Supreme Weekly: Football, insurance companies and the death penalty
by Katy Farrell
This week we highlight four important cases in the state Supreme Courts, as well as discuss pending transitions in New Hampshire and Colorado.
In North Carolina, legal challenges to the death penalty have created a moratorium on the punishment since the last execution in 2006. Last Friday, one of those challenges was resolved.
Attorneys for five inmates contended that when adopting new guidelines for lethal injection in 2007, requirements of the state's Administrative Procedures Act was not followed. The Council of State approved those guidelines, allowing them to take effect. Interestingly, the Council of State consists of the ten executive officials: the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State Treasurer, State Auditor, Commissioner of Labor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Commissioner of Insurance, Superintendent of Public Instruction and Commissioner of Agriculture.  
Though the ruling was a step towards resuming the death penalty, still several issues need to be resolved before the punishment is re-instituted.  To learn more about one of those issues, read: Man challenges sentence under NC's Racial Justice Act from July 2011.
Tuesday was the deadline for The Ohio State University (OSU) and the sports network ESPN to submit evidence to the Ohio Supreme Court in an open-records case. ESPN is suing the university for withholding documents under the guise of the Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). According to OSU, turning over emails requested by ESPN that include the name "Sarniak" would violate students' rights under the federal Act. 
The university finds itself in this position based on the actions of its former quarterback (Terrelle Pryor) and head coach (Jim Tressel). Pryor was found in violation of NCAA rules for exchanging memorabilia for monetary value, while Tressel was found to have lied to investigators regarding the incident. The keyword referred to in the suit is the last name of a businessman associated with Pryor.
The high court got involved on September 21, when it set the deadline for the submission of evidence by both parties. On October 4, the court denied OSU the ability to settle the case privately with the network.  
Now, the Supreme Court will determine whether the university utilized the defense of FERPA accordingly. Also at issue is whether OSU provided adequate legal reasoning for denying other record requests by ESPN, which were not adhered to because the requests were deemed "too broad." In Ohio, denials for information must be accompanied by suggestions on how to improve the requests. 
The university insists that it followed all state and federal laws during the process. In the evidence presented to the court, ESPN asserts that the university is purposely withholding information. 
Like Nevada in early October, this week the New Mexico Supreme Court is establishing order in the realm of redistricting. Republican and Democratic legislators in the state filed lawsuits in different counties after the Democratic-controlled Arizona State Legislature and Republican Governor Susana Martinez could not agree on new district maps. Republicans filed suits in Lea County and Bernalillo County, while Democrats filed in Santa Fe County.  
Without offering an explanation, yesterday the high court reassigned all cases involving the state's redistricting to the First Judicial District Court and retired judge James Hall. The decision favors the Democrats, who requested that the First District handle the case. The party argued that the district court in the state capitol should hear the case, though it is widely speculated that the largely Democratic population was a more pressing reason. Likewise, Republicans argued in favor of the Second Judicial District Court taking the cases, since 14 out of 23 lawyers involved in the case practice in Albuquerque. However, the Second District also leans more conservative. 
Also released last Friday was a decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court. The Connecticut Podiatric Medical Association appealed a ruling by the Waterbury District Superior Court, which found that insurance companies are not prohibited from paying varying reimbursements to different specialists. The association contended that by doing so, the insurance company violated the Unfair Insurance Practices Act. 
The high court agreed with the lower court in a 6-1 decision. The dissent was written by Richard Palmer, who stated that doling out different reimbursements discriminated against some specialists, which is in violation of state law. 
The Colorado Supreme Court Nominating Commission has announced the names of three nominees forwarded to Governor John Hickenlooper. The governor has fifteen days to decide who will succeed Alex Martinez on the Colorado Supreme Court.
The nominees are:
- Frederick Martinez, partner with the firm Hall & Evans; and
- Patrick O'Rourke, head litigation attorney for the University of Colorado. 
James Duggan has announced his retirement from the New Hampshire Supreme Court, after ten years of service. He will step down from the court on January 13, 2012, which is seven months shy of his mandatory date of retirement. (Justices in New Hampshire must retire from the court when they reach the age of 70.) After receiving the justice's letter of resignation, Governor John Lynch said, "For the past 34 years, in a variety of legal positions, James Duggan has brought his keen intellect, passion for the law, commitment to justice and his humanity to further the cause of justice for all New Hampshire citizens. On behalf of the people of New Hampshire, I thank Justice Duggan for his service and I wish him all the best in the future." 
Justice Duggan has served on the court since 2001. Prior to that, he was a Professor at the Franklin Pierce Law Center from 1977 until his appointment. 
The retirement of Duggan may allow the governor his last appointment to the high court. After serving since 2005, the executive announced that he will not seek re-election next year. 
- ↑ Office of the North Carolina Governor, Council of State
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 News & Record, "Death penalty ruling," October 7, 2011
- ↑ Myrtle Beach Sun News, "NC high court rules with state on death penalty," October 7, 2011
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 The Lantern, "ESPN, OSU submit evidence in Supreme Court," October 12, 2011
- ↑ The Columbus Dispatch, "Briefing schedule set in ESPN's lawsuit against Ohio State," September 21, 2011
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 The Republic, "NM Supreme Court consolidates redistricting suits in Santa Fe, assigns retired judge to case," October 12, 2011
- ↑ ballotpedia:Redistricting in New Mexico#State legislative lawsuits
- ↑ Hartford Courant, "State Supreme Court Rejects Claim Against Insurer," October 7, 2011
- ↑ MyRecordJournal.com, "Conn. Supreme Court rejects claim against insurer," October 7, 2011
- ↑ Denver Post, "Finalists named for Colorado Supreme Court," October 13, 2011
- ↑ The Concord Monitor, "Supreme Court justice to retire," October 5, 2011
- ↑ New Hampshire Judicial Branch, Associate Justice James E. Duggan
- ↑ NewHampshire.com, "Governor won't seek corner office again," September 19, 2011
|This article was written by Sara Key, a Judgepedia writer and editor. She can be reached at email@example.com.|