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Law school rankings are out!

Hamline tops rankings list for state’s private law schools

It’s that time of year already. Yale, Harvard and Stanford are the best law schools in the country, says the new U.S. News and World Report rankings.  The University of Minnesota is ranked 20th.  Hamline was ranked 121, followed by St. Thomas at 129 and William Mitchell was 135. Hamline’s ADR program, anchored by the Dispute Resolution Institute, is now ranked third in the nation, marking the fourteenth consecutive year the program has been ranked in the top five nationally.

 Railroad ‘easements’ to go back to property owners

The railroads were the recipient of large rights of way through public property under the General Railroad Right-of-Way Act of 1875, which remained in effect until 1976.  But the U .S. Supreme Court returned to the act on March 10, 2014 , when it decided Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States.  The Brandt family received the land, subject to the railroad’s interest, in 1976.  The railroad abandoned the right of way.  The 10th Circuit awarded the property to the government but the Supreme Court reversed. “The Government loses this case in large part because it won when it argued the opposite in Great Northern R. Co. v. United States, 315 U. S. 262 (1942),” the syllabus states. At that time the government argued that the right of way was an easement. The court “decline[d] to endorse such a stark change in position.”   Dissenting, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said that lawsuits challenging the conversion of former railroad trails to recreational trails may costs hundreds of millions of dollars.

SCOTUS to look at Missouri’s execution procedures

Missouri’s “shadow pharmacy hidden behind the hangman’s hood,” in the words of 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Kermit Bye, will be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court, which will address the issues raised by the shortage of drugs used to execute prisoners. Adam Liptak writes in the New York Times’ Sidebar that the 8th Circuit created a “perverse hurdle” for prisoners who are not allowed to find out and challenge how they will die unless they propose their own alternative method of execution

 U.S. damage payments halved

The United States paid out $1.7 billion in damages last year, but the good news for taxpayers is that it was about a 50 percent reduction from prior years, the National Law Journal reports. In 2012 the amount was about $4 billion and in 2011 just more than $3 billion.  For 2013, “The single biggest payment to an individual — $14.2 million — went to the widow of Steven Altman, who was piloting a private Piper aircraft that collided in midair with a sightseeing helicopter over the Hudson River in 2009. When the crash occurred, the air traffic controller was allegedly making a personal phone call and his supervisor had left the tower to run an errand,” wrote the NLJ.  Additionally, the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts doled out $1.33 million in Judgment Fund money to settle two suits by eight federal judges who sued for back pay after Congress withheld cost-of-living adjustments.

“Boola boola, boola boola
  Boola boola, boola boola
 When we rough house poor old hahvahd
  They will holler, “Boola boo”      …Yale fight song




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