Thursday, October 31, 2013

Judge resigns after being caught texting instructions to prosecutor on getting convictions

 Texas district Judge Elizabeth E. Coker is stepping down from the bench after being caught engaging in a massive perversion of justice. A whistleblower revealed that Corker was sending text messages to prosecutors with suggestions on questions to ask in court in order to secure a conviction.

Article here.

The judge, while resigning did not admit guilt or fault.

Michgan's Gov. Rick Snyder signs unemployment bill with drug test requirement

The Governor signed a bill that would bring Michigan into line with federal requirements for unemployment benefits.
article here.

The bills include a measure that would cut off unemployment benefits to those who fail a drug test or refuse to take one offered by a prospective employer.

Getting caught texting and driving has few financial consequenes

Texting while driving is now more dangerous than drinking and driving, but has fewer penalties . . . 
article here. 

From the article: it is a primary offense to text and drive, which means the cops can pull you over if they nab you doing it. But if you get caught, the fine is $100 for the first offense and $200 for the second.
And here’s the kicker: There are no points on your driving record.

Australian court holds no worker's compensation benefit for sex-related injury.

An Australian government employee who was injured while having sex on a work-related trip doesn’t qualify for workers’ compensation, the nation’s highest court said in a ruling praised by the employment minister.
The High Court of Australia today overturned a federal appeal court ruling that the woman was hurt during a work interlude and entitled to compensation from Comcare, the country’s work safety agency that pays for medical expenses and time missed from work as a result of injury.
article here.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bare Minimums for a legal website

The Lawyerist has a very good article about legal websites.

As a side note, I'm amazed by the attorneys I know who have no website, none at all. And these aren't old, long-in-the-tooth attorneys either, they're people who should know better. 

What to do after you passed the Michigan Bar Exam

1. Celebrate! Tell friends & family loudly! (But don't drunk & drive!)

2. Follow the steps in this article to get your P number.

When can you "get away" with not wearing a tie?

Such important individuals as Michigan's governor Rick Snyder and President Obama have both attacked this issue, eschewing a tie when it would typically be expected.

Article here.

Looking for a legal job? Like criminal law?

The Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System is accepting applications for attorneys. Go to for more information. Applications accepted until November 15, 2013.

ACLU tells local municipalities to repeal anti-begging laws

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – On the heels of a federal judge striking down the state’s panhandling statute, the ACLU of Michigan has sent notices to 84 communities – including many in West Michigan – urging their anti-begging ordinances be repealed.

Article here. 

An Oct. 29 letter sent to the Ada Township attorney said: “We have reviewed your city ordinance and understand it to read as follows: No person shall: … Beg in any public place. …
“Ada Township’s ordinance, like the state law struck down in (the Grand Rapids case), prohibits begging in public places and is therefore unconstitutional on its face. We therefore advise you to repeal the ordinance and to instruct your local law enforcement agency to stop enforcing it immediately.”

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

They have to get a piece of everything: IRS says bike-share programs not free

From the article: Bike share programs are primarily for short-term use in urban areas as alternatives to private vehicles, taxis or mass transit. Bikes are rented at one docking station and may be returned there or at any other docking station. The stated goals are reducing traffic congestion, noise and air pollution. And are they tax-free? Nope, not according to the IRS.
Article here. 

No custody rights, says Michigan Court of Appeals to parent in same-gender couple

article here.  

The Michigan Court of Appeals has agreed with a Dickinson County judge who dismissed a lawsuit by Jennifer Stankevich who was seeking custody and other rights from her former partner, Leanne Milliron.
Stankevich and Milliron had entered into a same-sex marriage in Canada in 2007 but separated two years later.

While Stankevich apparently had a role in the child’s early life, the court ruled Milliron is the biological mother, and since Michigan doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, she thereby has the upper hand in any legal action.

Side Note: I think that this may be an inequitable result, but probably will be upheld if it goes to a higher court. If there's a heterosexual couple, where children are residing with a biological parent, and one person is not the biological parent, and doesn't make an effort to adopt children who he/she is parenting, then they have no standing for custody when the adult relationship ends. This is similar to how the court here viewed the standing of the non-biological mom in this same-gender couple.

