On this day in legal history, August 2, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia.
The process of adopting the Declaration of Independence began with the appointment of a committee of five, including notable figures like Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin, on June 10, 1776. Jefferson drafted the statement, and after revisions, it was presented to Congress, with the independence section of the Lee Resolution being adopted on July 2nd. The Declaration was officially adopted on July 4th, and printed copies were distributed to various assemblies and Continental troops. On July 19th, Congress ordered the Declaration to be engrossed on parchment, a process likely overseen by Timothy Matlock. On August 2, 1776, John Hancock, the President of the Congress, signed the engrossed copy, followed by other delegates, arranged by states from north to south. Not all 56 delegates were present on August 2nd, and some, like Robert R. Livingston, never signed the document. The engrossing and signing of the Declaration marked a significant step in the formalization of America's independence from Britain.
Yesterday, on August 1, 2023, former U.S. President Donald Trump was indicted on four counts for his attempts to overturn the 2020 election. The 45-page indictment accuses Trump of conspiring to defraud the U.S. by preventing Congress from certifying Joe Biden's victory and depriving voters of a fair election. Prosecutors allege that Trump pushed false fraud claims, pressured officials, and incited a violent assault on the U.S. Capitol. The charges stem from Special Counsel Jack Smith's investigation, and Trump is set to make an initial appearance in federal court on Thursday. Despite these legal troubles, Trump remains the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination for the next election. The indictment also mentions six unnamed co-conspirators, who appear to include figures like Rudy Giuliani and Jeffrey Clark. Trump's campaign has characterized the indictment as political persecution, and his legal woes continue to mount with other ongoing investigations and indictments.
Shout out to sometimes listener Jason, who was at pains to inform me that he prefers Gina-hosted episodes, for pointing out that Big Don now has an indictment count for every year he has been alive.
U.S. law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman announced on Tuesday that it is laying off lawyers and professional staff and postponing the start dates for some incoming associates. The Chicago-founded firm, which employs around 700 lawyers, stated that less than 5% of attorneys and staff were affected, and the reductions were limited to groups where demand has diminished. Katten also reassigned team members to areas where demand exceeds capacity. Another law firm, Armstrong Teasdale, announced on Monday that it is laying off 24 staff members and 11 lawyers, following a review of organizational support structure and productivity. These layoffs come as U.S. law firms have been grappling with slowing demand for months, leading to staff reductions in several other firms. Katten has also decided to defer the start date for a portion of its incoming class of associates to February 1, 2024, a move mirrored by other law firms in response to the changing economic conditions.
Social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, is challenging an Indian court ruling that found it non-compliant with government orders to remove specific content. The court had quashed X's request to overturn the government's removal orders in June 2023 and imposed a fine of 5 million rupees ($60,560). X has now appealed against this decision, arguing that it could lead the Indian government to issue more blocking orders and broaden censorship. The appeal was submitted to the Karnataka High Court by local law firm Poovayya & Co. X's argument emphasizes the need for clear parameters on what mandates the blocking of an entire account rather than a specific post. The original lawsuit predates X's ownership by Elon Musk, who is also pursuing various business interests in India, including potential investments in electric vehicle manufacturing and satellite broadband through SpaceX. The Indian authorities have previously asked the company to act on content related to various political and social issues, including support for an independent Sikh state and criticism of the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A group of 14 attorneys general has urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to adopt a more comprehensive strategy to reduce plastic pollution. In a letter to the EPA, the officials from states including California, New York, and the District of Columbia described the plastic pollution crisis as "one of the most pervasive challenges of our time." They called for measures beyond improving recycling, such as reducing new plastic production and addressing waste from the fast-fashion industry. The EPA released a draft strategy for addressing plastic pollution in April and is currently reviewing public comments. The attorneys general also urged the EPA to limit virgin plastics production at petrochemical plants and consider regulations for industries that contribute to plastic waste. The EPA has noted that annual production of plastics and plastic waste has more than doubled in the past 20 years. The call for a more robust strategy comes amid growing global concern over plastic pollution, with around 170 countries agreeing in June to develop a plan that could lead to the first global treaty to curb plastic production.
You have heard us say you can reach us on the esq.social Mastodon instance. Mastodon is like open source Twitter, or X, or whatever its called now. Its pretty straightforward to use and if you’re a law or legal-adjacent professional we’d love to have you tooting on our timeline – that’s what you do on Mastodon, instead of Tweet.
Additionally, we have a legal-themed Matrix server running. What is that? It’s a chat room, basically. But not the kind from the early 90s where there are weirdos and such. We moderate it. As with Mastodon, if you’re interested in chatting with fellow legal professionals, we encourage you to join. Links for both are in the show notes.
Finally, with all this talk of federated services and the fediverse and such, we have Lawstodon. Lawstodon is a directory for legal professionals in the fediverse. In other words, its like a phone book for Mastodon accounts for users. You can add yourself to the database, claim your account if you’re already listed, and find people to follow. Its been a great tool for me to get my follow-list up and running once I bailed on Twitter, and I think it can be the same for you. Link, as always, in the shownotes.