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Supreme Court takes up case over quick deportations
Class Action News | 2019/10/17 04:00
The Supreme Court will review a lower court ruling in favor of a man seeking asylum and which the Trump administration says could further clog the U.S. immigration court system.

The justices said Friday they will hear the administration's appeal of a ruling by the federal appeals court in San Francisco that blocked the quick deportation of a man from Sri Lanka.

The high court's decision should come by early summer in the middle of the presidential campaign. It could have major implications for those seeking asylum and administration efforts to speed up deportations for many who enter the U.S. and claim they'll be harmed if they are sent home.

The court's intervention comes in the case of Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam. He is a member of the Tamil ethnic minority who says he was jailed and tortured for political activity during the civil war between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

He fled the country in 2016, after he was tortured again by intelligence officers, he said in court papers. He crossed the U.S.-Mexico border on Feb. 17, 2017 where he was arrested by a Border Patrol agent 25 yards into the U.S.

He requested asylum. But he did not pass his initial screening, a "credible fear" interview where he had to show a well-founded fear of persecution, torture or death if he were to return to his home country. Nearly 90 percent of all asylum seekers pass their initial interview, and then are generally released into the country where they await court proceedings.



Analysis: Louisiana figures in 2 major Supreme Court cases
Class Action News | 2019/10/11 10:01
Among cases on the U.S. Supreme Court docket for the term that began this month, two Louisiana cases stand out — one because of its implications for criminal justice in the state, the other because of what it portends for abortion rights and access nationwide.

And, both, in part, because they deal with matters that, on the surface, might appear to have been settled.

Yes, voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring unanimous jury verdicts in felony cases — following Pulitzer Prize winning reporting by The Advocate on the racial impacts of allowing 10-2 verdicts. But sometimes lost amid celebrations of the measure’s passage is its effective date: it applies to crimes that happened on or after Jan. 1 of this year.

No help to people like Evangelisto Ramos, who was convicted on a 10-2 jury vote in 2016 of second-degree murder in the killing of a woman in New Orleans. Ramos is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole.


Bulgaria court recognizes gay marriage in landmark case
Class Action News | 2019/07/23 11:01
A court in Bulgaria has ruled in favor of a same-sex couple who married in France, in a case that recognized gay marriage for the first time in the conservative country.

Australian citizen Kristina Palma, who married Mariama Dialo of France in 2016, was initially permitted to live, work and travel in Bulgaria and the European Union on the grounds that she married an EU citizen. But Bulgaria later denied her those rights, arguing that same-sex marriage was not legal in the country.

The couple fought a two-year battle that concluded Wednesday, when the court affirmed Palma’s rights as the spouse of an EU citizen.

Their lawyer Denitsa Lyubenova said the ruling could be an important first step toward legalizing same-sex marriage in the country.


High court rejects appeal of killer of 4 people in Omaha
Class Action News | 2019/07/18 04:36
The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday upheld the convictions and death sentence of a man who killed four people in Omaha, seemingly at random, shortly after his release from prison in 2013.

Nikko Jenkins pleaded no contest in 2014 to four counts of first-degree murder and multiple weapons counts for three separate, deadly attacks around Omaha. He was sentenced to death  in 2017 after years of delays over concerns regarding his mental health. The high court’s opinion addressed combined direct appeals on Jenkins’ behalf.

Among the arguments Jenkins’ attorneys made is that the trial court abused its discretion in accepting his no-contest pleas in a death penalty case. In a no-contest plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but concedes there is enough evidence for a conviction. The plea has the same effect as a guilty plea.

The Douglas County Public Defender office also argued that the court was wrong to allow Jenkins to represent himself and that, because it believes Jenkins is mentally ill, sentencing him to death violated the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.


Women urge jail until trial for Epstein as judge weighs bail
Class Action News | 2019/07/16 04:39
Two Jeffrey Epstein accusers urged a judge Monday to keep the wealthy financier behind bars until he goes on trial on federal charges that he sexually abused underage girls.

The women stood just feet from where Epstein was seated in his blue jail outfit as they asked a federal judge to reject a request by Epstein’s lawyers that he remain under house arrest in his $77 million Manhattan mansion until trial on conspiracy and sex trafficking charges.

Courtney Wild, an unnamed victim in the 2008 lawsuit against the Department of Justice for the secret plea deal that allowed Epstein to avoid similar charges, spoke for the first time in court with a fellow accuser.

Annie Farmer said she was 16 when she met Epstein in New York. She said he later flew her to New Mexico to spend time with him there.



Validity of Obama health care law at issue in appeal hearing
Class Action News | 2019/07/07 01:41
An appeals court will hear arguments Tuesday on whether Congress effectively invalidated former President Barack Obama’s entire signature health care law when it zeroed out the tax imposed on those who chose not to buy insurance.

It’s unclear when the three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel will rule in a case that appears destined for the Supreme Court, which has reviewed the law, and its coverage and insurance protections for millions of Americans, before. The ultimate outcome will affect protections for people with pre-existing conditions, Medicaid expansions covering roughly 12 million people, and subsidies that help about 10 million others afford health insurance.

Tuesday’s arguments are the latest in a lawsuit filed by Republican officials in 18 states, led by the Texas Attorney General’s Office. It was filed after Congress ? which didn’t repeal the law, despite pressure from President Donald Trump ? reduced to zero the unpopular tax imposed on those without insurance.

In challenging the law anew, “Obamacare” opponents noted the 2012 ruling of a divided Supreme Court that upheld the law. Conservative justices had rejected the argument that Congress could require everyone to buy insurance under the Constitution’s interstate commerce clause. But Chief Justice John Roberts, joining four liberal justices, said Congress did have the power to impose a tax on those without insurance.

With no tax penalty now in effect, the Texas lawsuit argues, the individual mandate is unconstitutional and the entire law must fall without it. Texas-based U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor agreed in a December ruling. The law’s supporters appealed.

In addition to the 18 states, two individual taxpayers are part of the lawsuit. The Trump administration is not defending the law and has filed arguments in favor of O’Connor’s ruling.

California’s attorney general represents a coalition of mostly Democratic-led states and the District of Columbia seeking to overturn O’Connor’s ruling and uphold the law. The House of Representatives has joined them. Among the arguments by the law’s supporters: Those who filed suit have no case because they aren’t harmed by a penalty that doesn’t exist; the reduction of the tax penalty to zero could be read as a suspension of the tax, but the tax’s legal structure still exists; and that, even if the individual mandate is now unconstitutional, that does not affect the rest of the law known as the Affordable Care Act.


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