweeted. "Big government special interests flooded Wisconsin with distorted facts & misinformation. Next, they'll target me and work to undo our bold reforms."

Although the race was viewed by some as a bellwether, results of past Supreme Court elections have not consistently proven to be predictive of what will happen in November. President Donald Trump won the state by less than 1 percentage point in 2016, while Dallet thumped Screnock by double digits.

She won by a nearly 12-point margin with 87 percent of precincts reporting, based on unofficial results.

The race for a 10-year seat was nonpartisan in name only, with millions in ad spending and public endorsements from the likes of Joe Biden, Eric Holder and the National Rifle Association.

Dallet said her victory, which Democrats quickly seized on as another sign of momentum, was a rejection of special interest influence on Wisconsin's Supreme Court.

"The candidate with the most experience in our courts and standing up for the fairness of our courts won," she said. "I think people are tired of what's been going on in our state in terms of the money coming in to buy these elections and people spoke out tonight."

Screnock said he was proud of his campaign, in the face of "tremendous outside influence from liberal special interest groups that were willing to say and spend anything to elect their preferred candidate to the bench."

Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairwoman Martha Laning said the win was a warning shot to Walker, calling it a "huge loss" for him because his "endorsement, philosophy and politics were on the ballot."

One of the Democratic challengers to Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, immediately tried to raise money off the Dallet win. Randy Bryce called the Dallet win "a rallying cry for working folks."

Screnock, a Sauk County circuit judge, was endorsed by Walker and backed by about $400,000 from the state GOP.



Delay in Nevada gun buyer law draws protests at court debate
Legal Marketing News | 2018/02/24 22:48
A lawyer seeking a court order to enforce a Nevada gun buyer screening law that has not been enacted despite voter approval in November 2016 blamed the state's Republican governor and attorney general on Friday for stalling the law.

"For either personal or political reasons," attorney Mark Ferrario told a state court judge in Las Vegas, Gov. Brian Sandoval and GOP state Attorney General Adam Laxalt "chose to stand back and really do nothing."

Nevada Solicitor General Lawrence Van Dyke countered that the law was fatally flawed as written because it requires Nevada to have the FBI expend federal resources to enforce a state law.

"State officials here have not tried to avoid implementing the law," Van Dyke said. "They have negotiated (and) talked with the FBI, and the FBI said no, four times."

Clark County District Court Judge Joe Hardy Jr. made no immediate ruling after more than 90 minutes of arguments on an issue that drew about 25 sign-toting advocates outside the courthouse calling for enactment of the measure.

"The people have spoken," said protest speaker Peter Guzman, president of the Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce. "To deny that voice is to deny democracy."

Some speakers, including Democratic state Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui, cited the slayings of 58 people by a gunman firing assault-style weapons from a high-rise casino shot into an concert crowd on the Las Vegas Strip last Oct. 1. Jauregui was at the concert.

Others pointed to gun-control measures being debated nationally following a shooting that killed 17 people last week at a school in Parkland, Florida.

In the courtroom, Ferrario referred to what he called a "movement toward increasing gun checks," while the Nevada law has stalled.

"This loophole that the citizens wanted to close remains open because the governor has failed to take appropriate action," the plaintiffs' attorney said.

Sandoval spokeswoman Mari St. Martin dismissed the accusations as "political posturing." She said the initiative specifically prohibits the state Department of Public Safety from handling background checks, leaving "no clear path forward" to enactment.


Specialist prosecutor for Kosovo court standing down
Legal Marketing News | 2018/02/13 12:24
The American prosecutor working to bring to justice former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army accused of crimes against ethnic Serbs in Kosovo's war for independence is stepping down at the end of next month.

Specialist Prosecutor David Schwendiman issued a statement Thursday, saying he will leave the post at the end of March because his three-year term as a U.S. State Department foreign service officer is coming to an end and cannot be extended. -

Schwendiman says he issued the statement to make clear he was not resigning or being fired from his post.

His investigations aim to indict suspects who would then be put on trial at the Hague-based court known as the Kosovo Specialist Chambers. Schwendiman has not yet issued any indictments.


Court allows Pennsylvania to redraw GOP-favored district map
Legal Marketing News | 2018/02/05 23:34
Justice Samuel Alito, who handles emergency appeals from Pennsylvania, rejected the request from GOP legislative leaders and voters to put on hold an order from the state Supreme Court intended to produce new congressional districts in the coming two weeks.

The Pennsylvania high court ruled last month that the current map of 18 districts violates the state constitution because it unfairly benefits Republicans.

The decision comes just four days before the Republican-controlled Legislature's deadline for submitting a replacement map for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to consider. So far, there has been a notable lack of bipartisan movement on getting such a deal.

Pennsylvania's congressional delegation has been 13-5 in favor of Republicans during the three election cycles since the GOP-drawn 2011 map took effect, and experts have said those 13 seats are several more than would have been produced by a nonpartisan map.

Democrats have about 800,000 more registered voters than Republicans and hold all three elected statewide row offices, but Republicans enjoy solid majorities in both chambers of the Legislature.

Under the process laid out two weeks ago by four of the seven Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices, all Democrats, the Legislature has until Friday to approve a new map, after which Wolf will have until Feb. 15 to decide whether to endorse it and submit it to the justices.

Senate Republican Leader Jake Corman said Monday he's had "zero" discussions with Wolf and legislative leaders about new district boundaries and could not guarantee he will meet the deadline.

The state Supreme Court said it expects new districts to be in place by Feb. 19, and the new map is expected to be in play for the May 15 congressional primaries.


Florida and Georgia taking water fight to Supreme Court
Legal Marketing News | 2017/12/22 10:07
Reminders of the oyster's pre-eminence in this slice of northwestern Florida are everywhere, from the shells that line the edges of downtown buildings to the paintings of oysters that dot the walls of Apalachicola's art and history museum.

It's the oysters themselves that are harder to find these days, and Florida is hoping the Supreme Court can help fix that. The high court hears arguments Monday in the long-running dispute between Florida and neighboring Georgia over the flow of water in the Apalachicola River, which runs from the state line to Apalachicola Bay and the nearby Gulf of Mexico.

Florida sued Georgia in the Supreme Court in 2013, blaming farmers and booming metro Atlanta for low river flows that harmed the environment and fisheries dependent on fresh water entering the area. Florida portrays the case as its last chance to "stem Georgia's inequitable consumption" of water from the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers in Georgia, leaving too little by the time the rivers come together and pass into Florida.

"It is effectively strangling the Apalachicola Region and killing or threatening its animal and plant life," Florida said in its Supreme Court brief. Although the justices usually hear appeals, lawsuits between states start in the Supreme Court.

Georgia said Florida has failed to show that it would benefit from any cuts imposed on Georgia, pointing to the conclusion of a court-appointed special master who recommended that the justices side with Georgia. Georgia also said Florida is asking for unreasonable reductions that would "threaten the water supply of 5 million people in metropolitan Atlanta and risk crippling a multibillion-dollar agricultural sector in southwest Georgia."

Complicating the issue is the absence from the lawsuit of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages dams on the Chattahoochee River.



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