Money was spent on this: Study reveals men do ogle women's bodies (but women do as well)

But women do it as well.  . ..

"Until now, we didn't have evidence people were actually doing that to women's bodies," she says. "We have women's self-reports, but this is some of the first work to document that people actually engage in this."

Article here. 

Former GRPS lunch lady charged with paying students to beat up other students

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - The former Campus Elementary lunchroom aide who allegedly paid $1 to have a fourth-grader "roughed up" by fellow classmates has been charged with two misdemeanors, said Grand Rapids Police Lt. Patrick Merrill.
Article here.

Monday, October 28, 2013

States you wouldn't want to be caught dead in

States with a death tax, states with an inheritance tax, and states with both! Article here.

Rails to Trails programs versus Property Owner Rights: What's more important?

The US Supreme Court will decide this (again!) in a case before the Court this term. Rails to trails programs are about adding value to the community via recreation & tourism. But what do private property owners give up, since their property is sacrificed to the program?

Article here.

Michigan Medical Marijuana in the news: 6 month old infant returned to parents

The Greens, parents of Bree, were able to have their daughter back last Friday. Article here. 

At issue was whether the parents' use and growing of marijuana would endanger the child. On September 13, Steve and Maria Green, each a state-approved marijuana user, stood in their Lansing home in shock as employees from the county's Child Protective Services unit said the Greens might be exposing their infant daughter Bree to marijuana.

Bar Exam Results: How do you think they should be publicized?

How do you think Bar Exam results should be publicized?

The State Bar of Michigan blog had an article on this. Michigan's method is to notify takers by mail, then publicize online a few days later. So the takers get the chance to get the good news (or bad) first, tell family, and then the general public will be able to see online who passed. Of course, this is all different if you're a taker who wasn't cleared by Character & Fitness before taking the exam.

I wasn't caring how Michigan publicized, but I sure wished they had a definite date on which they would notify taker. It seemed like I knew the mailman better than ever, as well as what was the normal time for him to be headed down my street.

Apparently it was a busy weekend in Grand Rapids

Multiple shootings kept the Grand Rapids police busy this past weekend.

 Police search for man with a gun near Boston Square, article here.

And, about five blocks away, multiple homes shot-up in SE Grand Rapids, article here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The word is: July 2013 Michigan Bar exam results are being released

Sources say that Michigan Bar Exam results are being released. The Board of Law Examiners issued a press release yesterday that July takers will be notified.

Best of luck, fingers crossed for those I know who are waiting their results! 

If you're thinking about going out for a night of drinking, and then getting behind the wheel, here are some things to consider.

Michigan law regards any BAC (blood alcohol content) above .08 percent as "impaired" driving, for a driver who is over age 21. Of drivers under age 21, any BAC at .02 percent or above is considered impaired (also known as "zero tolerance" of impaired driving for underage drivers). Also, it's illegal to drive under the influence of any amount of cocaine or a Schedule 1 controlled substance in your body. (For more information about Schedule 1 drugs, see section 7212 of the Michigan Public Health Code; MCL 333.7212.)

If you're impaired (between .08 - .16 percent BAC) and this is a first offense**, fines and penalties will be:
  • Up to $500 fine
  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to 360 hours of community service
  • Up to 180 days license suspension
  • 6 points on a driver's license. 
  • There's also the possibility you'll be required to use an ignition interlock device.
  • A reinstatement fee of $125 if your driver's license was suspended, revoked, or restricted. (More information at MSP and Michigan SOS).
  • This doesn't include lost time at work, lost wages from attending court, meetings with your attorney, time spent doing all the required community service, paying your attorney, and so on.  

Michigan has changed its law recently to include a higher BAC  with a higher penalty, also known as the "Super Drunk" law. If your BAC was .17 or higher,and this was a first offense, penalties are:
  • Up to $700 fine
  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • Up to 360 hours of community service
  • Up to one year license suspension
  • 6 points on a driver's license
  • Mandatory completion of an alcohol treatment program
  • Ignition interlock use and compliance after 45 days license suspension is required to receive a restricted driver's license. Convicted drunk drivers have limited driving privileges, are prohibited from operating a vehicle without an approved and properly installed ignition interlock device, and are responsible for all installation and upkeep costs for the device.
  • A reinstatement fee of $125 if your driver's license was suspended, revoked, or restricted. (More information at MSP and Michigan SOS
Michigan "ratchets up" fines and penalties when it's a second or third offense, with a third offense being a felony. And penalties go up if there's a death or serious injury. Also, refusing to take a chemical test to test your BAC results in a license suspension. But if you're still in the car, and not arrested yet, the PBT (preliminary breath test) and other roadside sobriety tests can be refused. Related article from my blog here. 

