Russell G. Little, Attorney at Law

Russell G. Little, Attorney at Law I represent people and families in civil, criminal and family courts. I've practiced law since 1983, and I've tried jury and nonjury cases for 32 years.

Operating as usual

08/22/2021

A group of Alabama real-estate agents and landlords returned to the Supreme Court on Friday, asking the justices to block the Biden administration’s latest ban on evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The request came just under two months after the justices, in a 5-4 vote, declined to lift an earlier iteration of the eviction moratorium. Justice Brett Kavanaugh provided the key vote in late June to keep the earlier version of the ban in place, explaining that although he agreed with the challengers that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had exceeded its authority when it issued the ban, he voted not to strike it down because the ban was scheduled to expire at the end of July.

The challengers’ request went initially to Roberts, who handles emergency appeals from the District of Columbia. Roberts moved quickly, instructing the Biden administration to file its response by noon on Monday, Aug. 23. Once the response and the challengers’ reply are in, Roberts can act on the request alone or, as is more likely in a high-profile case like this one, refer it to the full court.

08/17/2021

Houston Community College System v. Wilson will be heard by the Supreme Court November 2

08/10/2021

Federal judges will no longer play the role of referee when the intensely partisan, once-per-decade fight over congressional mapmaking gets underway this year.

As a result of decisions by the Roberts Court, federal courthouses will be forced to turn away even the most egregious cases of partisan gerrymandering, which could make it easier for state lawmakers to lock in politically manipulated voting maps for the next decade.

“Now that the Supreme Court has officially retreated from the area, they've set off what will likely be an arms race between the parties to gerrymander to the fullest extent they can in the states where they hold control,” said G. Michael Parsons, a scholar at New York University School of Law.

08/08/2021

In the first test of COVID-19 vaccine requirements to arrive at the Supreme Court, a group of Indiana University students asked the justices on Friday afternoon to block the school’s requirement that all students be vaccinated against the virus. Both a federal district court in Indiana and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit declined to put the university’s vaccine requirement on hold while the students litigate their challenge, leading to Friday’s filing seeking immediate relief from the justices.

07/29/2021

Telling the justices that “the courthouse door has been barred to New York’s landlords” “for more than sixteen months and counting,” a group of New York landlords asked the Supreme Court to block a state moratorium on residential evictions put in place at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. A federal district court dismissed the landlords’ challenge, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit rejected the landlords’ request to put the moratorium on hold while they appeal, prompting the landlords’ emergency filing with the Supreme Court on Tuesday afternoon.

On Wednesday, Sotomayor asked New York to file a response to the landlords’ request by Aug. 4 at 4 p.m.

Whenever I had a case before a jury in one of Texas’ old rural courthouses, I always thought about the scenes from the m...
07/21/2021
What is THE Trial of the Century?

Whenever I had a case before a jury in one of Texas’ old rural courthouses, I always thought about the scenes from the movie made about this case.

https://famous-trials.com/scopesmonkey/2113-century

Welcome to Famous Trials, the Web’s largest and most visited collection of original essays, trial transcripts and exhibits, maps, images, and other materials relating to the greatest trials in world history. “Famous Trials” first appeared on the Web in 1995, making this site older than about 9...

07/18/2021

Author Cindi Flow Writes will be appearing on Author Talk next Monday (19JUL) at 10AM CT! You can find the interview one of two ways:
Via #FB:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/authortalkpodcast
Via #YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmQ6-7yys-9ifqdGm6eydgA
Don't miss this chance to see Cindi Flow as she chats with Author Talk hosts: Russell Little, Aimee Ravichandran, and Fernanda Brady, as well as Texas Sisters Press co-owner, CJ Peterson! There'll be plenty of fun and laughter to go around! Help us #celebrate and #welcome this new #author into the #publishing world!
#sandyboyadventures #kidlit #childrensbook #parents #grandparents #horse 🐴 #horses #interview #livebroadcast #live #authorinterview

07/02/2021

On the last day before its summer recess, the Supreme Court issued a major decision on voting rights that will make it more difficult to contest election regulations under the Voting Rights Act. By a vote of 6-3, the justices upheld two Arizona voting provisions that Democrats and civil rights groups challenged as disproportionately burdening minority voters. In an opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, the majority outlined what it described as “guideposts” for future challenges to voting laws under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which bans racial discrimination in election practices. The court’s three liberal justices dissented, with Justice Elena Kagan complaining that Thursday’s decision “undermines Section 2 and the right it provides.”

06/30/2021

The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a request by a group of Alabama real estate agents to block a federal moratorium on evictions that was imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Justice Brett Kavanaugh provided the key vote to leave the moratorium in place, joining Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s three liberal justices. Kavanaugh wrote that, although he agrees with the real estate agents that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention exceeded its authority when it issued the ban, he nonetheless voted to leave the ban in place because it is scheduled to expire soon.

06/18/2021

In a clash between religious freedom and public policies that protect LGBTQ people, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Philadelphia violated the First Amendment’s free exercise clause when the city stopped working with a Catholic organization that refused to certify same-sex couples as potential foster parents.

