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Census Bureau must temporarily halt winding down operations
Criminal Law Updates | 2020/09/05 23:41
The U.S. Census Bureau for now must stop following a plan that would have it winding down operations in order to finish the 2020 census at the end of September, according to a federal judge's order.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, issued a temporary restraining order late Saturday against the Census Bureau and the Commerce Department, which oversees the agency. The order stops the Census Bureau from winding down operations until a court hearing is held on Sept. 17.

The once-a-decade head count of every U.S. resident helps determine how $1.5 trillion in federal funding is distributed and how many congressional seats each state gets in a process known as apportionment.

The temporary restraining order was requested by a coalition of cities, counties and civil rights groups that had sued the Census Bureau, demanding it restore its previous plan for finishing the census at the end of October, instead of using a revised plan to end operations at the end of September. The coalition had argued the earlier deadline would cause the Census Bureau to overlook minority communities in the census, leading to an inaccurate count.

Because of the pandemic, the Census Bureau pushed back ending the count from the end of July to the end of October and asked Congress to extend the deadline for turning in the apportionment numbers from December, as required by law, into next spring. When the Republican-controlled Senate failed to take up the request, the bureau was forced to create a revised schedule that had the census ending in September, according to the statistical agency.

The lawsuit contends the Census Bureau changed the schedule to accommodate a directive from President Donald Trump to exclude people in the country illegally from the numbers used in redrawing congressional districts. The revised plan would have the Census Bureau handing in the apportionment numbers at the end of December, under the control of the Trump administration, no matter who wins the election in November.

More than a half dozen other lawsuits have been filed in tandem across the country, challenging Trump’s memorandum as unconstitutional and an attempt to limit the power of Latinos and immigrants of color during apportionment.

“The court rightfully recognized the Trump administration’s attempted short-circuiting of our nation’s census as an imminent threat to the completion of a fair and accurate process,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, one of the groups that brought the San Jose lawsuit.


Slovakia court set to give verdict in reporter's slaying
Business Law Info | 2020/09/04 03:03
A court in Slovakia is expected to issue a verdict Thursday in the slayings of an investigative journalist and his fiancee, a crime that shocked the country and led a government to fall.

The state prosecution has requested 25-year prison terms for three remaining defendants, one of them a businessman accused of masterminding the killings. They all pleaded not guilty to murdering journalist Jan Kuciak, and fiancee Martina Kusnirova, both aged 27.

But the trial at the Specialized Criminal Court in Pezinok, which handles Slovakia's most serious cases, might not be coming to an end, yet.

A three-judge tribunal originally was set to deliver a verdict in early August but delayed its decision, citing a need for more time.

Prosecutors submitted additional evidence on Monday. The panel could decide to postpone the verdict again to give them a chance to present the evidence in court.

Kuciak was shot in the chest and Kusnirova was shot in the head at their home in the town of Velka Maca, east of Bratislava, on Feb. 21, 2018.

The killings prompted major street protests unseen since the 1989 anti-communist Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia. The ensuing political crisis led to the collapse of a coalition government headed by populist Prime Minister Robert Fico and to the dismissal of the national police chief.

Kuciak had been writing about alleged ties between the Italian mafia and people close to Fico when he was killed, and also wrote about corruption scandals linked to Fico’s leftist Smer - Social Democracy party.


Appeals court keeps Flynn case alive, won’t order dismissal
Court Feed News | 2020/09/01 10:04
A federal appeals court in Washington declined Monday to order the dismissal of the Michael Flynn  prosecution, permitting a judge to scrutinize the Justice Department’s request to dismiss its case against President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser.

The decision keeps the case at least temporarily alive and rebuffs efforts by both Flynn’s lawyers and the Justice Department to force the prosecution to be dropped without further inquiry from the judge, who has for months declined to dismiss it. The ruling is the latest development in a criminal case that has taken unusual twists and turns over the last year and prompted a separation of powers tussle involving a veteran federal judge and the Trump administration.

In a separate ruling Monday, a three-judge panel of the same appeals court again threw out a lawsuit by House Democrats to compel former White House counsel Don McGahn to appear before a congressional committee.

The Flynn conflict arose in May when the Justice Department moved to dismiss the prosecution despite Flynn’s own guilty plea to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition period.

But U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who had upbraided Flynn for his behavior at a 2018 court appearance, signaled his skepticism at the government’s unusual motion. He refused to dismiss the case and instead scheduled a hearing and appointed a retired federal judge to argue against the Justice Department’s position. That former judge, John Gleeson, challenged the motives  behind the department’s dismissal request and called it a “gross abuse” of prosecutorial power.

Flynn’s lawyers sought to bypass Sullivan and obtain an appeals court order that would have required the case’s immediate dismissal. They argued that Sullivan had overstepped his bounds by scrutinizing a dismissal request that both sides, the defense and the Justice Department, were in agreement about and that the case was effectively moot once prosecutors decided to abandon it.

