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NY court: Chimps don't have same rights as humans
Legal Career News | 2014/12/05 23:45
A chimpanzee is not entitled to the rights of a human and does not have to be freed by its owner, a New York appeals court ruled Thursday.

The three-judge Appellate Division panel was unanimous in denying "legal personhood" to Tommy, who lives alone in a cage in upstate Fulton County.

A trial level court had previously denied the Nonhuman Rights Project's effort to have Tommy released. The group's lawyer, Steven Wise, told the appeals court in October that the chimp's living conditions are akin to a person in unlawful solitary confinement.

Wise argued that animals with human qualities, such as chimps, deserve basic rights, including freedom from imprisonment. He has also sought the release of three other chimps in New York and said he plans similar cases in other states.

But the mid-level appeals court said there is neither precedent nor legal basis for treating animals as persons.


Writers object after UK court bans abuse memoir
Legal Career News | 2014/10/20 20:03
Prominent writers say free speech is under threat after a British court halted publication of a celebrity's memoir of child abuse because his ex-wife argued that it would harm their son.

Three appeals court judges last week temporarily stopped publication of the book, which has already been printed and was due to be published this fall.

They described the author as a "talented young performing artist" whose ex-wife lives abroad with their son.

She argued the book would cause "psychological harm" to the boy, who has Asperger's syndrome and other disabilities.

The judges granted an injunction stopping publication of key sections of the book pending a full trial.

On Friday writers including Tom Stoppard, David Hare and Stephen Fry called the ruling "a significant threat to freedom of expression."


Court: Broad protection for whistleblowers
Legal Career News | 2014/03/05 23:03
The Supreme Court says whistleblower protections in a federal law passed in response to the Enron financial scandal apply broadly to employees of publicly traded companies and contractors hired by the companies.

The justices ruled 6-3 Tuesday in favor of two former employees of companies that administer the Fidelity family of mutual funds. The workers claimed they faced retaliation after they reported allegations of fraud affecting Fidelity funds.

The case involved the reach of a provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, passed in 2002 in response to the Enron scandal, that protects whistleblower activity. The measure was intended to protect people who expose the kind of corporate misdeeds that arose at Enron.


Gov. Snyder signs jury duty, trampoline court laws
Legal Career News | 2014/02/20 23:57
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a law letting full-time college students postpone jury duty until the end of the school year.

The governor on Tuesday also approved rules for indoor trampoline parks where adults and kids can bounce around for a fee.

Snyder says jury duty is "an important part of our civil responsibility" but can be disruptive to college students' studies. A similar exemption already exists for high school students.

The other law requires trampoline courts to publicly display rules and inform customers of the activity's inherent dangers. Trampoliners also must adhere to rules specified in the law.

A trampoline user, spectator or operator who violates the law is liable for damages in civil lawsuits.


Supreme Court orders stay of execution
Legal Career News | 2014/01/30 23:37
The U.S. Supreme Court granted a temporary stay of execution for Missouri death row inmate Herbert Smulls on Tuesday night.

Justice Samuel Alito signed the order that was sent out after President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech, about two-and-a-half hours before Smulls was scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

Smulls' lawyer, Cheryl Pilate, had made last-minute pleas Tuesday to spare his life, focusing on the state's refusal to disclose from which compounding pharmacy they obtain the lethal-injection drug, pentobarbital. Missouri has argued the compounding pharmacy is part of the execution team _ and therefore its name cannot be released to the public.

Smulls, 56, was convicted and sentenced to death for killing a St. Louis County jeweler and badly injuring his wife during a 1991 robbery.

Pilate says the stay is temporary while the high court reviews the case, but she is hopeful the stay will become permanent.


Court suspends ban on a show by French comic
Legal Career News | 2014/01/10 23:50
A French court has suspended a ban the city of Nantes imposed to prevent a show on Thursday night by a comic whose performances are considered anti-Semitic.

But Interior Minister Manuel Valls said he would appeal the ruling to the Council of State, France's highest administrative authority, to combat the "mechanics of hate."

The Nantes performance of Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala would kick off a national tour by the comic, who has popularized the "quenelle" hand gesture, which Valls has criticized as an "inverted Nazi salute."

In its ruling, the court called the ban a grave attack on freedom of expression. Jacques Verdier, lawyer for Dieudonne celebrated the ruling, saying: "The show will go on tonight."

Dieudonne has been convicted more than a half-dozen times for inciting racial hatred or anti-Semitism.


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