On January 19, 2016, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Heffernan v. City of Paterson. Jeffrey Heffernan was a police officer for the City of Paterson, New Jersey. A fellow police officer observed Heffernan picking up a campaign sign for the mayoral candidate running against the incumbent. Although Heffernan disclaimed any political motives and said he was merely picking the sign up for his mother, his supervisor demoted him. Heffernan sued Paterson claiming a violation of his First Amendment rights, but lost on the grounds that, his supervisor’s erroneous belief notwithstanding, the fact that Heffernan was not actually engaged in political activity doomed his claim. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the trial court’s judgment.
The question before the Supreme Court is whether the First Amendment bars the government from demoting a public employee based on a supervisor's perception that the employee supports a political candidate.
To discuss the case, we have Adele Keim, who is counsel at The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
Southwestern Law School’s Visiting Associate Professor Amy Peikoff explains the Third Party Doctrine of the Supreme Court’s Fourth Amendment Doctrine. Under the Third Party Doctrine, the government does not need a warrant in order to obtain information entrusted to a third party, such as a bank, cell phone company, or email server. Thus, individuals who utilize their personal server for email may effectively keep their emails private while those using a commercial email server such as gmail do not have the same privacy.
On January 15, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Robert F. McDonnell v. United States. The Court will review the public corruption convictions of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell to determine whether the definition of “official action” as used in the federal bribery statute, Hobbs Act, and honest-services fraud statute is limited to exercising actual governmental power or the threat or pressure to do so. If the definition is not so limited, the Court will also consider whether the Hobbs Act and honest-services fraud statute are unconstitutional—given that such a broad definition could include political activity protected by the First Amendment. This Teleforum will allow experts who have been involved in amicus briefs and analyzing the case to debate the positions articulated by Governor McDonnell and the U.S. Government as to the "official act" question.
Brian D. Boone, Alston & Bird LLP
Prof. Randall D. Eliason, George Washington University Law School
Mark Behrens, co-chair of the Washington, DC-based Public Policy Group of Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P., will discuss Nevada’s poor ranking in a recent U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform survey of the fairness of state legal climates. He will also discuss the comments on Nevada courts included in the American Tort Reform Foundation’s annual Judicial Hellholes report, along with a recent point of light from the Nevada Supreme Court. Mr. Behrens will discuss Nevada’s efforts for judicial reform together with strategies Nevada lawyers may use to promote a fair and restrained judiciary.
Assemblyman Erv Nelson is a partner at the Las Vegas firm of Cram Valdez Brigman & Nelson and Vice-Chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the Nevada State Assembly. In his role as a legislator, he was deeply involved in efforts to enact Judicial Reform legislation in Nevada. Mr. Nelson will discuss Nevada’s efforts to affect Judicial Reform, including legislation that may be proposed in the future.
The Las Vegas Lawyers Chapter hosted this event on January 28, 2016.
Mr. Mark Behrens, Co-chair, Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.
Hon. Erven T. Nelson, Nevada Assemblyman
Introduction: Mr. Matthew Saltzman, Shareholder, Kolesar & Leatham
Fogo de Chao Churrascaria Restaurant
Las Vegas, NV
This panel will discuss whether we have Federal overreach in this environmental law area, such as current interpretations of the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Power Plan, etc., and what the appropriate roles for the Federal Government and Florida are in the context of environmental law.
This panel was part of the 2016 Annual Florida Chapters Conference at Disney's Boardwalk Inn in Lake Buena Vista, FL on January 22-23, 2016.
Federalism and Environmental Law
Mr. Avi Garbow, General Counsel, United States Environmental Protection Agency
Mr. Matthew Z. Leopold, Of Counsel, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt PA and former General Counsel, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Prof. Erin Ryan, Professor, Florida State University College of Law
Mr. Patrick Strawbridge, Partner, Consovoy McCarthy Park PLLC
Moderator: Hon. Edward L. Artau, Florida 15th Judicial Circuit
Introduction: Mr. Gregory Munson, Shareholder, Gunster