Judge Sonia Sotomayor Accepts Nomination to Supreme Court
Headline Legal News | 2009/05/26 16:12
President Obama on Tuesday nominated federal appellate Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.


Sotomayor "is an inspiring woman who I believe will make a great justice," Obama said at a White House announcement.

She "has worked at almost every level of our judicial system, providing her with a depth of experience and a breadth of perspective that will be invaluable as a Supreme Court justice," he added.

Obama said Sotomayor would bring more experience on the bench than anyone currently serving on the Supreme Court when appointed.

"Thank you, Mr. President, for the most humbling honor of my life," Sotomayor said. She thanked family members and mentors who helped her throughout her life and career.

The president met with Sotomayor at the White House for an hour Thursday, according to senior administration officials.

He was impressed with Sotomayor's personal story and professional qualifications after meeting her, but he did not immediately offer her the job, two senior administration sources added.



Some possible nominees had easy Senate path before
Legal Topics | 2009/05/24 16:09
Some of the people President Barack Obama is considering for the Supreme Court got significant support from Republicans when they were last before the Senate seeking jobs in the judiciary or executive branches of government.


But a yes vote then doesn't necessarily mean a yes vote now.

"I'd say the stakes are higher for the Supreme Court," said Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Obama will soon nominate a successor to Justice David Souter, who has announced he will retire next month. The people Obama is considering include Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, U.S. Appeals Court Judges Diane Wood and Sonia Sotomayor and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, according to officials familiar with the president's thinking.

Of that list, all but Granholm have been voted on before by the Senate and all have been confirmed with Republican votes. Wood and Napolitano got votes from every Republican in the chamber when they came before the Senate.

Wood sailed through the Senate Judiciary Committee on an unanimous vote, and her nomination for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago cleared the Senate without an objection as part of a package of nominees the Senate confirmed in 1995 before heading out for the Fourth of July holiday.



Calif. wants US Supreme Court OK of video game ban
Legal Topics | 2009/05/22 16:09
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to reinstate a state law banning the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.


In February, the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals struck down the law as a free speech violation that could limit minors' access to other material under the guise of protecting children. The court said there are less restrictive ways, such as parental control, to prevent children from accessing violent video games.

The court also dismissed as unpersuasive the scientific studies linking violent video games to aggressive and anti-social behavior.

The state Legislature passed the law in 2005, but it never took effect because the video game industry sued soon after Schwarzenegger signed the measure that would have barred sales and rentals to anyone under the age of 18.

The governor and attorney general argued Wednesday that the same legal justifications for banning minors from accessing pornography can be applied to violent video games.



Key player in sports-bribery case appears in court
Legal Topics | 2009/05/15 16:28
Two former University of Toledo football players charged in a point-shaving scheme were arraigned in federal court Wednesday, including an ex-running back from Canada who is described as a key contact for Detroit-area gamblers.


Not guilty pleas were entered on behalf of Adam Cuomo of Hagersville, Ontario, and Quinton Broussard of Carrollton, Texas.

The FBI says Cuomo, 31, incriminated himself during an interview in December 2006. Authorities also have recordings of phone calls between him and Ghazi "Gary" Manni of Sterling Heights.

In December 2005, the talk turned to how a reluctant basketball player had agreed to shave points.

"Cuomo responded by saying that money will overcome all," FBI agent Stephen Ferrari said in a court document unsealed last month.

Cuomo is charged with conspiring with Manni, Mitchell "Ed" Karam and others to fix the results of Toledo football and basketball games, from late 2004 through 2006.

He met Manni through the owner of a phone shop in Toledo, Ohio, the FBI says.



US judge OKs $116M ruling in deadly terror attack
Headline Legal News | 2009/05/14 16:22
A federal judge in Rhode Island has upheld a $116 million verdict against the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority over a 1996 terror attack that killed a U.S. citizen and his wife.


U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Lagueux (LAH'-guh) ruled Wednesday the defendants cannot set aside the judgment against them because they didn't respond to the accusations from the victims' family.

The lawsuit was filed in Providence by relatives of Yaron Ungar (YAH'-rohn UNG'-er) and his wife, Efrat. The Ungars were killed by Hamas gunmen near the West Bank in June 1996. Yaron Ungar also held Israeli citizenship.

The lawsuit said the Palestinian Authority and the PLO offered a safe haven to members of Hamas.

The defendants have denied responsibility.



Conservative Sessions leads court nomination fight
Headline Legal News | 2009/05/07 17:38
The top Republican in the Senate served notice on President Barack Obama Tuesday that the GOP won't rubber-stamp his choice to succeed the retiring Justice David Souter.


"The president is free to nominate whomever he likes," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "But picking judges based on his or her perceived sympathy for certain groups or individuals undermines the faith Americans have in our judicial system."

McConnell's Republicans are turning to a conservative Southerner as their point man on Obama's nominee, signaling that they won't shy away from a protracted fight despite risks of being cast as obstructionist.

Sen. Jeff Sessions' ascension as the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee comes more than 20 years after the panel rejected him for his own federal judgeship during the Reagan administration over concerns that he was hostile toward civil rights and was racially insensitive.

Coincidentally, Sessions, R-Ala., replaces Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, a moderate who was one of just two Republicans in 1986 to oppose Sessions as a U.S. district court judge. Specter left the GOP last week to become a Democrat, creating the vacancy atop the committee just as Justice David Souter announced his retirement.



Judge Upholds $100M Verdict for Mattel
Headline Legal News | 2009/04/28 18:24
A federal judge upheld a $100 million jury verdict Monday for MattelInc. in a lengthy legal battle over rights to the Bratz doll, a rivalto Mattel's Barbie.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson also confirmed in his ruling lateMonday that the Bratz doll — marketed by MGA Entertainment Inc. since2001 — is Mattel property. He appointed a temporary federal receiver totake control of the Bratz brand and MGA's assets.

The receiver will decide who produces the doll and under what terms,but the order authorizes the receiver to maximize profits by "sellingBratz-branded dolls and other goods through appropriate channels oftrade and distribution."

Mattel attorneys have said in court that the company is willing andable to produce Bratz dolls once receivership issues are sorted.

MGA President Isaac Larian said his company will appeal the ruling.

Mattel sued MGA in 2004, alleging that Bratz designer Carter Bryantdeveloped the concept for the pouty-lipped doll while working forMattel.

After a four-year legal dispute, a jury last year awardedMattel $10 million for copyright infringement and $90 million forbreach of contract.

After the verdict, Mattel sought to block MGAfrom ever making the Bratz dolls, and Larson ordered the company inDecember to end its sales in early 2009.

MGA argued thatretailers would not order the toys unless the court could guaranteethey would remain in stores through most of this year. MGA got areprieve in January when Larson ruled that the dolls could remain instores for the rest of the year.

He left open the possibility that Mattel or a court-appointed receiver could ultimately market the dolls this year.

A hearing is scheduled for May 18 to discuss whether the receivership should be made permanent.



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