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Watch the speech of 2018-19 Florida Bar President Michelle Suskauer of West Palm Beach at The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention on June 14, 2018, in Orlando.

McRae Law Firm – Florida Business Lawyers, Since 1984.

McRae Law Offices, P.A.
5300 West Atlantic Avenue, Suite 412
Delray Beach, Florida 33484
Phone: 561-638-6600
Toll Free: 888-262-0208
Fax: 888-308-6020
mmcrae@mcraelawfirm.com

Excellent (and brief) introduction to the U.S. federal judicial system and its relationship to the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government

The publication known as Federal Court System in the United States introduces judges and judicial administrators who are from other countries to the U.S. federal judicial system, and its relationship to the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government. In this publication, readers will find information on:

  • The United States Constitution and the Federal Government
  • The Role of the Federal Courts in American Government
  • The Structure of the Federal Courts
  • The Jurisdiction of the Federal Courts
  • United States Federal Judges
  • Distinctive Features of the American Judicial System
  • The Federal Judicial Process in Brief
  • Federal Judicial Administration
  • Accountability

McRae Law Firm – Florida Business Lawyers, Since 1984.

McRae Law Offices, P.A.
5300 West Atlantic Avenue, Suite 412
Delray Beach, Florida 33484
Phone: 561-638-6600
Toll Free: 888-262-0208
Fax: 888-308-6020
mmcrae@mcraelawfirm.com

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U.S. Courts 2017 Wiretap Report: Orders and Convictions Rise

2017 Wiretap Report: Orders and Convictions Rise

Federal courts reported a 30 percent increase in authorized wiretaps in 2017, compared to 2016, and state courts reported an 11 percent rise, according to a newly released Judiciary report. Although arrests fell in cases involving electronic surveillance, convictions rose sharply.

The 2017 Wiretap Report covers intercepts — of wire, oral or electronic communications — that were concluded between January 1, 2017, and December 31, 2017. The report, submitted annually to Congress by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, does not include data on interceptions regulated by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

A total of 3,813 wiretaps were reported as authorized in 2017, compared with 3,168 the previous year. Of those, 2,013 were authorized by federal judges, compared with 1,551 in 2016. A total of 1,800 wiretaps were authorized by state judges, compared with 1,617 in 2016. No wiretap applications were reported as denied in 2017.

The number of state wiretaps in which encryption occurred continued to rise sharply, with 102 such reports in 2017, compared with 57 in 2016 and just seven in 2015. In 97 of the wiretaps reported in 2017, officials were unable to decipher the plain text of messages. A total of 57 federal wiretaps were reported as being encrypted in 2017, of which 37 could not be deciphered.

As in previous years, telephone wiretaps accounted for the large majority of cases, involving 92 percent of applications for intercepts. Drug investigations also remained the most common type of crime.

The report said 9,565 persons were arrested in wiretap investigations, down 23 percent from 2016. The number of convictions rose 55 percent from 2016.

A total of 2,369 extensions were reported as requested and authorized in 2017, permitting wiretaps to continue after their initial 30-day authorization had expired. That represents a 13  percent increase in extensions, compared with the previous year.

The District of Arizona conducted the longest federal intercept that was terminated in 2017. The order was extended 16 times to complete a 510-day wiretap. The longest state-authorized wiretap occurred in DeKalb County, Georgia, where the original order was extended 21 times to complete a 598-day wiretap used in a racketeering investigation.

Other highlights from the 2017 Wiretap Report:

  • 53 percent of all wiretaps cited narcotics as the most serious offense under investigation, compared with 61 percent in 2016. Conspiracy investigations accounted for 12 percent, and homicide investigations accounted for 5 percent.
  • Portable devices, which include cell phone communications, text messages and apps, were targeted in 3,584 wiretaps—94 percent of all wiretaps concluded in 2017.
  • Applications in six states (California, New York, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Florida) accounted for 81 percent of all state wiretap applications. California alone accounted for 34 percent of all applications approved by state judges.
  • The average cost of a wiretap in 2017 was $74,718, down less than 1 percent from $74,949 in 2016.