If you already have gotten arrested for drunk driving, it's essential that you hire an attorney who can defend you in court. A good defense attorney can perhaps get results of your BAC test thrown out, suppress incriminating statements you may have made, or perhaps throw out the traffic stop altogether. 

Want to calculate your potential BAC? Try this website.  Keep in mind that what you ate, how long ago it was, how close together your drinks were, how much you weigh, and how often you drink are all factors that can affect your BAC.

** And there are no fatalities or serious bodily injury. Different fines apply for drivers with a CDL endorsement as well.  

Text messages may have been a motivation for murder, suspect's brother says

The brother of a man suspected of killing his 29-year-old girlfriend in a northern Kent County home said his brother was upset over text messages he saw on her phone. Article here.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Wyoming robbery suspects not very good at covering their tracks

Suspects in a Wyoming bank robbery weren't too good at covering their tracks. One suspect was supposed to divert police away from the robbery (but didn't), and the other bragged about the robbery while at a party -- to a friend who turned the tip in the next day.
Article here.

Teachers suing the MEA find support gathering

A Coopersville teacher said other colleagues across the state are starting to reach out to her, a day after multiple unfair labor practices complaints were filed against the Michigan Education Association on behalf of her and seven others who allege they were kept from leaving the sprawling teachers' union.

Article here.

Also, this is the second law suit in two weeks against the MEA. Another teacher sued last week for unfair labor practice. Article here.  

One bonus from the government shutdown: Tax season will be delayed - but April 15 stays the same

The IRS announced yesterday that due to the government shutdown, the start of tax season will be delayed. Article here. But tax payers will still need to file their taxes by April 15, sorry, Charlie.

Does law enforcement need a warrant before using a GPS device?

The Third Circuit says "yes, they do."And, if you're a passenger in a car with a GPS unit on it, you have standing to suppress the evidence that was gained from that search.

Article here.

Update: Even better article here.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Federal Court judge says he decided wrong in Indiana voter ID law

Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner now says that he got it wrong in his 2007 opinion upholding Indiana's voter I.D. law.  The decision was affirmed in 2008 by the U.S. Supreme Court in an opinion authored by Justice John Paul Stevens. However, Stevens told the Wall Street Journal last week that he stands by his decision, which he called "state-specific and record-specific," despite his concerns with the proliferation of voter I.D. laws
Article here.

Why not start your own law firm?

This is for those people who've passed the bar, but don't know what to do next, or feel they must do something. Article here.

Residents urge GRCC to defund Actor's Theater after play with male nudity

A recent play at Grand Rapids Community College featuring nudity was a topic of controversy at Monday's board meeting, as opponents of the production questioned whether the college should defund the group that staged the performance.
The school is endorsing nudity “as entertainment or education and is using our tax dollars to do this,” said Joan Ridderbos, a Middleville resident who learned of the play from friends who attend her church.
Article here. 

Michigan teacher sues MEA over union requirement

Miriam Chanski, a kindergarten teacher in Coopersville, says the debate is not about why she doesn’t want to be part of the MEA, but rather her right to not to be forced to be in a union after Governor Snyder signed a bill making Michigan a Right to Work State.
“I chose to opt out and it’s not being honored,” said Chanski.
Article here. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Does the word "networking" strike fear into you? Here's some tips.

Do you have a chance to meet new people in the next few weeks? Are you dreading it? If so, you're not alone. Lawyers especially have a hard time at small talk, apparently. Follow these tips to make your next networking event, if not pain-less, at least more pain-free.
Article here.

