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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.



Lithuania wants Gorbachev to testify in war crimes trial
Lawyer Blog News | 2016/10/16 03:19
A Lithuanian court has called former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to testify in a mass trial related to the 1991 crackdown on the country's independence movement.

Gorbachev and Russian authorities haven't answered previous requests so it's unlikely he would comply with Monday's request from the Vilnius district court.

The case involves more than 60 former Soviet officials charged with war crimes and other offenses for their roles in a crackdown on pro-independence demonstrators that left 14 people dead in January 1991, when Gorbachev was still in power.

The judges approved a request by one of the plaintiffs in the case to call Gorbachev to the court as a witness.

Only two defendants are present in court. Others, mainly citizens of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, are being tried in absentia.



US Supreme Court won't hear Arizona death sentence case
Lawyer Blog News | 2016/10/04 19:16
The U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to hear Arizona's appeal of a lower court ruling that overturned a convicted murderer's death sentence has opened the door for about 25 death row inmates to challenge their sentences.

The justices on Monday let stand the ruling that said Arizona unconstitutionally excluded evidence about James McKinney's troubled childhood and post-traumatic stress disorder that might have led to a lesser punishment.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last December that Arizona's causal nexus rule violated the Constitution. The rule required any mitigating evidence, such as mental illness or post-traumatic stress disorder, to be directly tied to the crime committed to be relevant in sentencing.


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