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Court reinstates order for Russia to pay $50 bln over Yukos
Criminal Law Updates | 2020/02/18 02:47
In a major legal defeat for the Russian government, a Dutch appeals court on Tuesday reinstated an international arbitration panel’s order that it should pay $50 billion compensation to shareholders in former oil company Yukos.

The ruling overturned a 2016 decision by The Hague District Court that quashed the compensation order on the grounds that the arbitration panel did not have jurisdiction because the case was based on an energy treaty that Russia had signed but not ratified.

The Hague Court of Appeal ruled that the 2016 decision “was not correct. That means that the arbitration order is in force again.”

“This is a victory for the rule of law. The independent courts of a democracy have shown their integrity and served justice. A brutal kleptocracy has been held to account,” Tim Osborne, the chief executive of GML, a company made up of Yukos shareholders, said in a statement.

The Russian Justice Ministry said in a statement after the verdict that Russia will appeal. It charged that the Hague appeals court “failed to take into account the illegitimate use by former Yukos shareholders of the Energy Charter Treaty that wasn’t ratified by the Russian federation.”

The arbitration panel had ruled that Moscow seized control of Yukos in 2003 by hammering the company with massive tax claims. The move was seen as an attempt to silence Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin.

The 2014 arbitration ruling said that Russia was not acting in good faith when it levied the massive claims against Yukos, even though some of the company’s tax arrangements might have been questionable.



Saudis sentence 5 people to death for Khashoggi’s killing
Criminal Law Updates | 2019/12/24 01:37
A court in Saudi Arabia sentenced five people to death Monday for the killing of Washington Post columnist and royal family critic Jamal Khashoggi, whose grisly slaying in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul drew international condemnation and cast a cloud of suspicion over Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Three other people were found guilty by Riyadh’s criminal court of covering up the crime and were sentenced to a combined 24 years in prison, according to a statement read by the Saudi attorney general’s office on state TV.

In all, 11 people were put on trial in Saudi Arabia over the killing. The names of those found guilty were not disclosed by the government. Executions in the kingdom are carried out by beheading, sometimes in public. All the verdicts can be appealed.

A small number of diplomats, including from Turkey, as well as members of Khashoggi’s family were allowed to attend the nine court sessions, though independent media were barred.

While the case in Saudi Arabia has largely concluded, questions linger outside Riyadh about the crown prince’s culpability in the slaying.

“The decision is too unlawful to be acceptable,” Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, said in a text message to The Associated Press. “It is unacceptable.”

Agnes Callamard, who investigated the killing for the United Nations, tweeted that the verdicts are a “mockery” and that the masterminds behind the crime “have barely been touched by the investigation and the trial.” Amnesty International called the outcome “a whitewash which brings neither justice nor truth.”


Kansas Supreme Court getting new member, new chief justice
Criminal Law Updates | 2019/12/14 21:37
The Kansas Supreme Court will have a new member and a new chief justice next week.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly plans to have a Monday morning news conference to name a replacement for former Justice Lee Johnson, who retired in September.

And Justice Marla Luckert is set to become the state court system's top official Tuesday when current Chief Justice Lawton Nuss retires.

Kelly's appointment Monday will be her first to the seven-member court, and she'll fill a second spot by mid-March because of Nuss' retirement.

The finalists for Kelly's first appointment are Shawnee County District Judge Evelyn Wilson, state Assistant Solicitor General Steven Obermeier and Deputy Kansas Attorney General Dennis Depew.

Johnson left the court after 12 1/2 years. Nuss is stepping down after serving on the court since 2002 and as chief justice since 2010.

Luckert is Nuss' replacement as chief justice because she's the next justice on the seven-member court with the most seniority.


Trump Has Successfully Gamed the Courts
Criminal Law Updates | 2019/12/10 05:38
At its simplest level, the impeachment of President Donald Trump looks like a collision between the legislative and executive branches of government. In that fight, each side is trying to defend its prerogatives as it sees them: For Congress (or at least the Democratic-led House), this includes the power to appropriate foreign aid, and the power to conduct oversight; for the executive branch, this means the power to make foreign policy as it sees fit, and to protect its internal deliberations.

What is missing from this portrait is the crucial role of the third branch of government, the judiciary, which has powerfully shaped the impeachment process by declining to exercise its prerogatives, rather than defending them. By choosing to treat the current moment as business as usual, federal courts have effectively removed themselves from the process. In effect, that has dictated what arguments can be mounted in the impeachment fight and what witnesses Congress, and the public, can hear?narrowing and obscuring the case against Trump.

None of this absolves Democrats of the decisions they’ve made. The House majority could have chosen to fight in court to compel testimony from current and former administration officials, especially former National Security Adviser John Bolton. Those fights would not have been resolved in time to hold an impeachment vote before Christmas, but that deadline is self-imposed and politically motivated. Democrats could have waited, or they could have pursued the court battle while also charging ahead.



Justices weigh dismissal of case over New York City gun law
Criminal Law Updates | 2019/11/30 12:50
The Supreme Court considered Monday whether to dismiss the first gun rights case it has heard in nearly 10 years, an outcome that would come as a huge relief to gun-control advocates.

The justices heard arguments in a dispute over New York City restrictions on transporting licensed, locked and unloaded guns outside the city limits. New York has dropped its transport ban, but only after the high court decided in January to hear the case.

Gun-rights groups are hoping a conservative majority fortified by two appointees of President Donald Trump, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, would use the case to expand on landmark decisions from a decade ago.

But the court spent most of the hour trying to determine whether anything is left of the case brought by the National Rifle Association’s New York affiliate and three city residents.

Chief Justice John Roberts sought assurances from the city’s lawyer that New York police would not refuse to issue gun licenses to people who have may have violated the old law.

In urging the justices to get rid of the case, Richard Dearing, the city’s lawyer, said repeatedly that the city would not prosecute people for or deny licenses based on past violations.



Alaska Supreme Court hears youth climate change lawsuit
Criminal Law Updates | 2019/10/14 03:01
An Alaska law promoting fossil fuel development infringes on the constitutional rights of young residents to a healthy environment, a lawyer told Alaska Supreme Court justices on Wednesday.

A lawsuit filed by 16 Alaska youths claimed long-term effects of climate change will devastate the country’s northernmost state and interfere with their constitutional rights to life, liberty and public trust resources that sustain them.

The state’s legislative and executive branches have not taken steps to lower greenhouse gas emissions and adopted a policy that promotes putting more in the air, said attorney Andrew Welle of the Oregon-based Our Children’s Trust group.

“This is an issue that is squarely within the court’s authority,” Welle said.

Assistant Attorney General Anna Jay urged justices to affirm a lower court ruling rejecting the claims. Ultimately, the climate change issues raised by Alaska youth must be addressed by the political branches of government, she said.

“The court does not have the tools to engage in the type of legislative policy making endeavor required to formulate a broad state approach to greenhouse gas emissions,” she said.

The 16 youths sued in 2017 and claimed damages by greenhouse gas emissions are causing widespread damage in Alaska. The lawsuit said the state has experienced dangerously high temperatures, changed rain and snow patterns, rising seas, storm surge flooding, thawed permafrost, coastal erosion, violent storms and increased wildfires.


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