Holland Latin Kings leader to be sentenced today

Mario Herrera, one of the founding Holland Latin Kings, is to be sentenced on Tuesday, Oct. 22, in U.S. District Court. Herrerra was among five gang members involved in a 2008 beating of two men on Columbia Avenue, police said. The victims were punched and kicked in the head, suffering broken bones and teeth, records showed. One other member cooperated with authorities. Article here.

While documents do not state the advisory sentencing guidelines for Herrera, District Judge Robert Holmes Bell said he planned an upward departure of the guidelines based on Herrera’s 19 misdemeanor violations.

Is homebrewing beer legal?

The answer:  Yes, though there are limits, which depends on what you're doing with your brew, and what state's law applies.
Article here.

Brief overview: home brewing was affected by Prohibition in 1919 (passage of the 18th Amendment), which outlawed alcohol. When the 21st Amendment was passed, home brewing of beer was not part of the repealed Amendment in 1933 (although wine making was). It wasn't until 1978 that President Jimmy Carter signed H.R. 1337, which contained an amendment sponsored by Senator Alan Cranston creating an exemption from taxation for beer brewed at home for personal or family use

Checking your phone during class? Texting? You're not alone.

A new study has found that more than 90 percent of students admit to using their devices for non-class activities during class times. Less than 8 percent said that they never do so.
Article here. 

Jail time for attorney who claimed tax law expertise

A Hawaii personal injury attorney who advertised his tax law expertise has been sentenced to 20 months in federal prison for understating his income on his own 2006 return.

Article here. 

He earned about $630,000 in 2006, but told the feds his gross income was a little under $300,000, according to the Associated Press.

Monday, October 21, 2013

What does the prosecution have to share with defendants?

According to the rules of professional conduct, prosecutors have an ethical duty to share information with the defendant that might possibly be exculpatory - in other words, the evidence could prove that the defendant didn't do the charged crime.
But apparently this is news to prosecutors in North Carolina, who are defending their decision not to turn over exculpatory evidence for a man who spent 17 years in prison. Article here.

Does lower law school enrollment mean lower-quality law students?

At many law schools, enrollment has been trending downward in recent years. What does this mean? One article suggests that

Graduates of elite colleges and universities are opting not to apply to law school at a greater rate than graduates of less elite colleges and universities. One might suppose that this translates to a greater decline in the number of applicants and matriculants with really high LSATs (165 or above) as compared to those with relatively low LSATs (149 and below).

Who's the judge? Michigan judicial appointments

The Michigan Supreme Court announced the appointments in an 11-page list of chief judge appointments for an assortment of courts across the state. Article here.

More Michigan law: Beer pints are already 16 ounces in Michigan

It's not widely known, but beer drinkers who don't receive their fair share of ale can actually file a complaint through Michigan's Weights and Measures Act.

So if you're thinking what you just were served was less than 16 ounces- you can get your day in court.

And  new legislation - which may already be addressed by Michigan's Consumer Protection Act - will give an additional amount of support for protecting beer drinkers. Article here. 

Side note: I am a little interested in this, just from a brewing standpoint. I have a new-ish hobby of beer brewing, which I love. We're not kegging the beer yet, we're bottling it. And some  bottles are below 12 ounces. It's a small variation, though.

More than 1,700 bills have been introduced in the State Legislature this year

Michigan law makers can't be accused of being lazy. But perhaps they are too eager to make new laws? The article has a brief summary of a few of the more interesting bills proposed this year in  Michigan.

Article here.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Could victims of GRPS teacher's sex abuse be able to sue the school district?

The answer: yes, they could sue the school district under Title IX. But whether they'd succeed is another question. Article here. 
 From the article:

Nelson Miller, associate dean and professor at Cooley Law School's Grand Rapids campus, said a successful civil case against GRPS would have to meet a high standard. He said the deliberate-indifference standard is one half of the Title IX standard, with actual notice being the other part.

"The challenge is that the school district would have had to know of the conduct of that teacher plus show deliberate indifference to it," he said. "If the school takes appropriate action on actual notice, there is no liability."

Judge who delayed ruling on same-sex marriages "in middle of the road."

The judge who delayed ruling on same-sex marriages in Michigan earlier this week is said to be in the "middle of the road."

article here.

