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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.


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.



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