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• Commissioners in Harris County, Texas, have agreed to reform a cash bail system that had kept many indigent misdemeanor defendants in jail pending trial. A federal appeals court had ruled last year that the bail system was unconstitutional because it mostly relied on set amounts. As a result of the reforms, about 85% of people arrested for misdemeanors will be released on personal bonds. Text messages will remind people of court appearances, and court dates can be easily rescheduled. The new system, which resolves the litigation, must still receive court approval. Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis told the Texas Observer that the “case is just as big as Brown v. Board of Education.” (The Houston Chronicle here and here; the Texas Observer)
• Dozens of parents in suburban Chicago are giving up guardianship of their children during high school, so they can declare themselves financially independent and qualify for college aid. The parents include lawyers, a doctor and an assistant schools superintendent. Andy Borst, director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told Pro Publica that the procedure is a “scam” that takes away opportunities from families who really need the aid. (Pro Publica, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune)
• A federal judge in Manhattan tossed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging a conspiracy to hack into Democratic National Committee emails and denigrate Hillary Clinton. The defendants included the Trump campaign, Russia and WikiLeaks. U.S. District Judge John Koeltl said Russia was the primary wrongdoer, but it couldn’t be sued in U.S. courts under federal law. The First Amendment protected others who shared the stolen emails, Koeltl said. (The New York Law Journal, Courthouse News Service, Koeltl decision)
• A federal judge in California has refused to toss a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s attempts to turn back and restrict the flow of people who seek asylum at the southern border. U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant ruled Monday that plaintiffs had made out a sufficient claim that the policy was unlawful. (Courthouse News Service, Law360, Bashant decision, Center for Constitutional Rights)
• It’s becoming more difficult to fill lawyer jobs in rural Vermont, particularly in the public defender system. Vermont Defender General Matthew Valerio said it took him two years to find someone to fill a job in Rutland. (WCAX)
• Jurors in Los Angeles found Monday that a musical phrase in the Katy Perry song “Dark Horse” infringed the copyright of a Christian rap group and song. Lawyers for the rap group say Perry’s song earned $41 million, and their clients are entitled to a cut. (Law360, Courthouse News Service)