Attorneys for either side are using public policy arguments to help their cases. The Attorney for the state's side says, it's best for the people of a state to decide the issue, and they already have. The attorney for the plaintiffs says it's best for children to have married parents, and uses as influential law the United States v. Windsor decision, which legalized same-sex marriage earlier this year in the US Supreme Court.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Divorce information in Michigan - a brief overview of family law issues

What follows is a brief overview of issues in Family Law. For more information, contact me, or view my website, 

Divorce - Time Lines
The time you are waiting for your divorce to be final depends on several things. If you are married with minor children, the waiting time is at a minimum six months, as set by the state statute governing divorce. If you are married without minor children the waiting time can be less. This all depends on whether, as the deadline approaches, there are still issues to be settled between the spouses, such as property division, or spousal support.

Spousal Support
Spousal support (formerly called alimony) is not an automatic "given" in any marriage. The court decides whether to award spousal support, and for how long, depending on several factors. The factors include, but are not limited to: the ages of the parties, the abilities of the parties to work, the length of the marriage, and so on. It's also not a "given" that the man would pay spousal support to the woman, it could be reversed, depending on the situations of the parties.

Child Custody
It's possible that a couple can reach an agreement about child custody before they begin the divorce process. If that's the case, it makes things easier on all parties, and the children as well. But if the parties can't agree on custody, it will be decided by the court. The court takes into consideration the best interests of the child, and may decide that a joint custody arrangement is preferred to one where one party has "sole custody."

Child Support
All children have the right to a parent's financial support until the child is 18 or graduates high school. The amount of support a parent will pay is based on applying the Child Support Guidelines, with the amount of parenting time a parent has as a factor. Joint custody of children will not erase a parent's support obligation. Many factors go into calculating what child support obligations are.

Property settlement is the area of divorce that divides all assets accumulated during or by reason of a marriage. Even if property is titled in one party's name, it may be considered as marital property. If a valid prenuptial (or antenuptial agreement) was entered, that will also be considered by the court.

It is presumed that it is in the best interests of the child to have a relationship with both parents that continues during and beyond the divorce process. The court will arrange for visitation that supports a relationship with both parents - whether custodial or non-custodial. Often, parents can agree on a schedule for visitation, but if not, the court will arrange one for the parents. If one party seeks to restrict or limit the other party's visitation, the court will only order this based on clear and convincing evidence that visitation would be a danger to the child's physical, mental, or emotional health. This is because a child has an inherent right to love and affection from both parents, and neither parent should attempt to estrange children from the other parent. It's best not to involve the child in disputes between the parents that often occur during the divorce process.

Friend of the Court
Friend of the Court may be involved in your divorce, custody, or child support case. Friend of the Court is an arm of the court, and it issues recommendations on child support, custody, and visitation. It is also involved in enforcement of child support orders.

Michigan Attorney General to County clerks: Don't issue same-gender marriage licenses

Update: a Federal district court judge was expected to issue a ruling at a hearing October 16 about whether Michigan's same-sex voter ban was constitutional. He delayed giving a ruling, opting instead for scheduling an expedited trial. Article here.

In the mean time, the Michigan Attorney general Bill Schuette warned county clerks not to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples, article here. 

Class action lawsuit alleges Michigan teens subjected to sex abuse in prison

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit on behalf of seven "John Doe" minor inmates, alleges that Governor Snyder, the Michigan Department of Corrections, Director Daniel Heyns, three deputy directors and wardens at 10 state prisons have failed to abide by federal law in not keeping minor inmates separate from adults. Article here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ionia Newspaper editor sued for defamatory statements and lost - other side wants sanctions

An Ionia newspaper editor lost a defamation lawsuit yesterday. But the defendants' attorney fees don't have to be paid by the losing editor, the judge ruled.

Article here.

The editor sued letter writers accusing her of "yellow journalism," and criticized her in letters to supervisors and online.

Law School student debt could be even more terrifying in the future

Thinking your student loan repayment is high? Well, be glad your tuition is still not charging, according to this article.Even though enrollment is down, cost remains the same at many law schools. But according to the article, costs will get even higher in the next few years.

