SCOTUS Blog looking for Press Credentials and a Sugar Daddy. For a half a million bucks. Me too!?

Supreme Court of the United States a/k/a SCOTUS

Supreme Court of the United States a/k/a SCOTUS

SCOTUSBlog is not only seeking press credentials but also a buyer.  See. LexBlog post by clicking here.

This blog is well-respected and a valuable tool for the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) practitioner and follower.  However, where is the line drawn between lawyer and journalist, or both?

Well, the blog is looking for press credentials, and now as the funding from Bloomberg of approximately $500,000 per year is about to end, it’s also looking for  buyer.

However, as the news story notes, the SCOTUS Blog may have increased the owner’s visibility and expertise by way of the legal publications and analysis contained in the blog’s posts  and pages for not only the owner but contributors,  it has not been a success as an overt marketing tool of folks seeking to hire that blogger.

Since I have been doing this (Kentucky Court Report)  now for nearly a decade, and at a cost much less than $500,000 per year, I thought the story was intriguing at best and disheartening at worst.  Where is my Bloomberg parachute?  Heck, would they pay me just just half that much to keep my little enterprise running?

I am much more efficient, costing me under $500 per year in domain name, site hosting, and WordPress themes and plug-ins.  I save nearly $499,500 by doing all the IT work, writing, photographs, editorializing, and philosophizing.

Well, as this frog dreams of being a king, the blog keeps on going.

Hope you have enjoyed the weekly COA minutes, monthly SCOKY minutes, the occasional video of SCOKY arguments, the discretionary review grants (with links to SC case info, COA case info and decision – my touch),  and the monthly summaries;  all of which are complimentary “borrowings” from our friends at the AOC.

I have added my own twists to the discretionary review grants, and one day (with the cooperation of our AOC friends would like to see a separate blog page for each discretionary review grant containing links to the case information at SC and COA and  the underlying COA decision.  Imagine the utility of the page also containing a link to the COA and SC oral arguments, the COA and the SC briefs, the Statement of Appeal, motions, post-decision audio interviews with the attorneys, underlying case verdict and instructions.  Imagine much of the writing by the attorneys themselves with links to their own web sites for marketing purposes (not to mention search engine optimization for their sites and this one — hoorah!).

Oh well, I digress.  I have a dream for the utility of the site.

I have the technology, but not the time or the money

State’s duty regarding the maintenance of public roads: KY TRANSPORTATION CABINET V. AMANDA GUFFEY, ADM’X OF ESTATE OF JEREMIAH GUFFEY (SC 1/24/2008)

DATE RENDERED: 01/24/2008

KY Transportation Cabinet, Dept. of Highways (KDOH) appeals COA’s May 2006 decision that affirmed the TC’s judgment in favor of Guffey (administer of husband’s estate), which had reversed the final order of the Ky. Board of Claims (BOC) dismissing Guffey’s claims. The COA’s published decision was previously digested in the June 2006 edition of the LawWire, and the facts relevant to both appeals court’s decisions are as follows: While riding an ATV, Guffey’s husband was killed by a suspended cable running across a roadway in Wayne County that is owned by the state, but had not been used by the public for over 20 years. The cable had been placed by an adjacent landowner in order to prevent access to their private property, and it was undisputed that the KDOH knew or should have known of its presence. Upon a complaint being filed with the BOC and a hearing having been held, the Hearing Officer entered his recommendations to deny the claim for 2 reasons: 1) The accident did not occur on a public roadway (as defined in the relevant statutes) so the deceased could not be considered a member of the traveling public since state law forbid ATV’s from traveling on any public roadway; and 2) The accident was not foreseeable to the KDOH since it could not expect someone to operate an ATV on a public roadway in violation of state law. Guffey appealed the BOC’s dismissal to the Wayne Circuit Court, which ruled that the KTC owed the deceased a duty to keep the roadway in a reasonably safe condition, to provide proper safeguards, and to give adequate warning of any dangerous condition. It found that the deceased’s accident was foreseeable and that his illegal operation of the ATV on a public road did not preclude his estate’s recovery since the BOC was required to apply a comparative negligence standard to the case. Guffey was awarded the maximum allowable recovery in a BOC action (less the allowed set-off).

