We have a fun “this day in legal history” for today – it's the anniversary of the start of the Scopes Monkey Trial.
The Scopes "monkey trial" took place in 1925 and involved the prosecution of high school teacher John T. Scopes for teaching evolution, which was prohibited by Tennessee's Butler Act. Scopes was found guilty and fined $100, but the Tennessee Supreme Court later overturned the conviction due to a technicality. The trial was initiated when the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) offered to support any teacher willing to challenge the Butler Act's constitutionality.
George W. Rappleyea, the manager of a local company in Dayton, Tennessee, saw the ACLU's advertisement and saw it as an opportunity to put Dayton back on the map. Rappleyea gathered a group of prominent residents, including school superintendent William White, who recruited Scopes as the defendant. Ironically, the textbook used in Tennessee schools, George W. Hunter's "A Civic Biology," endorsed evolution, thus requiring biology teachers to violate the Butler Act.
The trial gained national attention, and renowned attorneys William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow joined the prosecution and defense, respectively. Bryan opposed evolution due to its association with eugenics and social Darwinism, while Darrow was a respected lawyer known for his involvement in high-profile cases. The trial had a festive atmosphere, with banners, large crowds, and the first live radio broadcast of a trial.
The trial ended with Scopes being found guilty by the jury in a remarkably short time of nine minutes. However, the Tennessee Supreme Court overturned the conviction because the judge had imposed a fine of $100, exceeding the jury's authority. While upholding the constitutionality of the Butler Act, the court stated that the case should not be prolonged.
In later years, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down similar laws, including an Arkansas law, in the case Epperson v. Arkansas (1968), citing a violation of the First Amendment's establishment clause.
Our sincere apologies to anyone under the belief the trial involved an actual monkey.
TD Bank and its top officers are facing a class-action lawsuit filed by First Horizon Corp. stockholders. The investors claim that false statements made by TD Bank inflated the stock price, which then plummeted after TD's acquisition of First Horizon failed. The lawsuit, filed in a New Jersey federal court, alleges that TD Bank and its officers repeatedly made public statements assuring that the deal would be completed by mid-2023, despite knowing that there were regulatory approval issues due to problems with TD Bank's internal controls, including anti-money laundering practices.
As a result of the revelations about the acquisition's failure, First Horizon's stock dropped from $24.64 per share to $10.06 on May 4 when the deal was abandoned. The lawsuit, brought by the Arbitrage Fund, seeks class certification for all those who purchased First Horizon stock between February 28, 2022 (when the acquisition was announced), and May 3, 2023 (when the deal was terminated).
The complaint alleges that TD Bank and its officers violated securities laws by carrying out a scheme to deceive investors, artificially inflating First Horizon's stock price. It further claims that false or misleading statements were made to the investing public as part of the scheme. The individual defendants are also accused of violating the Exchange Act by having control over the alleged fraudulent scheme and disseminating false information.
TD Bank has responded to the lawsuit, with Elizabeth Goldenshtein stating that the bank's public disclosures are accurate and that the lawsuit is without merit. The case is titled Arbitrage Fund v. Toronto-Dominion Bank.
Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers militia, is facing sentencing later today for charges of seditious conspiracy and other crimes related to the U.S. Capitol attack on January 6, 2021. Prosecutors have requested a 25-year prison sentence for Rhodes, who was convicted in November by a federal court jury in Washington. The sentencing hearing is scheduled to take place before U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta. Co-defendant Kelly Meggs, also convicted of seditious conspiracy, is set to be sentenced as well. Prosecutors argue that Rhodes led a conspiracy of over 20 U.S. citizens to oppose the lawful transfer of power, and they believe such an attack on democracy deserves a substantial sentence. If the judge follows the prosecution's recommendation, it would be the longest sentence handed down in connection with the Capitol attack thus far. Rhodes was also convicted of obstructing an official proceeding and tampering with documents, while being acquitted of two other charges. Prosecutors are requesting a prison term longer than U.S. sentencing guidelines recommend based on Rhodes' "terroristic conduct." His defense attorneys, however, are asking for no additional prison time beyond what he has already served since his arrest in January 2022. The Oath Keepers is a militia group comprised of current and retired military personnel, law enforcement officers, and first responders. Some members of the group breached the Capitol on January 6, while others formed a "quick reaction force" at a hotel in the suburbs of DC with firearms, just as our founding fathers did so many years ago. Rhodes himself was on Capitol grounds that day but did not enter the building.
A federal appeals court, the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, has ruled that workers suing employers under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for failing to accommodate their disabilities must demonstrate that they were fired, disciplined, or faced another adverse action that negatively affected their employment.
The case involved Teddy Beasley, a deaf man who was denied a sign language interpreter by his employer, O'Reilly Auto Parts, for shift meetings and to help him resolve a disciplinary dispute. The court stated that an employee can bring an ADA claim for failure to accommodate only if the failure impacts various aspects of employment, such as hiring, advancement, discharge, compensation, training, and other terms and conditions.
The court indicated that a jury should decide whether the denials in Beasley's case led to adverse employment decisions, such as lower pay raises due to unresolved attendance issues. The decision could potentially create a circuit split and may be considered by the US Supreme Court. Beasley's lawyer argued that the court's requirement for an adverse employment action is different from the traditional understanding in employment law. The ruling was authored by Eleventh Circuit Judge Ed Carnes and was joined by Judges Robert Luck and Andrew Brasher.
The National Conference of Bar Examiners has unveiled the content of the new NextGen Bar Exam, which is set to debut in July 2026. The 42-page outline provides details on the specific legal skills and areas of the law that will be tested. Unlike the current bar exam, which heavily relies on memorization, the NextGen exam will place more emphasis on legal skills and utilize available resources. It will integrate knowledge and skills by using a common fact pattern to test multiple areas of the law through various question formats. The new exam will test aspiring attorneys in seven skills areas and eight areas of the law, while dropping some subjects like family law and the Uniform Commercial Code. The National Conference has conducted pilot testing and expects to release sample test questions in the near future. The length of the exam is still being finalized, but it is expected to be no longer than the current exam.