Part of the problem in my opinion is that tuition rates change as you're enrolled. So that means what cost you A when you enrolled costs A x2 by the time you graduate. So why can't students only agree to pay the tuition rate they were enrolled at? Sounds fair to me.

Miranda rights: Can Holmes's statements to police be used against him?

James Holmes's lawyers are arguing over whether his statements to police "It's just me," can be used against him. He was questioned by police shortly after the shooting in Aurora, CO, in July 2012, where's he's alleged to have shot theater goers at a movie showing.

Article here. 

It was two hours later that Holmes was read his Miranda rights, which would have alerted him to the fact that statements could be used against him.

My take on this is that the prosecution will argue that a public safety exception applied, since they were wondering if another shooter was present.The broader issue is when does Miranda rights apply? Generally, Miranda rights apply when you are in police custody, or custodial interrogation. So if a suspect isn't in custody, would Miranda apply?

The defense attorneys admit that this is a side issue, however, because they're not denying he was shooting in the theater. Instead, their defense will involve whether the defendant was sane at the time of the shootings or not.

Same gender marriage: today in Michigan?

Clerks in at least 10 of Michigan's 83 counties are prepared to issue marriage licenses this week if US District Court Judge Bernard Friedman strikes down the state's voter-approved ban, according to this MLive report. Clerks in Bay, Clare, Delta, Ingham, Isabella, Lapeer, Midland, Oakland, Tuscola and Washtenaw counties indicated that they are ready to begin issuing licenses immediately after a ruling.

Full article here. 

So that means that if a federal judge this week strikes down a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in Michigan, same-gender marriages could be legal in Michigan, at least until a higher court says otherwise, which could be only a matter of hours or days. 

Former Grand Rapids teacher sentenced yesterday to prison for sex with students

Wyoming resident Jamila Williams will spend at least three to six years in prison after she pleaded no contest to four counts of criminal sexual conduct with the teen students. The former Grand Rapids public school teacher was suspended from her job and ordered not to be unsupervised with children under 16.

She was sentenced yesterday in Wyoming, article here. Updates as to exact sentencing should be posted later today.

*** Update: She received 8 - 15 years at her sentencing, article here.

NSA's data collection doesn't apply to US Citizens -- until it does.

The NSA (National Security Agency) is harvesting hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts around the world, many of them belonging to Americans, as reported in an article in the Washington Post yesterday. 

From the article: Although the collection takes place overseas, two senior U.S. intelligence officials acknowledged that it sweeps in the contacts of many Americans. They declined to offer an estimate but did not dispute that the number is likely to be in the millions or tens of millions.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Late- night bars: Will they be able to open in Michigan?

For years, the Michigan Legislature has been looking at different versions of bills that would allow bars to stay open until 4am. So far, these measure have met with no success.

One senator is still trying to keep the bills alive. Article here.

Supporters of the bill say there will be economic benefits to bars that can stay open the later hours. Opponents worry that the bill will lead to more alcohol-related fatalities, among others.
Some news of the weird:

Race car driver arrested for DUI during race. This is in addition to charges of criminal recklessness and intimidation - because after the DUI arrest, he re-entered the race and intentionally crashed another driver, allegedly. No one was injured.

West Michigan woman says employer discriminated because she was divorcing

A former non-profit employee said she was fired from her job because she was divorcing and didn't attempt to reconcile her marriage. Article here.The employee's supervisors at the Christian non-profit gave her paid time off to work on her marriage, and attempted to "help" the situation with recommended counseling, among other things.

She's suing in Federal District court because she contends she was treated differently than men have been under similar circumstances at her workplace.

Wyoming's law on Medical Marijuana not a ban, just an attempt to enforce zoning

In defense of a city ordinance under attack, the City of Wyoming has the right to enforce zoning, and the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act doesn't prohibit that, argued the City Attorney for Wyoming. Article here.

The Michigan Supreme Court heard oral argument last week as to whether Wyoming's ordinance was constitutional. Wyoming's ordinance was that in the city, only a licensed pharmacist can dispense medical marijuana. A Wyoming resident sued, saying that the city violated the tenants of the Medical Marijuana Act, which was passed by 63 percent of voters statewide and by 59 percent of voters in the city of Wyoming in 2008. His lawsuit was joined by the ACLU.