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Court agrees to take on US-Microsoft dispute over emails
U.S. Legal News | 2017/10/14 01:24
The Supreme Court agreed Monday to take on a major dispute over the government's authority to force American technology companies to hand over emails and other digital information sought in criminal probes but stored outside the U.S.

The justices intervened in a case of a federal drug trafficking investigation that sought emails that Microsoft keeps on a server in Ireland. The federal appeals court in New York said that the emails are beyond the reach of a search warrant issued by an American judge.

The Trump administration and 33 states told the court that the decision is impeding investigations into terrorism, drug trafficking, fraud and child pornography because other courts are relying on the ruling in preventing U.S. and state authorities from obtaining information kept abroad.

The case is among several legal clashes that Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft and other technology companies have had with the government over questions of digital privacy and authorities' need for information to combat crime and extremism.

Privacy law experts say the companies have been more willing to push back against the government since the leak of classified information detailing America's surveillance programs.

The case also highlights the difficulty that judges face in trying to square decades-old laws with new technological developments. In urging the high court to stay out of the case, Microsoft said Congress needs to bring the law into the age of cloud computing.

In 2013, federal investigators obtained a warrant under a 1986 law for emails from an account they believe was being used in illegal drug transactions as well as identifying information about the user of the email account.



Court: Movie theaters must accommodate deaf-blind patrons
U.S. Legal News | 2017/10/05 23:51
Federal disability law requires movie theaters to provide specialized interpreters to patrons who are deaf and blind, an appeals court said Friday.

The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Cinemark, the nation's third-largest movie chain, in a case involving a Pennsylvania man who wanted to see the 2014 movie "Gone Girl" and asked a Cinemark theater in Pittsburgh to supply a "tactile interpreter." The theater denied his request.

The plaintiff, Paul McGann, is a movie enthusiast who reads American Sign Language through touch. He uses a method of tactile interpretation that involves placing his hands over the hands of an interpreter who uses sign language to describe the movie's action, dialogue and even the audience response.

The federal appeals court concluded Friday that tactile interpreters are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires that public accommodations furnish "auxiliary aids and services" to patrons with vision, hearing and speech disabilities.


Court sides with board to keep fracking ban issue off ballot
U.S. Legal News | 2017/10/04 23:51
The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld a county elections board’s decision to reject another ballot measure that would have allowed Youngstown voters to ban the natural gas drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing in their city.
   
The Supreme Court agreed with the elections board in a 4-3 decision issued Friday.
   
Youngstown voters have previously voted down a proposed ban on fracking and fracking-related activities six times.
   
The Mahoning County Board of Elections last month rejected an attempt by fracking opponents to get a proposed charter amendment on the ballot this fall.
   
The Vindicator has reported that the board cited a new state law that says elections boards must invalidate initiative petitions if they seek to change laws that fall outside a local government’s authority to enact them.



Court sides with teacher fired for sex with 18-year-old
U.S. Legal News | 2017/09/13 23:51
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has upheld a decision that would allow a teacher fired for having sex with an 18-year-old on her graduation night to return to teaching.

The Lebanon Daily News reports the court ruled against the Cornwall-Lebanon School District, which fired social studies teacher Luke "Todd" Scipioni in 2014 after learning details of the sexual relationship that occurred a decade earlier.

An arbitrator said there was no accusation of a sexual relationship prior to the student's graduation and Scipioni was not culpable for any relationship that occurred after that.

The arbitrator said Scipioni should be reinstated after a one-year suspension for not being truthful. A lower court reversed the arbitrator but was overruled by an appeals court. The supreme court upheld the appeals court's decision.


Challenge to $225M Exxon settlement to be heard in court
U.S. Legal News | 2017/09/11 01:12
Environmental groups arguing New Jersey's $225 million settlement with Exxon Mobil short-changed taxpayers are getting their day in appeals court.

The Appellate Court is set to hear arguments on Monday in Trenton.

New Jersey sued Exxon Mobil for natural resources damages at sites across the state in 2004.

A New Jersey judge approved the deal between Republican Gov. Chris Christie's administration and the petroleum company in 2015.

The idea was to hold the company responsible for cleaning up polluted areas, including two oil refineries in Bayonne and Linden and other sites and retail gas stations and to compensate the public for the alleged harm to groundwater and other resources.

Environmental groups say the state settled for pennies on the dollar after earlier estimating the cost at $8.9 billion.



France: Court finds topless photos violated royal’s privacy
U.S. Legal News | 2017/09/04 01:15
A French court ruled Tuesday that photographers and gossip magazine executives violated the privacy of Britain’s Duchess of Cambridge by taking and publishing photographs of the former Kate Middleton sunbathing topless.

The court in a Paris suburb fined two executives of French gossip magazine Closer — owner Ernesto Mauri and executive editor Laurence Pieau — each the maximum of 45,000 euros ($53,500) for such an offense.

The Closer executives, along with two photographers for a celebrity photo agency, were collectively ordered to pay 50,000 euros ($59,500) in damages to Kate and the same amount to her husband, Prince William.

The damage award was substantially below the figure that the magazine’s lawyer said the royals had requested, but the timing of the court’s finding of privacy invasion had particular resonance in Britain.

Last week marked the 20th anniversary of the death of William’s mother, Princess Diana, who was killed in a Paris car accident that occurred while she was being pursued by paparazzi.

The royal couple did not attend the hearing where the verdict was announced. Their office at Kensington Palace said they were pleased the court ruled in their favor and now consider the matter closed.

Kate and William “wished to make the point strongly that this kind of unjustified intrusion should not happen,” the palace said in a statement.



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