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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.




Cosby asks court to reseal testimony about affairs, drugs
Legal Career News | 2016/04/14 08:40
Bill Cosby's lawyers urged an appeals court Wednesday to reseal the comedian's lurid, decade-old testimony about his womanizing, but the panel of judges seemed to think the request was pointless, since the deposition has already made headlines around the world.

Members of the three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit of Appeals reeled off a list of "the toothpaste's out of the tube"-type metaphors to suggest that any damage to Cosby's reputation from the release of the testimony has already been done.

Cosby's attorneys hope a ruling in their favor could help them keep the documents from being used in the criminal case against him in Pennsylvania and in the many lawsuits filed around the country by women who accuse him of sexual assault or defamation.

But the judges questioned that strategy, too.

The other courts "don't have to necessarily follow us. We can't control them," Circuit Judge Thomas L. Ambro said.

Cosby gave the testimony in 2005 as part of a lawsuit brought against him by Andrea Constand, a Temple University employee who said he drugged and molested her at his home. She later settled for an undisclosed sum, and sensitive documents in the file remained sealed.

In the nearly 1,000-page deposition, the comic known as "America's Dad" admitted to several extramarital affairs and said he obtained quaaludes to give to women he hoped to seduce.

The documents were released last year on a request by The Associated Press. U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno found the public had a right to Cosby's testimony because of his role as a self-appointed "public moralist" and because he had denied accusations he drugged and molested women.



White S.C. trooper pleads guilty in shooting of unarmed black man
Legal Career News | 2016/03/20 05:13
A white South Carolina trooper pleaded guilty Monday to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature in the 2014 shooting an unarmed black driver seconds after a traffic stop.

Trooper Sean Groubert, 32, faces up to 20 years in prison. The shooting captured on dash-cam video from the trooper's patrol car shocked the country, coming during a wave of questionable police shootings.

Levar Jones was walking into a convenience store in September 2014 when Groubert got out of his patrol car and demanded Jones' driver's license.

Jones turned back to reach into his car and Groubert fired four shots. Jones' wallet is seen flying out of his hands.

Groubert's boss, state Public Safety Director Leroy Smith, fired Groubert after seeing the video.

Jones was shot in the hip and survived. He walked into the courtroom Monday with a noticeable limp and played with a Rubik's Cube before the hearing started.

Video of the encounter was played in the courtroom and showed Groubert pulling up to Jones without his siren on, and the trooper asking Jones for his license after he also was out of his car.

As Jones turns and reaches back into his car, Groubert shouts, "Get outta the car, get outta the car." He begins firing and unloads a third shot as Jones staggers away, backing up with his hands raised, and then a fourth.

From the first shot to the fourth, the video clicks off three seconds.



Chief justice remembers Scalia's 'irrepressible spirit'
Legal Career News | 2016/02/22 22:51
Chief Justice John Roberts on Monday remembered the late Justice Antonin Scalia as a friend and colleague of "irrepressible spirit" as the Supreme Court resumed work for the first time since Scalia's death.

"He was our man for all seasons and we will miss him beyond measure," Roberts said in brief remarks after the court's eight remaining justices took the bench.

Roberts recounted Scalia's humble roots in New Jersey, his graduation at the top of his class at Georgetown University and his stellar performance at Harvard Law School. As a top attorney at the Justice Department, Roberts said Scalia argued his first and only case before the Supreme Court in 1976.

"He prevailed, establishing a perfect record before the court," Roberts said to laughter.

Scalia became the 103rd justice confirmed to the high court in 1986, Roberts noted, and wrote 292 majority opinions for the court.

"He was also known on occasion to dissent," Roberts said to more laughter.

The high court is resuming work just two days after the justices and thousands of dignitaries, friends and family mourned his loss at a funeral Mass in Washington.

The void created by Scalia's death was visible on Monday. His chair, in its usual place to the right of Roberts, was draped in black wool crepe, which will remain until next month.

Only in late March do the justices plan to switch seats in line with their seniority on the court. Justice Anthony Kennedy is now the longest-serving member of the court, with 28 years of experience.

President Barack Obama has vowed to nominate a candidate to take Scalia's seat, but Senate Republicans, backed by their party's presidential contenders, have pledged to block anyone Obama puts forward. Republicans have said the choice should await the next president.

Scalia's sharp questioning of lawyers transformed arguments into lively sessions in which the justices sometimes seemed to be talking to each other, rather than to the lawyers arguing before them.


Man recounts harrowing Uber ride with Kalamazoo suspect
Legal Career News | 2016/02/21 22:52
An Uber passenger says he called the police to report an erratic driver more than an hour before authorities allege the driver began shooting people at random, killing six and wounding two others before being arrested.

Matt Mellen told WWMT-TV in Kalamazoo that Jason Dalton picked him up at around 4:30 p.m. Saturday. He said Dalton introduced himself as "Me-Me" and that he sat in front, since Dalton had his dog in the backseat.

Mellen said about a mile into the trip, Dalton got a phone call and that when he hung up, he began driving erratically, blowing through stop signs and sideswiping cars.

"We were driving through medians, driving through the lawn, speeding along and when we came to a stop, I jumped out of the car and ran away," said Mellen. He said he called the police and that when he got to his friend's house, his fiancée posted a warning to friends on Facebook.

Authorities allege that Dalton shot the first victim outside of an apartment complex shortly before 6 p.m. and that he shot seven others over the next several hours. Dalton, 45, was arrested without incident early Sunday morning after a deputy spotted his vehicle driving through downtown Kalamazoo after leaving a bar parking lot.


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