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Girl appeals Slender Man stabbing to Wisconsin Supreme Court
Legal Career News | 2020/09/13 22:13
One of two girls convicted of stabbing a classmate to please the horror character Slender Man asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday to rule that the case should have been tried in juvenile court.

Morgan Geyser and Anisa Weier attacked their friend, Payton Leutner, in a Waukesha County park following a sleepover in 2014. Geyser stabbed Leutner 19 times, as Weier encouraged her, leaving the girl to die. All three girls were 12 at the time.

Leutner survived the attack. Geyser pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree intentional homicide in adult court in a deal with prosecutors to avoid prison. She was found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. Weier pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree intentional homicide in adult court. She was also found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.

Geyser was ordered to spend 40 years in a mental health institution, and Weier was committed to one for 25 years. Geyser’s attorney, Matthew Pinx, argued in his petition to the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday that Geyser thought she had to kill Lautner or Slender Man would kill her or kill her family. She was acting in self-defense and should have been charged with attempted second-degree intentional homicide in juvenile court, Pinx argued.

He also maintained that Geyser gave statements to detectives before she was read her rights, and she couldn’t really understand what rights she gave up when she agreed to speak alone with a detective while she was in custody and confessed to the stabbing.

The state Department of Justice is defending Geyser’s conviction. Department spokeswoman Gillian Drummond had no immediate comment. Last month, the 2nd District Court of Appeals rejected  the argument that Geyser’s case was overcharged and belonged in juvenile court.


Judges: Trump can’t exclude people from district drawings
Legal Career News | 2020/09/11 17:00
Saying the president had exceeded his authority, a panel of three federal judges on Thursday blocked an order from President Donald Trump that tried to exclude people in the country illegally from being counted when congressional districts are redrawn.

The federal judges in New York, in granting an injunction, said the presidential order issued in late July was unlawful. The judges prohibited Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose agency oversees the U.S. Census Bureau, from excluding people in the country illegally when handing in 2020 census figures used to calculate how many congressional seats each state gets.

According to the judges, the presidential order violated laws governing the execution of the once-a-decade census and also the process for redrawing congressional districts known as apportionment by requiring that two sets of numbers be presented ? one with the total count and the other minus people living in the country illegally.

The judges said that those in the country illegally qualify as people to be counted in the states they reside. They declined to say whether the order violated the Constitution.

“Throughout the Nation’s history, the figures used to determine the apportionment of Congress ? in the language of the current statutes, the ‘total population’ and the ‘whole number of persons’ in each State ? have included every person residing in the United States at the time of the census, whether citizen or non-citizen and whether living here with legal status or without,” the judges wrote.

Opponents of the order said it was an effort to suppress the growing political power of Latinos in the U.S. and to discriminate against immigrant communities of color. They also said undocumented residents use the nation’s roads, parks and other public amenities and should be taken into account for any distribution of federal resources.

The lawsuits challenging the presidential order in New York were brought by a coalition of cities, civil rights groups and states led by New York. Because the lawsuits dealt with questions about apportionment, it was heard by a three-judge panel that allows the decision to be appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The judges agreed with the coalition that the order created confusion among undocumented residents over whether they should participate in the 2020 census, deterring participation and jeopardizing the quality of the census data. That harm to the census was a sufficient basis for their ruling and they didn’t need to rely on the speculation that a state would be hurt by possibly losing a congressional seat if people in the country illegally were excluded from apportionment, the judges said.


Fight over jaguar habitat in Southwest heads back to court
Legal Career News | 2020/03/19 07:26
A federal appeals court is ordering a U.S. district judge in New Mexico to reconsider a case involving a fight over critical habitat for the endangered jaguar in the American Southwest.

Groups representing ranchers had sued, arguing that a 2014 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to set aside thousands of acres for the cats was arbitrary and violated the statute that guides wildlife managers in determining whether certain areas are essential for the conservation of a species.

