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collective bargaining

Supreme Court Calendar: 3 Cases to Watch in January 2016

After a momentous 2015 that saw the Supreme Court save Obamacare (again), give same-sex couples the right to marry, and preserve the death penalty (for now), the Court's October term moves into 2016. While the January session doesn't appear as juicy as previous dockets, there are some cases that will no doubt have a lasting impact. Here are three cases to watch in January 2016 as the Supreme Court closes out the October 2015 term: 1. Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (January 11) Even if teachers and other public employees don't want to join a union, they can benefit from the union's collective bargaining on their behalf. Therefore, the Court has previous held that public employees may be required to pay union fees, even if they have opted out of joining the union. These are called "agency shop" arrangements, whereby public employees are still represented by the union for purposes of collective bargaining, but those who opt out of union membership only an agency fee for a "fair share" of the union's costs and unions are prohibited from spending nonmembers' agency fees on "ideological activities unrelated to collective bargaining." But a group of California teachers are saying that even public-sector collective bargaining is political speech and they shouldn't be compelled them to subsidize that speech. The Supreme Court will decide whether these "agency shop" arrangements and violate the First Amendment. 2. Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle (January 13) Is Puerto Rico part of the United States? Sort of -- it is a U.S. territory and Puerto Ricans have U.S. citizenship, but no star on the flag or senator in Congress. Puerto Rico has its own Supreme Court, but also a U.S. District Court. So how does double jeopardy work with these two court systems? Luis Sanchez Valle was indicted in a Puerto Rican court on gun charges, and then also indicted in a U.S. federal court based on the same facts. His lawyers argued that this was essentially charging someone twice for the same crime, violating the prohibitions on double jeopardy. The Supreme Court will decide whether Puerto Rico and the federal government are separate sovereigns for purposes of double jeopardy. 3. Heffernan v. City of Paterson (January 19) Can public employees get demoted if their boss thinks they support a certain candidate? In this case a city police officer (Heffernan) was demoted after another officer saw him holding a campaign sign for a mayoral candidate (Spagnola) who was running against his chief's chosen candidate (Torres). And here's where it gets even murkier: Heffernan is friends with Spagnola, but wasn't working with the campaign or even campaigning at the time -- he was picking up the sign for his bed-ridden mother. The Court will have to decide whether Heffernan has a valid First Amendment claim based on his boss's incorrect perception of his "speech." Keep an eye on FindLaw's Law and Daily Life blog and Supreme Court blog as we update the oral arguments and the rulings in these and other major SCOTUS cases throughout 2016. Related Resources: The Big 4: Major Cases and Legal Issues of 2015 (FindLaw's Decided) The 5 Most Important Supreme Court Cases of 2015 (FindLaw's U.S. Supreme Court Blog) Supreme Court Could Soon Ban the Death Penalty, Scalia Says (FindLaw's U.S. Supreme Court Blog) Supreme Court Calendar: 3 Cases to Watch in November (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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Legalese From A to Z: 5 Legal Terms Beginning With ‘G’

Welcome back to Legalese From A to Z, our series highlighting the meanings behind legal terms that may not be familiar to non-lawyers. Legalese describes the specialized language of the legal profession -- in other words, things only lawyers would say. With the help of FindLaw's Legal Dictionary, let's take a closer look at five of these terms that begin with the letter "G": Garnishment. Garnishment is a device used by creditors to attach the property or wages of a debtor to repay a debt. Wage garnishment can be used to collect a wide variety of debts, including back taxes, child support, and judgments from court cases. Gift tax. The gift tax is a tax imposed on gifts of property made during a person's lifetime. Certain gifts are exempt from the gift tax, such as gifts to a spouse, donations to a charitable organization, and gifts to any individual up to $13,000 per year. Good faith. Good faith is the absence of bad intentions when entering into an agreement, negotiating, or bringing a lawsuit. For example, in union collective bargaining situations, both the employer and the union are required to negotiate with one another in good faith. Good Samaritan law. A good Samaritan law is a law that provides immunity from liability for a good Samaritan who attempts to provide aid to someone in distress, but inadvertently causes further injury. A good Samaritan law recently passed in New Jersey, for example, provides legal protection to medics and ordinary citizens who administer opioid antidotes to drug overdose victims. Gratuitous. Gratuitous describes an act not involving consideration, compensation, or return benefit. In contract law, a gratuitous promise -- a promise made without an expectation of a return benefit or burden on the promisee -- may be unenforceable if the promisor fails to do what he promised. If you need help with defining a legal word or phrase, check out FindLaw's Legal Dictionary for free access to more than 8,000 definitions of legal terms. Or check back here next Sunday, when Legalese From A to Z will demystify five more legal terms you may not know, beginning with the letter "H." Related Resources: Legalese From A to Z: 5 Legal Terms Beginning With 'A' (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) What Does 'Wet Reckless' Mean in a DUI Case? (FindLaw's Blotter) What's the Difference Between Bond and Bail? (FindLaw's Blotter) What Is the War Powers Act? What Does It Require? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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