Agendas Acc0rding to the Federal Bar Association


I ran across this tonight, looking for something else, but it caught my eye and so I read it.
Knowing what I know about this country and being “awake”, I find the following pretty fucking interesting. What are your thoughts?:

FEDERAL BAR ASSOCIATION
2015-16 ISSUES AGENDA
http://www.fedbar.org/Advocacy/Issues-Agendas.aspx

Active Issues | Monitored Issues
ACTIVE LEGISLATIVE ISSUES

Independence of the Federal Judiciary

The Federal Bar Association reaffirms the importance of the independence of the judiciary, recognizing that judicial decisions are not immune from scrutiny, but are to be made solely on the basis of the law.

Funding for the Federal Courts

The Federal Bar Association supports adequate funding for the general and continuing operations of the federal courts, including an equitable level of rent and facilities expense consistent with actual costs, budgetary constraints, staffing needs and security considerations, to permit the courts to fulfill their constitutional and statutory responsibilities

Federal Judgeships and Caseloads

The Federal Bar Association supports the authorization and establishment of additional permanent and temporary federal judgeships, including bankruptcy judgeships, along with support personnel, as proposed by the Judicial Conference of the United States, when rising caseloads in the federal courts threaten the prompt delivery of justice. The Federal Bar Association also supports efforts to educate Congress, the legal profession and the general public about how the overwhelming case loads threaten the ability of the Third Branch of the federal government to function.

Federal Judicial Vacancies

The Federal Bar Association calls upon the President and Congress to act promptly and responsibly in nominating and confirming nominees to the federal appellate and district courts. The Federal Bar Association supports the development of strategies to reduce the time required to fill federal judicial vacancies.

Courthouse Security

The Federal Bar Association supports the adoption of adequate security measures to protect the federal judiciary, their families and court personnel in and outside the courthouse, while preserving meaningful public access to judicial proceedings.

Federal Judicial Pay

The Federal Bar Association support equitable compensation and regular periodic adjustments for the federal judiciary, as well as senior officials of the Executive Branch and Members of Congress, to promote the recruitment and retention of the highest quality public servants.

Respect for the Federal Courts

Declining public confidence in our courts undermines public respect for the courts and the legitimacy of their rulings. To counter that influence, the Federal Bar Association supports programming and other efforts to educate the public about the federal courts and the role they serve in assuring a just society.

Professionalism and Stature of Federal Attorneys

The Federal Bar Association supports and promotes efforts to improve the professionalism and stature of attorneys employed by the federal government, including: enhancements to the compensation packages of federal attorneys, including pay and retirement benefits, to assist in recruitment and retention; the expansion, consistent with applicable conflict of interest laws, of policies encouraging full participation of attorneys employed by the federal government in professional organizations and pro bono legal activities, including approval for use of administrative leave; enhanced federal funding for participation in continuing legal education and training programs, including paid tuition and administrative leave; and the establishment of programs for student loan deferral and repayment assistance for all federal attorneys, including federal law clerks, federal defenders and judge advocates of the Armed Forces, in support of recruitment and retention efforts.

Social Security Disability Appeals Backlog

The Federal Bar Association supports adequate funding and resources for the Social Security Administration to remove the significant backlog of disability benefit appeals awaiting adjudication and to assure the fair and timely administration of justice for all appellants.

Authority of Bankruptcy Judges in “Core Proceedings”

The Federal Bar Association supports amendment of bankruptcy law to expressly allow bankruptcy judges to issue proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law in core proceedings in which they are otherwise barred from entering final judgments under Article III of the United States Constitution.

Commission on Nazi-Confiscated Art Claims

The Federal Bar Association supports the Congressional creation of a commission to address identification and ownership issues related to Nazi-confiscated artworks, pursuant to the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art, as signed by the United States and the international community.

Article I Immigration Court
The Federal Bar Association supports the transfer of responsibilities for the adjudication of immigration claims from the Executive Office of Immigration Review within the Department of Justice to a specialized Article I court, as established by Congress, for the adjudication of claims under the Immigration and Naturalization Act.