At issue before the court was whether Sullivan could be forced to grant the Justice Department’s dismissal request without even holding a hearing into the basis for the motion.

“We have no trouble answering that question in the negative,” the court wrote in an unsigned opinion for the eight judges in the majority.



1st Black woman confirmed to be justice on NJ high court
Court Feed News | 2020/08/28 01:01
The nomination of the first Black woman to sit on New Jersey’s Supreme Court was confirmed Thursday by the state Senate.

Fabiana Pierre-Louis, a 39-year-old attorney in private practice and a former federal prosecutor, was nominated by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy in June to succeed Justice Walter Timpone. He was nominated to the court by former Republican Gov. Chris Christie in 2016 and will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 later this year.

“Ms. Pierre-Louis is a New Jersey success story who will bring more diversity to the highest court of the most diverse state in the country,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney, also a Democrat. She is Murphy’s first pick for the high court.

The daughter of Haitian immigrants, Pierre-Louis was the first person to go to law school in her family. At the event in Trenton in June with Murphy, she seemed to get choked up talking about the role they played in her life.

“Many years ago, my parents came to the United States from Haiti with not much more than the clothes on their backs and the American dream in their hearts. I think they have achieved that dream beyond measure because my life is certainly not representative of the traditional trajectory of someone who would one day be nominated to the Supreme Court of New Jersey,” she said.

Pierre-Louis is a partner at Montgomery McCracken in Cherry Hill, where she is in the white collar and government investigations practice.

Before that, she served for nearly a decade as an assistant United States Attorney in New Jersey.

As part of that role, she served as the attorney-in-charge of the Camden branch office — the first woman of color to hold that a position, according to her biography on Montgomery McCracken’s website.

Murphy, a Democrat, said that Pierre-Louis would carry on the legacy of John Wallace, who was the last Black justice on the state’s highest court and who she clerked for.

Murphy lamented that Wallace was not renominated when his first term expired in 2010 — the first time that had happened under the state’s current constitution.


Thai court issues new arrest warrant for Red Bull scion
Business Law Info | 2020/08/28 00:59
A Thai court issued a new arrest warrant on Tuesday for an heir to the Red Bull energy drink fortune, a month after news of the dropping of a long-standing charge against him caused widespread anger.

Assistant National Police Chief Lt. Gen. Jaruwat Waisay confirmed that Vorayuth Yoovidhya, commonly known by the nickname “Boss,” faces charges of causing death by negligent driving and use of a narcotic substance.

“This was the recommendation by the police committee investigating the case," he said by phone. "We are confident that we can move forward on this, otherwise this decision would not have been made.”

Vorayuth is the grandson of Chaleo Yoovidhya, one of the creators of the globally famous Red Bull brand. Forbes puts the family’s net worth at $20 billion.

Around dawn on Sept. 3 , 2012, Vorayuth was at the wheel of a Ferrari that struck the back of a traffic policeman’s motorcycle on a main Bangkok road. The officer was flung from his motorbike and died at the scene, while Vorayuth drove home.

The family does not dispute he was the driver but says the policeman caused the crash by veering suddenly across his path. A forensic examination at the time put his speed at around 177 kilometers (110 miles) per hour in an 80 kilometers (50 miles) per hour zone, and medical tests allegedly found traces of cocaine in his bloodstream.

For years Boss avoided court by not turning up to meet prosecutors. Meanwhile, the number of charges against him dwindled due to the statute of limitations.

After an AP investigation revealed that he was continuing to live a globetrotting life, using private jets to party around the world and staying in the family's luxurious properties, authorities finally issued an arrest warrant for causing death by reckless driving in April 2017.


Colombia court calls on Uribe to testify in massacre probe
Class Action News | 2020/08/24 08:02
Colombia’s Supreme Court is calling on powerful former President Alvaro Uribe to testify in an investigation into three massacres that could once and for all establish whether he had any ties to violent paramilitary groups.

The new legal quandary for Uribe is potentially more damaging than a separate Supreme Court probe into possible witness tampering that sparked protests earlier this month after magistrates placed the ex-president on house arrest.

Details of the massacre inquiry are contained in a 71-page court document obtained by The Associated Press on Sunday and also published in local media in which magistrates examine whether Uribe had any connection to three mass killings in the Antioquia department as well as the death of a human rights activist during his time as governor.

Both cases strike at long-standing ? but never legally proven ? accusations that Uribe had a direct role in paramilitary groups, which were formed by landowners during Colombia’s long civil conflict to fight violent Marxist guerrillas.

Though the Supreme Court is still in an investigative stage, the inquiries have split open tensions in Colombia over the peace process that led to an accord with the country’s biggest rebel movement. Uribe has vehemently denied the accusations and his lawyer is calling into question the timing of the new court request. Human rights activists, meanwhile, have praised the court for advancing the probes in a country where the powerful routinely escape accountability.


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