Mental health court established for offenders on probation
Attorney News | 2017/08/14 18:54
A specialized court has been established in Pinal County to give defendants with mental problems an alternative path and keep them out of the criminal justice system.

Presiding Judge Stephen McCarville signed an administrative order last month calling for the establishment of Mental Health Treatment Court. It’s a therapeutic, post-sentence court for defendants placed on supervised probation.

People screened with a mental illness are referred to the court by the Pinal County Attorney’s Office or the county’s probation department. Then the court’s staff reviews the defendant’s case to determine whether the person’s situation is appropriate for the program, the Casa Grande Dispatch reported.

The offender undergoes outpatient treatment at a mental health facility while checking in with the court on a weekly basis. If defendants don’t follow the terms of the treatment, then they’re subject to having their probation revoked.

The goal is to keep people with mental disabilities out of the criminal justice system, Pinal County Superior Court Administrator Todd Zweig said. The number of probationers with mental health conditions has been increasing in the county, he added, prompting the need for this type of service.


Academic accused in Chicago killing due in California court
Attorney News | 2017/08/14 18:54
A Northwestern University microbiologist suspected in the stabbing death of a 26-year-old Chicago man is due in a California courtroom.

Wyndham Lathem and Oxford University financial officer, Andrew Warren, were sought in a cross-country chase on first-degree murder charges in the death of Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau. His body was found July 27 in an apartment near downtown Chicago.

Lathem and Warren were fugitives for more than a week before separately turning themselves in to California authorities. They have yet to be charged.

The 42-year-old Lathem is being held without bail in Alameda County. His court appearance is Monday in the city of Pleasanton.

Attorney Barry Sheppard says he expects Lathem to waive extradition. He also urged the public to wait until all the facts are released before making judgments.


Wyoming raises court fees for courtroom technology updates
Legal Business | 2017/08/14 01:54
An increase in court automation fees approved by the state Legislature aims to provide Wyoming courtrooms with adequate technology.

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports people using Wyoming courts since July 1 have had to pay $15 more in automation fees than they did before. The fees are for filing probate and civil matters in district court, filing civil matters in circuit court and filing petitions in the state Supreme Court.

People also have to pay $25 instead of $20 if they have been found guilty in a criminal case or are placed on probation.

State agencies that are parties in a legal proceeding are exempt until July 2018.

Wyoming Court Administrator Lily Sharpe says the money will primarily help update audio and visual systems in 69 courtrooms across the state.


Prosecutors ask court to imprison Samsung heir for 12 years
Court News | 2017/08/12 01:54
South Korean prosecutors have recommended a 12-year jail term for Lee Jae-yong, 49-year-old billionaire heir of the Samsung business empire, urging a court to convict him of bribery and other crimes.

Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, became emotional Monday as he denied ever trying to seek political favors in his final remarks in the four-month-long trial. Lee was arrested in February amid a tumultuous corruption scandal that triggered months of massive public protests and culminated with the ouster of South Korea's president.

A panel of three judges at the Seoul Central District Court said they will hand down their verdict on Aug. 25.

Lee, princeling of South Korea's richest family and its biggest company, choked up during his final remarks, saying his ordeal was unjust but he had reflected during his six months in jail and realized that the bigger Samsung became, "the stricter and higher the expectations from the public and the society," a pool report from Monday's hearing said.

"Whether it was for my personal profit or for myself, I have never asked the president for any favors," he told the court.

In his remarks wrapping up the trial, Special Prosecutor Park Young Soo said Samsung's alleged bribery was typical of the corrupt and cozy ties between the South Korea's government and big businesses. Such dealings once helped fuel the country's rapid industrialization but now increasingly are viewed as illegal and unfair.

Park also accused Samsung officials of lying in their testimonies to protect Lee.

In past cases, South Korean courts have often given suspended prison terms to members of the founding families of the chaebol, the big, family-controlled businesses that dominate South Korea's economy. In some cases, presidents have pardoned them, citing their contributions to the national economy. But recent rulings on white collar crimes have shown less leniency. If convicted, Lee may be the first in his family to serve a prison term.

Lee was indicted in February on charges that included offering $38 million in bribes to four entities controlled by a friend of then-President Park Geun-hye, including a company in Germany set up to support equestrian training for the daughter of one of Park's friends, Choi Soon-sil.

Prosecutors alleged the bribes were offered in exchange for government help with a merger that strengthened Lee's control over Samsung at a crucial time for organizing a smooth leadership transition after his father fell ill.

Park was removed from office in March and is being tried separately. Her friend Choi also is on trial.

Lee has denied all charges. He has said he did not know of Choi or her daughter before the scandal grabbed national headlines and said Samsung's succession situation was not discussed during three meetings he held with the former president.

Samsung's lawyers do not contest having donated a large sum of money to the entities controlled by Choi. They disagreed with the prosecutors about the nature of the funds and insisted that at the time the donations were made Samsung was unaware that Choi controlled them.


Myanmar court grants bail for editor in defamation case
Areas of Focus | 2017/08/11 01:55
A court in Myanmar granted bail Friday to a newspaper editor who is being tried under a controversial defamation statute in a telecommunications law.

Kyaw Min Swe, chief editor of The Voice Daily, was arrested in June for publishing online a satirical article that allegedly mocked the efforts of the military to reach a peace agreement with ethnic minority groups.

His previous requests for bail had been rejected, but during his ninth appearance in court, the judge granted his release on bail of 10 million kyats ($7,000).

He was charged under Article 66(D) of the Telecommunications Law, which broadly defines defamation and carries a penalty of up to three years' imprisonment.

Rights groups decry the article as a restriction on freedom of expression, but the country's parliament this week turned down a bid to drop the article and decriminalize the offense.

One of the newspaper's columnists, Kyaw Zwa Naing, was also arrested on June 2 under Article 66(D), but the charge against him was dropped last month.


Supreme Court to allow electronic filing in November
Legal Interview | 2017/08/10 01:55
The Supreme Court will begin using an electronic filing system for documents starting in November, a move other federal courts began decades ago.

The court said in a statement Thursday that the new system will begin operation Nov. 13. The court says that initially attorneys will be asked to submit both electronic and paper documents. The court says that once the system is in place virtually all new filings will be publicly available for free.

The system has been in the works for some time. Chief Justice John Roberts said in a 2014 report that the court was developing the system, saying it "may be operational as soon as 2016."

Electronic filing is coming on the heels of the debut of a new Supreme Court website in late July.


UK court increases sentence for surgeon who maimed patients
Court Watch | 2017/08/08 01:55
Britain's appeals court has increased to 20 years the prison sentence of a surgeon convicted of performing unnecessary operations, leaving scores of patients maimed and some in constant pain.

Ian Paterson falsely told patients they had cancer and performed operations including mastectomies. He was convicted of crimes against 10 patients in May and sentenced to 15 years. Prosecutors believe there were many more victims.

The government challenged the sentence, and three appeals judges agreed Thursday that it was "unduly lenient."

One of the judges, Heather Hallet, said "greed, self-aggrandizement, power" and other possible motives "do not come close to explaining how a doctor can falsely tell a patient he or she has cancer when they have not."

She said the victims "must feel no sentence could properly reflect their suffering."


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