New CBP Border Device Search Policy Still Permits Unconstitutional Searches | Electronic Frontier Foundation

JANUARY 8, 2018

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a new policy on border searches of electronic devices that’s full of loopholes and vague language and that continues to allow agents to violate travelers’ constitutional rights. Although the new policy contains a few improvements over rules first published nine years ago, overall it doesn’t go nearly far enough to protect the privacy of innocent travelers or to recognize how exceptionally intrusive electronic device searches are.

Nothing announced in the policy changes the fact that these device searches are unconstitutional, and EFF will continue to fight for travelers’ rights in our border search lawsuit.

Below is a legal analysis of some of the key features of the new policy.

Read analysis….

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IRS Advisory Prepaid Real Property Taxes May Be Deductible in 2017 if Assessed and Paid in 2017 | Internal Revenue Service

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IR-2017-210, Dec. 27, 2017

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service advised tax professionals and taxpayers today that pre-paying 2018 state and local real property taxes in 2017 may be tax deductible under certain circumstances.

The IRS has received a number of questions from the tax community concerning the deductibility of prepaid real property taxes. In general, whether a taxpayer is allowed a deduction for the prepayment of state or local real property taxes in 2017 depends on whether the taxpayer makes the payment in 2017 and the real property taxes are assessed prior to 2018.  A prepayment of anticipated real property taxes that have not been assessed prior to 2018 are not deductible in 2017.  State or local law determines whether and when a property tax is assessed, which is generally when the taxpayer becomes liable for the property tax imposed.

The following examples illustrate these points.

No Waiting for This: Here Come the ‘Net Neutrality’ Lawsuits | Law.com

By C. Ryan Barber

Democratic state attorneys general and advocacy groups Thursday said they were gearing up to fight the Federal Communications Commission over its move to scrap the Obama-era net neutrality rules that were adopted to ensure equal access to the web. As protestors outside the FCC pronounced the death of an open internet, the FCC, led by Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, voted on party lines Thursday to repeal so-called net neutrality rules.

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Group Proposes Changes for How NY Courts Deal with ICE Arrests | New York Law Journal

By Josefa Velasquez and Colby Hamilton

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As arrests at courthouses by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers continue, a report released Tuesday by the Fund for Modern Courts suggests New York’s courts should limit their cooperation and assistance with civil immigration law enforcement.

So far this year ICE agents have arrested 52 people while they were in court in New York state, the majority in New York City, Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the Office of Court Administration, told the New York Law Journal Tuesday. This is the first year the state’s court system has tracked ICE activities and arrests in courthouses. Expanded immigration enforcement actions under the Trump administration have resulted in increased arrests at courthouses nationally since the beginning of 2017, the report states.

The 24-page report issued by the justice system reform organization examined the impact of ICE arrests on New Yorkers’ access to state courthouses. It suggested actions that Chief Judge Janet DiFiore should take to mitigate the “negative impact on individuals and the courts resulting from ICE’s actions in courthouses.”

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New Bankruptcy Form, Rules Take Effect | United States Courts

Individuals filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 must use a new form that presents their payment plan in a more uniform and transparent manner, and creditors will have less time to submit a proof of claim, under new bankruptcy rules and form amendments that took effect Dec. 1.

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Regulation and the Local Food Movement | The Regulatory Review

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The local food movement has been booming over the last several years. The number of farmers’ markets across the country has nearly doubled in the last decade, and a recent Pew Research Center poll found that a majority of people in the United States had bought locally grown produce in the previous month. The enormous interest in eating locally has even led to the coinage of a new word: locavore.

Local food production and consumption offer a variety of benefits, which two legal scholars, Patricia Salkin and Amy Lavine, discuss in a recent paper. Because of these purported benefits, Salkin and Lavine argue that local and state governments should follow the example of some of their peers and update their zoning and land use regulations to encourage more local food production.

Salkin and Lavine tout the advantages of “foodsheds”–geographic areas surrounding urban areas that can provide some of the food that city-dwellers consume. For instance, Salkin and Lavine point to potential environmental benefits: Small farms may use fewer chemicals and produce less waste than large industrial farms. And it requires much less fuel to transport produce to a nearby city than it does to transport produce across the country.

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Illinois and New York Pass First Statewide Bans on the Use of Elephants in Entertainment | Animal Legal Defense Fund

Posted by Nicole Pallotta, Academic Outreach Manager on November 17, 2017

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Soon after, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed New York’s SB 2098B, also known as the “Elephant Protection Act,” into law on October 19, 2017. It amends the state’s Agriculture and Markets Law and its Environmental Conservation Law to prohibit the use of elephants in entertainment acts. The New York law does not specifying “traveling” acts but expressly exempts accredited zoos and aquariums. It takes effect in two years.  In contrast to the Illinois law, which makes violation a Class A misdemeanor, the New York law provides a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for each violation because offenses against animals are not part of New York’s Penal Code.

The legislation was drafted by undergraduate students in Pace University’s Environmental Policy Clinic, who also lobbied for its passage and collected student signatures in support of the bill. Several New York chapters of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund submitted letters in support of the bill to Governor Cuomo over the summer.

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