WADA asks sports court to open Russia case to public hearing
Attorney News | 2020/02/06 03:15
The World Anti-Doping Agency wants a rare public hearing for sport’s highest court to judge a four-year slate of punishments faced by Russia for persistent cheating.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport is preparing a hearing expected within weeks for the blockbuster case in Switzerland.

“It is WADA’s view — and that of many of our stakeholders — that this dispute at CAS should be held in a public forum to ensure that everybody understands the process and hears the arguments,” the Montreal-based agency’s director general, Olivier Niggli, said in a statement.

Urged on by President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s anti-doping agency, known as RUSADA, is formally challenging a WADA ruling in December to declare it non-compliant after key data from the Moscow testing laboratory was corrupted.

The CAS panel of three judges will have power to enforce WADA-recommended sanctions including a ban on Russia’s team name, flag and anthem at Olympic Games and world championships.

WADA also wants Russian athletes to compete as neutrals at the Olympics and major events only if they pass a vetting process which examines their history of drug testing and possible involvement in lab cover-ups of positive tests.

CAS hearings can be opened to media and public observers in some cases when both parties consent.

The court held its first public hearing for 20 years in November when WADA appealed a ruling by swimming’s world body not to ban China’s three-time Olympic gold medalist Sun Yang for alleged doping rule violations.


Missouri county sued over jail time for unpaid court costs
Court News | 2020/02/03 11:15
A Missouri man at the heart of a state Supreme Court case that overturned what critics called modern-day debtors’ prisons is back in jail and suing the local officials who put him there.

Warrensburg resident George Richey, 65, is one of two Missouri men who sued over boarding costs for time spent in county jails, which are commonly referred to as board bills.

Richey spent 65 days in jail in 2016 for not paying past board bills. Supreme Court judges last year unanimously sided with him, writing in an opinion that while inmates are responsible for those costs, “if such responsibilities fall delinquent, the debts cannot be taxed as court costs and the failure to pay that debt cannot result in another incarceration.”

The nonprofit legal defense organization ArchCity Defenders on Tuesday sued St. Clair County and Associate Circuit County Judge Jerry Rellihan on behalf of Richey for the harm caused by his unlawful imprisonment.

Richey’s lawyers wrote in a Tuesday court filing that the time he spent in jail meant he lost “his home, all of his personal belongings, and lived in constant fear of arrest for the past four years.”

“I have the clothes on my back, but that’s it. This has caused me to lose everything,” Richey said in a statement. “I’m not the only one these counties are picking on, and I’m taking a stand because these crooked practices can’t continue.”

Associated Press requests for comment to St. Clair County officials were not immediately returned Wednesday.

Richey’s lawyers also argued that the judge retaliated against him for taking his board bill case to the Supreme Court.

Three months after the high court’s ruling, Rellihan sentenced Richey to more than two years in county jail for probation violations and misdemeanor counts of assault, trespassing and disturbing the peace.



Wood County commissioner reprimanded by Supreme Court
Legal Business | 2020/01/30 19:12
The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday reprimanded a part-time Wood County circuit court commissioner for not removing himself from hearing a case involving an attorney who was a personal friend.

The court reprimanded part-time commissioner Kenneth Gorski after agreeing with the Wisconsin Judicial Commission's determination that Gorski had willfully violated several rules of the judicial conduct code. Gorski works about two afternoons a month as a part-time circuit court commissioner, a job he started in 2014.

The complaint stems from a small claims case that Gorski should have recused himself from because he was personal friends for more than 20 years with the attorney, the Supreme Court said. They went on four overseas vacations together between 2015 and 2018 as well as frequent overnight golfing trips, the Supreme Court said.

During the trial, Gorski lost his temper with the defendant who was opposed by his attorney friend, groaning in anger and making sarcastic comments, the Supreme Court said.


Fewer candidates seek WVa Supreme Court seats after scandal
Attorney News | 2020/01/27 21:13
A little over a year removed from an impeachment scandal that included pricey renovations of court offices, the West Virginia Supreme Court’s lineup is about to finish its own complete makeover, barring a last-second filing.

There are far fewer names for the three races in May than there were for two spots up for grabs in a November 2018 special election. What the races lack in numbers, they make up with cash.