Federal Criminal Sentencing
The Federal Bar Association supports efforts to advance fairness and consistency in federal sentencing, while preserving judicial independence and discretion to deal with the particular circumstances of individual cases.

Military Spouse Attorney Mobility
The Federal Bar Association supports state-level legal licensing accommodations, including bar admission without additional examination, for attorneys who are spouses of service members, i.e., members of the uniformed services of the United States as defined in 10 USC §101(a)(5), when: (1) those “military spouse attorneys” are present in a particular state, commonwealth, or territory of the United States or District of Columbia due to their service members’ military assignment; (2) they are graduates of accredited law schools; and (3) they are licensed attorneys in good standing in the bar of another state, commonwealth, or territory of the United States or District of Columbia.

Patent Litigation Reform
The Federal Bar Association supports legislation that curbs abusive patent litigation practices and other responsible measures to improve the quality and clarity of patents. The FBA opposes legislation that reduces judicial discretion in adjudicating patent actions or circumvents the Rules Enabling Act by mandating changes that depart from the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in patent cases.

MONITORED LEGISLATIVE ISSUES

Courthouse Construction

The Federal Bar Association supports the full funding of courthouse construction proposed by the Judicial Conference of the United States.

Cameras in the Courts

The Federal Bar Association encourages a discussion of the competing considerations vis-a-vis proposed legislation which would authorize federal judges, in their discretion, to permit photographing, electronic recording, broadcasting, and televising of federal court proceedings in appropriate circumstances.

Division of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

The Federal Bar Association opposes the division of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, consistent with its capacity to effectively and efficiently render justice.

Continuing Legal Education Funding for the Federal Judiciary

The Federal Bar Association supports the expansion of and enhancement of federal funding for continuing legal education and training programs for the federal judiciary.

Expansion of Federal Jurisdiction Over State and Local-Prosecuted Crimes

The Federal Bar Association advocates strict scrutiny of legislation proposing to grant original jurisdiction to federal authorities over crimes traditionally reserved to state and local prosecution.

Criminal Justice Act Panel Attorney Compensation

The Federal Bar Association supports Congressional funding to permit an increase in compensation rates for Criminal Justice Act panel attorneys.

National Security and Civil Liberties

The Federal Bar Association encourages the discussion of the competing considerations in the nation’s war against terror between the protection of civil liberties and the interests of national security.

Prevention of Epidemics and Civil Liberties

The Federal Bar Association encourages and contributes to a discussion of the competing considerations between governmental restrictions to guard against epidemics and pandemics and the preservation of individual rights, as well as the use of technology to ensure the continuance of participatory governance.

Safety of Administrative Judges

The Federal Bar Association supports the efforts by the Social Security Administration and the Executive Office of Immigration Review to take appropriate steps to ensure the security of their administrative law judges and immigration judges, and all others who participate in its proceedings.

Veteran Disability Claims Adjudication

The Federal Bar Association supports legislative and administrative improvements to the veterans disability claims process in the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs to assure equitable and expeditious determinations.

Attorney Fee-Based Representation of Veterans

The Federal Bar Association supports proposals to expand the availability of fee-based representation of veterans in the disability claims process and to oppose any efforts to repeal the authority of attorney representation to veterans in the furtherance of such claims.

Frivolous Litigation

The Federal Bar Association opposes legislative proposals to eliminate judicial discretion in the imposition of sanctions for frivolous litigation, including proposals to revise Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by imposing mandatory sanctions and preventing a party from withdrawing challenged pleadings on a voluntary basis within a reasonable time.