The ruling was a victory for Catholic Social Services, an organization associated with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and two foster parents, who alleged that Philadelphia’s refusal to make foster-care referrals to CSS discriminated against the group because of its religious beliefs about traditional marriage. But the decision fell short of the broad endorsement of religious freedom that the challengers had sought. While the justices unanimously agreed with CSS and the foster parents that the city’s action was unconstitutional, a six-justice majority left intact the Supreme Court’s 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith, which held that government actions usually do not violate the free exercise clause as long as they are neutral and apply to everyone.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court, in an opinion that was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Barrett wrote a concurring opinion that Kavanaugh joined in full and Breyer joined except for the first paragraph. Justice Samuel Alito wrote an opinion concurring in the judgment – that is, agreeing with the result that the court reached, if not necessarily its reasoning. His opinion was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch. Gorsuch wrote his own opinion concurring in the judgment, which Thomas and Alito joined.

06/16/2021

Crowe v. Oregon State Bar, the justices are asked to review the use of mandatory attorney dues by the Oregon State Bar to fund political and ideological speech. The challengers are Oregon attorneys who say the state bar uses the mandatory dues to fund legislative advocacy and other speech on matters of public importance. They ask the court to clarify prior case law on bar-association dues and declare that the Oregon policy is subject to the same “exacting” First Amendment scrutiny as laws involving subsidized speech by public-sector unions.

06/14/2021

Starting at 10 a.m., the court is expected to release one or more opinions in argued cases from the current term.

06/12/2021

In Crowe v. Oregon State Bar, the justices are asked to review the use of mandatory attorney dues by the Oregon State Bar to fund political and ideological speech. The challengers are Oregon attorneys who say the state bar uses the mandatory dues to fund legislative advocacy and other speech on matters of public importance. They ask the court to clarify prior case law on bar-association dues and declare that the Oregon policy is subject to the same “exacting” First Amendment scrutiny as laws involving subsidized speech by public-sector unions.

06/04/2021

A group of Alabama real estate agents asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to block a federal moratorium on evictions that was imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, a federal district judge agreed with the group that the Centers for Disease Control does not have the power to impose the policy, but she put her ruling on hold to give the government time to appeal. The Alabama Association of Realtors urged the Supreme Court to intervene on an emergency basis and lift that stay order, telling the justices that “Congress never gave the CDC the staggering amount of power it now claims.”

06/02/2021

In the latest battle over restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Justice Neil Gorsuch rejected a request from two Denver-area churches to block the enforcement of Colorado’s disaster law. Denver Bible Church and Community Baptist Church had sought broad relief, asking the court not only to halt any COVID-19 restrictions based on the law that would interfere with the churches’ ability to exercise their religion but also urging the justices to overrule a century-old decision upholding compulsory vaccination laws. Gorsuch, who fields emergency requests from Colorado and neighboring states, denied the churches’ request on Tuesday without referring it to the full court and without any explanation.

The denial follows a series of other recent rulings on the court’s shadow docket in which the court has granted emergency relief to religious groups seeking exemptions from state limits on in-person gatherings. Among those rulings was an April decision in Tandon v. Newsom, in which the court ruled 5-4that group prayer meetings were entitled to an exemption from California’s policy limiting gatherings in homes during the pandemic.

05/27/2021

Over the objection of the court’s three liberal justices, the Supreme Court on Monday turned down a request from a Missouri death-row inmate who is contesting the state’s method of lethal injection and wants to propose the firing squad as a more humane method of ex*****on. Ernest Johnson is missing nearly a fifth of his brain tissue as a result of surgery to treat a brain tumor, and he contends that there is a substantial risk that the drugs used in Missouri’s lethal-injection process will cause him to suffer “severely painful and prolonged seizures.” As part of an order list issued after the justices’ private conference last week, the court denied Johnson’s petition. Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented from that denial, in an opinion joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan; Breyer also penned his own dissent.

Johnson, who was convicted and sentenced to death for the murders of three gas-station clerks during a robbery, initially proposed nitrogen gas as an alternative to lethal injection. Pointing to the Supreme Court’s 2019 decision in Bucklew v. Precythe, holding that an inmate who wants to challenge the use of a method of ex*****on in his particular case must identify a feasible alternative that will “significantly reduce a substantial risk of severe pain,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit rejected Johnson’s request. It explained that nitrogen gas “is an ‘entirely new method’ of ex*****on’” that has never been used before; the Supreme Court’s opinion in Bucklew makes clear, the court of appeals reasoned, that “the Eighth Amendment does not require a State to adopt an untried and untested method of ex*****on.” The court of appeals also declined to allow Johnson to amend his complaint to propose the firing squad – for the first time in Missouri since 1864 – as a method of ex*****on.

Johnson came to the Supreme Court last summer, asking the justices to review the 8th Circuit’s ruling, and in late March the court asked for additional briefing on whether Johnson would be allowed to file a new complaint that proposed the firing squad as an alternative method. Johnson told the justices that there was a “significant possibility” that the lower courts would reject a new complaint, and the state agreed.

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