Wikileaks founder Julian Assange loses bid to delay hearing
Attorney News | 2019/10/21 20:59
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared in a U.K. court Monday to fight extradition to the United States on espionage charges, and he lost a bid to delay proceedings so that his legal team would have more time to prepare his case.

Assange defiantly raised a fist to supporters who jammed the public gallery in Westminster Magistrates Court for a rare view of their hero. He appears to have lost weight but looked healthy, although he spoke very softly and at times seemed despondent and confused.

Assange and his legal team failed to convince District Judge Vanessa Baraitser that a delay in the already slow-moving case was justified. The full extradition is still set for a five-day hearing in late February, with brief interim hearings in November and December.

Assange hadn’t been seen in public for several months and his supporters had raised concerns about his well-being. He wore a blue sweater and a blue sports suit for the hearing, and had his silvery-gray hair slicked back.

After the judge turned down his bid for a three-month delay, Assange said in halting tones he didn’t understand the events in court.

He said the case is not “equitable” because the U.S. government has “unlimited resources” while he doesn’t have easy access to his lawyers or to documents needed to prepare his battle against extradition while he is confined to Belmarsh Prison on the outskirts of London.

U.S. authorities accuse Assange of scheming with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to break a password for a classified government computer.

Lawyer Mark Summers, representing Assange, told the judge that more time was needed to prepare Assange’s defense because the case has many facets, including the very rare use of espionage charges against a journalist, and will require a “mammoth” amount of planning and preparation

“Our case will be that this is a political attempt to signal to journalists the consequences of publishing information. It is legally unprecedented,” he said.

He also accused the U.S. of illegally spying on Assange while he was inside the Ecuadorian Embassy seeking refuge and taking other illegal actions against the WikiLeaks founder.


The Latest: EU Parliament to be flexible on ratifying Brexit
Legal Business | 2019/10/20 04:00
An influential Brexit expert at the European Parliament says the legislature might even meet in an extraordinary plenary next week if that is what is needed to push the Brexit deal through.

The EU parliament is awaiting approval for the Brexit deal in the House of Commons, which could come in the next hours or days. After that, the EU could move speedily.

Greens lawmaker Philippe Lamberts said Monday that "we could ratify next week, if not this one."

He added the Brexit deal could also spill into November, beyond the current Oct. 31 deadline for Britain to leave the EU.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already asked for a Brexit extension even though he is still trying to get out of the EU by the end of the month.




Supreme Court takes up case over quick deportations
Legal Business | 2019/10/18 04:00
The Supreme Court will review a lower court ruling in favor of a man seeking asylum and which the Trump administration says could further clog the U.S. immigration court system.

The justices said Friday they will hear the administration's appeal of a ruling by the federal appeals court in San Francisco that blocked the quick deportation of a man from Sri Lanka.

The high court's decision should come by early summer in the middle of the presidential campaign. It could have major implications for those seeking asylum and administration efforts to speed up deportations for many who enter the U.S. and claim they'll be harmed if they are sent home.

The court's intervention comes in the case of Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam. He is a member of the Tamil ethnic minority who says he was jailed and tortured for political activity during the civil war between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

He fled the country in 2016, after he was tortured again by intelligence officers, he said in court papers. He crossed the U.S.-Mexico border on Feb. 17, 2017 where he was arrested by a Border Patrol agent 25 yards into the U.S.

He requested asylum. But he did not pass his initial screening, a "credible fear" interview where he had to show a well-founded fear of persecution, torture or death if he were to return to his home country. Nearly 90 percent of all asylum seekers pass their initial interview, and then are generally released into the country where they await court proceedings.



In or out? Court case on job bias casts pall on LGBT fests
Court News | 2019/10/14 02:57
National Coming Out Day festivities were tempered this year by anxiety that some LGBT folk may have to go back into the closet so they can make a living, depending on what the Supreme Court decides about workplace discrimination law.

But the mere fact that words like “transgender” are being uttered before the nation’s highest court gives some supporters of LGBT workplace rights hope that the pendulum will swing in their favor.

“I want all members of our community to feel supported by the government, and often for a lot of us and a lot of friends of mine, it’s the first time that they feel represented,” said Jessica Goldberg, a bisexual senior at the University of Colorado Denver.

Still, for many, the arguments showed the continuing relevance of National Coming Out Day, first observed in 1988 and marked every Oct. 11, though observances happen over several days. That includes Philadelphia’s annual OutFest, held Sunday this year and billed as the largest National Coming Out Day event.



Arkansas judge: Court to hear 19 adoption scheme cases
Legal Business | 2019/10/13 09:56
An Arkansas judge says his court will decide individual outcomes in 19 adoption cases involving an Arizona official accused of human smuggling.

Paul Petersen, a Republican assessor of an Arizona county, was arrested Tuesday and charged with human smuggling, sale of a child, fraud, forgery and conspiracy to commit money laundering in Utah, Arizona and Arkansas.

Prosecutors say 44-year-old Petersen paid thousands of dollars to pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to travel to the U.S. and give birth for adoption.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that Washington County Circuit Court Judge Doug Martin ordered Friday that statewide adoption cases against Petersen will be decided in his court. Petersen's attorney said Tuesday that his client's actions are "proper business practices."


Analysis: Louisiana figures in 2 major Supreme Court cases
Court Watch | 2019/10/12 09:57
Among cases on the U.S. Supreme Court docket for the term that began this month, two Louisiana cases stand out — one because of its implications for criminal justice in the state, the other because of what it portends for abortion rights and access nationwide.

And, both, in part, because they deal with matters that, on the surface, might appear to have been settled.

Yes, voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring unanimous jury verdicts in felony cases — following Pulitzer Prize winning reporting by The Advocate on the racial impacts of allowing 10-2 verdicts. But sometimes lost amid celebrations of the measure’s passage is its effective date: it applies to crimes that happened on or after Jan. 1 of this year.

No help to people like Evangelisto Ramos, who was convicted on a 10-2 jury vote in 2016 of second-degree murder in the killing of a woman in New Orleans. Ramos is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole.


Alaska Supreme Court to Hear Youths’ Climate Change Lawsuit
Legal Topics | 2019/10/09 17:48
The Alaska Supreme Court will hear arguments in a lawsuit that claims state policy on fossil fuels is harming the constitutional right of young Alaskans to a safe climate.

Sixteen Alaska youths in 2017 sued the state, claiming that human-caused greenhouse gas emission leading to climate change is creating long-term, dangerous health effects.

The lawsuit takes aim at a state statute that says it’s the policy of Alaska to promote fossil fuels, said Andrew Welle of Oregon-based Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting natural systems for present and future generations.

“The state has enacted a policy of promoting fossil fuels and implemented it in a way that is resulting in substantial greenhouse gas emissions in Alaska,” Welle said in a phone interview. “They’re harming these young kids.”

A central question in the lawsuit, as in previous federal and state lawsuits, is the role of courts in shaping climate policy.


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