Adopted by the Board of Directors
Federal Bar Association
July 10, 2015

The compass of FBA’s government relations program is its Issues Agenda, a roster of policy priorities to which the Association devotes its advocacy resources. The policy priorities embraced by the Issues Agenda are associated with active issues that concern the health and welfare of the federal judicial system and effective federal legal practice. For example, they concern the preservation of judicial independence, adequate funding and facilities for the federal courts, sufficient numbers of federal judgeships, equitable compensation for the federal judiciary, fairness and consistency in federal sentencing and a host of other matters

Daily Report and Andrew Phillips: Analyzing the Suit Over Georgia Voters’ Personal Data Leak

Analyzing the Suit Over Georgia Voters’ Personal Data Leak
Andrew Phillips, Daily Report
November 20, 2015
http://www.dailyreportonline.com/id=1202743008663/Analyzing-the-Suit-Over-Georgia-Voters-Personal-Data-Leak?mcode=0&curindex=0&curpage=ALL


Andrew Phillips
Andrew Phillips is senior counsel in McGuireWoods’ Atlanta office, where he is editor of the firm’s “Password Protected” blog, in which a version of this article first appeared. His practice focuses on representing and counseling clients in a variety of class action and high stakes civil litigation.

John Disney/Daily Report

Did the Georgia secretary of state release the Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, and dates of birth of every registered Georgia voter? Those are the allegations first made by putative class representatives Elise Piper and Yvette Sanders in a recently filed Fulton County Superior Court lawsuit and confirmed by recent statements by the secretary of state.

The office of Secretary of State Brian Kemp attributes the data leak to a “clerical error,” which it alleges involved the dissemination of CD-ROMs containing extraneous data to only 12 recipients and that the disks are in the process of being recovered.

Piper and Sanders also allege that, despite being on notice of the leak, the state failed to notify the affected voters, or credit reporting agencies, in violation of the Georgia Personal Identity Protection Act of 2007 (GPIPA).

As troubling as the release of this information may be to voters—who may be dubious that the leak has been contained and are concerned about the risk of identity theft or fraud—it is unclear what, if any, legal remedy is available to plaintiffs.

The Data Leak
Per the complaint, the Social Security and driver’s license numbers were collected as part of the voter registration process. However, the suit alleges that although the voter registration process only required the last four digits of each voter’s Social Security number, the Secretary of State’s Office nonetheless maintained “each voter’s complete Social Security and driver’s license number.”

Some voter identification information, such as names and addresses—but not Social Security and driver’s license numbers—is regularly maintained in a “voter file” which is routinely provided on CD-ROM to media members and political parties free of charge. The voter file is also available to the general public for a $500 fee. However, plaintiffs allege, when the October 2015 voter file was distributed, it not only contained standard voter identification information but also the Social Security number, driver’s license number, and date of birth for all 6,184,281 registered Georgia voters.

The Georgia Personal Identity Protection Act
Legally, the type of data released is a distinction with a difference. GPIPA—like many similar state data breach notification statutes—defines “personal information,” in relevant part, as “an individual’s first name or first initial and last name in combination with any one or more of the following data elements,” including a Social Security number or driver’s license number. Thus, while the dissemination of the standard voter file containing voters’ names and addresses alone likely did not constitute a release of protected personal information, the alleged release of that information in conjunction with Social Security and driver’s license numbers could be deemed a breach.
Of course, even if the information was—as it appears to be—”personal information,” that is not the end of the inquiry. Other key questions include whether the Georgia Secretary of State is an “information broker or data collector” subject to the act, whether the release of the information was a “breach of the security of the system” within the meaning of the act, and whether the state failed to comply with the notice requirements of GPIPA.

Based on what we know, it would appear the answers to the first two questions are yes. GPIPA defines a data collector to include state agencies and actors as long as they are not maintaining records “primarily for traffic safety, law enforcement or licensing purposes or for purposes of providing public access to court records or to real or personal property information.” Assuming the Office of the Secretary of State cannot meet any of these exceptions—as seems likely—it is a “data collector.”

Likewise, the act defines “breach of the security of the system” to mean “unauthorized acquisition of an individual’s electronic data that compromises the security, confidentiality or integrity of personal information.” Again, based on the available information, this definition would appear to have been met by the dissemination of the personal information to media and political parties.

That said, the secretary of state may argue that the release of the information to a mere dozen people, followed by prompt efforts to recover the disks and contain the leak, did not jeopardize “the security, confidentiality, or integrity of personal information.” Of course, the fact that plaintiffs’ counsel apparently ended up with one of the disks undermines these arguments.

