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Supreme Court rejects appeal in texting suicide case
Court Feed News | 2020/01/14 18:07
The Supreme Court on Monday left in place the conviction of a Massachusetts woman who sent her boyfriend text messages urging him to kill himself.

Michelle Carter is serving a 15-month sentence after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the 2014 death of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III. A judge determined that Carter, who was 17, caused the death of the 18-year-old Roy when she ordered him in a phone call to get back in his carbon monoxide-filled truck that he’d parked in a Kmart parking lot.

The phone call wasn’t recorded, but the judge relied on a text Carter sent her friend in which she said she told Roy to get back in. In text messages sent in the days leading up to Roy’s death, Carter also encouraged Roy to follow through with his suicide plan and chastised him when he didn’t, Massachusetts courts found.

The case has garnered national attention and sparked legislative proposals in Massachusetts to criminalize suicide coercion.

Carter’s lawyers argued in their Supreme Court appeal that the conviction should be thrown out because it was an “unprecedented” violation of her free speech rights that raised crucial questions about whether “words alone” are enough to hold someone responsible for another person’s suicide.

The lawyers also argued there was simply not enough evidence to prove Carter urged Roy to to get back in his truck to die, or that he would have lived if she had called for help or taken other actions to try and save his life.

Joseph Cataldo, one of Carter’s lawyers, said Monday’s decision was an “injustice” and that the legal team is weighing its next steps. He didn’t elaborate.

“The Court passed on the rare chance to clarify an outdated and confusing exception to the First Amendment, which has divided courts around the country,” said Daniel Marx, another one of Carter’s lawyers. “It also missed an invaluable opportunity to address the toxic combination of mental illness, adolescent psychology, and social media that was at the heart of this suicide case and will likely lead to additional tragedies in the future.”

The court’s decision was welcomed by Bristol District Attorney Thomas Quinn III, whose office prosecuted the case.

“The US Supreme Court’s decision today brings closure to the family of Conrad Roy for his tragic death. I hope that the finality of this decision brings some solace to them,” he said in a statement.



Afghanistan probe appeal begins at Hague international court
Court Feed News | 2019/12/04 12:40
The International Criminal Court opened a three-day hearing Wednesday at which prosecutors and victims aim to overturn a decision scrapping a proposed investigation into alleged crimes in Afghanistan’s brutal conflict.

Fergal Gaynor, a lawyer representing 82 Afghan victims, called it “a historic day for accountability in Afghanistan.”

In April, judges rejected a request by the court’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to open an investigation into crimes allegedly committed by the Taliban, Afghan security forces and American military and intelligence agencies.

In the ruling, which was condemned by victims and rights groups, the judges said that an investigation "would not serve the interests of justice" because it would likely fail due to lack of cooperation.

The decision came a month after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo banned visas for ICC staff seeking to investigate allegations of war crimes and other abuses by U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

“Whether the two events are in fact related is unknown, but for many ? victims as well as commentators ? the timing appeared more than coincidental,” said lawyer Katherine Gallagher, who was representing two men being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

The United States is not a member of the global court and refuses to cooperate with it, seeing the institution as a threat to U.S. sovereignty and arguing American courts are capable of dealing with allegations of abuse by U.S. nationals.


Ohio Supreme Court keeps camera challenge alive
Court Feed News | 2019/11/20 03:21
Ohio’s Supreme Court has rejected Toledo’s motion to dismiss a challenge to how the city handles appeals of citations related to camera-captured traffic violations.

The high court recently rejected the motion to dismiss a challenge by Susan Magsig, of Woodville.

The Toledo Blade reports  Magsig received a citation alleging a camera held by a police officer caught her vehicle traveling 75 mph in a 60 mph-zone. Magsig argues Toledo violates state law by considering such appeals through an administrative hearing rather than through municipal court.

The city argues the case shouldn’t continue because a lower court’s preliminary ruling prevents enforcement of a state law giving local courts jurisdiction over all traffic violations. Magsig’s attorney says she isn’t bound by that ruling involving a legal dispute between the city and state.


Appeals court agrees Trump tax returns can be turned over
Court Feed News | 2019/11/03 10:10
President Donald Trump’s tax returns can be turned over to New York prosecutors by his personal accountant, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, leaving the last word to the Supreme Court

The decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upholds a lower court decision in the ongoing fight over Trump’s financial records. Trump has refused to release his tax returns since he was a presidential candidate, and is the only modern president who hasn’t made that financial information public.

In a written decision, three appeals judges said they only decided whether a state prosecutor can demand Trump’s personal financial records from a third party while the president is in office.

The appeals court said it did not consider whether the president is immune from indictment and prosecution while in office or whether the president himself may be ordered to produce documents in a state criminal proceeding.

According to the decision, a subpoena seeking Trump’s private tax returns and financial information relating to businesses he owns as a private citizen “do not implicate, in any way, the performance of his official duties.”

Several weeks ago, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in Manhattan tossed out Trump’s lawsuit seeking to block his accountant from letting a grand jury see his tax records from 2011.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. sought the records in a broader probe that includes payments made to buy the silence of two women, porn star Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal, who claim they had affairs with the president before the 2016 presidential election. Trump has denied them.




Samsung heir Lee appears in court for corruption retrial
Court Feed News | 2019/10/25 10:42
Billionaire Samsung scion Lee Jae-yong appeared in court Friday for a retrial on corruption allegations linked to a 2016 scandal that spurred massive street protests and sent South Korea's then-president to prison.  

"I feel deeply sorry for worrying many people," Lee said while facing a barrage of camera clicks before walking into the Seoul High Court with his lawyers. He didn't answer questions about the prospects of a jail term or how that would affect Samsung's business. Some protesters shouted "Arrest Lee Jae-yong!"

The Supreme Court in August ordered the retrial after concluding the amount of bribes Lee was accused of providing to ex-President Park Geun-hye and her confidante had been underestimated in a previous ruling that freed the Samsung Electronics vice chairman from jail on a suspended sentence.

While Lee apparently faces an increased possibility of serving jail time in the retrial, it's unclear what that would mean for Samsung, the world's largest manufacturer of computer chips, smartphones and TVs.

Some experts say a jailed Lee would hurt Samsung's decision-making process at a critical time as the company grapples with instability in the semiconductor market and ramifications from the trade war between the United States and China.



Alaska Supreme Court to Hear Youths’ Climate Change Lawsuit
Court Feed News | 2019/10/09 18:16
The Alaska Supreme Court will hear arguments in a lawsuit that claims state policy on fossil fuels is harming the constitutional right of young Alaskans to a safe climate.

Sixteen Alaska youths in 2017 sued the state, claiming that human-caused greenhouse gas emission leading to climate change is creating long-term, dangerous health effects.

The lawsuit takes aim at a state statute that says it’s the policy of Alaska to promote fossil fuels, said Andrew Welle of Oregon-based Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting natural systems for present and future generations.

“The state has enacted a policy of promoting fossil fuels and implemented it in a way that is resulting in substantial greenhouse gas emissions in Alaska,” Welle said in a phone interview. “They’re harming these young kids.”

A central question in the lawsuit, as in previous federal and state lawsuits, is the role of courts in shaping climate policy.


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