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“Not So Elementary,” says Supreme Court on use of Sherlock Holmes

Posted Monday, November 3, 2014 by Andrew Charles Huff

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a copyright dispute over the right to portray Sherlock Holmes in a new series of stories. The case involved an appeal from heirs of legendary writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who say anyone portraying characters from the popular detective series must seek permission or pay a licensing fee.

However, a U.S. district court had previously ruled that copyrights had expired on all Sherlock Holmes novels and stories published before 1923, but not on the final 10 stories published after that. The lower court said author Leslie Klinger could use characters from pre-1923 works and a federal appeals court agreed.

The Doyle estate argued that the characters continued to develop in later works so they should remain off-limits until remaining copyrights run out in 2022.

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So Just “Who” is a Public Servant?

Posted Thursday, September 18, 2014 by Andrew Charles Huff

According to the State Supreme Court, not Sound Transit Fare Enforcement Officers. It is a crime to lie to public servants, but the Court just found that contract-based ”Fare Enforcement Officers” are not “public servants” under the law.

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Warrant must Authorize the Search, not just the Seizure

Posted Thursday, September 18, 2014 by Andrew Charles Huff

The Washington Court of Appeals has ruled that a warrant authorizing the withdrawal of blood must also authorize the testing of that blood. Otherwise, the results are inadmissible. In State v. Jose Martines, the Court found that a warrant is insufficient if it doesn’t contain language authorizing bodily fluids like blood to be tested for alcohol or other drugs. Most warrants have only authorize the withdrawal of fluids…until now.

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Wenatchee v. Legalized Marijuana

Posted Thursday, June 5, 2014 by Andrew Charles Huff

A lawsuit against the city of Wenatchee could have sweeping implications for marijuana’s future in Washington and other states.The lawsuit was recently filed in Chelan County Superior Court by an individual seeking a state license for a retail marijuana store in Wenatchee. However, Wenatchee officials won’t let him open a store because of the city’s policy requiring entrepreneurs to comply with federal law to get a business license.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, even though Washington legalized possession, production and regulation of the drug via Initiative 502 in 2012.

The case could open the door to a court ruling on whether the federal government can trump or pre-empt Washington’s pot law. Such a ruling could invalidate Washington’s regulations and emerging pot industry, or uphold it. Either outcome could influence legalization campaigns planned in states such as California.

Wenatchee’s mayor had recommended the City simply drop the federal requirement from its business-license process. But the City Council voted 4-3 earlier this year to maintain the federal compliance provision.

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Justice Antonin Scalia Backs Unlawful Search and Siezure...in the minority.

Posted Tuesday, May 13, 2014 by Andrew Charles Huff

Kudos to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who has regularly backed Fourth Amendments protections against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” Recently, in Navarette v. California, Scalia disagreed with the court’s conclusion that the police could lawfully stop a car after a person anonymously called 911 and reported the car had driven her off the road. Scalia wrote that such stops were not the constitutional framers’ concept of a “people secure from unreasonable searches and seizures.”

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