With the order released this week, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an earlier ruling that had sided with the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Jaguars are currently found in 19 countries. Several individual male jaguars have been spotted in Arizona and New Mexico over the last two decades but there's no evidence of breeding pairs establishing territories beyond northern Mexico.

Shrinking habitats, insufficient prey, poaching and retaliatory killings over livestock deaths are some of the things that have contributed to the jaguar’s decline in the Southwest over the past 150 years.

Under a recovery plan finalized last year, Mexico as well as countries in Central and South America would be primarily responsible for monitoring jaguar movements within their territory. Environmentalists have criticized the plan, saying the U.S. government is overlooking opportunities for recovery north of the international border.


Carnival execs back in court on ocean pollution case
Legal Career News | 2019/10/02 02:43
Top Carnival Corp. executives are due back in court to explain what the world's largest cruise line is doing to reduce ocean pollution.

A hearing is set Wednesday in Miami federal court for an update on what steps Carnival is taking. Chairman Micky Arison, who also owns the Miami Heat, and CEO Arnold Donald are both expected to be there.

Earlier this year, Carnival admitted violating probation from a 2016 criminal pollution case as its ships continued to cause environmental harm around the world since then and was hit with a $20 million penalty. That comes on top of a $40 million fine imposed in the original case.

Carnival operates more than 100 ships across its nine cruise brands and sails to more than 700 destinations.


Japan court upholds sterilization to register gender change
Legal Career News | 2019/01/26 02:49
Human rights and LGBT activists on Friday denounced a ruling by Japan’s Supreme Court upholding a law that effectively requires transgender people to be sterilized before they can have their gender changed on official documents.

The court said the law is constitutional because it was meant to reduce confusion in families and society. But it acknowledged that it restricts freedom and could become out of step with changing social values.

The 2004 law states that people wishing to register a gender change must have their original reproductive organs, including testes or ovaries, removed and have a body that “appears to have parts that resemble the genital organs” of the gender they want to register.

More than 7,800 Japanese have had their genders changed officially, according to Justice Ministry statistics cited by public broadcaster NHK.

The unanimous decision by a four-judge panel, published Thursday, rejected an appeal by Takakito Usui, a transgender man who said forced sterilization violates the right to self-determination and is unconstitutional.

Usui, 45, had appealed to the top court after he unsuccessfully requested lower courts to grant him legal recognition as male without having his female reproductive glands surgically removed.

Despite the unanimous decision, presiding justice Mamoru Miura joined another justice in saying that while the law may not violate the constitution, “doubts are undeniably emerging,” according to Usui’s lawyer, Tomoyasu Oyama.

The two judges proposed regular reviews of the law and appropriate measures “from the viewpoint of respect for personality and individuality,” according to Japanese media reports.




Trump moves to limit asylum; new rules challenged in court
Legal Career News | 2018/11/09 18:43
President Donald Trump issued a proclamation Friday to deny asylum to migrants who enter the country illegally, tightening the border as caravans of Central Americans slowly approach the United States. The plan was immediately challenged in court.

Trump invoked the same powers he used last year to impose a travel ban that was upheld by the Supreme Court. The new regulations are intended to circumvent laws stating that anyone is eligible for asylum no matter how he or she enters the country. About 70,000 people per year who enter the country illegally claim asylum, officials said.

“We need people in our country, but they have to come in legally,” Trump said Friday as he departed for Paris.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other legal groups swiftly sued in federal court in Northern California to block the regulations, arguing the measures were illegal.

“The president is simply trying to run roughshod over Congress’s decision to provide asylum to those in danger regardless of the manner of one’s entry,” said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt.

The litigation also seeks to put the new rules on hold while the case progresses.

The regulations go into effect Saturday. They would be in place for at least three months but could be extended, and don’t affect people already in the country. The Justice Department said in a statement the regulations were lawful.

Trump’s announcement was the latest push to enforce a hard-line stance on immigration through regulatory changes and presidential orders, bypassing Congress, which has not passed any immigration law reform. But those efforts have been largely thwarted by legal challenges and, in the case of family separations this year, stymied by a global outcry that prompted Trump to retreat.


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