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Option to undo some DUI convictions yet to be widely sought
Business Law Info | 2019/06/19 00:42
Court officials and lawyers in North Dakota say few people have tried to undo convictions for refusing DUI blood tests in the year since a state Supreme Court opinion offered a narrow pathway for doing so.

The North Dakota high court ruled in 2018 that a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision found it unconstitutional to criminalize refusal of a warrantless blood draw applies retroactively. The 2016 decision was based on cases in North Dakota and Minnesota involving alcohol testing.

The North Dakota justices said in their ruling that any post-conviction relief applies "in very limited circumstances" such as time of the conviction and the "legal landscape" as it existed at the time of each case. Even so, Bismarck attorney Dan Herbel, who argued in both the 2016 and 2018 cases, said it doesn't appear many people are taking advantage of the state ruling.

"I don't know if a lot of people are even aware that they have the option of vacating a prior conviction based upon these cases," Herbel told The Bismarck Tribune.

The Minnesota Supreme Court in late 2018 also ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court case applies retroactively.

Attorney Jonathan Green, of Wahpeton, said he's sent letters to people he can find who have convictions for refusing warrantless blood draws. He's received phone calls from about a dozen people and has filed petitions for about half. Judges earlier this month vacated Burleigh County convictions for a Fargo woman and a Bismarck man for whom Green sought relief under the state Supreme Court ruling.


Kansas court OKs school funding law but keeps lawsuit open
Business Law Info | 2019/06/14 16:27
The Kansas Supreme Court signed off Friday on an increase in spending on public schools that the Democratic governor pushed through the Republican-controlled Legislature, but the justices refused to close the protracted education funding lawsuit that prompted their decision.

The new school finance law boosted funding roughly $90 million a year and was enacted in April with bipartisan support. The court ruled that the new money was enough to satisfy the Kansas Constitution but also said it was keeping the underlying lawsuit open to ensure that the state keeps its funding promises.

"The State has substantially complied with our mandate," the court said in its unsigned opinion, referencing a decision last year that the state wasn't spending enough.

Gov. Laura Kelly had hoped the Supreme Court would end the lawsuit, which was filed by four local school districts in 2010. The districts' attorneys argued the new law would not provide enough new money after the 2019-20 school year and wanted the court to order additional increases.

Kansas spends more than $4 billion a year on its public schools — about $1 billion more than it did during the 2013-14 school year — because of the court's decisions. Some Republican lawmakers, particularly conservatives, have complained that the court has infringed on lawmakers' power under the state constitution to make spending decisions.



Former FIFA official to challenge life ban at sports court
Business Law Info | 2019/06/11 21:14
Former FIFA Council member Kwesi Nyantakyi will challenge his life ban from soccer for financial corruption at the Court of Arbitration for Sport next month.

The court says the hearing is on July 4. Verdicts typically follow within a few months.

Nyantakyi was filmed by a Ghanaian television program accepting $65,000 in cash from undercover reporters posing as businessmen seeking favors.

He resigned days before the 2018 World Cup as the senior vice president of African soccer's governing body and president of Ghana's soccer federation.

Nyantakyi also left FIFA's ruling committee, which paid an annual $250,000 stipend. He was one of Africa's elected delegates since 2016.



Court rejects new sex assault trial for prep school grad
Business Law Info | 2019/06/08 04:14
New Hampshire's Supreme Court on Friday denied a request for a new trial for an elite prep school graduate who argued the failures of his star-studded legal team resulted in his conviction for using a computer to lure an underage student for sex.

Owen Labrie, 23, of Tunbridge, Vermont, was acquitted in 2015 of raping a 15-year-old classmate as part of "Senior Salute," a game of sexual conquest, at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire. But he was found guilty of a felony computer charge and several misdemeanor counts of sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child. The computer law says no one shall knowingly use a computer online service "to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child" to commit sexual assault.

In its 3-0 ruling Friday, the court dismissed arguments from Labrie's attorney that his trial lawyers were ineffective for failing to mount a defense against the computer charge, including arguing that his use of the school's intranet network did not constitute computer services under the law or effectively communicate that Labrie had no intention of having sex with Chessy Prout when he sent her the messages.


Kevin Spacey appears at court for hearing in groping case
Business Law Info | 2019/06/02 23:45
Sporting a gray suit and glasses, Kevin Spacey appeared Monday at a Massachusetts courthouse where a judge is set to hold a hearing in the case accusing the disgraced actor of groping a young man at a Nantucket bar in 2016.

Spacey’s appearance comes somewhat as a surprise as he was not required to attend the hearing and has stayed away from the courthouse except for a brief hearing in January, which he also tried to avoid.

The 59-year-old former “House of Cards” actor, who has pleaded not guilty to a charge of indecent assault and battery, did not comment as he walked in with his lawyers. Spacey faces up to 2 ½ years in jail if convicted.

Spacey’s attorneys have stepped up their attacks on the credibility of the man who brought the allegations. In court documents filed Friday, defense attorney Alan Jackson accused the man of deleting text messages that support Spacey’s claims of innocence.

It’s the only criminal case that has been brought against the two-time Oscar winner since his career fell apart amid a flurry of sexual misconduct allegations in 2017.

The case first came to light that year when former Boston TV anchor Heather Unruh said Spacey got her son drunk and then sexually assaulted him at the Club Car, a popular restaurant and bar on the resort island off Cape Cod.


High court sides with Crow tribe member in hunting dispute
Business Law Info | 2019/05/19 04:48
The Supreme Court on Monday sided with a member of the Crow tribe who was fined for hunting elk in Wyoming's Bighorn National Forest, giving him a good chance to get a more than $8,000 fine against him overturned.

The case the justices decided 5-4 is a win for Clayvin Herrera and his tribe, which had argued they had hunting rights in the forest.

Herrera's case began in 2014 when he went hunting with family. The group began on the Crow tribe's reservation in southern Montana but crossed into the neighboring Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming, where they killed several elk.

Soon after, a game warden saw photos Herrera posted on a bragging website for hunters, including one of him crouched in the snow behind an elk he shot and another with its antlers balanced on his shoulders. The game warden ultimately identified the area where the photos were taken in the Bighorn National Forrest, and Herrera was cited for killing an elk there during the winter, when it is prohibited.

But Herrera, backed by the federal government, argued that when his tribe gave up land in present-day Montana and Wyoming under an 1868 treaty, the tribe retained the right to hunt on the land, including land that became Wyoming's Bighorn National Forest.

The state of Wyoming had argued that the Crow tribe's hunting rights ceased to exist after Wyoming became a state in 1890 or after Bighorn National Forest was established in 1897. But the Supreme Court disagreed, with Justice Neil Gorsuch joining his four liberal colleagues - justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan - in ruling for Herrera.

The court's four other justices said they would have ruled that a prior case settled that Crow tribe members like Herrera don't have an unrestricted right to hunt and fish in the Bighorn National Forest and are subject to the game laws of Wyoming.


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