    McRae Law Firm – Florida Business Lawyers, Since 1984.

    McRae Law Offices, P.A.
    5300 West Atlantic Avenue, Suite 412
    Delray Beach, Florida 33484
    Phone: 561-638-6600
    Toll Free: 888-262-0208
    Fax: 888-308-6020
    mmcrae@mcraelawfirm.com

    ___________________________________

Cases brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) have increased three-fold in recent years.

Just the Facts: Americans with Disabilities Act

While overall civil rights cases have declined, cases brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) have increased three-fold in recent years. Filings in three states – California, Florida, and New York – account for a significant number of the civil rights cases filed under the ADA. You can find out more in this new installment of Just the Facts, a feature by the Judiciary Data and Analysis Office of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) that illuminates the work of the federal Judiciary through data. Comments, questions, and suggestions can be sent to the data team(link sends e-mail).

Background:

The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in areas of public life, including employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities. The ADA was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990.

In 2005, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts began publishing statistics on civil cases filed under the ADA in the U.S. district courts.  ADA cases constitute a subcategory of civil rights cases on the civil docket. The AO’s ADA statistics are separated into cases raising employment discrimination claims and cases raising other claims under the ADA.  Most of the other ADA claims involve public accommodation matters.

Complaints asserting a violation of the ADA are often filed in federal district courts, although state courts also have jurisdiction to hear such cases. The decision of any district court can be appealed to a circuit court of appeals, and a decision by the circuit court can be appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States. This report examines ADA cases in the district courts.

Facts and Figures:

  • In the 12-month period ending Dec. 31, 2017, the number of civil rights cases filed in the district courts was 39,800, which amounted to 14.5 percent of the total civil docket.  ADA cases accounted for 10,773 filings, which amounted to 4 percent of the total civil docket and 27 percent of civil rights cases.
  • From 2005 to 2017, filings of civil rights cases excluding ADA cases decreased 12 percent. In contrast, during that period, filings of ADA cases increased 395 percent (see Figure 1).
  • From 2005 to 2017, filings of ADA cases raising employment discrimination claims rose 196 percent to 2,494. Filings of cases raising other ADA claims grew more rapidly, increasing 521 percent to 8,279 cases. The latter category of cases includes those raising claims of limited accessibility at businesses such as restaurants, movie theaters, schools, and office buildings (see Figure 2).
  • Filings in the states of California, Florida, and New York account for a significant number of ADA cases (see Figure 3).
  • In 2017, more than half of ADA cases were filed in three states (see Table 1).
  • The map below shows the numeric difference between ADA cases filed in 2005 and those filed in 2017 across U.S. states and territories (see Map 1).
  • Map 2 shows the numeric changes in ADA filings between 2016 and 2017.
Table 1. ADA and Total Civil Filings and Percentages by State, Calendar Year 2017
State ADA Filings Percent
ADA Filings
Total Civil Filings Percent Total
Civil Filings
California 2,933 27% 28,551 10%
Florida 1,614 15% 19,098 7%
New York 1,265 12% 22,258 8%
Rest of U.S. 4,961 46% 205,640 75%

The large concentration of lawsuits in three states has been attributed to a variety of factors, according to professional journals and news outlets.

  • In California, state laws (the Disabled Persons Act of 2009 and the Unruh Civil Rights Act of 1959) allow plaintiffs to add monetary claims for damages to requests for injunctive relief in lawsuits filed under the ADA. These state laws may have contributed to the large number of ADA cases filed in California.1
  • In Florida, “testers” may be contributing to the growth in ADA case filings. A “tester” is a single plaintiff who files separate claims against multiple businesses alleging failure to comply with ADA requirements.  Florida recently passed a law aimed at curbing what has been termed frivolous ADA-related lawsuits.2
  • The large number of ADA cases in New York may have been influenced by the age of many public buildings and infrastructure across New York City that plaintiffs claim are inaccessible to people with disabilities. More recently, a class action was approved against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York City, in which disability organizations and disabled residents claim that the lack of elevators at many subway stops results in ADA violations.3
  • In all states, as the baby boom population has aged, the pool of disabled persons has increased, a factor that may contribute to growth in ADA cases raising public accommodation claims.4
  • In the case of Juan Carlos Gil v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., the Southern District of Florida decided on June 13, 2017, that a retailer’s website discriminated against a plaintiff who is blind. This ruling established a link between public accommodations available online and the accessibility of the retailer’s physical facilities. This is reported to be the first ADA case raising a public-accommodation claim related to website accessibility. Some legal experts have speculated that the decision could open the door to filings of similar suits.5

