Bolivians urge US court to restore $10M verdict on killings
Court News | 2019/11/20 03:29
Bolivians asked a U.S. appeals court Tuesday to restore a $10 million jury verdict against a former president and defense minister of the South American nation over killings by security forces during 2003 unrest there.

Lawyers for a group of indigenous Bolivians told a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that a Florida judge was wrong to set aside last year's verdict.

The jury found against former Bolivian President Gonzalo "Goni" Sanchez de Lozada and former defense minister, Jose Carlos Sanchez Berzain. Both have been living in the U.S. after fleeing Bolivia in 2003.

We have faith that the court of appeals will see what the Bolivian people and the American jury also saw: that Goni and Sánchez Berzaín are responsible for these killings, and that justice must be done," said Teófilo Baltazar Cerro, a plaintiff whose pregnant wife Teodosia was shot and killed during the unrest.



Ohio Supreme Court keeps camera challenge alive
Legal Topics | 2019/11/20 03:28
Ohio’s Supreme Court has rejected Toledo’s motion to dismiss a challenge to how the city handles appeals of citations related to camera-captured traffic violations.

The high court recently rejected the motion to dismiss a challenge by Susan Magsig, of Woodville.

The Toledo Blade reports  Magsig received a citation alleging a camera held by a police officer caught her vehicle traveling 75 mph in a 60 mph-zone. Magsig argues Toledo violates state law by considering such appeals through an administrative hearing rather than through municipal court.

The city argues the case shouldn’t continue because a lower court’s preliminary ruling prevents enforcement of a state law giving local courts jurisdiction over all traffic violations. Magsig’s attorney says she isn’t bound by that ruling involving a legal dispute between the city and state.


Challenger accuses Supreme Court’s Kelly of corruption
Court Watch | 2019/11/17 11:30
Wisconsin Supreme Court challenger Jill Karofsky suggested Tuesday that Justice Daniel Kelly is corrupt because he repeatedly rules in favor of conservative groups, saying it makes no sense that the law could be on their side all the time.

Karofsky made the remarks at the candidates’ first debate. Karofsky and Kelly used the opportunity to paint each other as partisan and the third candidate, Ed Fallone, struggling to get a word in during their exchanges.

Kelly is part of the high court’s five-justice conservative majority. Karofsky went right at him as soon as the debate began, saying it’s “amazing” that a justice is being supported by right-wing special interest groups. Twice she implied that Kelly is corrupt, questioning why he repeatedly rules in conservative groups’ favor.

“What voters see is that you get support from special interests. You ignore the rule of law and you find in favor of those special interests over and over and over again, and that feels like corruption to people in the state of Wisconsin,” Karofsky said.

Kelly shot back that Karofsky scores the outcome of cases through a political lens. He said he applies the law fairly and uses hard logic to reach his decisions.


EU court refers doubts on Polish judiciary to national court
Legal Business | 2019/11/16 11:32
The European Union's top court ruled Tuesday that there are reasons to question the independence of a new judicial chamber in Poland that monitors and potentially punishes judges.

However, the European Court of Justice left it to Poland's highest court to determine whether the new Disciplinary Chamber is independent of influence from the nations' legislative and executive powers.

In Poland, both sides of the heated dispute around the ruling party's controversial changes to the country's judiciary declared victory upon hearing the verdict.

The head of the Supreme Court, Malgorzata Gersdorf, said the EU court clearly shared concerns over the new chamber, which is part of the Supreme Court. She vowed action aiming to "restore trust" in Poland's top court and its judicial bodies.

The right-wing government, however, said the ruling, which referred the matter back to Poland's judges, was a clear sign that the EU court believes it has no jurisdiction to assess the justice systems of member nations. Poland's ruling Law and Justice party has been voicing that opinion ever since it started to introduce changes to the judiciary when it took power in 2015.

The EU court's ruling also implied there are questions about the independence of another top body in Poland, the National Council of the Judiciary, which proposes judges for court positions, including on the Supreme Court, and is supposed to protect their independence.


Myanmar rejects court probe into crimes against Rohingyas
Attorney News | 2019/11/14 11:33
Myanmar’s government rejected the International Criminal Court’s decision to allow prosecutors to open an investigation into crimes committed against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

Government spokesman Zaw Htay said at a Friday night press conference that Myanmar stood by its position that the Netherlands-based court has no jurisdiction over its actions. His statement was the first official reaction since the court on Thursday agreed to proceed with the case.

Myanmar has been accused of carrying out human rights abuses on a massive scale in the western state of Rakhine in 2017 during what it described as a counterinsurgency campaign.

Zaw Htay cited a Myanmar Foreign Ministry statement from April 2018 that because Myanmar was not a party to the agreement establishing the court, it did not need to abide by the court’s rulings.

“It has already been expressed in the statement that the investigation over Myanmar by the ICC is not in accordance with international law,” he told reporters in the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw.

The court’s position is that because Myanmar’s alleged atrocities sent more than 700,000 Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh for safety, it does have jurisdiction since Bangladesh is a party to the court and the case may involve forced deportation.


Indian court rules in favor of Hindu temple on disputed land
Attorney News | 2019/11/09 16:44
India's Supreme Court on Saturday ruled in favor of a Hindu temple on a disputed religious ground in the country's north and ordered that alternative land be given to Muslims to build a mosque — a verdict in a highly contentious case that was immediately deplored by a key Muslim body.

The dispute over land ownership has been one of India's most heated issues, with Hindu nationalists demanding a temple on the site in the town of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh state for more than a century. The 16th century Babri Masjid mosque was destroyed by Hindu hard-liners in December 1992, sparking massive Hindu-Muslim violence that left some 2,000 people dead.

Saturday's verdict paves the way for building the temple in place of the demolished mosque. As the news broke, groups of jubilant Hindus poured into Ayodhya's streets and distributed sweets to celebrate the verdict, but police soon persuaded them to return to their homes. As night fell, a large number of Hindus in the town lit candles, lamps and firecrackers to celebrate, and police faced a tougher time in curbing their enthusiasm.

The five Supreme Court justices who heard the case said in a unanimous judgment that 5 acres (2 hectares) of land will be allotted to the Muslim community to build a mosque, though it did not specify where. The court said the 5 acres is "restitution for the unlawful destruction of the mosque."

The disputed land, meanwhile, will be given to a board of trustees for the construction of a temple to the Hindu god Ram.


Court sentences Congo warlord to 30 years for atrocities
Court Watch | 2019/11/08 00:44
The International Criminal Court passed its highest ever sentence Thursday, sending a Congolese warlord known as “The Terminator” to prison for 30 years for crimes including murder, rape and sexual slavery.

Bosco Ntaganda was found guilty in July of 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role as a military commander in atrocities during a bloody ethnic conflict in a mineral-rich region of Congo in 2002-2003.

Ntaganda showed no emotion as Presiding Judge Robert Fremr passed sentences ranging from eight years to 30 years for individual crimes and an overarching sentence of 30 years.

The court’s maximum sentence is 30 years, although judges also have the discretion to impose a life sentence. Lawyers representing victims in the case had called for a life term.

Fremr said despite the gravity of the crimes and Ntaganda’s culpability, his convictions “do not warrant a sentence of life imprisonment.”

Ida Sawyer, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Africa division, welcomed the ruling.



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