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Court sentences Congo warlord to 30 years for atrocities
Business Law Info | 2019/11/07 10:05
The International Criminal Court passed its highest ever sentence Thursday, sending a Congolese warlord known as “The Terminator” to prison for 30 years for crimes including murder, rape and sexual slavery.

Bosco Ntaganda was found guilty in July of 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role as a military commander in atrocities during a bloody ethnic conflict in a mineral-rich region of Congo in 2002-2003.

Ntaganda showed no emotion as Presiding Judge Robert Fremr passed sentences ranging from eight years to 30 years for individual crimes and an overarching sentence of 30 years.

The court’s maximum sentence is 30 years, although judges also have the discretion to impose a life sentence. Lawyers representing victims in the case had called for a life term.

Fremr said despite the gravity of the crimes and Ntaganda’s culpability, his convictions “do not warrant a sentence of life imprisonment.”

Ida Sawyer, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Africa division, welcomed the ruling.


Georgia high court affirms dismissal of election challenge
Business Law Info | 2019/11/02 03:34
Georgia's highest court on Thursday affirmed a lower court dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the outcome of last year's race for lieutenant governor in a case that put a spotlight on the outdated voting machines the state is in the process of replacing.

The lawsuit alleged that an undercount of tens of thousands of votes in the lieutenant governor's race was likely caused by problems with the state's paperless touchscreen voting machines that either caused voters not to vote in that race or those votes to go uncounted.

That assertion is "wholly unsupported" by the record in the case, so the trial court wasn't wrong to conclude that the plaintiffs "failed to meet their burden of showing an irregularity in Georgia's electronic voting system sufficient to cast doubt on the 2018 election," Georgia Supreme Court Justice Sarah Warren wrote in the unanimous opinion.

Republican Geoff Duncan beat Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico by 123,172 votes to become lieutenant governor. Amico is not a party to the lawsuit, which was filed in November by the Coalition for Good Governance, an election integrity advocacy organization; Smythe Duval, who ran for secretary of state as a Libertarian; and two Georgia voters. It was filed against Duncan and election officials.

Senior Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs dismissed the lawsuit in January. In their appeal to the high court, the plaintiffs argued that Grubbs erred by not allowing discovery prior to trial.




Court to hear arguments on Maryland political ads law
Business Law Info | 2019/10/28 10:36
After revelations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Maryland legislators passed a law that many believe has a laudable purpose: preventing foreign interference in local elections.

But its sweeping scope sparked a First Amendment outcry from more than a half dozen newspapers, including The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun.

Now, a federal appeals court is being asked to decide whether the law goes too far. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear arguments in the case Wednesday.

The newspapers and the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association argue in a lawsuit that the statute violates the First Amendment because it requires them to collect and self-publish information about the sponsors of online political ads. It also requires them to keep records of the ads for inspection by the state Board of Elections.

U.S. District Judge Paul Grimm ruled in January that parts of the law appear to encroach on the First Amendment and granted a preliminary injunction to prevent the state from enforcing those provisions.

At issue is a requirement for online platforms to create a database identifying the purchasers of online political ads and how much they spend. The law, written to catch ads in smaller state and local elections, applies to digital platforms with 100,000 or more monthly U.S. visitors.



Wikileaks founder Julian Assange loses bid to delay hearing
Business Law Info | 2019/10/21 20:59
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared in a U.K. court Monday to fight extradition to the United States on espionage charges, and he lost a bid to delay proceedings so that his legal team would have more time to prepare his case.

Assange defiantly raised a fist to supporters who jammed the public gallery in Westminster Magistrates Court for a rare view of their hero. He appears to have lost weight but looked healthy, although he spoke very softly and at times seemed despondent and confused.

Assange and his legal team failed to convince District Judge Vanessa Baraitser that a delay in the already slow-moving case was justified. The full extradition is still set for a five-day hearing in late February, with brief interim hearings in November and December.

Assange hadn’t been seen in public for several months and his supporters had raised concerns about his well-being. He wore a blue sweater and a blue sports suit for the hearing, and had his silvery-gray hair slicked back.

After the judge turned down his bid for a three-month delay, Assange said in halting tones he didn’t understand the events in court.

He said the case is not “equitable” because the U.S. government has “unlimited resources” while he doesn’t have easy access to his lawyers or to documents needed to prepare his battle against extradition while he is confined to Belmarsh Prison on the outskirts of London.

U.S. authorities accuse Assange of scheming with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to break a password for a classified government computer.

Lawyer Mark Summers, representing Assange, told the judge that more time was needed to prepare Assange’s defense because the case has many facets, including the very rare use of espionage charges against a journalist, and will require a “mammoth” amount of planning and preparation

“Our case will be that this is a political attempt to signal to journalists the consequences of publishing information. It is legally unprecedented,” he said.

He also accused the U.S. of illegally spying on Assange while he was inside the Ecuadorian Embassy seeking refuge and taking other illegal actions against the WikiLeaks founder.


Appeals Court to Hold Rehearing on Trump Hotel Lawsuit
Business Law Info | 2019/10/19 04:02
A federal appeals court will reconsider a ruling from a three-judge panel that threw out a lawsuit accusing President Donald Trump of illegally profiting off the presidency through his luxury Washington hotel.

The Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to hold a hearing before the full court of 15 judges. Arguments are scheduled for Dec. 12.

In a 2017 lawsuit, the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia accused Trump of violating the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution by accepting profits through foreign and domestic officials who stay at the Trump International Hotel.

A federal judge in Maryland ruled that the lawsuit could move forward.

But a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit overturned that ruling in July, handing the president a significant legal victory. All three judges were nominated by Republican presidents.


Brazil court overrules Rio mayor on gay kiss book ban
Business Law Info | 2019/09/04 23:58
A Brazilian Supreme Court justice has blocked efforts by Rio de Janeiro's conservative mayor to have a book fair remove a comic book showing two men kissing.

Mayor Marcelo Crivella had ordered the Bienale to remove the "Avengers" comic that included the kiss, saying he was acting to protect children against "sexual content."

That set off a legal battle as federal Attorney General Raquel Dodge challenged the move by Crivella, a former evangelical pastor. She said allowing the mayor to remove books goes against freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas.

A lower court sided with Crivella. But chief justice Jose Dias Toffoli ruled in favor of Dodge on Sunday, blocking the mayor from removing any books. Crivella's office said he will appeal to the full court.



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