Court affirms conviction in hot-grease injuries to wife
Legal Business | 2020/03/22 00:08
The Mississippi Supreme Court has affirmed the conviction of a man who injured his wife by dousing her with hot grease after she said she was planning to leave him.

Justices handed down a unanimous decision Thursday in the appeal of Kendall Woodson, 42, of Greenwood, the Greenwood Commonwealth reported.

“We cannot find any arguable issue for appeal or reversible error committed by the trial court,” Justice David Ishee wrote in upholding the conviction.

Woodson was convicted in 2017 of domestic aggravated assault and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He is in the Holmes/Humphreys County Correctional Facility in Lexington.

Woodson and his wife had been married for 20 years at the time of the assault. According to court records, Anita Woodson testified that she got home from work around 12:45 a.m. on Aug. 6, 2015. During an argument, she told her husband she was going to leave him the next day.

She fell asleep, then woke up when Kendall Woodson pulled her up by the hair, began beating her and poured hot cooking oil on her head, while threatening to kill her. Anita Woodson was severely burned and received a concussion.



Fight over jaguar habitat in Southwest heads back to court
Court News | 2020/03/20 07:08
A federal appeals court is ordering a U.S. district judge in New Mexico to reconsider a case involving a fight over critical habitat for the endangered jaguar in the American Southwest.

Groups representing ranchers had sued, arguing that a 2014 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to set aside thousands of acres for the cats was arbitrary and violated the statute that guides wildlife managers in determining whether certain areas are essential for the conservation of a species.

With the order released this week, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an earlier ruling that had sided with the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Jaguars are currently found in 19 countries. Several individual male jaguars have been spotted in Arizona and New Mexico over the last two decades but there's no evidence of breeding pairs establishing territories beyond northern Mexico.

Shrinking habitats, insufficient prey, poaching and retaliatory killings over livestock deaths are some of the things that have contributed to the jaguar’s decline in the Southwest over the past 150 years.

Under a recovery plan finalized last year, Mexico as well as countries in Central and South America would be primarily responsible for monitoring jaguar movements within their territory. Environmentalists have criticized the plan, saying the U.S. government is overlooking opportunities for recovery north of the international border.


New Mexico courts deem hunter information as public record
Attorney News | 2020/03/18 07:09
The New Mexico Game and Fish Department has been ordered to release information about hunters to individuals who sought the records as part of separate court cases.

A state district judge is ordering the agency to turn over the names and addresses of those who won big game draws between 2015 and 2019 to a Los Alamos County resident who had petitioned the court for the information.

In the second case, the state Court of Appeals said the email addresses of individuals who applied for hunting licenses between 2015 and 2016 must be turned over to former Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn.

The agency said Thursday that both courts concluded that information collected from the public in connection with the administration of the agency's public duties fall within the definition of public records and are subject to disclosure.

“The department argued against the release, but ultimately lost,” Game and Fish Director Michael Sloane said. “We value the privacy of our customers’ personal information but recognize that is the courts' interpretation of the current IPRA law.”

The department said it wanted to notify its customers that the information was being released and offered the number of the state attorney general's complaint hotline in case anyone is harassed by solicitors or others as a result of the disclosure.

In 2017, Dunn had requested the names and email addresses of more than 300,000 applicants for New Mexico hunting licenses. James Whitehead of Los Alamos had requested draw results, names and addresses of all successful applicants and units applied for and units drawn.



Australian highest court to rule on Cardinal’s appeal later
Legal Business | 2020/03/17 18:16
Australia’s highest court on Thursday said it will deliver a verdict at a later date on whether to overturn the convictions of the most senior Catholic to be found guilty of child sex abuse.

Cardinal George Pell’s lawyer, Bret Walker, told the High Court that if it found a lower court had made a mistake in upholding Pell’s convictions, he should be acquitted.

Prosecutor Kerri Judd told the seven judges that if there were a mistake, they should send the case back to the Victoria state Court of Appeal to hear it again.

Otherwise, the High Court should hear more evidence and decide itself whether the convictions against Pope Francis’ former finance minister should stand, Judd said.

Pell is one year into a six-year sentence after being convicted of molesting two 13-year-old choirboys in Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral while he was the city’s archbishop in the late 1990s.

