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Research Shows DNA Evidence Can Be Faked

- They say there's nothing certain in life but death and taxes. Still, when it comes to prosecuting a criminal case or defending against it, it seemed that DNA evidence was hard to challenge. Now, a team of Israeli researchers shows why we can't be so certain of that either.

Drug Testing

- A federal appeals court has ruled that new regulations requiring that certain urine drug tests be performed under direct observation are justified and constitutional.

Privacy

- A federal appeals court has ruled that to recover compensatory damages under a law protecting stored electronic communications, plaintiffs must prove that they suffered actual harm. In the case, the court ruled that a plaintiff whose employer accessed her private e-mail account cannot recover compensatory damages even though the employer violated the law.

Terrorism Precursors

- The federal government has issued revised guidelines for suspicious activity reporting for law enforcement to help prevent discrimination and protect First Amendment rights.

The Constitution and 9/11: Recurring Threats to America's Freedoms

- The Constitution and 9-11 argues that the Bush administration's response to 9-11 has damaged America's constitutionally protected rights and culture, much like earlier periods in U.S. history.

Animal Extremist Terrorism Law "Legally Vulnerable," Judge Says

- A federal judge yesterday said that a new law to protect businesses from animal rights extremists "may be legally vulnerable," during a hearing for the first four defendants charged with breaking the law, reports The Mercury News.

Legal Report

- Court rulings on negligent hiring, religious discrimination, and trade secrets; plus legislation on whistleblowers, bioterrorism, and cybersecurity.

Elsewhere in the Courts: Discrimination

- In an agreement with the EEOC, YRC Inc. will take steps to enhance diversity to end an investigation into sexual discrimination in its hiring practices. Without admitting wrongdoing, the trucking company agreed to improve its work environment for women and minorities, provide new diversity training for managers, enhance recruiting of women and minorities, and develop new programs to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry.

Negligent Hiring

- In a California decision, an appeals court has ruled that a company cannot be held responsible for the actions of a former employee. In the case, a man who became romantically involved with a client shot and killed her two years after he was fired from his job.

Elsewhere in the Courts: Religious Discrimination

- A federal appeals court has found that a city’s requirement that firefighters be clean-shaven violates the religious rights of employees. The court upheld a summary judgment in favor of the firefighters, ruling that the city could not prove that beards presented a safety issue when using firefighting equipment. (Potter v. District of Columbia, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, No. 07-7163, 2009)

Elsewhere in the Courts: Discrimination

- A federal appeals court has ruled that a security guard who was terminated after he failed a hearing test has no standing to sue his employer for discrimination. The security officer, who wore a hearing aid, was assigned to guard a federal building. Under federal law, guards must have adequate hearing without the use of a hearing aid. The court determined that the policy was consistent with business necessity given “the tremendous harm that could result if a security officer could not perform the essential functions of his job at any given moment.” (Allmond v. Akal Security Inc., U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, No. 07-15561, 2009)

State Legislation: Massachusetts: Identity Theft

- New regulations implemented in Massachusetts require that companies encrypt documents sent over the Internet or saved on laptops or flash drives. Data transmitted wirelessly must also be protected and firewalls must be up to date. Companies were required to meet most of the regulations last month but the deadline for some items has been extended. For example, all data stored on laptops must be encrypted now but the requirement to encrypt data on other portable devices has been delayed until January 1, 2010.

Online Privacy

- The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to consider the final appeal from the federal government over the constitutionality of the Child Online Protection Act of 1998. The law made it illegal to distribute any material deemed harmful to minors via the Internet. A federal appeals court recently ruled that the law was unconstitutional because it made all Internet service providers liable under the most conservative community’s standards. The appellate court decision now stands.
 




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