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Court: S.Korea must allow alternative for military objectors
Business Law Info | 2018/06/28 00:04
South Korea's Constitutional Court ruled Thursday that the country must allow alternative social service for people who conscientiously object to military service, which is currently mandatory for able-bodied males.

The ruling requires the government to introduce alternative service by the end of 2019. It was hailed by activists as a breakthrough that advances individual rights and freedom of thought.

It is also likely to trigger a heated debate in a country which maintains a huge military to counter North Korea threats, and where many have accused conscientious objectors of attempting to evade the draft.

Hundreds of conscientious objectors are imprisoned in South Korea each year, serving terms of 18 months or longer. Most are Jehovah's Witnesses who refuse to serve in the military on religious grounds.

"Too many people have been forced to choose between prison and the military, and when they choose prison, a term of 1 1/2 years has been almost automatic," said Lim Jae-sung, a human rights lawyer who has represented contentious objectors. "This is great news for those who are currently on trial or will conscientiously object to military service in the future as we probably won't be marching them straight to jail."

The court said the current law, which does not permit alternative service, is unconstitutional because it infringes excessively on individual rights.

The court acknowledged that conscientious objectors experience "enormous disadvantages" in addition to their prison terms, including restrictions in public sector employment, maintaining business licenses and social stigma.




Gamers in court for first time after Kansas 'swatting' death
Business Law Info | 2018/06/14 02:17
Two online gamers whose alleged dispute over a $1.50 Call of Duty WWII video game bet ultimately led police to fatally shoot a Kansas man not involved in the argument will make their first appearances in court Wednesday in a case of "swatting" that has drawn national attention.

Casey Viner, 18, of North College Hill, Ohio, and Shane Gaskill, 19, of Wichita, are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, wire fraud and other counts.

Viner allegedly became upset at Gaskill while playing the popular online game. Authorities say he then asked 25-year-old Tyler Barriss of Los Angeles to "swat" Gaskill, a form of retaliation sometimes used by gamers, who call police and make a false report to send first responders to an online opponent's address.

Barriss is accused of calling Wichita police from Los Angeles on Dec. 28 to report a shooting and kidnapping at a Wichita address. Authorities say Gaskill had provided the address to Viner and later to Barriss in a direct electronic message. But the location Gaskill gave was his old address and a police officer responding to the call fatally shot the new resident Andrew Finch, 28, after he opened the door.

Viner's defense attorney, Jim Pratt, declined comment. The attorneys for Gaskill and Barriss did not immediately respond to an email.

Viner and Gaskill have not been arrested and both were instead issued a summons to appear at Wednesday's hearing where a judge will decide whether they can remain free on bond. Both men are also likely to enter pleas, although at this stage of the proceedings the only plea a federal magistrate can accept is not guilty.

Barriss and Viner face federal charges of conspiracy to make false reports. Barriss also is charged with making false reports and hoaxes, cyberstalking, making interstate threats, making interstate threats to harm by fire and wire fraud. He will not be in court Wednesday.

A first court appearance on the federal charges has not been set for Barriss because the Sedgwick County district attorney is going forward first with his case on the state charges, said Jim Cross, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Kansas.



Polish court rules against man who wouldn't serve LGBT group
Business Law Info | 2018/06/14 02:16
Poland's Supreme Court has ruled against a businessman who refused to print posters for an LGBT business group because he did not want to "promote" the gay rights movement.

The country's top court said it was upholding the ruling of a lower court. The Regional Court in Lodz had argued that the principle of equality before the law meant the businessman did not have the right to withhold services from the LGBT Business Forum.

The case was brought to the Supreme Court by Zbigniew Ziobro, the justice minister and attorney general. He called Thursday's ruling "wrong" and a "violation of the constitutional principle of freedom of conscience."

The Campaign Against Homophobia, which gave legal support to the LGBT Business Forum, welcomed the ruling.


