Cargill suit highlights weight of foreign rules

Reuters reported: 

Cargill’s lawsuit against Syngenta over losses stemming from China’s rejection of genetically modified corn demonstrates how U.S. markets are becoming increasingly subject to foreign rules, say legal experts.

Cargill sued Syngenta Sept. 12 in Louisiana state court for “negligence” in selling U.S. farmers a GM variety that had not yet been approved for import in China.

Law students taking on more cases through new partnership with Midwest Innocence Project

Monday, September 22, 2014

LAWRENCE – Since 1965, the Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies at the University of Kansas School of Law has worked to obtain new trials for convicted individuals whose constitutional rights were violated. In the last five years, 38 Project clients have been granted new trials. But a lack of access to funding for forensic testing and expert testimony has hampered the Project’s ability to prove actual innocence, where the ultimate goal is exoneration. 

A new partnership with the Midwest Innocence Project aims to change that.

The Midwest Innocence Project, a member of the national Innocence Network, is dedicated to the investigation, litigation and exoneration of wrongfully convicted men and women in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa and Nebraska.

Through the collaboration, KU’s Project for Innocence will take on Kansas innocence cases that originate with the Midwest Innocence Project. The KU clinic will receive financial support for investigation and litigation – including potential expert testimony and DNA and forensic testing costs – and will gain access to resources available through the Innocence Network.

“The partnership will benefit everyone involved,” said Jean Phillips, clinical professor and director of KU’s Project for Innocence.

“Despite generous private support from alumni, we don’t have the financial resources to pay for extensive testing,” she said. “A single DNA analysis runs $1,400, and one case frequently requires several tests for comparison purposes, which can add up quickly. This partnership will expand our capacity to serve clients who may be incarcerated unjustly and provide additional opportunities for our students to gain insight into the criminal justice system.”

According to the Midwest Innocence Project, recent independent studies conservatively estimate that between 2 percent and 5 percent of all inmates in America were falsely convicted. Some estimates reach as high as 7 percent, including up to 4 percent of inmates on death row. This equates to somewhere between 2,000 and 7,000 people in the MIP’s five-state region.

“After a conviction, the appeals process focuses more on finality over fairness. It is designed to be incredibly difficult and is very expensive,” said Tricia Bushnell, MIP legal director. “We are one of the few places indigent inmates can turn to regain their freedom when the legal system has failed. This partnership with the University of Kansas School of Law helps us expand our capacity to take cases and gives us a presence in the classroom to teach the next generation of lawyers, investigators and lawmakers how to identify and prevent these injustices.”

The partnership will have an immediate effect on the KU clinic’s work with clients like Floyd Bledsoe, who is serving a prison sentence for a first-degree murder conviction. Bledsoe has always maintained his innocence, but despite extensive efforts to establish he did not receive a fair trial, he remains incarcerated. With support from the Midwest Innocence Project, KU’s Project for Innocence will be able to continue to move forward with DNA testing in the Bledsoe case.

“The Midwest Innocence Project has many cases from Kansas waiting to be investigated,” said Alice Craig, supervising attorney for the KU clinic. “We have already begun to incorporate these cases into our caseload.”

Former KU law professor Paul E. Wilson founded what was then the Defender Project in 1965 to help prisoners who otherwise might not receive legal representation. Students in the clinic represent state and federal prisoners in appellate and post-conviction litigation in state and federal courts. Their work includes conducting fact investigations, drafting pleadings, filing motions, preparing for hearings and creating case strategy.

In addition to challenging convictions, in 2009 and 2011, a Project team won rare grants of executive clemency for three men convicted of robbery during a racially charged Civil Rghts-era trial in Wichita.

The Project receives more than 200 letters a year from inmates seeking assistance.

Pictured above, from left: Pete Smith, president of the Midwest Innocence Project board of directors; Tricia Bushnell, MIP legal director; Professor Jean Phillips, director of KU's Project for Innocence & Post-Conviction Remedies; and KU Law Dean Stephen Mazza

Gov. Brownback's Selection Of Stegall Stirs Debate Over Judge Selection Process

A recent change in Kansas law has re-ignited the debate on how judges are selected to the bench. In this edition of Up to Date, Steve Kraske examines the methods for seating judges, and who should hold the final say in how they are chosen.

Guests:

Stephen Ware is a Professor of Law at the University of Kansas.

Matthew Menendez is counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.

Cargill case highlights foreign regulatory influence in U.S. : experts

Andrew Chung wrote:

"Major U.S. grain exporter Cargill Inc's lawsuit against Syngenta AG over losses stemming from China's rejection of genetically modified corn demonstrates how U.S. markets are becoming increasingly subject to foreign rules, legal experts said on Tuesday.

Cargill sued Syngenta on Friday in Louisiana state court for "negligence" in selling U.S. farmers a genetically modified seed that had not yet been approved for import in China.

Kansas Supreme Court hears Chad Taylor lawsuit Tuesday

The Kansas Supreme Court will decide whether or not Democrat Chad Taylor's name may be removed from the November ballot for U.S. Senate. Taylor withdrew from the race, drawing criticism from Republicans who claim that the move was an attempt to bolster Independent Craig Orman's campaign against the incumbent, Senator Pat Roberts. Kobach refused to remove Taylor's name from the ballot, asserting that Taylor's withdrawal letter did not include a declaration that he is incapable to serve. 

