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Legal News Roundup: October 7

Here’s a roundup of recent legal stories in the news.

Amazon Not Liable for Local Teen’s Death

Medina Gazette – The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Ohio product liability law does not extend to an online marketplace like Amazon.com. In their unanimous decision, justices ruled that Amazon is not defined as a “supplier” as it relates to online sales.

The ruling centered on a lawsuit by the family of 18-year-old Logan Stiner, a Keystone High School student who died of caffeine toxicity three days prior to his high school graduation in May 2014. Stiner passed away after ingesting caffeine powder purchased on Amazon.com and provided to him by a friend.

The FDA and the state of Ohio banned caffeine powder sales after Stiner’s death, and Tenkoris—the powder’s manufacturer—later filed for bankruptcy protection. The family sued Amazon, Tenkoris and Kelsey Kidd, who gave the powder to Stiner.

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Ohio Voters Have Many Choices in Judicial Elections

Court News Ohio – This election season, voters will consider nearly 300 candidates for 216 judicial seats throughout the state, including two seats on the Ohio Supreme Court.

Among the highlights of this year’s judicial elections are:

  • Ohio Supreme Court – two seats, both contested
  • Hamilton County – 13 judicial seats, including one on the 1st District Court of Appeals; all races contested
  • Franklin County – 10 judicial seats, including two on the 10th District Court of Appeals; all races contested
  • Cuyahoga County – 19 judicial seats, including five on the 8th District Court of Appeals; six seats contested.

Ohio voters can use Judicial Votes Count, the state’s only nonpartisan, statewide judicial election resource, to learn more about judicial candidates before casting their ballots in the general election.

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St. Louis Couple Indicted for Incident With Protesters

Mark and Patricia McCloskey

Mark and Patricia McCloskey were indicted by a grand jury.

Politico – A grand jury indicted the St. Louis couple who displayed guns while hundreds of racial injustice protesters marched on their private street.

Attorney Al Watkins confirmed the indictments against Mark McCloskey, 63, and his wife, Patricia McCloskey, 61.

The McCloskey’s, who are both lawyers, argue that they were exercising their Second Amendment right to bear arms, and were protected by Missouri’s castle doctrine law that allows the use of deadly force against intruders. Missouri Governor Mike Parson has said he will pardon the couple if they are convicted.

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‘Serious Reexamination’ of Bar Exam Coming

Bloomberg Law – Over the last several decades, critics of the bar exam have called it outdated, discriminatory and simply ineffective as a measure of legal competence. Reforms have been slow to come, but the pandemic may lead to what some consider longer-term improvements to the lawyering licensing system.

Until 2020, most states administered their bar exams twice per year, in February and July. That all changed when the coronavirus spread throughout the U.S. About half of the states held their previously scheduled, in-person July tests. Some states delayed their in-person exams until late summer or fall. Many others opted instead for an online exam.

Other states chose different alternatives, including diploma privilege and provisional licensing, in which law school grads become temporarily licensed while they work with supervising attorneys. Under provisional licensing programs, graduates must pass a bar exam for their license to become permanent.

Moving forward, experts suggest that hybrid solutions are most likely. Students could be given multiple possible pathways to licensure, including remote proctored online tests, open-book exams and provisional licensing programs.

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