Court: Compliance reached in education funding case
Business Law Info | 2018/06/09 02:06
A long-running court case over the adequacy of education funding in Washington state has ended, with the state Supreme Court on Thursday lifting its jurisdiction over the case and dropping daily sanctions after the Legislature funneled billions more dollars into public schools.

The court's unanimous order came in response to lawmakers passing a supplemental budget earlier this year that the justices said was the final step needed to reach compliance with a 2012 state Supreme Court ruling that found that K-12 school funding was inadequate. Washington's Constitution states that it is the Legislature's "paramount duty" to fully fund the education system. The resolution of the landmark case in Washington state comes as other states like Arizona, Oklahoma and Kentucky are now responding to calls for more money to be allocated to education.

The state had been in contempt of court since 2014 for lack of progress on that ruling, and daily sanctions of $100,000 — allocated specifically for education spending— had been accruing since August 2015.

"Reversing decades of underfunding has been among the heaviest lifts we've faced in recent years and required difficult and complex decisions, but I'm incredibly proud and grateful for all those who came together on a bipartisan basis to get this job done," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a written statement.

Over the past few years, lawmakers had put significantly more money toward education costs like student transportation and classroom supplies, but the biggest piece they needed to tackle to reach full compliance was figuring out how much the state must provide for teacher salaries. School districts had paid a big chunk of those salaries with local property-tax levies, something the court said had to be remedied.

In November, the court said a plan passed by the Legislature last year — which included a statewide property tax increase earmarked for education — satisfied its earlier ruling, but justices took issue with the fact that the teacher salary component of the plan wasn't fully funded until September 2019. This year, lawmakers expedited that timeframe to Sept. 1, 2018.

Democratic House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan said that the court's order was a relief, though he noted that legislative debates over education funding aren't over. Sullivan said there is more work to be done on areas like special education, as well as recruiting and retaining teachers.



Supreme Court allows Arkansas to enforce abortion restrictions
Business Law Info | 2018/06/03 02:26
The Supreme Court is allowing Arkansas to put into effect restrictions on how abortion pills are administered. Critics of a challenged state law say it could effectively end medication abortions in the state.

The justices did not comment Tuesday in rejecting an appeal from the Planned Parenthood affiliate in Arkansas that asked the court to review an appeals court ruling and reinstate a lower court order that had blocked the law from taking effect. The law says doctors who provide abortion pills must hold a contract with another physician who has admitting privileges at a hospital and who would agree to handle complications.

The law is similar to a provision in Texas law that the Supreme Court struck down in 2016. The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the court order barring enforcement of the law, but put its ruling on hold while Planned Parenthood appealed to the Supreme Court.

The legal fight over the law is not over, but the state is now free to enforce it, at least for the time being. Planned Parenthood has said that if the law stands, Arkansas would be the only state where women would not have access to a pair of drugs that end pregnancies: mifepristone, which makes it difficult for a fetus to attach to the uterine wall, and misoprostol, which causes the body to expel it, similar to a miscarriage.

The organization offers pills to end pregnancies at clinics in Fayetteville and Little Rock but says it cannot find any Arkansas obstetrician willing to handle hospital admissions. Preventing women from obtaining medication abortions would create an undue burden on their right to an abortion, Planned Parenthood says. Undue burden is the standard set by the Supreme Court to measure whether restrictions go too far in limiting women who want an abortion.


Supreme Court rejects inmate's appeal in slaying of 3
Business Law Info | 2018/05/04 02:29
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined the appeal of an Ohio inmate who has long maintained his innocence in the 1994 slaying of three people.

The court's Tuesday decision involves the case of Kevin Keith. He is serving a life sentence for killing two women and a 4-year-old girl in what prosecutors said was retaliation for his arrest in a drug sweep.

Lawyers for Keith say the personnel file of a state forensics investigator who worked on his case contains allegations she had a habit of providing police departments answers they wanted in cases.

Attorneys for the 54-year-old Keith, who is black, also say the file shows the investigator used racial slurs against co-workers.

Prosecutors say there's no evidence the file would have made a difference at trial.



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