A summer day in front of the US Supreme Court Building in Washington, DC.

Important Supreme Court Cases That Could Be Impacted by Overturning Roe v. Wade

As the end of the Supreme Court’s 2021-2022 term is fast approaching, possibly one of the most anticipated decisions of the term will be the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In this case, Jackson Women’s Health Organization sued the state of Mississippi to stop the implementation of a 2018 law that prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The justices heard arguments over the state’s law last year and the Court is expected to issue its ruling by June or early July. A leaked draft opinion suggests that the court is likely to rule in favor of Mississippi and overturn years of precedent established in Roe v. Wade, which would give lawmakers the ability to ban or restrict abortions. The draft is not final; however, questions remain as to what a reversal of the Court’s abortion rights precedents would mean and how it may affect other critical rulings.

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Books

What You Need to Know About Washington’s Silenced No More Act

On March 24, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law the Silenced No More Act, greatly restricting the scope of nondisclosure and nondisparagement provisions that employers may enter into with employees who either work or reside in Washington state. Effective June 9, the new law prohibits employers from requiring or requesting that an employment agreement contain a provision: “Not to disclose or discuss conduct, or the existence of a settlement involving conduct, that the employee reasonably believed under Washington state, federal or common law to be illegal discrimination, illegal harassment, illegal retaliation, a wage and hour violation, or sexual assault, or that is recognized as against a clear mandate of public policy….” However, employers will still be able to enter into agreements that (1) prohibit the disclosure of the amount paid in a settlement agreement; and (2) protect “trade secrets, proprietary information, or confidential information that does not involve illegal acts.” An employer that violates the law can be found liable in a civil action for “actual damages or statutory damages of $10,000, whichever is more, as well as reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.”

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Digital brain graphic on cover of BarNews April-May 2022

AI Inventors and More in New Issue of Bar News

What does AI (artificial intelligence) think about the prospect of AI? Well, according to an AI text generator, which responded to bits of text from Washington State Bar News Editor Kirsten Abel, our technological future is, at best, ominous:

“In 2015, worldwide spending on AI was $2.2 billion, a staggering sum, but now it’s on the way to $50 billion, predicts IDC (International Data Corporation). Indeed, it’s as if we have already entered an era of omnipresent artificial intelligence. One cannot hope to escape it.”

From a legal standpoint, however, AI will have a hard time getting past patent office red tape on its way to omnipresence. According to Leron Vandsburger’s assessment in the new issue of Bar News, AI systems have reached beyond their rudimentary beginnings “to a creative domain that—if practiced by a human—would be worthy of interpretation, analysis, examination, or critique.” The problem, however, is that copyright laws in many places don’t recognize non-human inventors.

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2021 Year Concept.

NWSidebar’s Top 10 Most-Read Blogs in 2021

It’s hard to believe that 2021 is already over. After a painfully slow 2020 during which the entire world was coming to grips with a (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, things almost began to feel normal this past year, and the weeks and months seemed to fly by. We started going out. We dared to think about things other than the virus. We gave our streaming services a much-needed break. The virus remained an ever-present part of life in 2021, but nowhere near what it was in the year before. You can see that reflected in the variety of topics covered on NWSidebar this year. Although the pandemic has remained a challenge for lawyers and non-lawyers alike, the blogs over the past year began to stretch beyond the limitations of COVID life and back into some semblance of normalcy. As has become our annual tradition, take a look back at 2021 to see the 10 most-read blogs of the year

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US Supreme Court building

Washington Forms New National Chapter of the FBA

For the first time, the state of Washington has its own chapter within the Federal Bar Association (FBA). Washington’s new FBA chapter was initiated by Susan D. Pitchford and Diane Butler. Pitchford previously served as president of the FBA Oregon State Chapter, and Butler has experience with such nonprofit organizations as the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, and the FBA.

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Cover of Bar News Sept. 2021

New Columns for the New Normal in the New Bar News

Among the many problems with COVID-19, this interminable pandemic does not respect print editorial production schedules. Keep that in mind when you check the latest issue of Washington State Bar News, where you’ll likely find yourself wondering, “Since when are we going ‘back to the office?’”

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Digital law and justice graphic with document, gavel, and scale icons

Washington Delays Statewide E-Filing for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction

The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) announced on June 25 that it was delaying the e-filing component of its Courts of Limited Jurisdiction Case Management System (CLJ-CMS) project—also known as Odyssey File & Serve (OFS). Citing concerns raised by the legal community, “Upon careful and lengthy consideration of the comments received, and several productive discussions held with leaders in the District and Municipal Court Judges Association and the District and Municipal Court Managers Association, the Project Steering Committee has decided to delay implementation of OFS while we sort through the various issues and consider other options.”