Turning to the next question, if GPIPA applies and the release was a breach, what was the Office of the Secretary of State required to do?
Under GPIPA, any information broker or data collector “shall give notice of any breach of the security of the system following discovery or notification of the breach” to Georgia residents whose unencrypted personal information was “acquired by an unauthorized person.”
With regard to timing, the notice shall be made “in the most expedient time possible and without unreasonable delay, consistent with the legitimate needs of law enforcement.” Law enforcement may delay notification if “a law enforcement agency determines that the notification will compromise a criminal investigation.”

Finally, where, as here, a breach requires notification to more than 10,000 residents, the data collector must also inform “all consumer reporting agencies.” Per the complaint, the secretary of state’s office did not provide notice to affected voters or consumer reporting agencies in the approximately one-month since the release, which could constitute a lack of notice.

On the other hand, perhaps the state can argue that the length of time that has passed since the potential breach without notification was not an “unreasonable delay” in light of the facts surrounding the release.

As for the type of notice required, the act typically requires written, telephonic, or, with prior permission, electronic notice. However, where the cost of the notice, as here, would exceed $50,000 or the breach affected more than 100,000 individuals, “substitute notice” may be appropriate. This can include notice by email (when known), conspicuous notice on the entity’s website, and notification via statewide media.
Thus, in this case, the statute could likely be satisfied with a press release and conspicuous notification on the Secretary of State web page—an embarrassment, perhaps, but not a huge logistical hurdle.

Do Plaintiffs Have a Case?
Despite the possibility that the secretary of state’s office may have violated GPIPA, plaintiffs’ remedy, if any, is unclear. Notably, plaintiffs have not sued for damages—likely because GPIPA does not expressly allow damages, and, regardless, seeking damages would likely trigger a sovereign immunity fight. Rather, the suit seeks equitable relief requiring the secretary of state to comply with GPIPA’s notification requirements and “prevent future harm due to the disclosure,” and attorneys’ fees.

While it is difficult to imagine that GPIPA was enacted without any enforcement mechanism or remedy—unlike many other states’ data privacy laws—GPIPA does not expressly create an independent civil cause of action, contain any statutory remedies or provide for an award of attorneys’ fees.

Moreover, while the only two published cases that have examined the act have not foreclosed a private right of action, neither has expressly found one, either. In the first, Willingham v. Global Payments, the Northern District of Georgia held the act inapplicable because the plaintiffs in that case were not residents of Georgia.
More recently, in an opinion arising out of the In re Target data breach litigation, the court allowed plaintiffs’ GPIPA claim to survive a motion to dismiss because “Georgia’s data-breach-notice statute is silent as to enforcement” and “neither party cites any case regarding how a court should interpret silence as to enforcement under Georgia law.”

The plaintiffs’ chance of success is unclear based on the paucity of case law examining GPIPA—and the fact that no court has affirmatively found a private cause of action.

Lessons for Government and Industry
Although the merits of plaintiffs’ suit are an open question—both because the secretary of state may have a viable defense and because GPIPA may be relatively toothless—it still carries important lessons for businesses and others collecting and processing personal information.

First, the Secretary of State Office’s “clerical error” illustrates the risk of collecting more data than needed. If only the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers were necessary, then the retention of complete Social Security and driver’s license numbers appears to have been an unnecessary risk that, in this case, led to a substantial data leak and litigation.

Second, those collecting and processing personal information should know—and comply with—data breach notification laws. For larger companies, this likely means compliance with various states’ disclosure laws—many of which have much clearer penalties and enforcement mechanisms than GPIPA.

Finally—and perhaps most fundamentally—data collectors and custodians should have a robust information management program in place that is commensurate with the volume and sensitivity of the data at issue. Simply put, a data management system with sufficient checks and safeguards should prevent a “clerical error” from potentially putting millions at risk.

