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Appeals court rules against Kansas in voting rights case
Criminal Law Updates | 2016/10/01 19:27
Thousands of prospective voters in Kansas who did not provide citizenship documents will be able to vote in the November election under a federal appeals court ruling late Friday that upheld a judge's order.
 
The decision from the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals affirms lower court's May order forcing Kansas to register more than 20,000 voters, a number that is expected to swell to 50,000 by the time of the November elections. It noted that the preliminary injunction serves the public interest.

The 10th Circuit ruled "no constitutional doubt arises" that federal law prohibits Kansas from requiring citizenship documents from people who register to vote at motor vehicle office. It added that its reasoning would be more fully explained in a forthcoming order.

The court had previously refused to issue an emergency stay of U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson's order, and this latest comes after a three-judge panel heard oral arguments last month in the case.

Its decision is the latest setback for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. It comes just a day after the Kansas Republican avoided contempt proceedings by striking a deal with the American Civil Liberties Union to fully register and clearly inform affected voters that they could vote in the November election.

Kobach did not immediately return a cell phone message seeking comment, but his spokeswoman said his office would issue a statement later.



Court considers Kansas rule that voters prove citizenship
Criminal Law Updates | 2016/08/24 16:42
A federal appeals court will decide whether Kansas has the right to ask people who register to vote when they get their driver's licenses for proof that they're citizens, a decision which could affect whether thousands have their ballots counted in November's election.

Three judges from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case Tuesday from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and the American Civil Liberties Union but didn't indicate how soon they could rule.

Kansas wants the court to overturn a ruling by a federal judge in May that temporarily blocked the state from disenfranchising people who registered at motor vehicle offices but didn't provide documents such as birth certificates or naturalization papers. That was about 18,000 people at the time. If the order is allowed to stand, the state says up to an estimated 50,000 people who haven't proven they're citizens could have their votes counted in the fall.

Since 1993, states have had to allow people to register to vote when they apply for or renew their driver's licenses. The so-called motor-voter law says that people can only be asked for "minimal information" when registering to vote, allowing them to simply affirm they are citizens.

The ACLU claims the law intended to increase registration doesn't allow states to ask applicants for extra documents. It also says that motor vehicle clerks don't tell people renewing existing licenses that they need to provide the documents, leaving them under the mistaken impression that their registration is complete when they leave the office.



Turkish court issues arrest warrant for Muslim cleric
Criminal Law Updates | 2016/08/04 17:55
A court in Turkey issued a formal warrant Thursday for the arrest of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the government accuses of being behind the failed July 15 coup that left more than 270 people dead.

The state-run Anadolu news agency said an Istanbul-based court issued the warrant for "ordering the July 15 coup attempt."

The government says Gulen, a former ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, masterminded the failed coup attempt by renegade officers in Turkey's military and wants him extradited to Turkey. Gulen has denied involvement or prior knowledge of the coup attempt.

Ankara has not yet made a formal extradition request, but the arrest warrant could be the prelude. Washington has asked for evidence of the cleric's involvement, and has said the extradition process must be allowed to take its course.

Anadolu said the court issued the warrant over a number of accusations, including an "attempt to eliminate the government of the Turkish Republic or to prevent it from carrying out its duties."

More specifically, Anadolu said the court based the arrest warrant on accusations the coup plotters tried to assassinate Erdogan, kidnapped Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and other military officers, bombed parliament and killed police and civilians who resisted.

"It has been understood without a doubt that the attempted coup was an activity of the terror organization and that it was carried out with the orders of its founder, suspect Fethullah Gulen," Anadolu quoted from the court decision.



Appeals court delay requested in ex-Virginia governor's case
Criminal Law Updates | 2016/07/21 16:48
Prosecutors have asked a federal appeals court to delay action for 30 days on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's corruption case — to allow both sides time to analyze it.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reportsthe U.S. Attorney's Office said the motion filed jointly Thursday proposes that parties file a briefing schedule or update the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on discussions after 30 days.

McDonnell was convicted in 2014 of doing favors for a wealthy businessman in exchange for more than $165,000 in gifts and loans.

The Supreme Court overturned McDonnell's conviction in June, saying his actions were distasteful but didn't necessarily violate federal bribery laws. The case was returned to the lower court to decide whether there's enough evidence for another trial.


Obama's power over immigration drives Supreme Court dispute
Criminal Law Updates | 2016/04/15 08:39
The raging political fight over immigration comes to the Supreme Court on Monday in a dispute that could affect millions of people who are in the United States illegally.
 
The court is weighing the fate of Obama administration programs that could shield roughly 4 million people from deportation and grant them the legal right to hold a job.

Among them is Teresa Garcia of suburban Seattle, who has spent 14 years in the United States illegally after staying beyond the expiration of her tourist visa in 2002.

She's already gotten much of what she wanted when she chose not to return to her native Mexico. Her two sons are benefiting from an earlier effort that applies to people who were brought here illegally as children. Garcia's 11-year-old daughter is an American citizen.

Now, she would like the same for herself and her husband, a trained accountant who works construction jobs. Neither can work legally.

"To have a Social Security number, that means for me to have a better future. When I say better future, we are struggling with the little amount of money my husband is getting for the whole family. It makes for stress every day. We struggle to pay for everything," Garcia said.

The programs announced by President Barack Obama in November 2014 would apply to parents whose children are citizens or are living in the country legally. Eligibility also would be expanded for the president's 2012 effort that helped Garcia's sons. More than 700,000 people have taken advantage of that earlier program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The new program for parents and the expanded program for children could reach as many as 4 million people, according to the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute.


Judge begins to deliver verdict in Ukrainian pilot trial
Criminal Law Updates | 2016/03/22 05:12
A Russian court has begun reading a verdict for Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko, who is charged with complicity to murder two Russian journalists in war-torn eastern Ukraine.
 
The judge began reading the verdict Monday morning. He quoted arguments by prosecutors who said Savchenko, who served in a volunteer Ukrainian battalion at the time, called in the coordinates for shelling that killed the two journalists and several civilians in July 2014. He also quoted them as saying she was driven by "political hatred" toward residents of Ukraine's Luhansk region.
   
The judge in the trial quoted the prosecution saying that Savchenko was part of a "criminal group" and aimed to kill an "unlimited number of people."

Prosecutors have asked for a 23-year prison sentence for Savchenko. Sentencing is expected on Tuesday.

This story has been corrected to show that Savchenko has not been found guilty. The judge, quoting prosecutors, said Savchenko was complicit in the killing, but stopped short of pronouncing her guilty. A verdict will come at the end of the verdict-reading process, which is expected to take two days.



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