On appeal, the COA affirmed the TC’s ruling that the KDOH owed a duty to the deceased and that his accident and damages were foreseeable. The COA rejected the KDOH’s argument that the deceased’s violation of state law in operating the ATV was a superseding cause of the accident and injuries. The COA determined that the TC had properly weighed the comparative fault of the KDOH and the deceased in its decision since the latter would have to have been over 85% at fault for his estate to receive less than the maximum allowable recovery of $200,000 in the BOC. Judge Guidugli dissented as he felt that the deceased was not a member of the traveling public as that term is statutorily defined since ATV’s are statutorily prohibited from being operated on a public roadway.

On to the Supreme Court, it unanimously affirmed the COA"s decision (which itself affirmed the TC decision) with regard to the existence of a duty on the part of the KDOH, ruling that the TC correctly addressed the principal legal issues raised by the KDOH on appeal. The SC felt the Appellant’s arguments were inconsistent – if this stretch of unused roadway was, in fact, NOT a public roadway by definition, then how could the decedent be considered to have violated the statutory ban of ATVs on public roadways? The SC also had no trouble in affirming the COA and TC that the decedent’s injuries and damages were foreseeable and easily distinguished the facts of the primary case relied upon by the BOC in its decision since it felt that a cable stretched across a public road by a known trespasser with full knowledge of this fact by the KDOH was certainly a treacherous trap. The SC also took issue with the BOC’s finding that the decedent was not a member of the traveling public (defined as anyone lawfully using a public roadway), noting that this mindset would require a conclusion that all persons driving on public roadways with expired license plates, suspended drivers’ licenses, etc. could be "mangled at will by state sponsored indifference." However, the SC did rule that the TC exceeded its authority under KRS 44.140(5) when it went on to make independent findings of fact as to damages as well as apportionment. The TC does not have the authority, when reviewing decisions of the BOC, to make an award when the BOC has refused to do so, but instead is limited to remanding the case to the BOC if the TC disagrees with its decision. Thus, the SC remanded this case to the BOC to make a proper apportionment of liability between the KDOH, the decedent and the adjacent landowner who installed and maintained the cable as well as issue an award of damages up to the $200,000 maximum.


Government erred in not producing statements to defense: GRANT V. COM. (SC 1/24/2008)

DATE RENDERED: 01/24/2008

SC reversed and remanded Defendant’s convictions for manufacturing methamphetamine while in possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) while in possession of a firearm. The Commonwealth’s failure to provide in discovery a copy of a recorded telephone call Grant placed from the jail was reversible error. While the Commonwealth learned of the recording during trial, it did not inform the Defendant of its existence until after Defendant had concluded his case and testified on his own behalf.


SCOTUS: Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education, June 28, 2007

Here is the opinion of the US Supreme Court a/k/a SCOTUS in the Seattle and Jefferson County School desegregation cases released June 28, 2007.  For any SCOTUS afficianados, there were 75 slip opinions for the Oct 2006 term which can be found here.  The local case was styled Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education but was consolidated with the Seattle schools case.

From is the following short summary of this decision at Court strikes down school integration plans, ends Term:

[T]he Supreme Court divided 5-4 on Thursday in striking down voluntary integration plans in the public schools of Seattle and Louisville. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., wrote the majority opinion in the combined cases. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy did not join all of the majority opinion, but joined in the result. Kennedy suggested in a separate opinion that the Chief Justice’s opinion, in part, "is at least open to the interpretation that the Constitution requires school districts to ignore the problem of de facto resegregation in schooling. I cannot endorse that conclusion."

"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race," Roberts wrote. On the two school plans, the majority found that the districts have "failed to provide the necessary support for the proposition that there is no other way than individual racial classifications to avoid racial isolation in their school districts."

The Chief Justice, in his oral announcement of the ruling, insisted that the Court was remaining faithful to Brown v. Board of Education in barring public school districts from assigning students on the basis of race. Answering that, Justice John Paul Stevens said in dissent that there was a "cruel irony" in making that claim, because it involved a rewriting of the history "of one of this Court’s most important decisions." Stevens noted that he joined the Court in 1975, and asserted that "no member of the Court" at that time "would have agreed with today’s decision."