State Courts & AGs

Docket Watch: PA Supreme Court Reinvigorates State's 1971 Environmental Rights Amendment

Joel R. Burcat, Andrew T. Bockis August 04, 2017

In Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation v. Commonwealth,[1] the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the standard that had been applied by the courts since 1973 when they review governmental determinations under Pennsylvania’s Environmental Rights Amendment (“ERA”). In so doing, the Court effectively re-set and re-established the ERA which was ratified in 1971.

Imagine taking a relic of 1971, plucking it out of that time, and dropping it down in 2017. Would it seem out of place? Would it have any relationship to the current social and political climate? For most of its history, Pennsylvania’s ERA had virtually no significant impact and was considered by the courts to be mostly aspirational. Until now.

  [Read More]

State Courts & AGs

State Court Docket Watch News Clips: 8/16/2016

Zach Mayo August 16, 2016
  • Kathleen Kane has resigned her post as Pennsylvania Attorney General in the wake of her conviction on multiple felony charges, including perjury and criminal conspiracy. The incidents relate to her leaking grand jury deliberations. Read more about the conviction here and her resignation here, both from The New York Times.


Assault rifle

Keyes v. Lynch: A successful as-applied challenge to the federal firearms ban for the mentally ill

Joseph Greenlee July 21, 2016

Federal law (18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(4)) prohibits any person “who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution” from possessing firearms or ammunition. In Keyes v. Lynch, a federal district court in Pennsylvania held that § 922(g)(4) violated the Second Amendment as applied to Plaintiff Jonathan Yox.  [Read More]


Article: Supreme Court Season of Turmoil

Williams v. Pennsylvania: Supreme Court Holds Judge Can’t Hear Case He Once Prosecuted

Evan Bernick June 13, 2016

The legal principle that “No person may be a judge in his own cause” can be traced back centuries. But is it a mere shibboleth, given lip service long after it has ceased to play an important role in our law? In Williams v. Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court affirmed its continued vitality, holding that a prosecutor-turned-judge was constitutionally required to recuse himself from a case involving a man for whom he (as prosecutor) had once recommended the death penalty. [Read More]

State Courts & AGs

Texas flag

State Court Docket Watch News Clips: 4/18/2016

Zach Mayo April 18, 2016
  • Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton published an opinion piece in USA Today outlining the state's objections to President Obama's executive order on immigration. Scott Keller, Texas' solicitor general, argued the case today in front of the Supreme Court.
  • Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt submitted the state's brief in a case concerning school funding at the Kansas Supreme Court. The state argues that the legislature addressed concerns about the school funding plan in a bill passed at the end of the legislative session, but some school districts argue that funding is still inequitable. If the plaintiffs prevail, the court may order schools closed pending further action. Read more at KCUR.
  • Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana in the state. Read more at 6ABC.