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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.



WADA asks sports court to open Russia case to public hearing
Court Feed News | 2020/02/05 11:09
The World Anti-Doping Agency wants a rare public hearing for sport’s highest court to judge a four-year slate of punishments faced by Russia for persistent cheating.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport is preparing a hearing expected within weeks for the blockbuster case in Switzerland.

“It is WADA’s view and that of many of our stakeholders that this dispute at CAS should be held in a public forum to ensure that everybody understands the process and hears the arguments,” the Montreal-based agency’s director general, Olivier Niggli, said in a statement.

Urged on by President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s anti-doping agency, known as RUSADA, is formally challenging a WADA ruling in December to declare it non-compliant after key data from the Moscow testing laboratory was corrupted.

The CAS panel of three judges will have power to enforce WADA-recommended sanctions including a ban on Russia’s team name, flag and anthem at Olympic Games and world championships.

WADA also wants Russian athletes to compete as neutrals at the Olympics and major events only if they pass a vetting process which examines their history of drug testing and possible involvement in lab cover-ups of positive tests.

CAS hearings can be opened to media and public observers in some cases when both parties consent.

The court held its first public hearing for 20 years in November when WADA appealed a ruling by swimming’s world body not to ban China’s three-time Olympic gold medalist Sun Yang for alleged doping rule violations.



Court: Motorcyclist wrong to turn license plate upside down
Business Law Info | 2020/01/30 19:10
A motorcyclist cited for turning his license plate upside down because he thought “it was cool” has lost another bid to rescind a traffic ticket he received.

In a ruling issued Tuesday, a state appellate court determined that the ticket and the $139 penalty Scott DiRoma received in municipal court were both justified. The ruling upheld a decision issued by a Somerset County judge.

DiRoma was driving his motorcycle in Warren Township in June 2018 when he was stopped by a police officer who noticed his license plate was mounted upside down. DiRoma told the officer he liked the way the plate looked and “wanted to be different,” authorities have said.

A municipal court judge eventually imposed a $106 fine and $33 in court costs after DiRoma was found guilty of violating a state law mandating that license plates be kept clear and distinct.

DiRoma appealed that decision, arguing that the law doesn't prohibit an upside-down license plate on a motorcycle because lawmakers drew a distinction between motorcycle and automobile plates. He also claimed the law is unconstitutionally vague.

The county judge, though, found that lawmakers did not intend for drivers to mount their license plates upside down because it would impact law enforcement's ability to protect the public on roadways.

In rejecting DiRoma's claims, the appellate court ruled an upside-down plate on any type of vehicle causes the reader to view characters in reverse order, which would lead to confusion, doubt, and mistake. That would clearly impede law enforcement’s ability to perform its duties, the judges wrote.


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