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In Cherokee Funding v. Ruth, 802 SE2d 865 (2017), the Georgia Court of Appeals decided that neither the Industrial Loan Act, nor the Payday Lending Act, applied to certain transactions in which a financing company provides funds to a plaintiff in a pending personal-injury lawsuit, the plaintiff is obligated to repay the funds with interest only if his lawsuit is successful, and his obligation to repay is limited to the extent of the damages that he recovers in the lawsuit. The Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari to review the decision in Cherokee Funding. Ronald Ruth and Kimberly Oglesby sustained injuries in automobile accidents, and they retained attorney Michael Hostilo to represent them in connection with lawsuits to recover damages for their injuries. While their lawsuits were pending, Ruth and Oglesby obtained funds from Cherokee Funding pursuant to financing agreements that Hostilo signed on their behalf. Cherokee Funding would provide funds to Ruth and Oglesby for personal expenses, and for the most part, their obligation to repay those funds was contingent upon the success of their lawsuits. If they recovered nothing, they would have no obligation to repay. If they recovered damages, however, they would be required to repay the amounts that Cherokee Funding had provided, as well as interest at a rate of 4.99 percent per month and various other “fees,” up to the amount of their recovery. In no event would they be required to pay Cherokee Funding any amounts in excess of their lawsuit recovery. In fact, Ruth and Oglesby would not have been in default under the financing agreements if they dismissed their underlying lawsuits and kept the money they received from Cherokee Funding. Cherokee Funding provided $5,550 to Ruth in several small installments between April 2012 and June 2013. Ruth settled his case for an unspecified amount; Cherokee Funding sought to recover more than $84,000 from Ruth pursuant to the terms of his agreement. Similarly, Oglesby settled her lawsuit for an unspecified amount, and money was deducted from her settlement proceeds to repay Cherokee Funding. The two then sued Cherokee Funding seeking relief for themselves and a putative class of similarly situated people to whom Cherokee Funding provided funds under agreements facilitated by Hostilo. The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court’s determination that the Payday Lending Act nor the Industrial Loan act applied in this case. View "Ruth v. Cherokee Funding, LLC" on Justia Law

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For the reasons discussed in this opinion, by a prior order, Dana Marie Santino was removed from office on the grounds that Santino’s conduct “does not evidence a present fitness to hold judicial office.” On July 2, 2018, the Supreme Court issued an order removing Santino from the office of county judge of Palm Beach County, Florida. Here, the Court provided an opinion explaining the reasons for removal. The Judicial Qualifications Commission hearing panel concluded that Santino violated Judicial Canons 7A(3)(a), (3)(b), (3)(c), (e)(i), and (e)(ii) and Rule 4-8.2(a) and (b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct for making false and misleading statements about her opponent, Gregg Lerman, in e-mail advertisements and on social media during her 2016 election campaign and recommended that she be removed from office. The Supreme Court held that Santino’s campaign misconduct warranted removal under these facts. View "Inquiry Concerning Judge Dana Marie Santino" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals upheld the determination of the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct sustaining four charges of misconduct against Petitioner, a Judge of the Civil Court of the City of New York, Queens County, and the conclusion that Petitioner should be removed from office, holding that the charges were sustained by the evidence and that the sanction of removal was appropriate. The Commission determined that Petitioner violated the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct, including rules 100.1, 100.2(A), 100.2(B), 100.3(B)(1), and 100.3(B)(3). The Court of Appeals held that the Commission’s determined sanction of removal was warranted, considering Petitioner’s conduct as a whole and all of the relevant circumstances, and ordered that Petitioner be removed from office. View "In re O'Connor" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals accepted the State Commission on Judicial Conduct’s recommendation that Petitioner Leticia D. Astacio be removed from her judicial office as a Judge of the Rochester City Court, Monroe County, holding that Petitioner’s actions violated sections 100.1, 100.2(A), 100.2(C), 100.3(B)(3), 100.3(E)(1)(a)(i), and 100.4(A)(2) of the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct. Before the Court, Petitioner did not challenge the Commission’s findings of fact and determination to sustain all charges of misconduct, but, rather, asked the Court to reduce the sanction from removal to censure. After considering the full spectrum of Petitioner’s behavior and its impact on public perception of the judiciary, the Court of Appeals held that the Commission’s determination should be accepted and that Judge Astacio be removed from office. View "In re Leticia D. Astacio" on Justia Law