Andrew Phillips is senior counsel in McGuireWoods’ Atlanta office, where he is editor of the firm’s “Password Protected” blog, in which a version of this article first appeared. His practice focuses on representing and counseling clients in a variety of class action and high stakes civil litigation.

Read more: http://www.dailyreportonline.com/id=1202743008663/Analyzing-the-Suit-Over-Georgia-Voters-Personal-Data-Leak#ixzz3sCITf37b

ENENews: “‘Special Alert’ issued for major dam upstream of US nuclear plants”

‘Special Alert’ issued for major dam upstream of US nuclear plants — Muddy seepage coming up near foundation — Cause of sinkhole and ‘mysterious’ discharges unknown after weeks of analysis — Newspaper: “Hopefully, it isn’t catastrophic” — Officials working around clock, submarines and ground-penetrating radar in use

Published: November 24th, 2014 at 2:44 pm ET
By ENENews
http://enenews.com/special-alert-issued-major-dam-upstream-nuclear-plants-sinkhole-mysterious-discharges-unknown-after-weeks-analysis-muddy-seepage-coming-foundation-officials-working-around-clock-submarines-gr
 
TVA Special Alert

Follow up to: Sinkhole develops under dam in US with nuclear plants downstream — Water now seeping out — Gov’t notified of ‘stability issues’, plants begin evaluating potential flood impacts

Tennessee Valley Authority, Nov 17, 2014 (emphasis added): Special Alert – TVA will continue to lower Boone Lake… to help engineers determine the cause of water and sediment seeping from the riverbank below the dam. The safety of our employees and the public is TVA’s top priority… we are continuously monitoring the dam.

TVA, Nov 12, 2014: “Public safety is our overriding priority and we believe that continuing the drawdown is a prudent action we should take” [said John McCormick, TVA River Operations]. Over the past couple of weeks TVA engineers and independent engineering firms have [used] side-scan sonar, remotely controlled submarines and ground-penetrating radar.

WCYB, Nov. 13, 2014: Engineers have still not found the source of water and sediment [in the] investigation into a sinkhole and seepage of clay particulates… at Boone Dam… They are working around the clock to find the cause.

WJHL, Nov 20, 2014: TVA: still no cause known for Boone Lake seepage — The cause of a mysterious problem on the banks of Boone Lake still has not been found.

Hydroworld, Nov 5, 2014: Seepage at TVA facility prompts dam safety inspection… During dam inspection Oct. 20, engineers… became aware of a sinkhole… Oct. 26, inspectors discovered seepage near the location of the original sinkhole, underwater in the… foundation.

Times-News, Nov 7, 2014: Muddy seepage [at] Boone… Hopefully, it isn’t catastrophic.

WJHL, Nov. 12, 2014: After weeks of investigation, [TVA] still doesn’t know what’s causing water and sediment to seep from the Riverbank below Boone Dam [or] whether the seepage is related to a nearby sinkhole… TVA is warning dock and marina owners that the water is going down yet again… officials seemed confident it would find a solution to the problem… But now, two weeks later, TVA still doesn’t know… Typically, TVA keeps a regimented schedule… But Wednesday’s announcement is open-ended. TVA only said the duration of the extended drawdown depends on the results of its investigation.

WJHL transcript, Nov 12, 2014: Warning for people who live and work around Boone Lake… levels will drop faster and lower than normal… to solve a lingering mystery [and it] will keep dropping until crews find out what’s going on. — John McCormick, TVA official: “The sinkhole by itself is not uncommon, but the seepage into the waterway is not a common occurrence.”

Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, 2.4 Hydrologic Engineering (1 of 2), Aug 14, 2013: Dam Failure Permutations – There are 12 major dams above Watts Bar Nuclear Plant whose failure could influence plant site flood levels [including] Boone… failure of low margin dams is postulated during the [probable maximum flood] for the Boone, Fort Patrick Henry, Melton Hill and Apalachia Dams… The failures are complete and instantaneous down to original ground elevation… Watts Bar West Saddle Dike… is postulated to fail when its peak headwater elevation occurs [and is] assumed to be complete and instantaneous down to original ground.