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Bosnian Serbs vote in referendum banned by top court
Legal Career News | 2016/09/24 05:03
Bosnian Serbs on Sunday voted in a referendum banned by the country's constitutional court, risking Western sanctions against their autonomous region and criminal charges against their leaders.

The vote was whether to keep Jan. 9 as a holiday in Republika Srpska, commemorating the day in 1992 that Bosnian Serbs declared the creation of their own state, igniting the ruinous 1992-95 war. It comes despite the top court's ruling that the date, which falls on a Serb Christian Orthodox religious holiday, discriminates against Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats in Bosnia.

Authorities said turnout was between 56 and 60 percent. Preliminary results after 30.76 percent of the ballots were counted say 99.8 percent of the voters were in favor of the holiday.

The vote has raised tensions and fears of renewed fighting as Bosniaks and Croats see the referendum as an attempt to elevate the Serb region above the country's constitutional court. It is also a test for a more serious referendum that Bosnian Serb leaders have announced for 2018 — one on independence from Bosnia.


Court rejects challenge to Michigan's emergency manager law
Legal Career News | 2016/09/13 22:15
An appeals court on Monday rejected a challenge to Michigan's emergency manager law, saying Gov. Rick Snyder's remedy for distressed communities doesn't violate the constitutional rights of residents.

Emergency managers have exceptional power to run city halls and school districts, while elected officials typically are pushed aside for 18 months or more while finances are fixed. The most significant use of emergency management occurred in Detroit, where Snyder appointed bankruptcy expert Kevyn Orr in 2013. Orr seved for two years.

Critics who sued argued that the law violated a variety of rights — free speech, voting, even protections against slavery — especially in cities with large black populations.

The law might not be the "perfect remedy" but it's "rationally related" to turning around local governments, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in a 3-0 decision.

"The emergency manager's powers may be vast, but so are the problems in financially distressed localities, and the elected officials of those localities are most often the ones who ... led the localities into their difficult situations," the court said in upholding a decision by U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh.



Thai military court adds to singer's jail term for insults
Legal Career News | 2016/07/10 17:25
A Thai country singer and political activist was sentenced Monday by a military court to more than three years in jail for insulting the monarchy, adding to a 7½-year sentence a criminal court imposed on him earlier for the same offense.

Thanat Thanawatcharanon, known by his stage name Tom Dundee, was convicted and sentenced under Article 112, which makes criticism of the monarchy and the king punishable with up to 15 years in jail. The lese majeste law has been used prodigiously by the military government that came to power in a May 2014 coup.

Thanat got into trouble because of the speeches he made in 2013 at a rally organized by the so-called Red Shirts, who are supporters of a charismatic prime minister ousted in an earlier military coup supported by the Yellow Shirt royalists.

The case in criminal court followed complaints by a Yellow Shirt group. The second case involving the same speeches was transferred to a military court after the 2014 coup.

Thanat's lawyer Saowalux Po-Ngam said his client was sentenced to five years in jail for the second case, but the time was reduced to three years and four months because he confessed.


High court rejects Google's appeal in class action lawsuit
Legal Career News | 2016/06/06 15:49
The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from Google over a class action lawsuit filed by advertisers who claim the internet company displayed their ads on "low quality" web sites.
 
The justices on Monday let stand a lower court ruling that said the lawsuit representing hundreds of thousands of advertisers using Google's AdWords program could go forward.

Google argued that a federal appeals court in San Francisco should not have approved the class action because damages must be calculated individually for each company advertiser. The appeals court rejected that argument and approved use of a formula that would calculate harm based on the average advertiser's experience.

Google runs what is by far the world's largest digital ad network. It generated $67 billion in revenue last year.



Indiana court to hear woman's appeal of feticide conviction
Legal Career News | 2016/05/23 06:11
Attorneys for an Indiana woman found guilty of killing the premature infant she delivered after ingesting abortion-inducing drugs will ask an appeals court Monday to throw out the convictions that led to her 20-year prison sentence.

At issue is Indiana's feticide statute, which the defense says was "passed to protect pregnant women from violence" that could harm their developing fetus, not to prosecute women for their own abortions. The state says that law "is not limited to third-party actors" and can apply to pregnant women.

Attorneys for 35-year-old Purvi Patel will urge the Indiana Court of Appeals to reverse her 2015 convictions on charges of feticide and neglect of a dependent resulting in death. The state's attorney general's office will defend the northern Indiana jury's decision.

Patel, of Granger, was arrested in July 2013 after she sought treatment at a local hospital for profuse bleeding after delivering a 1½-pound infant boy and putting his body in a trash bin behind her family's restaurant. Court records show Patel purchased abortion-inducing drugs online through a pharmacy in Hong Kong, took those drugs and delivered a premature baby in her home bathroom.



Court in Russia-annexed Crimea bans Tatar assembly
Legal Career News | 2016/05/03 05:23
The Supreme Court in the Russia-annexed peninsula Crimea on Tuesday banned a Crimean Tatar group in the latest step to marginalize the minority.

Crimea's prosecutor Natalya Poklonskaya who personally lodged the lawsuit welcomed the ruling against the Mejlis, an assembly of Tatar community leaders.

"This decision aims to ensure stability, peace and order in the Russian Federation," she told Russian news agencies after the hearing.

Crimean Tatars, who suffered a mass deportation at the hands of Soviet authorities in 1944, seemed to be the only organized force within Crimea to oppose Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula in 2014. Tuesday's ban follows months of persecution, expulsions and jailing of prominent Tatar leaders as well as rank-and-file protesters.

Six people are now on trial in the city Simferopol on charges of rioting dating back to fist fights between rival rallies of a pro-Russian party and Crimean Tatars on Feb. 26, 2014 which preceded the hastily called referendum to secede from Ukraine. Not a single pro-Russian protester has faced charges.

Russia's Justice Ministry earlier this month ruled the Mejlis was an extremist group, paving the way for the outright ban of the group that represents up to 15 percent of the Crimean population.




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