Bryan Lowry wrote:

Law professor to argue before Supreme Court on water dispute

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas law professor has authored a study and will argue before the Supreme Court on a water rights case via a method that can be thought of as a more civil version of civil war.

Stephen McAllister, E.S. & Tom W. Hampton Distinguished Professor of Law, will argue on behalf of Kansas before the Supreme Court on Oct. 14 in a dispute about water rights and the Republican River. Lower courts have determined that Nebraska has pumped too much water from the river before it flows into Kansas and that Nebraska should pay Kansas $5.5 million. Nebraska claims that amount is too steep, while Kansas claims the payment should be higher. McAllister is arguing at the request of Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who will join McAllister at counsel table for the oral argument.

McAllister also has written a new article to be published this fall in the law journal The Green Bag about original jurisdiction procedures, the process by which disputes between states often are initiated and decided in the Supreme Court.

“One of the ways to think of original jurisdiction is as ‘the other civil war,’” McAllister said. “Instead of states taking action against each other, militarily or otherwise, they can go to the Supreme Court and get a resolution of their dispute. Original jurisdiction gives the Supreme Court the chance to keep such disputes from ever reaching the point of violence or other punitive actions between states.”

Original jurisdiction was used only sparingly before the Civil War, but since then it has been used frequently to determine all manner of disputes between states over water rights, fishing rights, boundaries and occasionally other issues such as interstate pollution. One of the most famous recent cases was a dispute between New York and New Jersey over which state owned Ellis Island, home to the historic center that processed millions of immigrants to the United States.

This isn’t the first time McAllister has been involved in a water rights case that ended up at the Supreme Court via original jurisdiction. Kansas v. Colorado was a dispute over water rights to the Arkansas River. In that case, Kansas sued Colorado for taking more than Colorado’s share of the water in the river before it reached Kansas. McAllister worked on the case near its conclusion, assisting then-Kansas Attorney General Steve Six, writing briefs and providing consultation. McAllister’s work on that case and the Supreme Court’s decision prompted him to write another article in The Green Bag, agreeing with Chief Justice John Roberts that the Supreme Court alone had the constitutional power to determine the procedures for original jurisdiction cases and that Congress could not and should not get involved in such matters.

Some have argued that Congress has the power to dictate the procedures the Supreme Court uses in these state versus state cases, but McAllister in responding has noted that Congress has never purported to do so directly in the nation’s history.

“History suggests that Congress has never really thought they could or needed to get involved in these cases,” McAllister said. “I don’t see how Congress getting involved could make things any better. The court has developed procedures and provided a forum that has worked for the states.”

While some claim that the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution, which gives Congress the authority to set certain parameters on the court, gives Congress the power to determine original jurisdiction procedures, McAllister disagrees.

“The logical extension of that argument is that Congress could completely control every aspect of the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction, which would do away with separation of powers. The Supreme Court does not try to control or change the procedures Congress uses.”

In his upcoming arguments before the Supreme Court, McAllister will argue because it has been established that Nebraska pumped too much water from the Republican River and violated a previous compact between the states on water usage, Nebraska should have to pay Kansas significant damages, both to compensate for the loss to Kansas and to deter Nebraska from committing future violations.

“The upstream states always have an advantage, as far as first shot at the water and the ability to use what they want,” McAllister said. “You often end up with disputes arising from interstate water compacts arising decades down the road. I think one of the questions is, ‘How much remedy is appropriate in this situation? It’s an interesting question to argue because there aren’t really hard and fast rules here.”

The case will be both a chance for a KU professor to argue before the Supreme Court and for KU Law students to observe the preparation process firsthand. McAllister will take part in several moot court sessions before the October arguments in order to practice and prepare. In one of those sessions, KU faculty will represent the Supreme Court justices who will hear the case. Students will observe and be able to ask questions following the session.

This particular case will also be part of McAllister’s distinguished professor lecture, which he will present Oct. 6. His Supreme Court experiences, consulting with the Kansas Attorney General’s office and the intersection of the two with service, teaching and scholarship will all be part of the presentation.

Sheriff: Investigation of Stewart crash complete

Carolyn Thomspon wrote, "Three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart will find out no later than next week whether authorities will pursue charges in the death of a driver he struck during a sprint car race in upstate New York last month.

. . . 

Stewart's car struck and killed 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. at Canandaigua Motorsports Park during a nighttime race Aug. 9. Ward had climbed out of his car and walked onto the dirt track to confront Stewart after he spun out while the two raced side by side.

. . . 

The New Justice In Kansas: Judicial Selection And The Governor’s Race

Frank Morris wrote, "The candidates for governor in Kansas are sparring over taxes, health care and school funding. But in many ways there’s a more fundamental issue that separates  Gov. Sam Brownback from his Democratic challenger, Paul Davis. Both stand on opposing sides of a running battle over how state Supreme Court justices should be chosen.

. . . 

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