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Today's Date: U.S. Attorney News Feed
Abduction suspect makes first appearance in court
Lawyer Blog News | 2017/07/04 00:16
Hundreds of people gathered outside a federal courthouse Monday as the suspect in the kidnapping of a Chinese scholar at the University of Illinois made his first appearance since being arrested last week.

During the nine-minute hearing, 28-year-old Brendt Christensen acknowledged to the judge that he understood his rights, but did not say anything else. U.S. Magistrate Eric Long ordered Christensen held without bond in the kidnapping of Yingying Zhang. Authorities say facts in the case indicate the 26-year-old Zhang is dead, although her body hasn't been found.

Long ordered Christensen to return to the court in Urbana on Wednesday to determine bond. A preliminary hearing was set for July 14, but that would be waived if a grand jury returns an indictment before then. The federal kidnapping charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, according to a U.S. attorney's office spokeswoman.


Court of Appeals Judge Elmore won't seek re-election
Lawyer Blog News | 2017/06/01 07:49
A North Carolina appeals court judge said Wednesday he won't run again when his seat comes up for re-election next year.

Judge Rick Elmore has served since 2003. The former private practice lawyer from Greensboro was re-elected to a second eight-year term in 2010.

In an interview, Elmore said he'll be satisfied serving two full terms on the state's intermediate-level appeals court when comparing it to the uncertainty of any outcome if he was to run another statewide campaign in 2018. Elmore, 66, also would have been unable to serve another full term due to the state's mandatory retirement age for judges at 72.

Leaving after this term expires "seemed to be a good fit," Elmore said, adding that he wanted to "leave on my own terms."

Elmore said he wanted to make the announcement before state political parties gather this year. Elmore is a registered Republican. A law approved last December makes Court of Appeals races officially partisan elections again, with party primaries.

Elmore said his decision had nothing to do with legislation approved in March by the General Assembly to reduce the number of Court of Appeals judges from 15 to 12 by eliminating positions vacated by resignation or death. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the measure, but the veto was overridden.

The appeals court usually meets in panels of three judges. The court is the final arbiter in state court matters except for cases heard by the state Supreme Court.


High court sides with Goodyear in sanctions dispute
Lawyer Blog News | 2017/04/21 07:09
A unanimous Supreme Court is siding with Goodyear Rubber & Tire Co. in a dispute over $2.7 million the company and its lawyers were ordered to pay in a personal injury case.

The justices on Tuesday sent the case back to a lower court to decide whether an Arizona family injured in a 2003 motor home accident is entitled to the entire amount.

The family sued Goodyear after they were seriously injured when a tire failed on their motor home, causing it to flip off the road. After settling the case in 2010, the family discovered the company hadn't turned over key testing data.

A federal judge said nearly all of the family's attorney fees could be blamed on the misconduct. A federal appeals court agreed.



Newest justice joins high court amid competing caricatures
Lawyer Blog News | 2017/04/14 08:05
Somewhere between the Republican caricature of the next justice of the Supreme Court as a folksy family guy and the Democrats' demonization of him as a cold-hearted automaton, stands Neil Gorsuch.

Largely unknown six months ago, Gorsuch has seen his life story, personality and professional career explored in excruciating detail since he was nominated by President Donald Trump 10 weeks ago.

The portrait that emerges is more nuanced than the extremes drawn by his supporters and critics.

Gorsuch is widely regarded as a warm and collegial family man, boss and jurist, loyal to his employees and kind to those of differing viewpoints. He also has been shown to be a judge who takes such a "rigidly neutral" approach to the law that it can lead to dispassionate rulings with sometimes brutal results.

Four times during his confirmation hearings, Gorsuch invoked a "breakfast table" analogy, telling senators that good judges set aside what they have to eat — and their personal views — before they leave the house in the morning to apply the law and nothing else to the facts of the cases at hand. It was all part of Gorsuch's artful effort to reveal as little as possible of his own opinions.


Bangladesh High Court upholds death for 2 in blogger killing
Lawyer Blog News | 2017/04/02 19:30
Bangladesh's High Court on Sunday confirmed the death penalty for two people tied to a banned Islamist militant group for the killing of an atheist blogger critical of radical Islam.

The court also upheld jail sentences for six others after appeals were filed challenging the verdicts handed down by a trial court in 2015.

Sunday's decision involves the killing of Ahmed Rajib Haider, who was hacked to death in 2013. Haider had campaigned for banning the Jamaat-e-Islami party, which opposed Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan in 1971.

One of the defendants was Mufti Jasimuddin Rahmani, the leader of the Ansarullah Bangla Team, and the rest were university students inspired by his sermons.

During the trial, the students said that Rahmani incited them to kill Haider in sermons in which he said all atheist bloggers should be killed to protect Islam.

The two North South University students who received the death sentences included Faisal bin Nayeem, who the court said hacked Haider with meat cleavers in front of his house in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital. Another was tried in absentia. The others received prison sentences ranging from three years to life. Rahmani was sentenced to five years.



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.


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