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Democrats sue to overturn new Kansas congressional districts
Lawyer Blog News | 2022/02/14 14:04
Democrats sued Kansas officials on Monday over a Republican redistricting law that costs the state’s only Democrat in Congress some of the territory in her Kansas City-area district that she carries by wide margins in elections.

A team of attorneys led by Democratic attorney Marc Elias’ firm filed the lawsuit in Wyandotte County District Court in the Kansas City area. Elias has been involved in lawsuits in multiple states, including Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio, and he promised that the new Kansas map would be challenged when the GOP-controlled Legislature on Wednesday overrode Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of it.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of five voters and a Kansas voting-rights group, Loud Light. The defendants are the elections commissioner for Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab, the state’s top elections official.

Kansas is part of a broader national battle over redrawing congressional districts. Republicans hope to recapture a U.S. House majority in this year’s elections, and both parties are watching states’ redistricting efforts because they could help either pick up or defend individual seats.

The Kansas redistricting law removes the northern part of Kansas City, Kansas, from the 3rd District that U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids represents and puts it in the neighboring 2nd District, which includes the state capital of Topeka but also rural communities across eastern Kansas. Kansas City is among Republican-leaning Kansas’ few Democratic strongholds.

Elias has said the GOP map for Kansas is “blatantly unconstitutional.” Democrats argued that it amounts to partisan gerrymandering aimed at costing Davids’ her seat, while diluting the clout of Black and Hispanic voters by cutting their numbers in her district. They also have argued that the map is unacceptable because it fails to keep the core of the state’s side of the Kansas City area in a single district.


Temple prof seeks reinstatement of damage claims against FBI
Lawyer Blog News | 2022/02/10 10:32
A Temple University physics professor who was charged with sharing scientific technology with China only for the case to collapse before trial and be dismissed by the Justice Department asked a federal appeals court on Monday to reinstate his clams for damages against the U.S. government.

Lawyers for Xiaoxing Xi and his wife say in a brief filed Monday with a Philadelphia-based appeals court that a judge erred last year when he dismissed most of the claims in their federal lawsuit. They assert that the FBI agent who led the investigation “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly” made false statements and misrepresented evidence so that prosecutors could get an indictment.

“When law enforcement agents abuse the legal process by obtaining indictments and search warrants based on misrepresentations or by fabricating evidence, it undermines the legitimacy of the courts,” Xi’s legal team, which includes lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote in the brief.


Moats named to temporary seat on West Virginia Supreme Court
U.S. Legal News | 2022/02/07 18:51
A circuit judge has been appointed to a temporary seat on the West Virginia Supreme Court after the resignation of Justice Evan Jenkins.

Chief Justice John Hutchison on Monday appointed Alan D. Moats to the high court. Moats has served in the judicial circuit covering Barbour and Taylor counties since 1997.

Moats will serve on the Supreme Court until Gov. Jim Justice appoints someone to the seat. That person then would serve until a election can be held for the remainder of Jenkins’ term through 2024.

Jenkins announced Friday that he is resigning to return to private law practice.

Jenkins was appointed and then elected to the seat of retired Justice Robin Davis following the Supreme Court’s 2018 impeachment scandal.


Suits target New Orleans virus rules, some affect Mardi Gras
Court Feed News | 2022/02/05 06:21
More than 100 people have joined a lawsuit against New Orleans’ mayor and health director over COVID-19 restrictions that recently were extended to parade and other participants on Mardi Gras and during the season leading up to it.

The lawsuit against Mayor LaToya Cantrell and health director Jennifer Avegno targets mask and vaccination mandates, news outlets reported.

It was filed Monday in state court by Alexandria attorney Jimmy Faircloth, who has lost federal court challenges to restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocates noted.

“Traditionally, we do not comment on active or pending litigation,” City Hall spokesman Beau Tidwell said during a news conference Tuesday. “However, in this case I think it’s worth noting that the guidelines that we put in place saved lives, full stop. The vaccine mandate and the mask requirements are going to remain in place throughout Mardi Gras.”

