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Lawyer for Biden accuser Tara Reade drops her as a client
Court Feed News | 2020/05/23 21:53
The attorney working with Tara Reade, the former Joe Biden Senate staffer who alleged he sexually assaulted her in the 1990s, said Friday he is no longer representing her, just two weeks after he first began working with her.

Douglas Wigdor said in a statement the decision to drop Reade came on Wednesday of this week, and that it wasn’t a reflection on the veracity of her claims. But he offered no specifics on why he and his firm are dropping her.

Wigdor said he and others at his firm still believe Reade’s allegation against Biden, that he digitally penetrated her and groped her in the basement of a Capitol Hill office building when she worked as a low-level staffer in his Senate office in the Spring of 1993. Biden has vehemently denied her claims, and multiple current and former Biden staffers have said they have no recollection of such an incident.

In his statement, Wigdor said his firm believed that Reade has been “subjected to a double standard” in the media and that much of the coverage surrounding her biography had little to do with her claims against Biden. The news was first reported by The New York Times.



Supreme Court blocks House from Mueller grand jury material
Class Action News | 2020/05/21 04:53
The Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily prevented the House of Representatives from obtaining secret grand jury testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

The court’s unsigned order granted the Trump administration’s request to keep previously undisclosed details from the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election out of the hands of Democratic lawmakers, at least until early summer.

The court will decide then whether to extend its hold and schedule the case for arguments in the fall. If it does, it’s likely the administration will be able to put off the release of any materials until after Election Day. Arguments themselves might not even take place before Americans decide whether to give President Donald Trump a second term.

For justices eager to avoid a definitive ruling, the delay could mean never having to decide the case, if either Trump loses or Republicans regain control of the House next year. It’s hard to imagine the Biden administration would object to turning over the Mueller documents or House Republicans would continue to press for them.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi objected to the high court’s decision in a statement Wednesday evening. “The House’s long-standing right to obtain grand jury information pursuant to the House’s impeachment power has now been upheld by the lower courts twice,” Pelosi said. “These rulings are supported by decades of precedent and should be permitted to proceed.”

The federal appeals court in Washington ruled in March that the documents should be turned over because the House Judiciary Committee’s need for the material in its investigation of Trump outweighed the Justice Department’s interests in keeping the testimony secret.



Oregon high court keeps state virus restrictions in place
Criminal Law Updates | 2020/05/20 04:54
The Oregon Supreme Court has kept statewide virus restrictions in place by halting a judge’s order to end them in a lawsuit claiming the governor exceeded her authority when she shut down in-person religious services.

Baker County Circuit Judge Matthew Shirtcliff ruled Monday that Gov. Kate Brown erred by not seeking the Legislature’s approval to extend her stay-at-home orders beyond a 28-day limit. Brown’s lawyers appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court, which just hours later put a hold on Shirtcliff’s decree until the high court’s justices can review the matter.

Presiding Justice Thomas Balmer gave both sides until Friday to submit legal briefs. He did not give a timeline for a decision.

The lower court judge had issued his opinion in response to a lawsuit filed earlier this month by 10 churches around Oregon that argued the state’s social distancing directives were unconstitutional.

In a statement late Monday, Brown, a Democrat, praised the state Supreme Court action.

“There are no shortcuts for us to return to life as it was before this pandemic. Moving too quickly could return Oregon to the early days of this crisis, when we braced ourselves for hospitals to be overfilled,” she said.

Kevin Mannix, an attorney representing businesses in the case, said Tuesday that he was encouraged that the state Supreme Court seemed to be taking the case seriously. Normally, briefings in cases before the court wouldn’t be due until June 1, he said.

“Every day that the governor’s order remains in effect, people are prevented from being able to assemble peaceably, their free expression rights are limited … and most significantly, their freedom of religion rights are restricted,” he said. “This extraordinary power that she’s been exercising has a time limit on it.”

In his opinion, Shirtcliff wrote that the damage to Oregonians and their livelihood was greater than the dangers presented by the coronavirus. He also noted that other businesses deemed essential, such as grocery stores, had been allowed to remain open even with large numbers of people present and have relied on masks, social distancing and other measures to protect the public.


Lawyer: Security video in Arbery case may show water breaks
Business Law Info | 2020/05/17 20:13
A young black man filmed by a security camera walking through a home under construction in December and in February may have stopped at the site for a drink of water, according to an attorney for the homeowner thrust into the investigation of the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery.

