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Florida man back at Supreme Court with 1st Amendment case
U.S. Legal News | 2017/11/06 19:50
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a First Amendment case brought by a Florida man who previously won a landmark ruling from the justices on whether his floating home was a house, not a boat subject to easier government seizure under laws that govern ships and boats.

This time, the justices agreed to hear a case in which Fane Lozman sued after being charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest at a public meeting.

Lozman, 56, was never brought to trial on the charges — prosecutors dropped them after concluding there was no possibility of a conviction. Lozman then sued Riviera Beach, claiming his arrest at a 2006 city council meeting violated the First Amendment's free speech guarantee because it was in retaliation for opposing a marina redevelopment plan and accusing council members of corruption.

A jury sided with the city after a trial and an appeals court upheld that verdict. Lozman, however, took the case to the Supreme Court, arguing in part that U.S. appeals courts across the country are split on the issue of retaliatory arrest versus free speech.


Court asked to decide whether to limit electronics searches
U.S. Legal News | 2017/10/26 18:20
A federal appeals court is being asked to decide whether government agents can search cell phones and laptops at airports without a search warrant.

The American Civil Liberties Union argues that warrantless searches of personal information on electronic devices are unconstitutional, and that significant privacy interests are at stake.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond hears arguments Thursday in the case of a Turkish national convicted of trying to illegally smuggle weapons parts to Turkey.

Hamza Kolsuz was arrested at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia after agents found weapons parts in his luggage, and a judge denied his motion to suppress evidence found during a forensic search of his phone.



Washington Supreme Court to hear education funding case
U.S. Legal News | 2017/10/25 01:21
The Washington state Supreme Court is set to hear argument on whether the state has met its constitutional requirement to fully fund K-12 education.

Tuesday morning's hearing is on whether the state should still be held in contempt for lack of progress on satisfying a 2012 ruling that found that school funding was not adequate. Lawmakers needed a funded plan in place this year ahead of a Sept. 1, 2018 deadline the court had set.

The plan approved and signed by Gov. Jay Inslee earlier this year relies largely on an increase to the statewide property tax that starts next year. The tax increases from $1.89 to $2.70 per $1,000 of assessed value, with the increase earmarked for education. The plan — which keeps in place local property tax levies but caps them beginning in 2019 at a lower level— will ultimately raise property taxes for some districts and lower them in others.


Immigrant teen seeking abortion asks court to reconsider
U.S. Legal News | 2017/10/24 01:21
Attorneys for a pregnant teen being held in a Texas immigration facility are asking a federal appeals court to reconsider its decision not to order the government to let her obtain an abortion.

Lawyers for the 17-year-old on Sunday asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to hold another hearing before all the judges on the court.

A three-judge panel ruled against the teen Friday, giving the government until Oct. 31 to find a sponsor to take in the teen so she could get an abortion on her own.

Her lawyers have accused federal officials of unlawfully restricting the teen's rights. But the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says it has a policy of "refusing to facilitate" abortions for minors in its care.



Tennessee church shooting suspect due in court Monday
U.S. Legal News | 2017/10/23 01:22
The man accused of fatally shooting one person and wounding six others at a Tennessee church is slated for a court appearance.

A preliminary hearing for 25-year-old Emanuel Kidega Samson is scheduled for Monday morning in front of a Davidson County general sessions judge.

Samson is charged with murder in the Sept. 24 slaying of a woman at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Nashville. Additional charges are expected. He's being held without bond.

An arrest affidavit says Samson waived his rights and told police he arrived armed and fired at Burnette. Police haven't determined a motive.



Court weighing whether graffiti mecca was protected by law
U.S. Legal News | 2017/10/21 01:23
For two decades, Jerry Wolkoff let graffiti artists use his crumbling Queens warehouse complex as a canvas for their vibrant works. Artists gave the spot the name "5Pointz" — a place where all five New York City boroughs come together — but painters traveled from as far as Japan and Brazil to tag, bomb and burn at what became a graffiti mecca and a tourist destination.

But like most graffiti, it didn't last. Wolkoff whitewashed the building in 2013 then tore it down to build luxury apartment towers.

Four years later, some of the artists whose work was destroyed are in court, arguing that even though the building belonged to Wolkoff, the art was protected by federal law.

A trial that started Tuesday at a federal court in Brooklyn will determine whether the artists should be compensated for the lost work.

More than 20 artists sued Wolkoff under the Visual Artists Rights Act, or VARA, a 1990 federal statute that protects artists' rights even if someone else owns the physical artwork.

A trial that started Tuesday at a federal court in Brooklyn will determine whether the artists should be compensated for the lost work.

More than 20 artists sued Wolkoff under the Visual Artists Rights Act, or VARA, a 1990 federal statute that protects artists' rights even if someone else owns the physical artwork.

Barry Werbin, an attorney specializing in intellectual property, said the case is significant because no lawsuit under the statute has been tried by a jury before.


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