The 78-year-old cleric’s two-day hearing that ended on Thursday could be his last chance of clearing his name.

Pell was largely convicted on the testimony of one of the choirboys, now in his 30s with a young family.

He first went to police in 2015 after the second victim died of a heroin overdose at the age of 31. Neither can be identified under state law.

Judd told the court on Thursday that the surviving victim’s detailed knowledge of the layout of the priests’ sacristy supported his accusation that the boys were molested there.


Neville keeps seat in crowded primary for Supreme Court
Court News | 2020/03/16 07:09
Illinois Supreme Court Justice P. Scott Neville Jr. has won the primary election to keep his seat on the state’s highest court, emerging from a field of a six other Democrats.

No Republicans ran, making him the presumed winner in November for the 10-year term.

Democrat Charles Freeman, who died earlier this month at 86, held the post from 1990 to 2018, when he retired. He was the court’s first black judge. Neville, who is black, was appointed to complete the term. He was formerly an Illinois First District Appellate Court justice,

“Illinois’ population is diverse, and our courts, at all levels, should reflect our diversity,” Neville said in a Wednesday statement. “I applaud Cook County’s voters because your votes indicate that you are committed to diversity.”

The other challengers included five 1st District appellate justices: Cynthia V. Cobbs, Shelly A. Harris, Nathaniel Roosevelt Howse, Margaret Stanton McBride and Jesse G. Reyes. Also running was former private-practice attorney Daniel Epstein.



Australia’s High Court hears what may be Pell’s last appeal
Legal Topics | 2020/03/13 18:38

The most senior Catholic to be convicted of child sex abuse took his appeal to Australia’s highest court Wednesday in potentially his last bid to clear his name.

Cardinal George Pell was sentenced a year ago to six years in prison for molesting two 13-year-old choirboys in Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral while he was the city’s archbishop in the late 1990s.

He was convicted by the unanimous verdict of a Victoria state County Court jury in December 2018 after a jury in an earlier trial was deadlocked.

A Victoria Court of Appeal rejected his appeal against his convictions in a 2-1 majority decision in August last year.

Pope Francis’ 78-year-old former finance minister is arguing before the High Court that the guilty verdicts were unreasonable and could not be supported by the whole of the evidence from more than 20 prosecution witnesses who include priests, altar servers and former choirboys.

Seven judges are hearing the case over two days.

Pell’s lawyer Bret Walker told the judges that there had been a “reversal of onus” in which Pell was expected to prove the offending didn’t happen instead of prosecutors proving the crimes were committed beyond reasonable doubt.

“That is a wrong question which sends the inquiry onto a terribly damaging wrong route,” Walker said.

Walker said the allegations that Pell had molested the two boys in a priests’ sacristy moments after a Mass could not be proved if the jury had accepted the evidence of sacristan Maxwell Potter and Monsignor Charles Portelli.

Potter had testified that the sacristy was kept locked during Masses and Portelli had given evidence that he was always with Pell while he was dressed in his archbishop’s robes.


International court approves Afghanistan investigation
Court Watch | 2020/03/12 01:38
International Criminal Court judges authorized a far-reaching investigation Thursday of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed by Afghan government forces, the Taliban, American troops and U.S. foreign intelligence operatives.

The appellate ruling marked the first time the court’s prosecutor has been cleared to investigate U.S. forces, and set the global tribunal on a collision course with the Trump administration.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda pledged to carry out an independent and impartial investigation and called for full support and cooperation from all parties.

“The many victims of atrocious crimes committed in the context of the conflict in Afghanistan deserve to finally have justice,” Bensouda said. “Today they are one step closer to that coveted outcome.”

Washington, which has long rejected the court’s jurisdiction and refuses to cooperate with it, condemned the decision while human rights groups and lawyers for victims applauded it.

A five-judge appellate panel upheld an appeal by prosecutors against a pretrial chamber’s rejection in April last year of Bensouda’s request to open a probe in Afghanistan.

While acknowledging that widespread crimes have been committed in Afghanistan, pretrial judges had said an investigation wouldn’t be in the interests of justice because the expected lack of cooperation meant convictions would ultimately be unlikely.



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