Arbery was killed Feb. 23 in a pursuit by a white father and son who armed themselves after the 25-year-old black man ran past their yard just outside the port city of Brunswick. Right before the chase, Arbery was recorded inside an open-framed home being built on the same street.

Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, have been jailed on murder charges since May 7. The elder McMichael told police he suspected Arbery was responsible for recent break-ins in the neighborhood. He also said Arbery attacked his son before he was shot.

Arbery’s mother has said she believes her son was merely out jogging.

On Friday, an attorney for the owner of the house under construction released three security camera videos taken Dec. 17, more than two months before the shooting. They show a black man in a T-shirt and shorts at the site. In the final clip, he walks a few steps toward the road, then starts running at a jogger's pace.

“It now appears that this young man may have been coming onto the property for water,” J. Elizabeth Graddy, the attorney for homeowner Larry English, said in a statement. “There is a water source at the dock behind the house as well as a source near the front of the structure. Although these water sources do not appear within any of the cameras’ frames, the young man moves to and from their locations.”

A man in similar clothes appears briefly in another security video taken at the home construction site Feb. 11, less than two weeks before the shooting. Graddy said that person appears to be the same man shown in the Dec. 17 videos.


Virus whistleblower tells lawmakers US lacks vaccine plan
Criminal Law Updates | 2020/05/14 17:19
Whistleblower Dr. Rick Bright warned on Thursday that the U.S. lacks a plan to produce and fairly distribute a coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available. The nation could face “the darkest winter in modern history” unless leaders act decisively, he told a congressional panel.

Bright alleges he was ousted from a high-level scientific post after warning the Trump administration to prepare for the pandemic.

Testifying Thursday, Bright said, “We don’t have (a vaccine plan) yet, and it is a significant concern.” Asked if lawmakers should be worried, Bright responded, “absolutely.”

Bright, a vaccine expert who led a biodefense agency in the Department of Health and Human Services, said the country needs a plan to establish a supply chain for producing tens of millions of doses of a vaccine, and then allocating and distributing them fairly. He said experience so far with an antiviral drug that has been found to benefit COVID-19 patients has not given him much confidence about distribution. Hospital pharmacies have reported problems getting limited supplies.

The White House has begun what it calls “Operation Warp Speed” to quickly produce, distribute and administer a vaccine once it becomes available.

Bright testified Thursday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Aspects of his complaint about early administration handling of the crisis were expected to be backed up by testimony from an executive of a company that manufactures respirator masks.



Supreme Court appears likely to reject Trump immunity claim
Criminal Law Updates | 2020/05/14 00:19
The Supreme Court on Tuesday appeared likely to reject President Donald Trump’s claim that he is immune from criminal investigation while in office. But the court seemed less clear about exactly how to handle subpoenas from Congress and the Manhattan district attorney for Trump’s tax, bank and financial records.

The court’s major clash over presidential accountability could affect the  2020 presidential campaign, especially if a high court ruling leads to the release of personal financial information before Election Day.

The justices heard arguments in two cases by telephone Tuesday that stretched into the early afternoon. The court, which includes six justices age 65 or older, has been meeting by phone because of the coronavirus pandemic.

There was no apparent consensus about whether to ratify lower court rulings that the subpoenas to Trump’s accountant and banks are valid and should be enforced. The justices will meet by phone before the end of the week to take a preliminary vote on how those cases should come out, and decisions are expected by early summer.

On the same day Trump’s lawyers were telling the court that the subpoenas would be a distraction that no president can afford, Trump found the time to weigh in on a long string of unrelated issues on Twitter, about Elon Musk reopening Tesla’s California plant in defiance of local authorities, the credit he deserves for governors’ strong approval ratings for their handling of the virus outbreak, the anger Asian Americans feel “at what China has done to our Country,” oil prices, interest rates, his likely opponent in the November election and his critics.

The justices sounded particularly concerned in arguments over congressional subpoenas about whether a ruling validating the subpoenas would open the door to harassing future presidents.

“In your view, there is really no protection against the use of congressional subpoenas for the purpose of preventing the harassment of a president,” Justice Samuel Alito said to Douglas Letter, the lawyer for the House of Representatives.

Justice Stephen Breyer said he worried about a “future Sen. McCarthy,” a reference to the Communist-baiting Wisconsin senator from the 1950s, with subpoena power against a future president.

But in the case involving Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s subpoena for Trump’s taxes, the justices showed little interest in the broadest argument made by Jay Sekulow, Trump’s lawyer, that a president can’t be investigated while he holds office.


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