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Northern Indiana man 3rd generation caring for court clock
Class Action News | 2018/01/01 13:55
Out of habit, as the Elkhart County Courthouse clock struck 11 on a recent morning, Blake Eckelbarger took out his cellphone and compared the time.

The century-and-a-half-old mechanism in the middle of Goshen trailed the timekeeping of his GPS satellite-aided phone by a minute. Thankfully it's an easy fix, he explained as he tinkered with the brass-colored gears and pins of the green-painted machine his grandfather and great-grandfather once cared for - a minute fast would mean advancing the hands through 11 hours and 59 minutes to set it right.

It's not the time it takes that's the hassle, since that's only 20 minutes, but the fact that he has to stop and wait for the bell to ring as an hour goes by every 10 seconds. It's the same story when he has to advance it one hour along with everyone else's clocks one

"Now it should be OK for another couple months," he remarked, before going into the usual weekly routine of oiling and inspecting the mechanism. It's a job he's had since 2000, when he happily took the offer to bring it back into the Eckelbarger family.

Eckelbarger's great-grandfather, Zena Eckelbarger, took care of the clock from 1923 until his death in 1941. Eckelbarger's grandfather, Dan Eckelbarger Sr., then held the duty for the next 50 years, into his 80s.

He remembers going up there with his grandfather on occasion, but didn't really learn how the clock works until he trained for a couple years under Hosea Jump, who held the contract since 1991 and who asked if he wanted the job. He still had to rely on Jump's expertise for another four or five years whenever an issue needed troubleshooting.

His duties, in addition to the weekly checks, include periodically making sure the clock faces are free of things like leaves or dead birds and that the bell and hammer are in good shape. Once a year, he spends a whole day disassembling the clockworks so he can lubricate the shafts and polish the gears.


Myanmar court extends detention for 2 Reuters reporters
Attorneys News | 2017/12/30 13:55
A court in Myanmar extended the detention of two Reuters journalists on Wednesday and set their trial for Jan. 10 on charges of violating state secrets.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested Dec. 12 for acquiring "important secret papers" from two policemen. The police officers had worked in Rakhine state, where abuses widely blamed on the military have driven more than 630,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee into neighboring Bangladesh. The charges are are punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

"We are just working as journalists. ... We never violate journalism ethics," Wa Lone told reporters as he and his colleague were led out of a police van into the courtroom in Mingalardon, on the outskirts of Yangon.

Their families wept as they got a chance to see them for the first time since their arrests.

"I want my husband to be free soon. And I trust him that he would never violate the law," said Wa Lone's wife, Pan Ei Mon.

U.S., U.N. and European Union officials are among others calling for their release.

Dozens of Myanmar journalists appeared at the court wearing black shirts as part of a protest against the journalists' arrests.

"We are facing the same kind of harassment under the civilian government as we did under the military government," said Thar Lun Zaung Htet, head of a local pressure group for press freedom. "It is not fair for the two journalists to be charged under the official secrets act because they were doing their job as journalists who tried to get information."

On Tuesday, authorities said they would drop charges against two Singaporean reporters and their local staff working for the Turkish state broadcaster TRT. They were arrested on Oct. 27 for allegedly flying a drone over the parliament building without permission.


Michigan High Court to Hear Arguments on Guns in Schools
U.S. Legal News | 2017/12/29 13:54
Michigan's high court is expected to weigh in next year on whether school districts can ban anyone not in law enforcement from carrying guns onto school grounds.

The Michigan Supreme Court last week invited school districts and gun rights groups in a disputed lower-court decision to file written arguments. Oral arguments are expected in coming months, though a hearing date hasn't been set, the Detroit News reported.

The legal battle stems from a 2016 appellate court ruling that public schools can ban guns from their premises, citing more than two dozen state laws with language referencing "weapon-free school zones." The ruling rejected a challenge by gun rights groups and parents who are licensed to carry firearms.

Gun rights advocates said the court was wrong to find Ann Arbor Public Schools and the Clio Area School District aren't in conflict with state law, which prohibits local governments from regulating gun possession.

The Ann Arbor district banned all guns on school property and school-sponsored activities in 2015 after Ulysses Wong, a parent, openly carried a firearm into a high school music concert. Under the district's rules, bringing a gun into the school would constitute an emergency and result in evacuation or other response strategies.


Court convicts British woman of smuggling powerful painkillers
Lawyer News | 2017/12/27 21:52
A court in Egypt's Red Sea region has convicted a British woman of smuggling hundreds of powerful painkillers banned in the Arab country, sentencing her to three years in prison.

The woman, 33-year-old Laura Plummer from Hull, has maintained her innocence since her arrest in October on arrival from Britain at Hurghada, a Red Sea resort city. She has insisted the Tramadol tablets were for her Egyptian partner who suffers chronic back pain.

Tramadol is listed by Egyptian authorities as an illegal drug given its wide use as a heroin substitute.

Tuesday's conviction came as a surprise since the hearing was supposed to be taken up by the argument of the defense. The verdict can be appealed.



Appeals court: Trump exceeded authority with travel ban
Court Feed News | 2017/12/27 13:54
A federal appeals court panel has ruled that President Donald Trump once again exceeded the scope of his authority with his latest travel ban, but the judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put their decision on hold pending review by the U.S. Supreme Court, meaning the ban involving six majority Muslim countries will remain in effect.

The 77-page ruling released late Friday says Trump's proclamation makes no finding whatsoever that simply being from one of the countries cited in the ban makes someone a security risk.

Hawaii, which is suing to stop the ban, has argued that it will be harmful because families will be separated and university recruitment will be hampered.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court lifted temporary lower court orders that had prevented the latest ban from taking effect.

The status quo was maintained when the 9th Circuit stayed its decision, said Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law.

The ruling was unusual, but it's a unique case, he said, noting the Supreme Court has not set argument dates because it has not yet decided to grant an appeal.

"Given the shockingly rapid volley of executive actions and court decisions, this is surely just the latest in a long series of battles to come." Mary Fan, a University of Washington law school professor, said about immigration ban litigation.


Indiana Supreme Court considers eavesdropping case
U.S. Legal News | 2017/12/25 13:53
The Indiana Supreme Court has taken up an eavesdropping case that could result in a new state standard to determine when prosecutorial misconduct is so egregious that a criminal suspect can no longer be made to stand trial.

The court heard arguments last week in a case involving a Long Beach murder suspect, John Larkin, whose supposedly private conversation with his attorney in a police interrogation room was recorded. The video was then viewed by LaPorte Chief Deputy Prosecutor Robert Neary, who ordered a transcript of the conversation and gave it to a special prosecutor handling the murder case.

Last month, the Supreme Court suspended Neary's law license for four years.

Court records show that police or prosecutors likely tampered with evidence before providing it to the defendant's examiner as well, the (Northwest Indiana) Times reported .

Deputy Attorney General Eric Babbs asked the high court to overturn the LaPorte Circuit Court decision that tossed the voluntary manslaughter case against Larkin. The case was affirmed in June by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Babbs requested that prosecutors be given the opportunity to prove that not all evidence in their case is tainted. Babbs also argued for the ability to proceed to trial with whatever evidence a judge finds was properly obtained.

Larkin's attorney Stacy Uliana said Babbs' requests are "too little, too late."

The justices didn't indicate when they will issue a ruling. There isn't a statutory timeline for a decision by the high court.

The Indiana Supreme Court has taken up an eavesdropping case that could result in a new state standard to determine when prosecutorial misconduct is so egregious that a criminal suspect can no longer be made to stand trial.



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