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How Policing in Washington is Changing After the 2021 Legislative Session

What is needed for police reform? Last summer, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, tens of thousands of protesters rallied in cities throughout America to highlight the urgent need to address that question. Here in Washington, officers kill more 35 people each year on average, although this is a low estimate as it only tracks shootings and not other modes of police killing. Two years ago, voters passed Initiative 940, which set new standards for use of deadly force and established requirements for law enforcement to receive de-escalation, mental health, and first-aid training. Yet, officers have killed more than 100 people in Washington since the initiative went into effect.

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A Few Things Everyone Should Know About the WA Cares Fund

Washington is the first state in the nation to create a trust to fund long-term care costs for its residents, which will be funded through a mandatory payroll tax of .0058 percent. Effective Jan. 1, 2022, all W2 employees will be taxed $0.58 per $100 of income, with no cap on wages. Self-employed earners can opt-in to the program when the state makes applications available in January 2022.

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An American fighter jet pursues a UFO over a coastline somewhere

Core Secrets: One Attorney’s Involvement in Legal Representation Regarding UFOs

As someone with a fortuitous front-row-seat to what my client, UFO researcher Grant Cameron, has called the greatest UFO Super Bowl event of all time, my formal baptism-by-fire into the U.S. government disclosure of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs)/Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) began in earnest on Jan. 2, 2019 at 2:37 p.m. PST. It was then, that I received a strange, encrypted text message that, little did I realize, would change my life and many others across the planet. Now that UFOs (and the non-zero possibility of their extraterrestrial origins) are being confirmed by the Pentagon, the Department of Defense, and U.S. military agencies, it would only be prudent to get my fellow legal colleagues up to speed on these (possibly other-worldly) issues.

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Derek Chauvin trial with Judge Tollefson commenting on KING 5

The Derek Chauvin Trial: Early Insights from WSBA President-Elect’s Judicial Perspective

Very little about the trial against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is standard. The mere fact that there is a trial is somewhat unusual. Police-involved deaths rarely result in prosecutions, let alone convictions of the officers involved. (Despite about 1,000 police-involved deaths per year, since 2015 only 121 officers have been arrested on charges of murder or manslaughter resulting in 44 convictions, according to the New York Times.) Few police-involved deaths are as widely well-known as the summer day in 2020 and the now-infamous video showing Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, ending in Floyd’s death. And certainly, never before has such an intensely high-profile criminal case taken place amid the unprecedented courtroom restrictions to amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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Attorney working in an office at night

Legal Research Companies Casemaker and Fastcase Merge

Legal publishers Casemaker and Fastcase today announce their merger and joint building out of legal research and analytics, news, data, and workflow solutions. The two companies will combine their teams and technologies to innovate research, analytics, and workflow offerings that empower lawyers with powerful digital solutions for their clients.

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Police shootout

State Supreme Court Case Could Determine Fate of King County’s Inquest Process

King County is one of the only jurisdictions in the country that requires an inquest every time a police officer kills a community member. But will these inquests continue to be largely pro forma processes that almost always appear to absolve officers of wrongdoing? Or will they become a meaningful tool for police accountability, a truly fair and transparent examination of what happened and why when law enforcement kills a member of the community? Families whose loved ones have been killed by law enforcement hope it is the latter.

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Paula Littlewood

Remembering Paula

The long-serving executive director of the WSBA, Paula C. Littlewood, died of pancreatic cancer on Dec. 14. We mourn the terrible loss of a great leader and a loving friend.

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Young woman taking bar exam on computer at home

Washington Prepares for First-Ever Remote Bar Exam

For the first time in its history, the WSBA will administer the bar exam remotely. On Dec. 3, the Washington Supreme Court issued an order authorizing the WSBA “to conduct the February 2021 administration of legal licensing examinations for admission using remote testing software,” citing the “extraordinary barriers” created by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.On Dec. 3, the Washington Supreme Court issued an order authorizing the WSBA “to conduct the February 2021 administration of legal licensing examinations for admission using remote testing software,” citing the “extraordinary barriers” created by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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Legal Scale

The 10 Most-Read NWSidebar Articles of 2020

You probably won’t be surprised by the trend that emerges when one glances through the most-read articles published to NWSidebar in 2020. As of this writing, after about nine months of COVID-19—with a vaccine off-ramp still months out and new spikes in cases resulting in yet another statewide lockdown—much has been learned about, adapted to, and coped with regarding the pandemic that has turned all of daily life upside down … and then spun it a few more times just for good measure.

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