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Applicant Ahmed Hamid-Ahmed appealed a Vermont Board of Bar Examiners (Board) denying his application to take the Vermont bar exam. Applicant has a bachelor’s degree with a major in criminal justice and a Master of Laws degree (LLM) from Widener University School of Law. However, he does not have a Juris Doctor (JD) or a substantially equivalent law degree from a foreign or domestic non-approved law school, he has not enrolled in a law office study program, and he has not been admitted to any other bar, foreign or domestic. Despite this, applicant argues that he is eligible to take the bar exam under Vermont Rule of Admission to the Bar 8(c)(4)’s “curing provision” by virtue of his LLM. He further argues that the Board violated his due process rights when it denied his application but did not explicitly notify him of the process for appealing that decision to the Vermont Supreme Court. Because appellant did not meet the requirements outlined in the Vermont Rules of Admission to the Bar, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "In re Ahmed M. Hamid-Ahmed" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted the writ of prohibition sought by Petitioner, the Honorable Margaret L. Workman, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, and halted the impeachment proceedings against her, holding that the prosecution of Petitioner for the allegations set forth in Article IV, Article VI, and Article XIV of the Articles of Impeachment was prohibited. Petitioner was impeached on three of the eleven Articles of Impeachment approved by the House of Delegates. Articles IV and VI alleged that Petitioner improperly authorized the overpayment of senior-status judges, and Article XIV included charges that Petitioner and three other justices failed to implement various administrative policies and procedures. Petitioner filed this proceeding to have the Articles of Impeachment against her dismissed, naming as Respondents the president and president pro tempore of the Senate, the clerk of the Senate, and the West Virginia Senate. The Supreme Court granted a writ of prohibition, holding (1) the prosecution of Petitioner for the allegations at issue violated the separation of powers doctrine; (2) Respondents lacked jurisdiction over the alleged violations in Articles IV and VI and lacked jurisdiction over the alleged violation in Article XIV as drafted; and (3) the failure to set forth findings of fact and to pass a resolution adopting the Articles of Impeachment violated due process principles. View "State ex rel. Workman v. Carmichael" on Justia Law

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After plaintiffs successfully prosecuted their cases, the Treasury Department determined that plaintiffs had outstanding debts to various government entities. However, plaintiffs had assigned to counsel any legal fees to which they might be entitled under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). The Treasury Department, rather than paying out the fees directly, reduced plaintiffs' debts by equal amounts under the Treasury Offset Program and thus the attorneys received nothing. The Seventh Circuit held that it would be imprudent to entertain new administrative claims that were only minimally related to the judgments, and declined to exercise ancillary jurisdiction over plaintiffs' collateral challenges to the regulations. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district courts' judgments. In this case, the district courts properly granted attorney fees under the EAJA, and the government properly applied those fees to plaintiffs' outstanding debts. View "Harrington v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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This matter involved two unrelated juveniles, E.H. and S.K.-P. in unrelated dependency proceedings. R.R., E.H.;s mother, and S.K.-P. both challenged the validity of RCW 13.34.100's discretionary standard for appointment of counsel for children in dependency proceedings, and sought instead a categorical right to counsel for all children in dependency proceedings. The Washington Supreme Court consolidate these cases to address that issue. The Supreme Court determined RCW 13.34.100(7)(a) was adequate under the Washington Constitution, and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying a motion to appoint counsel. In light of GR 15, the Supreme Court held confidential juvenile court records remain sealed and confidential on appeal, and granted a joint motion to seal records in these matters. View "In re Dependency of E.H." on Justia Law

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Objectors challenged a class action settlement between plaintiff and Godiva for claims under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA). Over the objections, the district court approved the settlement, class counsel's request for attorney's fees, and an incentive award for plaintiff. The Eleventh Circuit held that class members who objected to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3) class settlements but did not opt out were "parties" for purposes of appeal. Determining that Article III standing requirements were satisfied, the court held on the merits that the district court did not abuse its discretion by awarding attorney's fees despite a Rule 23(h) violation; the district court properly assessed the risks faced by the class and the compensation secured by class counsel, and did not abuse its discretion by awarding an above-benchmark percentage of the common fund; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by granting a $10,000 incentive award to plaintiff as class representative. View "Muransky v. Godiva Chocolatier, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's judgment reducing a law firm's fee to 10 percent in an action where the law firm represented the family of a pilot who died in a plane crash. The court held that the trial court abused its discretion when it awarded the attorney fees of only 10 percent of the total value of the settlement where the trial court gave too little consideration to California Rules of Court, rule 7.955(a)(2), which required it to take into account the terms of the law firm's representation agreement. The court declined to determine in the first instance what fee would be appropriate under rule 7.955 and remanded for the trial court to consider the matter in the first instance. View "Schulz v. Jeppesen Sanderson, Inc." on Justia Law