Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
Legal News for Thurs 2/29 - Texas' Immigration Law Struck Down, Tesla Faces Race Bias Class Action, New AI Legal Venture Bench IQ and SCOTUS Takes up Trump Immunity Claim

Legal News for Thurs 2/29 - Texas' Immigration Law Struck Down, Tesla Faces Race Bias Class Action, New AI Legal Venture Bench IQ and SCOTUS Takes up Trump Immunity Claim

On today's episode, we have Texas' immigration law strike down, Tesla's race bias class action, a new AI legal venture, and Trump's Supreme Court case.

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Donald Trump driving a Tesla that is on fire past the Supreme Court, pencil sketch

This Day in Legal History: Jay Treaty Signed

On this day in legal history, February 29, 1796, the Jay Treaty, also known as the Treaty of London, was formally proclaimed, marking a significant moment in the post-Revolutionary War era between the United States and Great Britain. Negotiated by John Jay, the U.S. Chief Justice at the time, the treaty aimed to resolve lingering tensions and disputes that had persisted since the end of the war, particularly regarding territorial claims, trade relations, and maritime rights. The agreement facilitated the withdrawal of British forces from frontier forts in the Northwest Territory, which they had continued to occupy, in violation of the Treaty of Paris of 1783.

The treaty also addressed American grievances related to British seizures of American ships and cargo, which had been a major source of conflict between the two nations. In return, the United States offered most-favored-nation trading status to Great Britain, an important economic concession that allowed for British goods to enter the U.S. market under favorable terms. Additionally, the treaty established a commission to resolve outstanding border disputes along the Canada–United States border and agreed to compensate American merchants for losses due to British ship seizures.

Despite its diplomatic successes, the Jay Treaty faced significant opposition within the United States, particularly from supporters of Thomas Jefferson who viewed it as too conciliatory to British interests and a betrayal of France, America's ally during the Revolutionary War. The treaty's ratification in the Senate and subsequent implementation, however, played a crucial role in averting a potential war with Great Britain, solidifying the United States' sovereignty, and enhancing its economic independence. Thus, the Jay Treaty stands as a pivotal agreement that helped define the early foreign policy of the United States, ensuring peace with Great Britain while establishing a framework for handling international disputes through diplomacy rather than conflict.

A federal judge in Texas has ruled against a new Texas law, SB 4, which allowed for the arrest and removal of migrants entering the U.S. without proper documentation, declaring it infringes on the federal government's exclusive authority over immigration. This decision, a victory for the Biden administration, comes from Senior US District Judge David Ezra, who also issued a preliminary injunction to prevent the law from taking effect as scheduled. Judge Ezra highlighted that permitting Texas to enact its own immigration policies would effectively nullify federal law, emphasizing the problems with allowing states to have their own disparate immigration laws. The ruling, subject to appeal by Texas to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, underscores a significant clash between state and federal visions of immigration enforcement. Governor Greg Abbott of Texas has been a vocal advocate for state-level enforcement, citing high numbers of border crossings as justification. However, the law has faced criticism for potentially leading to a fragmented approach to immigration, similar to previous legal challenges against similar laws in other states.

Texas Immigration Law Struck Down by Judge in Win for Biden

A California state judge has made a tentative ruling that allows nearly 6,000 Black workers at Tesla's Fremont factory to sue the electric vehicle manufacturer collectively over allegations of widespread racial discrimination and harassment. This decision by Judge Noel Wise centers on the accusation that Tesla was cognizant of the misconduct but failed to address it. The lawsuit, initiated by former assembly line worker Marcus Vaughn in 2017, claims that Black employees were subjected to racial slurs, graffiti, and nooses at their workstations. Tesla has yet to respond to the ruling but has previously stated its zero tolerance for workplace harassment, asserting that it has terminated employees found guilty of racial harassment. The ruling, which Tesla has an opportunity to contest, sets the stage for a potential multimillion-dollar judgment against the company and schedules a trial for October. This case is part of a broader legal challenge Tesla faces regarding racial bias, including a separate lawsuit by a California state civil rights agency and federal court claims by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Additionally, Tesla is appealing a $3.2 million jury verdict awarded to another Black former employee in a related racial harassment case.

Tesla must face race bias class action by 6,000 Black US workers | Reuters

A novel legal technology venture, Bench IQ, founded by legal tech entrepreneur Jimoh Ovbiagele and former Kirkland & Ellis partner Jeffrey Gettleman, aims to revolutionize how lawyers prepare for court by using artificial intelligence to analyze and predict judges' decision-making patterns. This Toronto-based startup has successfully secured $2.1 million in pre-seed funding from a mix of law firms and venture capital firms. Bench IQ's technology promises to provide comprehensive insights into judges' rulings, not limited to their written opinions, by employing large language model-based AI. Although specifics about the technology and data are under wraps due to pending patents, the company has already attracted 12 large law firms as pilot customers. Bench IQ offers flexible pricing models tailored to the needs of different law firms. The venture is entering a competitive market of AI-based legal services but distinguishes itself by focusing on explaining judges' legal reasoning rather than just describing it. This initiative represents a significant step forward in legal research, offering a tool that could potentially change the standard approach to legal arguments and courtroom strategy.

New legal AI venture promises to show how judges think | Reuters

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case regarding Donald Trump's claim of immunity from criminal prosecution related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. This decision puts a temporary hold on the criminal case led by Special Counsel Jack Smith and will examine the extent of presidential immunity for actions taken while in office. The Court of Appeals previously ruled against Trump's claim, emphasizing the limits of executive power and the importance of election integrity. Scheduled for oral arguments in April, this case is significant as Trump, a leading Republican candidate for the upcoming election, faces multiple criminal charges. These include accusations of conspiring to defraud the United States and obstructing the congressional certification of Joe Biden's victory. Trump argues that presidential immunity is crucial for a president's effective functioning and to prevent post-office prosecutions, which he views as politically motivated. The Supreme Court's involvement in this and related cases highlights its central role in addressing issues surrounding the 2020 election and its aftermath, including a case that could affect Trump's charges directly.

US Supreme Court to decide Trump criminal immunity claim in 2020 election case | Reuters

Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
The idea is that this podcast can accompany you on your commute home and will render you minimally competent on the major legal news stories of the day. The transcript is available in the form of a newsletter at