Figure 1

Source: Table C2, 12-Month Periods Ending December 31, 2005 through 2017.Figure 1. ADA and Non-ADA Civil Rights Cases, 2005 – 2017Civil Rights Non-ADACivil Rights ADA200520062007200820092010201120122013201420152016201705 00010 00015 00020 00025 00030 00035 000Highcharts.com

Figure 2

Source: Table C2, 12-Month Periods Ending December 31, 2005 through 2017.Figure 2. ADA Civil Rights Cases, by Type, 2005 – 2017EmploymentOther200520062007200820092010201120122013201420152016201701 0002 0003 0004 0005 0006 0007 0008 0009 000Highcharts.comEmployment: 1 812

Figure 3

Source: Table C2, 12-Month Periods Ending December 31, 2005 through 2017, Aggregatedby State.Figure 3. ADA Civil Rights, by State, 2005 – 2017CaliforniaFloridaNew YorkRest of the Nation200520062007200820092010201120122013201420152016201701 0002 0003 0004 0005 0006 000Highcharts.comCalifornia: 950

Map 1

Source: Table C2, 12-Month Periods Ending December 31, 2007 through 2017, Aggregated by State.

Map 2

Source: Table C2, 12-Month Periods Ending December 31, 2007 through 2017, Aggregated by State.

 

1. Johnson, Denise (2016, October 7). Why Claims Under Americans with Disabilities Act Are Rising. Insurance journal. Retrieved from https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2016/10/07/428774.htm(link is external); and Cooper, Anderson (2016, December 4). What’s a “Drive-By Lawsuit”? CBS News, 60 Minutes. Retrieved from: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-americans-with-disabilities-act-lawsuits-anderson-cooper/(link is external).

2. Florida House Bill 727 summary, https://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/billsummaries/2017/html/1674.

3. Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York et al v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 17-02990.

4. Moon, Nathan; Kaplan, Shelley; Weiss, Sally (2010, May/June). ABA Business Law Section. Baby Boomers Are Turning Grey. Retrieved from: https://apps.americanbar.org/buslaw/blt/2010-05-06/moon-kaplan-weiss.shtml(link is external).

5. Hale, Nathan (2017, June 14). Law360 (LexisNexis Company). Winn-Dixie Loses ADA Fight Over Website Accessibility. Retrieved from: https://www.law360.com/articles/934358/winn-dixie-loses-ada-fight-over-website-accessibility(link is external).

McRae Law Firm – Florida Business Lawyers, Since 1984.

McRae Law Offices, P.A.
5300 West Atlantic Avenue, Suite 412
Delray Beach, Florida 33484
Phone: 561-638-6600
Toll Free: 888-262-0208
Fax: 888-308-6020
mmcrae@mcraelawfirm.com

___________________________________

 

Steve Goerke on assignment in Puerto Rico!

Here’s the view from Steve Goerke’s suite in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as he prepares to start a week-long arbitration hearing down there. What an awesome place to work!

Steven G. Goerke

Steven G. Goerke

Contact Mr. Goerke directly at:
E-Mail: sgoerke@mcraelawfirm.com

We look forward to working with you.

McRae Law Firm – Florida Business Lawyers, Since 1984.

McRae Law Offices, P.A.
5300 West Atlantic Avenue, Suite 412
Delray Beach, Florida 33484
Phone: 561-638-6600
Toll Free: 888-262-0208
Fax: 888-308-6020
mmcrae@mcraelawfirm.com

___________________________________