Author: Paul Richardson

EGCR’s Legal Fact of the Week

Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting’s Legal Fact of the Week is here to help you get through the work week by sharing a random fact about American History, law, and more! Today we focus on cattle regulation!



EGCR’s Legal Fact of the Week: California Cattle Protection Code


In California, under the Cattle Protection Code, inspection is required for cattle for particular situations. These situations are and not limited to: Cattle being sold, Ownership of Cattle is transferred, Prior to moving out of stated or region, Upon entry into a registered feedlot, or prior to sale of any kind in the public and private sales market.

Tennessee Ethics Opinion Regarding Prosecutor’s Obligation to Disclose Evidence Challenged by the Department of Justice

Just how much evidence federal prosecutors should be required to hand over to defense attorneys has become a fight between a Tennessee ethics agency and the Department of Justice (DOJ). The Tennessee Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Responsibility (BOR) published an ethics opinion earlier this year that announced prosecutors have a higher ethical obligation to divulge certain discovery than what is required under the Constitution. Shortly thereafter, the DOJ’s three U.S. attorneys in Tennessee wrote a scathing 10-page letter and demanded a hearing before the Tennessee BOR, which is scheduled for September.

The Issue

The BOR opinion addresses what any prosecutor in Tennessee, whether local or federal, should do when he or she has exculpatory evidence — evidence that could prove a defendant’s innocence of the charges. The issue was addressed by the United States Supreme Court in Brady v. Maryland, as well as other decisions, that district attorneys owe a duty to disclose exculpatory evidence only when it is “material” to the case. In short, exculpatory evidence must be disclosed if it would likely change the outcome of the case.

While the DOJ believes the Brady guidelines are sufficient, lawyer ethics panels in at least 12 states claim it is a vague and impotent standard. They note prosecutors are left to define materiality, essentially allowing prosecutors to decide whether or not the evidence will be useful to the defense. AWhile prosecutors typically do not turn over evidence until trial, statistics show that more than 95%t of criminal cases are decided before then during the plea bargaining process.

Adopting New Rules on Disclosure

Tennessee and other states are adopting ethics rules that require prosecutors hand over all discovery that is somehow favorable to a defendant. Prosecutors must hand this evidence over, according to these agencies, whether or not they believe it would affect the outcome of the case. The exculpatory evidence must also be handed over early enough in the case so that the defense may use the information effectively — in other words, before any kind of hearing when a guilty plea may be made by an accused.

While Tennessee’s and other ethics boards are not courts of law, they are generally overseen by a high court. This gives these ethics boards the power to publicly discipline lawyers who practice in their state — including federal prosecutors. These ethics boards also have the authority to suspend attorneys’ licenses or even debar them from the legal profession.

Eleventh Circuit: Cash Bail System in Georgia Town Upheld

The inability to make bail, which then results in an arrestee sitting in jail longer than other arrestees who can make bail, is not enough under the law to require changes in one Georgia’ town’s cash bail system. Calhoun, Georgia’s revised cash bail system that requires a hearing within 48 hours of arrest to determine whether the accused may be released due to inability to pay bail has been upheld by a federal appeals court. The two-one decision from the Atlanta-based Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s injunction, according to reporting by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.


The Case

The case is Walker v. City of Calhoun, in which the accused was an unemployed man who was arrested on charges of being a pedestrian under the influence of alcohol. At the time of Walker’s stint in custody, arrestees who were unable to make bail were given a court hearing on the next Monday, assuming it was not a holiday. In Walker’s case, he was arrested before Labor Day, meaning he would not be given a hearing for 11 days. After spending five days in jail, Walker sued. As a result, the City of Calhoun released him. The city then shorted the hearing period for arrestees. The district court ruled that poor arrestees received different treatment than those who could make bail and be released without the 48 hour wait.


The Holding

The Eleventh Circuit found the lower court committed legal error when it insisted on a 24-hour window for a bail hearing, according to the majority opinion. The district court’s adoption of an affidavit process for determining an accused’s inability to pay was also legal error, according to the Eleventh Circuit opinion. Ultimately, the Court held there was no constitutional basis for the lower court imposing a preferred method of setting bail for accuseds. The Court found no need to evaluate Walker’s claim, one where the issue is wealth, using heightened scrutiny. If it used the same standard of review as those claims based on sex, religion, and race, the Court reasoned, the courts would be flooded with litigation.


Both Sides

In a press release, the American Bail Coalition supported the Eleventh Circuit’s decision. Not surprisingly, The Southern Center for Human Rights told news outlets that the plaintiff’s lawyers were considering requesting a hearing of the full 11th Circuit. The American Bar Association, on the other hand, had previously filed an amicus brief in the Walker case urging the Appeals Court to affirm the trial court order enjoining Calhoun’s bail system.


Amanda’s Legal App of the Week

Here at Elizabeth Gallo, we love to explore apps to help create balance for our clients and colleagues working in the Legal Industry. Thus, we understand while maintaining our personal agendas, work can become intense as part of the process. Thus, some responsibilities, such has maintaining your CLE credits can be overwhelming. Today, we explore an app that can assist with your CLE requirements.



This week’s Legal app is LawLine CLE

LawLine CLE is a fantastic app that assists with your CLE requirements. It allows you to take CLE courses online via tablet and/or mobile device. LawLine CLE’s catalog offers over 900 CLE audio courses on any law topic. Additionally, the app allows one to download and listen while offline. This app even shares the ability to stop, save your spot, and pick up where you left off.

LawLine CLE is available for any iOS and Android device.