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State Legislation: New York: Crime

- A New York bill (A.B. 2952) would prohibit police or peace officers from using excessive force either defensively or in making an arrest or preventing an escape. The bill would also make it a misdemeanor for a police officer to intend to kill rather than stop a person. The introduction of the bill was prompted by the case of Sean Bell, a 23-year-old man who was shot and killed by police on his wedding day after hitting an unmarked police car with his van.

U.S. Congressional Legislation: DNA

- A bill (H.R. 4614) introduced by Rep. Harry Teague (D-NM) that would provide grants to states for DNA collection has been approved by the House of Representatives. The bill is now pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.The bill would increase existing grant funds for states that have DNA collection programs.

Legal Report

- A prosecutor dismisses a felony charge against a security guard, and an employee may not sue her company for failure to investigate her discrimination claim.

Elsewhere in the Courts: Trade Secrets

- In litigation between an insurance company and its former agents, the company claimed that agents misappropriated trade secrets when they used print-outs from the electronic files of insurance policyholders in their search for other jobs. However, the court found that because the same information from the password-protected electronic files was readily available in another format, unsecured physical files stored in the agents’ offices, it cannot be considered a protected trade secret. (Nationwide Mutual Insurance v. Mortensen et al, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, No. 08-5214-cv, 2010)

State Legislation: Oklahoma: RFID

- Oklahoma’s governor has vetoed a bill (H.B. 2569) that would have prohibited the use of RFID technology in state drivers’ licenses or state identification cards. The bill would have outlawed RFID tags as well as “any type of RFID ink in any format or configuration.”

State Legislation: Alabama: Employment

- A new Alabama law (formerly H.B. 37) will allow the state superintendent of education to revoke the teaching certificate of any teacher convicted of felony sex offenses or sexual abuse of a child. Under the law, if such a conviction is overturned, the certificate will be reinstated and the local board of education may choose to return the teacher to his or her previous position. Even if the teacher is not rehired, he or she will receive back pay and benefits.

U.S. Congressional Legislation: Disaster Management

- A bill (S. 3249) that would renew a grant program designed to help state and local governments prepare for disasters has been approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. To proceed, the measure must now be taken up by the full Senate.

U.S. Congressional Legislation: Communications

- A bill (H.R. 1258) would make it illegal to cause any caller ID service to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller identification, known as “spoofing,” with intent to defraud or deceive. The bill has been approved by the House of Representatives. The Senate has announced that it will consider the bill.

U.S. Congressional Legislation: Cruise Ship Security

- A bill (H.R. 3360) that would enhance security aboard cruise ships has been approved by the Senate. Because of discrepancies between the House and Senate versions of the bill, the differences must be reconciled in conference committee.

U.S. Congressional Legislation: Crime

- A bill (S. 1684) that would require that local law enforcement collect information on convicted arsonists and bombers similar to that currently collected on sex offenders has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

U.S. Congressional Legislation: Background Screening

- The House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit held a hearing to consider H.R. 3149 (.pdf), which would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to prohibit a current or prospective employer from using credit reports to make employment decisions such as hiring, firing, or promotion. Witnesses who spoke in support of the rights of employers to use such reports argued that the information is not used in a vacuum but is among the many tools companies use to make good hiring decisions. Opponents contended that credit scores are often inaccurate and have not been conclusively linked to inappropriate workplace behaviors, such as theft.

Supreme Court Update: Sarbanes-Oxley

- The Court has upheld most of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, enacted in response to the accounting scandals at Enron and other companies. However, the Court did overturn part of the law that required that members of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, established to monitor accounting firms, be fired only for “cause.” The Court said that the board members may be fired at will.

Supreme Court Update: Terrorism

- The Court has ruled that a law prohibiting “material support” to terrorist organizations is constitutional and that it is permissible to ban any support to such groups—including humanitarian support—because all support is tantamount to promoting terrorism.
 




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