On this day in legal history, August 17, 1870, Esther Morris became the first female magistrate appointed in the United States.
Esther Hobart Morris was the first female Justice of the Peace in the U.S., appointed in Wyoming Territory in 1869. Though some credit her with the success of the woman's suffrage amendment in Wyoming, she credited William H. Bright. Born in 1814 in New York, she was a seamstress, abolitionist supporter, and successful businesswoman. Married twice, she faced challenges like not being able to own property, moving her family to South Pass City, Wyoming in 1869 with her second husband. The family became involved in business during the gold rush, but as the mines failed, the population dwindled. Appointed Justice of the Peace in 1870, Morris served for over 8 months but was not reappointed by either political party. After leaving office, she continued to be an active advocate for women's suffrage, attending conventions and giving speeches. She moved several times before passing away in Cheyenne, Wyoming on April 3, 1902, and her legacy is commemorated with statues in both the US Capitol and Wyoming State Capitol.
A Texas woman, Abigail Jo Shry, has been charged with threatening Judge Tonya Chutkan, the federal judge overseeing the criminal case against former President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. The case accuses Trump of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election results. Shry allegedly left a voicemail on August 5th threatening to kill anyone who goes after Trump, including specific threats against Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, all Democrats in Washington, and the LGBTQ community. The message also contained racial slurs directed at Chutkan, who is Black. Special agents visited Shry's residence on August 8th, where she admitted to making the call. She stated she had no plans to carry out the threats. Judge Chutkan, nominated in 2013 by President Obama, was assigned to the case against Trump, who has been indicted in three other criminal cases. The judiciary has seen an increase in threats, nearly three times more than in 2008. Trump criticized Chutkan on Truth Social, labeling her as "highly partisan" and "very biased."
Allstate Corp. has reached a $90 million settlement in a shareholder class action, resolving allegations that the auto insurer failed to disclose details about a spike in claims. The shareholders' suit had estimated $556 million in total damages resulting from a stock drop due to alleged misrepresentations. The complaint stated that Allstate misled investors by not disclosing that the spike in claims came from a company-wide policy shift. The case survived Allstate's attempt to have it dismissed in July 2022. Allstate planned to argue at trial that it did not misrepresent the claim frequency and had disclosed its understanding of the increase's causes. Investors in the class attributed the spike to Allstate's loosened underwriting standards to attract new customers. Allstate's stock price fell 10% in one day when the information was disclosed on Aug. 3, 2015, marking the stock's largest selloff since March 2009. The class includes investors who bought shares of Allstate stock between Oct. 29, 2014, and Aug. 3, 2015. Both parties representing the plaintiffs and Allstate have yet to comment on the settlement.
YouTube, Google, and Reddit are being sued for allegedly promoting "extreme and harmful" content that may have influenced a gunman to kill 10 people and injure three others in Buffalo, NY, last year. Two separate but related lawsuits were filed in the New York Supreme Court by Everytown Law on behalf of the mass shooting victims. The lawsuits also target Georgia arms company MEAN LLC for creating a gun lock that was easily removed, allowing the shooter to upgrade his weapon illegally. The shooter reportedly used online platforms to learn how to equip himself with military-grade weapons and purchase body armor. Algorithms used by YouTube and Reddit are accused in the lawsuit of helping to radicalize the shooter by feeding him content promoting racism, antisemitism, and racial violence. YouTube has defended itself, citing investments in technology to identify and remove extremist content and collaboration with law enforcement. As of now, Reddit has not responded to the lawsuit.
A New York couple is suing T-Mobile for over $1 million after they lost more than $130,000 in Coinbase and other assets due to an unauthorized SIM card swap. This allowed a stranger to access their private phone data. The couple accuses T-Mobile of having inadequate security measures, violating customer protection laws, and failing to properly train employees to prevent privacy breaches. The incident occurred in 2021 when an unidentified person initiated a SIM card swap at a T-Mobile store in California without proper identification verification. The complaint claims that T-Mobile has been aware of the SIM card swapping issue for years and has been warned by the Federal Trade Commission. The couple received an email confirming the SIM change and subsequently lost access to their phones, during which more than $106,000 was drained from the Coinbase account and $25,000 from a bank account. T-Mobile has not yet commented on the complaint.
The district attorney prosecuting former U.S. President Donald Trump on election interference charges in Georgia has proposed a trial start date of March 4, 2024. This date would place Trump in court during his potential campaign for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, just one day before Super Tuesday. Fani Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, submitted her recommendation and also stated that initial appearances for the various defendants should happen during the week of September 5, 2023. A Fulton County grand jury has indicted Trump and 18 others, accusing them of attempting to overturn his 2020 election loss. Trump is also set to be on trial in New York on March 25, 2024, for separate charges and in Florida in May for charges of retaining sensitive government documents. U.S. Special Counsel's office has requested a January 2 trial start date for charges that Trump plotted to overturn his 2020 election loss. Trump's attorneys have not yet commented on the proposed date in the Georgia case.