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Florida Legislature at "Open War" with State Supreme Court
Lawyer Blog News | 2017/03/01 14:54
The Republican-dominated Legislature's tense relationship with the state Supreme Court is hanging over this year's legislative session as lawmakers take up two bills to deal with the aftermath of court rulings that Republicans don't like.

One of them is a fix to the state's death penalty rules and the other a revision of the "stand your ground" law to better protect defendants claiming self-defense.

It's no surprise that two other bills are seen as a shot back at the court - a proposal to limit justices' terms to 12 years and a bill that would require them to file reports to the governor and Legislature on the timeliness of their decisions.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran says one of his highest priorities is to "reign in" the Supreme Court.

Former Supreme Court Justice James Perry said the Legislature is at "open war" with the judiciary, but he said the Legislature can't control the court.


Court appeals temporarily delay Texas execution
Lawyer Blog News | 2017/01/27 21:33
Texas prison officials temporarily delayed the scheduled Thursday night execution of a man convicted of a fatal robbery at a Dallas-area sandwich shop while the U.S. Supreme Court considered multiple appeals to keep him from lethal injection.

Terry Edwards remained in a small cell near the Texas death chamber. A Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman, Jason Clark, described him as apprehensive.

The court order setting his punishment gave prison officials a six-hour window to carry out the execution. The order expires at midnight and Texas would not move forward with the punishment if the appeals were not resolved by then.

Evidence showed Edwards worked at the restaurant but was fired a few weeks earlier for stealing from the cash register. An employee and the store manager were killed in the $3,000 holdup in Balch Springs, about 15 miles southeast of downtown Dallas.

Edwards, 43, would be the second prisoner executed this year in Texas, the third nationally.



Supreme Court to hear case about party in vacant DC house
Lawyer Blog News | 2017/01/22 23:47
The Supreme Court will hear a case in which people arrested for having a party in a vacant house sued police for violating their constitutional rights and won.

The justices said Thursday they will review lower court rulings in favor of 16 people who gathered in a house in Washington about three miles east of the nation's Capitol for a party.

Police arrested the group after no one could identify whose house it was, some said it was a birthday party and others said it was a bachelor party. No one could identify the guest of honor. Several women were scantily clad, with money hanging out of their garter belts. The officers said that the scene resembled a strip club, according to court papers.

Several of the partygoers said someone named "Peaches" gave them permission to have the party.

But when an officer later contacted the purported owner of the home, he denied having given anyone permission to have a party.

The group was arrested for trespassing, a charge later changed to disorderly conduct and then dropped altogether. But the 16 people sued for false arrest and were awarded $680,000.

The issue for the court is whether the officers had sufficient reason to arrest the group for trespassing. The court also will determine whether the officers should be shielded from liability even if their actions are found to violate the law.

A panel of the federal appeals court in Washington upheld the judgment, but four other judges on the court said that the officers should have been protected, citing a string of Supreme Court decisions.



Court ponders mass murderer Breivik's prison conditions
Lawyer Blog News | 2017/01/19 07:46
An appeals court in Norway is considering whether the prison conditions under which mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik is being held amount to a violation of his human rights.

The six-day trial ended Wednesday in a makeshift courtroom inside Skien prison in southern Norway where Breivik, 37, is serving a 21-year sentence for killing 77 people in a 2011 bomb-and-shooting rampage.

Breivik's lawyer, Oystein Storrvik, spent most of the last day seeking to show that restrictions on his client's visitors and the strict control over Breivik's mail and phone calls have led to a lack of human interaction and privacy, which amounts to a violation of his rights.

The case is "really about a person that is sitting very, very alone in a small prison within a prison" since 2012, explained Storrvik.

He dismissed the benefits of the weekly visits by a state-appointed prison confidante for Breivik, saying "it's a paid job."

Addressing the court last week, Breivik said his solitary confinement had deeply damaged him and made him even more radical in his neo-Nazi beliefs.

The Norwegian state rejected the criticism and said efforts to find a prison confidante show the authorities have "gone out of their way" to remedy the situation.

In a surprise verdict last year, the Oslo District Court sided with Breivik, finding that his isolation was "inhuman (and) degrading" and breached the European Convention on Human Rights. It ordered the government to pay his legal costs.


Gambia's leader says only court can declare who's president
Lawyer Blog News | 2017/01/11 05:06
Gambia's outgoing President Yahya Jammeh is criticizing foreign pressure for him to step down and calling on Gambians to wait for a Supreme Court decision to determine the credibility of the Dec. 1 elections that he lost.

On Tuesday, thousands of supporters of Jammeh's Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction gathered around a Supreme Court hearing, pushing for the annulment of the election outcome. The Supreme Court, with only one sitting member, adjourned until Monday but said it likely cannot hear the petition filed by the party until May, when the Nigeria and Sierra Leone judges appointed by Jammeh are available.

The delay creates uncertainty that many fear could turn to violence. Jammeh at first conceded defeat to opposition coalition candidate Adama Barrow but later called for a new vote, saying the Dec. 1 elections had irregularities.

The coalition has said it plans to move forward with Barrow's inauguration on Jan. 19, at the end of Jammeh's mandate, and the United Nations, European Union and West African bloc have called on Jammeh to respect the election and step down from power.

"Only the Supreme Court can declare anyone a president. So I ask anyone of us to respect the supreme law of the republic and await the Supreme Court review on the election result," said Jammeh in a late Tuesday address on state-run TV.

The incumbent criticized interference from other countries, including those of the Economic Community of West African States, which on Friday will send a delegation to try to persuade Jammeh to step down.




Supreme Court won’t hear Giordano appeal in child-sex case
Lawyer Blog News | 2017/01/10 05:07
The U.S. Supreme Court has again refused to hear an appeal by former Waterbury Mayor Philip Giordano, who is fighting a 37-year prison sentence for sexually abusing two young girls while in office.

The court’s decision was released Monday. Justices previously refused to hear two earlier appeals by Giordano.

Giordano was challenging a federal appeals court decision in June to dismiss his request to set aside or correct his sentence. Giordano says the prison sentence is unconstitutional and his lawyer during his 2003 trial, Andrew Bowman, made several mistakes.

Bowman has denied that he provided ineffective counsel.

A federal jury convicted Giordano in 2003 of violating the civil rights of two girls, ages 8 and 10, by sexually abusing them in the mayor’s office and other locations.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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