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Ohio court considers privacy rights in backpack search
Lawyer News | 2017/03/03 00:53
The state Supreme Court will hear arguments over the constitutionality of an Ohio student's backpack search that authorities say led first to the discovery of bullets and later a gun.

At issue before the high court is whether a second search of the backpack violated the student's privacy rights, which are generally weaker inside school walls.

The court scheduled arguments for Wednesday morning. Prosecutors in Franklin County appealed after two lower courts tossed out the evidence because of the second search.

A security official at a Columbus city high school searched the backpack in 2013 after it was found on a bus. The official conducted a second search after he recalled the student had alleged gang ties. That search led to finding a gun on the student.



Kenya court blocks closing of world's biggest refugee camp
Lawyer News | 2017/02/10 16:01
A Kenyan court ruled Thursday that the government must not close the world's largest refugee camp and send more than 200,000 people back to war-torn Somalia, a decision that eases pressure on Somalis who feared the camp would close by the end of May.

Kenya's internal security minister abused his power by ordering the closure of Dadaab camp, Judge John Mativo said, adding that the minister and other officials had "acted in excess and in abuse of their power, in violation of the rule of law and in contravention of their oaths of office."

Rights groups Amnesty International, Kituo cha Sheria and the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights had challenged the government's order to close the camp, which has operated for more than a quarter-century.

Kenya's government quickly said it will appeal the ruling. "Being a government whose cardinal responsibility is first to Kenyans, we feel this decision should be revoked," spokesman Eric Kiraithe said.

The judge called the order discriminatory, saying it goes against the Kenyan constitution as well as international treaties that protect refugees against being returned to a conflict zone.

President Uhuru Kenyatta's government has not proved Somalia is safe for the refugees to return, the judge said, also calling the orders to shut down the government's refugee department "null and void."

Somalia remains under threat of attacks from homegrown extremist group al-Shabab. Some Kenyan officials have argued that the sprawling refugee camp near the border with Somalia has been used as a recruiting ground for al-Shabab and a base for launching attacks inside Kenya. But Kenyan officials have not provided conclusive proof of that.


Rolling Stone defamation case over rape story back in court
Lawyer News | 2017/02/09 16:01
Attorneys for Rolling Stone magazine are heading back to federal court to try to overturn a jury's defamation verdict over its botched story "A Rape on Campus."

A judge is holding a hearing in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Thursday to consider Rolling Stone's request to throw out the jury's November verdict. The jury awarded University of Virginia administrator Nicole Eramo $3 million after finding Rolling Stone and a reporter defamed her.

The 2014 story told the account of a woman identified only as "Jackie," who said she was gang raped at the school. A police investigation found no evidence to back up Jackie's claims.

The magazine argues, among other things, there's no evidence reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely acted with actual malice. Eramo's attorneys are urging the judge to keep the verdict.


Supreme Court rejects appeal from flight-sharing company
Lawyer News | 2017/01/08 05:07
The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from a company that wants to offer flight-sharing services using a model similar to Uber.

The justices on Monday left in place a lower court ruling that said Boston-based Flytenow could not operate a website that connected private pilots with passengers willing to share fuel costs and other flight expenses.

The Federal Aviation Administration shut down the website in 2015 after finding that the service violated flight regulations.

Cost-sharing arrangements have long been allowed through word of mouth, bulletin boards and email. But the FAA said using a website was like advertising and subjected those pilots to the same elaborate safety regulations as commercial airlines.

Flytenow argued that it was applying modern technology to a practice that has been around for decades.



UK court brings Brexit plans screeching to halt
Lawyer News | 2016/11/04 22:22
Britain's High Court brought government plans for leaving the European Union screeching to a halt Thursday, ruling that the prime minister can't trigger the U.K.'s exit from the bloc without parliamentary approval.

The government said it would go to the Supreme Court to challenge the ruling, which if upheld could prevent it starting exit talks by March 31 as planned.

The pound, which has lost about a fifth of its value since the June 23 decision to leave the EU, shot back up on the verdict, rising 1.1 percent to $1.2430.

Britons voted by a margin of 52 to 48 percent to exit the EU, a process known as "Brexit." Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will invoke Article 50 of the EU treaty, launching two years of exit negotiations, by the end of March.

Several claimants, including a hairdresser and a financial entrepreneur, challenged May's right to trigger Brexit, in a case with major constitutional implications that hinges on the balance of power between Parliament and the government. They argued that leaving the EU will remove rights, including free movement within the bloc, and that can't be done without Parliament's approval.

Three senior judges agreed, ruling that "the government does not have the power under the Crown's prerogative to give notice pursuant to Article 50 for the U.K. to withdraw from the European Union."

The judges backed the claimants' argument that "the Crown could not change domestic law and nullify rights under the law unless Parliament had conferred upon the Crown authority to do so."

The British government immediately said it would appeal the judgment. It said in a statement that Britons voted to leave the bloc in a referendum approved by an Act of Parliament, "and the government is determined to respect the result of the referendum."

The Supreme Court has set aside time to hear the appea


Court orders release of Chicago police disciplinary records
Lawyer News | 2016/07/06 17:25
An Illinois appeals court on Friday vacated an injunction obtained by the Chicago police union that barred the city's release of disciplinary files dating back decades.

The Fraternal Order of Police sued to block the release after a March 2014 appellate court ruling that documents dating back to 1967 should be made public. Several news outlets had requested the records.

As a result of the 2014 ruling, the Invisible Institute, a nonprofit journalism organization, obtained 11 years of records and published an interactive database of police misconduct.

Last year, Cook County Circuit Judge Peter Flynn issued an injunction based a clause in the union's bargaining contract requiring the destruction of public records after four years. The union also claimed releasing the documents would unfairly harm the officers named in the citizen complaints.

The union contends police officers are susceptible to false complaints, and reports that go unsubstantiated should not have an indefinite shelf life. The city of Chicago appealed the injunction.

In its ruling Friday, the appeals court confirmed the records must be released under Freedom of Information Act laws. The court also ruled the union contract clause requiring the destruction of disciplinary records after four years was "legally unenforceable" because it conflicted with the state's public records law.

FOP President Dean Angelo Sr. declined to comment on the ruling, saying he had not yet read it.



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