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Trump ally Roger Stone sentenced to over 3 years in prison
Business Law Info | 2020/02/20 18:46
Trump loyalist and ally Roger Stone was sentenced Thursday to more than three years in federal prison, following an extraordinary move by Attorney General William Barr to back off his Justice Department’s original sentencing recommendation.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Stone’s crimes demanded a significant time behind bars, but she said the seven to nine years originally recommended by the Justice Department were excessive.

Stone’s lawyers had asked for a sentence of probation, citing his age of 67 years, his health and his lack of criminal history. Instead, he drew 40 months.

Stone had no immediate reaction in court when Jackson announced his sentence. Later, he emerged from the courthouse to a crowd exchanging back and forth chants of “Lock him up” and “Pardon Roger Stone.” Stone got into a black SUV without speaking to reporters.

His attorney Bruce Rogow said Stone and his team would “have no comment.” The judge delayed execution of his sentence while she considers Stone’s motion for a new trial.

Stone was convicted in November on all seven counts of an indictment that accused him of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election.

The sentence came amid Trump’s unrelenting defense of his longtime confidant that has led to a mini-revolt inside the Justice Department and allegations the president has interfered in the case.

Trump took to Twitter to denounce as a “miscarriage of justice” the initial recommendation by Justice Department prosecutors that Stone receive at least seven years in prison.  Attorney General William Barr then backed off that recommendation, prompting four prosecutors to quit Stone’s case.

Jackson angrily denied that Stone was being punished for his politics or his allies. “He was not prosecuted, as some have claimed, for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president,” she said.

She said Stone’s use of social media to stoke public sentiment against the prosecution and the court was intended to reach a wide audience, including using a photo of Jackson with crosshairs superimposed.


Florida can’t bar felons who served their time from registering to vote
Business Law Info | 2020/02/19 02:46
A federal appeals court has ruled that Florida cannot bar felons who served their time from registering to vote simply because they have failed to pay all fines and fees stemming from their cases.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld a Tallahassee federal judge's decision that the law implementing Amendment 4 amounted to an unfair poll tax.

Amendment 4 was passed overwhelmingly by voters in 2018 to allow as many as 1.6 million ex-felons to regain their right to vote.

The Republican-led Legislature passed a law saying they had to pay any fines and fees first. GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis plans to ask the full 11th Circuit to reconsider the ruling.


Court reinstates order for Russia to pay $50 bln over Yukos
Criminal Law Updates | 2020/02/18 02:47
In a major legal defeat for the Russian government, a Dutch appeals court on Tuesday reinstated an international arbitration panel’s order that it should pay $50 billion compensation to shareholders in former oil company Yukos.

The ruling overturned a 2016 decision by The Hague District Court that quashed the compensation order on the grounds that the arbitration panel did not have jurisdiction because the case was based on an energy treaty that Russia had signed but not ratified.

The Hague Court of Appeal ruled that the 2016 decision “was not correct. That means that the arbitration order is in force again.”

“This is a victory for the rule of law. The independent courts of a democracy have shown their integrity and served justice. A brutal kleptocracy has been held to account,” Tim Osborne, the chief executive of GML, a company made up of Yukos shareholders, said in a statement.

The Russian Justice Ministry said in a statement after the verdict that Russia will appeal. It charged that the Hague appeals court “failed to take into account the illegitimate use by former Yukos shareholders of the Energy Charter Treaty that wasn’t ratified by the Russian federation.”

The arbitration panel had ruled that Moscow seized control of Yukos in 2003 by hammering the company with massive tax claims. The move was seen as an attempt to silence Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin.

The 2014 arbitration ruling said that Russia was not acting in good faith when it levied the massive claims against Yukos, even though some of the company’s tax arrangements might have been questionable.



NH high court rejects appeal of man convicted of planning murder
U.S. Legal News | 2020/02/16 02:48
The New Hampshire Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of a man serving 43 years in prison for orchestrating the murder of someone he mistakenly believed was a police informant.

Paulson Papillon was convicted of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the 2015 death of Michael Pittman in Manchester.

Papillon argued that he shouldn't have been allowed to represent himself at trial, that there was insufficient evidence to convict him and that some of the evidence against him was illegally admitted.

The state Supreme Court agreed Friday on the last point but said the error was harmless.


Court fight over lost dog survives after dog's owner dies
Court Feed News | 2020/02/10 03:07
A federal appeals court has ruled that a legal fight over a lost dog could continue in Mississippi, even after the dog's owner has died.

The dispute is over a German shepherd named Max who jumped out a window and escaped from his owner's Hattiesburg home in 2015. Max got loose when people were providing medical help to his owner, Charles Holt, who had fallen and could not get up.

Holt was more than 90 years old at the time. He was hospitalized after the fall. Max was captured weeks after he escaped, and he was impounded in an animal shelter. More weeks passed before Holt was notified that his dog was in the shelter, according to court papers. When Holt tried to reclaim his dog, the shelter refused, based on orders from the city.

A city court judge ordered the shelter to keep Max because the dog allegedly posed a threat to the people taking care of Holt. A county court judge later agreed with that decision.

Holt then filed a federal lawsuit saying the city had deprived him of his property, Max, without due process. A district court judge threw out his claim, and Holt appealed.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that although Holt has died, questions about his property claim survive. The appeals court sent it back to a district court for the possibility of further consideration.


Edwards takes treasurer to court over blocked fund transfer
Business Law Info | 2020/02/07 11:09
Gov. John Bel Edwards sued Louisiana's state treasurer Friday for blocking a $25 million fund transfer the governor and lawmakers earmarked for government operating expenses, asking the courts to settle who has ultimate authority over the dollars.

Republican state Treasurer John Schroder repeatedly said if the Democratic governor wanted to spend the unclaimed property dollars included in the state's budget, he'd have to take him to court. After months of disagreement, Edwards complied, filing the lawsuit requesting a judge to declare Schroder's actions are illegal.

Lawmakers appropriated the unclaimed property dollars in Louisiana's $30 billion-plus operating budget. But Schroder has refused to shift the money for spending, and he similarly blocked a $15 million fund transfer last year.

“He doesn't have the discretion not to abide by an appropriation that has been lawfully made by the Legislature,” the governor said ahead of the lawsuit's filing in Baton Rouge district court.

Louisiana collects unclaimed dollars from old savings accounts, payroll checks, stocks and dividends, insurance proceeds, oil royalty payments and utility deposits on behalf of residents. The treasurer's office, designated as custodian of the property, tries to locate people owed the cash and return the money.

Though governors and lawmakers for decades have spent money from the unclaimed property escrow account on programs and services, Schroder said he and his office's lawyers don't believe Louisiana law permits the transfers.



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