News Roundup

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2nd Circuit directs federal judge to bar jury nullification argument

On Wednesday, a federal appeals court directed U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill to bar defense lawyers from making a jury nullification argument in the case of landlord facing child pornography charges. If convicted, the landlord faced a mandatory 15-year minimum sentence for uploading a sexually explicit video of a 15-year-old girl with whom he had a sexual relationship to a computer for his own viewing. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at New York issued a writ of mandamus at the request of federal prosecutors after Underhill said he would allow the defense to argue that the landlord should be acquitted because the pornography law was being unjustly applied to him. Underhill told attorneys before trial that he was absolutely stunned that the government brought the case and it called for nullification. (The Hartford Courant, the 2nd Circuit decision)

Law prof’s suit says she was paid less than males and made into a pariah

University of Texas law professor Linda Mullenix claims in a lawsuit filed last week that she was paid less than male colleagues, even though their tenures were shorter and their legal publications were fewer in number. She claimed that the lower pay was in retaliation for prior complaints about the wage gap, which led to her pariah status at the school. She settled a prior Equal Pay Act claim against the school in 2011. The school said it supports equitable pay based on merit and performance, and female faculty made slightly more than males during a 10-year period ending in 2018. (The Austin American-Statesman)

Jurors award $4.7M in malpractice suit against Alston & Bird

Jurors in Georgia have awarded $4.7 million in damages to a company claiming that Alston & Bird gave bad tax advice on an investment deal. A final judgment was entered Thursday for the plaintiff, MSouth Equity Partners. The suit had sought $7.6 million for late taxes paid by MSouth, plus interest. (The Daily Report, Law360)

AG Barr defends surveillance court amid GOP criticism

U.S. Attorney General William Barr defended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on Wednesday after Republicans suggested that it should be shut down. Criticism surfaced after a report by the Department of Justice’s inspector general found that FBI wiretap applications submitted to the court in a controversial case contained “significant inaccuracies.” On Tuesday, the court’s presiding judge asked the government to explain how it would ensure that FBI applications are accurate in the future. Barr told reporters that he was committed to preserving the law that created the court because it is “essential to protect the security of the United States.” (Reuters)