Court reinstates order for Russia to pay $50 bln over Yukos
Court News | 2020/02/19 02:22
In a major legal defeat for the Russian government, a Dutch appeals court on Tuesday reinstated an international arbitration panel’s order that it should pay $50 billion compensation to shareholders in former oil company Yukos.

The ruling overturned a 2016 decision by The Hague District Court that quashed the compensation order on the grounds that the arbitration panel did not have jurisdiction because the case was based on an energy treaty that Russia had signed but not ratified.

The Hague Court of Appeal ruled that the 2016 decision “was not correct. That means that the arbitration order is in force again.”

“This is a victory for the rule of law. The independent courts of a democracy have shown their integrity and served justice. A brutal kleptocracy has been held to account,” Tim Osborne, the chief executive of GML, a company made up of Yukos shareholders, said in a statement.

The Russian Justice Ministry said in a statement after the verdict that Russia will appeal. It charged that the Hague appeals court “failed to take into account the illegitimate use by former Yukos shareholders of the Energy Charter Treaty that wasn’t ratified by the Russian federation.”

The arbitration panel had ruled that Moscow seized control of Yukos in 2003 by hammering the company with massive tax claims. The move was seen as an attempt to silence Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin.

The 2014 arbitration ruling said that Russia was not acting in good faith when it levied the massive claims against Yukos, even though some of the company’s tax arrangements might have been questionable.


Walker appointee, judge, prof face off in high court primary
Attorney News | 2020/02/17 18:49
Wisconsin voters will choose between a Republican appointee, a Madison judge and a law professor as they winnow down the candidates for a state Supreme Court seat in a primary Tuesday.

Conservative Justice Dan Kelly will face off against liberal-leaning Jill Karofsky and Ed Fallone. The top two vote-getters will advance to the April 7 general election with a 10-year term on the high court at stake.

The race can’t change the court’s ideological leaning since conservative-leaning justices currently have a 5-2 edge. But a Kelly defeat would cut their margin to 4-3 and give liberals a shot at a majority in 2023.

Then-Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, appointed Kelly to the Supreme Court in 2016 to replace the retiring David Prosser. An attorney by trade, he represented Republican lawmakers in a federal trial over whether they illegally gerrymandered Wisconsin’s legislative district boundaries in 2011. He’s also a member of The Federalist Society, a conservative organization that advocates for a strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

Karofsky is a wiry marathon runner who has completed two Iron Man competitions. She also won the state doubles tennis championship in 1982 for Middleton High School.

She has served as an assistant prosecutor in the Dane County district attorney’s office, general counsel for the National Conference of Bar Examiners and executive director of the state Department of Justice’s Office of Crime Victim Services. She won election as a Dane County circuit judge in 2017.



India's top court grants equal rights to women in army
Court Watch | 2020/02/16 02:49
India’s top court on Monday ordered the federal government to grant permanent commission and command positions to female officers in the army on par with men, asserting that the government's arguments against the policy were based on gender stereotypes.

The court’s decision, seen as a watershed moment for the Indian military, would mean that women can extend their short service roles in noncombat support units such as education, law and logistics until they want to retire and rise to the rank of Colonel, based on merit.

Currently, female officers can serve for only 10 to 14 years in the army.

“This is a historic decision and a significant day for not only those who are serving in the army but for also those who are desirers of joining forces,” said Lt. Col. Anjali Bisht.

The Supreme Court’s decision, however, does not mean that female officers will serve in army combat units such as the infantry, artillery or armored corps.



Spanish court keeps former Mexican oil chief in detention
Attorney News | 2020/02/15 02:48
A Spanish court ruled Thursday that a former head of Mexico’s state oil company must remain in custody while an extradition case is heard against him.

A judge ruled that Emilio Lozoya is a flight risk, according to a statement from the National Court in Madrid.

Mexico issued international arrest warrants against Lozoya last year as a result of corruption investigations. Lozoya has denied wrongdoing.

When he was arrested Wednesday in the southeastern Spanish port of Malaga, Lozoya had a driving license bearing his photograph but a different name, according to the court statement. The judge took that as an attempt to evade justice.

Spanish authorities said Lozoya had entered Spain two days earlier, but a search had been on for him throughout Europe since May.

He is one of the most high-profile detentions for alleged corruption under Mexico’s current president, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has vowed to crack down on graft.

Lozoya was the director of Pemex between 2012 and 2016, during the administration of former President Enrique Pena Nieto. He had also been a key member of Pena Nieto’s presidential campaign.

Last year, Lopez Obrador’s administration issued a number of orders for his arrest. One tied him to the bribery scandal of Brazilian construction behemoth Odebrecht and another to the sale of a fertilizer plant to Pemex at allegedly inflated prices.


European court backs Spain on express migrant deportations
Court News | 2020/02/13 02:49
The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday backed Spain’s express deportation of two African migrants back to Morocco from a Spanish enclave in northwest Africa as part of a mass expulsion.

The court’s grand chamber ruled that there had been no violation of two articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case was taken by a Malian and an Ivorian with the support of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, or ECCHR.

The two men, along with several dozen others, crossed the high three border wire fences separating the Spanish enclave of Melilla from Morocco in August 2014. They were caught by Spanish police and immediately returned to Morocco.

Human rights organizations have long criticized express deportations. They claim that migrants are denied the opportunity to apply for asylum and an assessment of the risks they face if expelled.


Ruling ends court fight over merger of 2 school districts
Legal Business | 2020/02/10 02:52
A court ruling is ending a legal fight over the voluntary merger of two school districts in south Mississippi.

The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Thursday that opponents waited too long to file a lawsuit, the Hattiesburg American reported.

In April 2017, the Lumberton Public School District and the Lamar County School District voted to consolidate. The plan included some territory and affected some students in Pearl River County.

The Mississippi Board of Education approved the plan in June 2017, and the two districts consolidated in July 2018. Lamar County schools officials agreed to keep Lumberton schools open and have Lumberton students attend those schools. The officials also hired Lumberton teachers.

Pearl River County officials filed a lawsuit to oppose the Lamar and Lumberton merger. They aregued that students who live in Pearl River County should attend school in Pearl River County. A chancery judge ruled against the Pearl River County plaintiffs, and they appealed to the state Supreme Court. The consolidation remains in place.



Edwards takes treasurer to court over blocked fund transfer
Court News | 2020/02/08 10:52
Gov. John Bel Edwards sued Louisiana's state treasurer Friday for blocking a $25 million fund transfer the governor and lawmakers earmarked for government operating expenses, asking the courts to settle who has ultimate authority over the dollars.

Republican state Treasurer John Schroder repeatedly said if the Democratic governor wanted to spend the unclaimed property dollars included in the state's budget, he'd have to take him to court. After months of disagreement, Edwards complied, filing the lawsuit requesting a judge to declare Schroder's actions are illegal.

Lawmakers appropriated the unclaimed property dollars in Louisiana's $30 billion-plus operating budget. But Schroder has refused to shift the money for spending, and he similarly blocked a $15 million fund transfer last year.

“He doesn't have the discretion not to abide by an appropriation that has been lawfully made by the Legislature,” the governor said ahead of the lawsuit's filing in Baton Rouge district court.

Louisiana collects unclaimed dollars from old savings accounts, payroll checks, stocks and dividends, insurance proceeds, oil royalty payments and utility deposits on behalf of residents. The treasurer's office, designated as custodian of the property, tries to locate people owed the cash and return the money.

Though governors and lawmakers for decades have spent money from the unclaimed property escrow account on programs and services, Schroder said he and his office's lawyers don't believe Louisiana law permits the transfers.


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