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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.



Hulk Hogan, Gawker back in court in Florida
Lawyer News | 2016/05/26 06:10
A court hearing involving the Hulk Hogan sex tape case is underway in Florida, with Gawker Media asking for a new trial.
 
Gawker and Hogan faced off Wednesday morning in a St. Petersburg courtroom. It's the latest chapter in a years-long legal fight.

Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, won a $140 million verdict against Gawker in March.

Hogan sued Gawker after it posted a video of him having sex with his then-best friend's wife. The three-week trial was a lurid inside look at the business of celebrity gossip and a debate over newsworthiness versus celebrity privacy.

Earlier this month, Hogan sued Gawker again, saying the gossip website leaked sealed court documents with a transcript that quoted him making racist remarks.



Karadzic convicted of genocide, sentenced to 40 years
Lawyer News | 2016/03/24 15:59
A U.N. court convicted former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic of genocide and nine other charges Thursday and sentenced him to 40 years in prison for orchestrating Serb atrocities throughout Bosnia's 1992-95 war that left 100,000 people dead.

As he sat down after hearing his sentence, Karadzic slumped slightly in his chair, but showed little emotion.

The U.N. court found Karadzic guilty of genocide in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in which 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered in Europe's worst mass murder since the Holocaust.

Presiding Judge O-Gon Kwon said Karadzic was the only person in the Bosnian Serb leadership with the power to halt the genocide.

In a carefully planned operation, Serb forces transported Muslim men to sites around the Srebrenica enclave in eastern Bosnia and gunned them down before dumping their bodies into mass graves.

Kwon said Karadzic and his military commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic, intended "that every able-bodied Bosnian Muslim male from Srebrenica be killed."

Karadzic was also held criminally responsible for murder, attacking civilians and terror for overseeing the deadly 44-month siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, during the war and for taking hostage U.N. peacekeepers.

However, the court acquitted Karadzic in a second genocide charge, for a campaign to drive Bosnian Muslims and Croats out of villages claimed by Serb forces.



Plagued by delays, California high-speed rail heads back to court
Lawyer News | 2016/02/06 20:54
California voters embraced the idea of building the nation's first real high-speed rail system, which promised to whisk travelers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in under three hours, a trip that can take six hours or more by car. Eight years after they approved funding for it, construction is years behind schedule and legal, financial and logistical delays plague the $68 billion project.

The bullet train's timeline, funding and speed estimates are back in the spotlight for a longstanding lawsuit filed by residents whose property lies in its path.

In the second phase of a court challenge filed in 2011, attorneys for a group of Central Valley farmers will argue in Sacramento County Superior Court on Thursday that the state can't keep the promises it made to voters in 2008 about the travel times and system cost. Voters authorized selling $9.9 billion in bonds for a project that was supposed to cost $40 billion.

In recent months, rail officials have touted construction of a viaduct in Madera County, the first visible sign of construction. Though officials have been working for years to acquire the thousands of parcels of land required for the project, they currently have just 63 percent of the parcels needed for the first 29 miles in the Central Valley.


Woman at center of 1961 Supreme Court case dies
Lawyer News | 2014/12/11 20:57
A woman who stood up to police trying to search her Ohio home in 1957 and ultimately won a landmark Supreme Court decision on searches and seizures has died.

Dollree Mapp died Oct. 31 in Conyers, Georgia. A relative and caretaker, Carolyn Mapp, confirmed her death Wednesday and said she died on the day after her birthday at the age of 91.

Mapp's Supreme Court case, Mapp v. Ohio, is a staple of law school textbooks and considered a milestone case on the Fourth Amendment, which requires law enforcement officers to get a warrant before conducting a search. The case curbed the power of police by saying evidence obtained by illegal searches and seizures could not be used in state court.

Mapp's path to the U.S. Supreme Court began on May 23, 1957, when three Cleveland police officers arrived at her home. There had just been a bombing at the home of Don King, who later became famous as a boxing promoter, and police believed that a person wanted for questioning was hiding in Mapp's home. The officers demanded to enter, but Mapp refused to let them in without a search warrant. More officers later arrived and police forced open a door, according to a summary of the case in the Supreme Court opinion.

When the officers confronted Mapp, one held up a piece of paper, claiming it was a warrant, and Mapp snatched it away. After a struggle an officer got the paper back, Mapp was handcuffed for being "belligerent," and officers searched her home. They didn't find the person they were looking for, but they did find some pornographic books and pictures. At the time, an Ohio law made having obscene material a crime, and Mapp was convicted, though she said the materials belonged to a former boarder. Prosecutors never produced a search warrant at trial.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court overturned Mapp's conviction in a 6-3 decision, ruling in 1961 that illegally obtained evidence could not be used in state court. The court had previously ruled that this was the case in federal court, but Mapp's case extended the "exclusionary rule" to states where the vast majority of criminal prosecutions take place, broadening the protection.


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