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Rome court acquits ex-Vatican accountant of corruption
Legal Career News | 2016/01/18 19:50
A lawyer for an Italian monsignor who was fired from his Vatican accountant's job says a Rome court has acquitted his client of corruption.

Prosecutors alleged Monsignor Nunzio Scarano was involved in a purported plot to use a private plane to try to smuggle 20 million euros (about $22 million) from Switzerland into Italy to evade taxes. They suspected the money was deposited in Switzerland to avoid Italian taxes.

Defense lawyer Silverio Sica says Scarano was acquitted of the corruption charge on Monday. According to Sica, the court convicted Scarano of slander and gave him a suspended two-year sentence.

Separately, Scarano is on trial in Salerno, Italy, for allegedly using his Vatican bank accounts to launder money. Italian prosecutors said the once highly-secretive Vatican bank amply cooperated in that case.


Panama high court OKs corruption probe of ex-president
Legal Career News | 2015/01/30 21:06
Panama's Supreme Court voted Wednesday to open a corruption probe against former President Ricardo Martinelli, a move likely to rally popular support in a nation where the politically powerful rarely face justice for misdeeds.

A statement from the court said all nine judges voted to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Martinelli over allegations he inflated contracts worth $45 million to purchase dehydrated food for a government social program.

The accusation is based on the testimony of a political ally, Giacomo Tamburelli, the former head of the National Assistance Program who has said he was taking orders from the then president to inflate contracts. He is now under house arrest.

Martinelli, a billionaire supermarket magnate, has denied the charges and says he is the target of political persecution by his successor, Juan Carlos Varela, who broke with the government in 2011 while serving as Martinelli's vice president and foreign minister.


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.


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