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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.



Lawyer: US citizen charged in UN case to plead guilty
Criminal Law Updates | 2016/03/18 05:13
A defense lawyer says a U.S. citizen charged in the United Nations bribery case will plead guilty Wednesday to charges.

Attorney Brian Bieber said Monday that Francis Lorenzo will plead guilty to three charges. Lorenzo is a suspended ambassador from the Dominican Republic who was arrested in the fall.

The plea comes in a case that resulted in the arrest of a former president of the U.N. General Assembly and a billionaire Chinese businessman.

Bieber says Lorenzo will plead guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit money laundering and filing a false tax return.

Bieber says his client decided to plead guilty after reviewing the government's evidence. He says it led him to "accept responsibility for his role in the criminal conspiracies committed by him and his co-defendants."



South African court hears case against president
Criminal Law Updates | 2016/02/08 20:53
The chant "Pay back the money" filtered into South Africa's highest court on Tuesday, as judges heard a case in which President Jacob Zuma is accused of violating the constitution in a scandal over state spending on his private home.
 
Inside court, lawyers argued before 11 judges over whether the president broke the law by failing to follow a 2014 recommendation from the state watchdog agency that he pay back some of the more than $20 million in security upgrades to his rural home.

Outside, several thousand opposition party supporters demonstrated against what they described as corruption by the head of state, shouting that he should return state money used to improve his private home.

Zuma's office, on Feb. 3, said he was willing to reimburse some money, an about-turn to his previous position that he did nothing wrong. His critics said he was trying to avoid the embarrassment of a court hearing and a repeat of last year's heckling during his State of the Nation address, to be held on Thursday.



Court revives victim lawsuit in mistaken shooting
Criminal Law Updates | 2014/05/05 23:17
The Supreme Court has reinstated the lawsuit filed by a former major league baseball player's son who was shot on the porch of his family home by a Houston-area police officer.

The justices on Monday ordered a lower court to reconsider the case of Robert Tolan, son of former major leaguer Bobby Tolan. The son was shot in the chest after police mistakenly believed he was armed and had stolen a vehicle.

A Houston-area jury acquitted Bellaire police Sgt. Jeffrey Cotton of criminal charges in the shooting, which happened on New Year's Eve in 2008. A federal appeals court dismissed Tolan's civil lawsuit claiming that Cotton used excessive force.

The high court said the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals acted too hastily.


Lawsuit says California mortgage money mishandled
Criminal Law Updates | 2014/03/17 21:57
Three community assistance organizations sued  Gov. Jerry Brown and other state officials on Friday, alleging the state improperly diverted nearly $370 million that was intended to help homeowners struggling with foreclosures.

The lawsuit filed in Sacramento County Superior Court says the money was siphoned off to the state's general fund as California wrestled with a massive budget deficit and has never been repaid. The money was part of the $25 billion settlement between major banks and nearly every state in 2012, with California receiving the largest share.

H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the Department of Finance, said in a statement that the administration is confident that its budget actions are legally sound.

The suit was filed by attorney Neil Barofsky, who previously was inspector general for the federal bank bailout. The suit alleges the money is needed to help affected homeowners "weather the economic storm that continues to sweep so many families out of their homes."

"As a result of these diversions, large numbers of homeowners who are eligible for loan modifications or other relief have been left stranded, and countless fiscally imperiled California homeowners remain unaware of the full scope of their rights," the lawsuit states.

Barofsky filed the suit on behalf of three California-based community organizations that the suit says have helped thousands of homeowners: National Asian American Coalition, COR Community Development Corporation and National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.


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