Missing from the list of nine candidates is Justice Margaret Workman, whose 12-year term also ends this year. Saturday was the deadline for candidates to have their papers postmarked. Three seats are up for grabs on May 12.

Workman did not file precandidacy papers for re-election. She did not respond to a request for comment last week.

If the 72-year-old Workman retires, it would mark the last piece in a court turnover over the past four years. Three justices joined the five-member court in 2018. Beth Walker, who was elected in 2016, is the court’s senior member. The last time all five justices were replaced occurred over a four-year span in the late 1990s

Judicial elections in West Virginia became nonpartisan in 2016. In 2018, the court’s impeachment scandal stirred political attacks and some Democrats argued the court’s shakeup was a power grab by Republicans. Regardless of what Workman decides, career Republicans would retain control of the Supreme Court.

While 20 candidates filed for two open seats in the 2018 special election, this year’s races prompted just nine candidates for three races.


Court: Methodist bishops must testify in sex abuse case
Court News | 2020/01/26 05:13

Two United Methodist bishops must testify in a lawsuit filed by a one-time church member who claimed he was sexually abused, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled Friday, turning away the church leaders’ efforts to stay out of the case.

The all-Republican court, in a 7-2 decision, rejected attempts by the current bishop for north Alabama, Debra Wallace-Padgett, and her predecessor, Will Willimon, to avoid sworn testimony.

Both Wallace-Padgett and Willimon, who now teaches at Duke University, claimed they didn’t know anything personally about the complaints of a male who claimed he was sexually abused as a minor by a United Methodist youth pastor. Wallace-Padgett also argued it would be “unduly burdensome” for her to provide documents.

The justices rejected their arguments, saying neither was protected by a rule that shields high-ranking corporate or government officials from testifying about cases in which they have no direct knowledge.

The decision came as courts nationwide grapple with lawsuits and legal questions raised by complaints of sexual abuse within multiple religious denominations.


Lawmakers slam Missouri Supreme Court over bail rules
Court Watch | 2020/01/24 05:14
Dozens of Missouri lawmakers have asked the state Supreme Court to undo new rules limiting when judges can impose bail, a move that was aimed at reducing court costs that can derail the lives of low-income defendants.

More than 80 legislators signed on to a letter sent by Rep. Justin Hill to Supreme Court judges this week. In it, the Republican complained that a new rule requiring judges to first consider non-monetary conditions for pretrial release went too far.

“Now, individuals who are potentially dangerous or have a history of failing to appear for court are being released on recognizance with no conditions at all ? because the rules that went into effect in July make it too difficult for judges to impose bail,” Hill wrote.

He cited one of the two convicted felons facing criminal charges over a Kansas bar shooting that killed four people. Both men allegedly involved had previous brushes with the law that could have kept them behind bars had judges and other officials made different decisions, although only 23-year-old Javier Alatorre’s case dealt with Missouri judges.

Alatorre was released from jail in September in Jackson County, Missouri, where he still faces charges of fleeing from police in a stolen vehicle. A judge released him on his own recognizance after his attorney sought to have his bail lowered.

Missouri judges are still able to set bail under the new rules if needed, but only at an amount necessary to ensure either public safety or that the defendant will appear in court. Courts may not order a defendant to pay costs associated with conditions of their release, such as the costs of an ankle monitoring bracelet, without first considering reducing or waiving those costs.

Prior court rules directed judges to impose bail only to ensure that defendants returned to court, although the Missouri Constitution gave judges leeway to deny bail or set limits on release as a way to protect victims or public safety.


Court takes another look at Native American adoption law
Legal Topics | 2020/01/22 17:47
A 1978 law giving preference to Native American families in foster care and adoption proceedings involving American Indian children was getting a second look Wednesday from a federal appeals court in New Orleans.

A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act in August in a 2-1 ruling.

Opponents of the law — including non-Indian families who have sought to adopt American Indian children — sought and got a re-hearing. On Wednesday, the court's 16 active judges were expected to hear arguments.

A 1978 law giving preference to Native American families in foster care and adoption proceedings involving American Indian children was getting a second look Wednesday from a federal appeals court in New Orleans.

A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act in August in a 2-1 ruling.

Opponents of the law — including non-Indian families who have sought to adopt American Indian children — sought and got a re-hearing. On Wednesday, the court's 16 active judges were expected to hear arguments.




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