Fat Tuesday will be March 1 this year. The 2020 festival was later recognized as a super spreader that turned New Orleans into an early pandemic hot spot. Last season, parades were canceled and bars were shuttered in the city.

This year, masks are required in bars, restaurants and other public spaces. And children as young as 5 must show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test for the virus to get into indoor public areas.

The new lawsuit accuses Cantrell and Avegno, who often have gone beyond state restrictions, of taking “authoritarian actions under the pretext of an emergency without end,” the newspaper reported.

The plaintiffs, mostly from New Orleans and neighboring Jefferson Parish, want Judge Robin Giarrusso to halt the requirements while the lawsuit is in court.


US sanctions Myanmar judiciary officials on coup anniversary
Court Feed News | 2022/01/31 20:22
The Biden administration on Monday slapped sanctions on top members of Myanmar’s judiciary and one of its main revenue-producing ports over rights abuses since last year’s coup.

The sanctions on the country’s attorney general, supreme court chief justice and others were announced by the Treasury and State Departments to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the February 2021 coup, which replaced a civilian-led government with a military regime.

The penalties freeze any assets that those targeted may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them and are to be complemented by similar measures from Britain and Canada.

“One year after the coup, the United States, along with allies in the United Kingdom and Canada, stands with the people of Burma as they seek freedom and democracy,” Treasury said in a statement using the country’s alternate name. “We will continue to target those responsible for the coup and ongoing violence, enablers of the regime’s brutal repression, and their financial supporters.”

Among the judiciary, the new sanctions apply to Attorney General Thida Oo, Supreme Court chief justice Tun Tun Oo, and Tin Oo, the chairman of the Myanmar’s anti-corruption commission. The sanctions also hit the KT Services and Logistics Company, which operates a major port in Myanmar’s economic hub of Yangon, and its CEO as well as the procurement department of the country’s defense ministry.

“The United States will continue to work with our international partners to address human rights abuses and press the regime to cease the violence, release all those unjustly detained, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and restore Burma’s path to democracy,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.


Palin COVID-19 tests delay libel trial against NY Times
Lawyer Blog News | 2022/01/26 00:08
An unvaccinated former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin tested positive for COVID-19 Monday, forcing a postponement of a trial in her libel lawsuit against The New York Times.

The Republican’s positive test was announced in court just as jury selection was set to begin at a federal courthouse in New York City.

Palin claims the Times damaged her reputation with an opinion piece penned by its editorial board that falsely asserted her political rhetoric helped incite the 2011 shooting of then-Arizona U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords. The newspaper has conceded the initial wording of the editorial was flawed, but not in an intentional or reckless way that made it libelous.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff said the trial can begin Feb. 3 if Palin, 57, has recovered by then.

Palin, a one-time Republican vice presidential nominee, has had COVID-19 before. She’s urged people not to get vaccinated, telling an audience in Arizona last month that “it will be over my dead body that I’ll have to get a shot.”

When he first announced that Palin had gotten a positive result from an at-home test, Rakoff said: “She is, of course, unvaccinated.”

Additional tests in the morning also came out positive, Palin’s lawyer told the court.

“Since she has tested positive three times, I’m going to assume she’s positive,” the judge said.

Rakoff said that courthouse rules would permit her to return to court Feb. 3, even if she still tests positive, as long as she has no symptoms. If she does have symptoms, she can be looked at on Feb. 2 by a doctor who provides services to the courts, he said.

On Saturday, Shawn McCreesh, a features writer for New York Magazine tweeted that Palin was seen at Elio’s restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and he quipped in a follow-up tweet: “My mom thought she was Tina Fey.” Fey was widely praised for her portrayal of Palin on Saturday Night Live when Palin was campaigning for vice president in 2008.

Luca Guaitolini, a restaurant manager, confirmed she had slipped through vaccination checks and dined at the restaurant known for attracting famous customers in violation of the city’s rule that restaurant guests must prove vaccination to be served. He said the restaurant was not making further statements.


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