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Kansas high court justices defend handling of capital cases
Legal Career News | 2016/11/01 22:23
Four Kansas Supreme Court justices facing a campaign to oust them in the Nov. 8 election say the court has decided capital murder cases on legal and constitutional issues while avoiding politics and emotion.

Past high court rulings overturning death sentences are at the center of the effort to remove Chief Justice Lawton Nuss and Justices Carol Beier, Dan Biles and Marla Luckert. They face statewide yes-or-no votes on whether they stay on the court for another six years.

The court's critics are particularly upset about July 2014 rulings overturning death sentences for Jonathan and Reginald Carr. The two brothers had faced lethal injection for shooting four people in December 2000 after forcing them to perform sex acts and robbing them. Among other things, the court concluded that fairness required the brothers to be sentenced separately.



Supreme Court rejects Whitey Bulger appeal
Legal Career News | 2016/10/03 19:16
The Supreme Court has turned away James "Whitey" Bulger's appeal of his racketeering convictions and life sentence.

The justices did not comment Monday in leaving in place Bulger's convictions for playing a role in 11 murders and many other crimes.

The 87-year-old Bulger was a fugitive for 17 years until his arrest in 2011. A jury convicted him in 2013.

Bulger argued that the judge at his trial should have let him tell the jury that a now-dead federal prosecutor had granted him immunity from prosecution. The judge said Bulger hadn't offered hard evidence that such an agreement existed.

Bulger also contended that federal prosecutors failed to disclose "promises, rewards and inducements" made to John Martorano, a hit man who testified against the Boston gangster at his trial.




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.



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