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Legal Report

- A police officer is guilty of gross negligence after shooting an unarmed man who was be­ing arrested for failure to pay child support. And a federal appeals court has ruled that DHS should have solicited public comments via the rulemaking process before it deployed body scanners at airports.

Morning Security Brief: Secure Smartphones for Spies, U.S. Gun Crime Statistics, Facebook To Fix Cookies, and More

- NSA is developing secure smartphones. A hacker wants the courts to force the FBI to reveal the details of Stingray location-detecting technology. The Guardian uses uniform crime report data to make an interactive map. And more.

Teacher Can Sue For Being Spied On While Getting Naked On Stolen Laptop

- A jury will decide if a laptop-locating company went too far to recover a stolen laptop.


- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that female Wal-Mart employees may not pursue a class action suit against the company for sexual discrimination.

First Amendment

- A federal appeals court ruled that a district court violated the public’s First Amendment right of access when it banned the media from covering the sentencing of a notorious drug cartel leader for security reasons. The court ruled that the press and public must have notice and an opportunity to respond to decisions about closed hearings, even of potentially violent criminals.

Legal Report

- In two similar cases, courts ruled that students who created fake MySpace pages to spoof pages that their principals might have created were protected under the First Amendment.

Unmanned Vehicle GPS Developers Express Concerns About LightSquared

- Last week LightSquared sent a letter to the the FCC blaming the GPS industry for interference problems that could come from its proposed broadband towers. This week the GPS industry responded.

State Legislation

- Arizona Employment. A new law (formerly H.B. 2541) recently approved in Arizona clarifies how employers can interact with workers who use medical marijuana. The law protects employers who take good faith actions based on a perception that an employee is impaired in the workplace. The law also allows employers to monitor employees using medical marijuana to ensure that they are performing duties effectively. Employers are protected from litigation if they prohibit medical marijuana users from performing “safety sensitive” duties. Employers have latitude in establishing what is considered a safety-sensitive position, but examples include any job that can affect the health or safety of others. Operating a motor vehicle, operating machinery or power tools, and repairing or monitoring certain equipment are all considered safety-sensitive positions under the law. Georgia Immigration. Georgia Governor Na­than Deal has signed a bill (H.B. 87) into law that will require employers in the state to take steps to ensure that they aren’t hiring illegal immigrants. Employers with more than 10 employees are required to use the federal government’s E-Verify system to determine whether a prospective employee is in the United States illegally. Other aspects of the law are identical to Arizona’s controversial law, which is currently under judicial review. Critics of the law expect that there will be legal challenges to the law before it goes into effect in January 2012.  


- A bill (S. 401) introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) would revise the criminal code to strengthen penalties for bribery and corruption convictions. The bill would expand mail and wire fraud statutes to cover offenses involving anything of value, including intangible rights and licenses, not just monetary goods. The measure would also modify elements relating to the crime of bribery of public officials and witnesses to prohibit public officials from accepting anything of value, other than what is permitted by rule or regulation, because of the person’s official position.


- The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued a final rule governing how the whistleblower program created under the Dodd-Frank Act will be administered. The rule encourages whistleblowers to report concerns to their companies before turning to the SEC. Legislation (H.R. 2483) introduced by Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) would make it mandatory for employees to first report violations to their employers to receive monetary awards.


- The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that an employee who is retaliated against for making an oral complaint about policy can pursue a lawsuit against his employer under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Court said that, under the law, it is illegal to retaliate against an employee who has “filed any complaint.” This clearly includes oral complaints, according to the Court.


- The Oregon Supreme Court has ruled that a retired school bus teacher may obtain a concealed handgun license even though she also has authorization to use medical marijuana. The case is the latest in a round of cases seeking to clarify how medical marijuana factors into existing laws governing everything from weapons to employment.


- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may not exempt itself from violations of the federal Privacy Act, according to a federal appeals court. The appellate court ruled that the DHS could not exempt itself because the Privacy Act clearly states that the government must provide civil remedies for failure to keep accurate records.

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