Attacks on secret informants spur federal courts to consider limiting PACER access–ABA Journal

The federal judiciary is considering blocking public online access to criminal court records on PACER to prevent inmates from learning information about confidential informants.

The idea is one of several under consideration as the U.S. Judicial Conference considers the impact of disclosure, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports.
A recent survey (PDF) of federal judges, prosecutors, defenders and probation offices by the Federal Judicial Center found that nearly 700 witnesses and informants perceived as snitches had been threatened, wounded or killed over a three year period.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan of Manhattan told the U.S. Judicial Conference’s criminal rules committee in April that PACER is part of the problem, according to the Wall Street Journal account. Though federal inmates don’t have PACER access, they often get information from others.

“Anonymous remote public access to PACER is a source of much of the information that gets into prisons about who is cooperating,” Kaplan said.

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IRS Warns of New Phone Scam Involving Bogus Certified Letters; Reminds People to Remain Vigilant Against Scams, Schemes this Summer

New Phone Scam Involves Bogus Certified Letters

Beware of a new scam linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), in which fraudsters call to demand an immediate tax payment through a prepaid debit card. This scam is being reported across the country.

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The Internal Revenue Service today warned people to beware of a new scam linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), where fraudsters call to demand an immediate tax payment through a prepaid debit card. This scam is being reported across the country, so taxpayers should be alert to the details.

In the latest twist, the scammer claims to be from the IRS and tells the victim about two certified letters purportedly sent to the taxpayer in the mail but returned as undeliverable. The scam artist then threatens arrest if a payment is not made through a prepaid debit card. The scammer also tells the victim that the card is linked to the EFTPS system when, in fact, it is entirely controlled by the scammer. The victim is also warned not to contact their tax preparer, an attorney or their local IRS office until after the tax payment is made.

“This is a new twist to an old scam,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Just because tax season is over, scams and schemes do not take the summer off. People should stay vigilant against IRS impersonation scams. People should remember that the first contact they receive from IRS will not be through a random, threatening phone call.”

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Legal History Blog

A team of legal scholars from a range of backgrounds author the Legal History Blog, a resource that will be of interest to historians, lawyers, law librarians, and anyone else interested in how U.S. law has been interpreted over the years. Updated almost daily, this blog offers scholars and general readers a way to stay abreast of the field of legal history. Entries include updates about new journal articles, books, and conferences of interest. One notable highlight of this blog is the Sunday Book Review Roundup, which provides an overview of new book reviews from The New York Times Book ReviewThe Washington PostThe LA Review of Books, and other periodicals. Visitors can browse previously published entries by subject labels, including Business History, Congressional Law, Originalism and the Founding Period, and Voting Rights, to name just a few. [MMB]
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Governor Chooses Feinman to Fill Court of Appeals Vacancy | New York Law Journal

Josefa Velasquez and Rebecca Baker, New York Law Journal

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday afternoon announced that he would nominate Justice Paul Feinman to the State Court of Appeals seat left vacant by the death of Sheila Abdus-Salaam.

In an interview on NY1, the Democratic governor called Feinman “an extraordinary human being and will be a great addition on that court.”

If confirmed by the State Senate, Feinman would become the first openly gay judge to serve on the state’s highest court.

Read more…

Animal Legal Defense Fund Case for 57-Year-Old Elephant Heads to Trial | Animal Legal Defense Fund

Federal Judge Xavier Rodriguez denied key parts of the San Antonio Zoo’s motion for summary judgement, holding that the Animal Legal Defense Fund had provided sufficient facts demonstrating the zoo may be violating the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by holding an endangered elephant, Lucky, in conditions that injure her both physically and psychologically. The zoo must now defend its treatment of Lucky in a full trial, currently scheduled to begin on Oct. 2, 2017.

The ruling, released Friday, June 9, also strongly rejected the zoo’s legal argument that its purported compliance with the Animal Welfare Act shields it from liability under the ESA. This is a significant legal ruling that has broad application to any endangered species in captivity, including Lolita the orca, whose captivity at the Miami Seaquarium in a shockingly tiny tank has been the subject of litigation for years.

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NYSBA | Service Animals Guide

People with disabilities may rely on dogs and other service animals to assist them at their homes and workplaces, schools, retail stores, restaurants, theaters and when traveling. However, there has been confusion both for those who use service animals and those who must accommodate them. The New York City Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association have released this guide jointly to help clarify the legal rights and obligations involving the use of service animals in the state. The associations encourage the downloading, copying and distribution of the Guide throughout the state.

U.S. Top Court Won’t Expand Debt-Collection Abuse Law in Santander Case – The New York Times

By REUTERS

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to widen the reach of a federal law targeting abusive debt-collection tactics such as harassment and threats, ruling it does not cover companies that buy debt, sometimes for pennies on the dollar, and then collect it.

The justices, in a 9-0 ruling, upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a proposed consumer class action lawsuit against Santander Consumer USA Holdings Inc over allegations it violated a law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

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HENSON v. SANTANDER CONSUMER USA INC. ( ) 

817 F. 3d 131, affirmed.

Syllabus

Opinion

[Gorsuch]