LEGAL NEWS ROUNDUP

Samantha Shalowitz, CLS’18

US District Judge Daniel Jordan III ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood and blocked a Mississippi law that barred medical providers that perform abortions from receiving state Medicaid funds.  In his ruling, Judge Jordan cited a similar ruling by the Fifth Circuit holding that such laws violate federal law.  In its complaint, Planned Parenthood argued that the law unconstitutionally limited patients’ rights to choose their healthcare providers and prevented low-income patients from receiving care.  The governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant, issued a statement voicing his support for the law and disagreement with the court’s decision.  (Source: Huffington Post)

A federal appeals court in Washington ruled that the president has the power to fire the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  Though it did not dismantle the agency, the court ruled that the appointment process was unconstitutional, and made the director’s job subject to supervision, direction, and change by the president.  The ruling weakens the CFPB, considered one of President Obama’s signature accomplishments.  The CFPB was established in 2011 as part of the Dodd-Frank Act in response to the financial crisis.  Republicans have repeatedly tried to weaken the agency, and the court appeared to agree with some of their criticism, holding that the practice of having a single “unaccountable, unchecked director” is atypical and “poses a far greater risk of arbitrary decision-making and abuse of power” than does multi-member leadership.  The CFPB is exploring how it may challenge the decision.  (Source: CNN)

US District Judge Sharion Aycock ruled that a Mississippi woman cannot sue the government after being jailed for 96 days after indictment without an arraignment or seeing a lawyer.  The plaintiff, Jessica Lauch, asserted her innocence in jail and asked for an arraignment, but did not request to see a lawyer.  The court held that her right to counsel was not violated, and that she had no right to an initial appearance because she was indicted.  Jauch was arrested after police pulled her over for traffic violations and noticed she had an outstanding arrest warrant.  However, evidence did not support the charges, and, after Jauch’s lawyer contacted the prosecutor, the charges were dropped.  Jauch has filed notice of appeal.  The case is part of a larger effort by civil liberties advocates to reform Mississippi’s criminal justice system, which they say “provides almost no state funding for public defenders.”  (Source: ABA Journal)