Same-sex marriage opponents urge Supreme Court to go slow
Attorney News | 2015/06/23 15:59
Same-sex marriage opponents acknowledge they face a tough task in trying to persuade the Supreme Court to allow states to limit marriage to a man and a woman.

But they are urging the court to resist embracing what they see as a radical change in society's view of what constitutes a marriage, especially without more information about how same-sex marriage affects children who are raised by two fathers or two mothers.

The idea that same-sex marriage might have uncertain effects on children is strongly contested by those who want the court to declare that same-sex couples have a right to marry in all 50 states. Among the 31 plaintiffs in the cases that will be argued at the court on April 28 are parents who have spent years seeking formal recognition on their children's birth certificates or adoption papers.

But opponents, in dozens of briefs asking the court to uphold state bans on same-sex marriage, insist they are not motivated by any prejudice toward gays and lesbians.

"This is an issue on which people of good will may reasonably disagree," lawyer John Bursch wrote in his defense of Michigan's gay-marriage ban. Bursch argued on behalf of the states that same-sex couples can claim no constitutional right to marriage.

Same-sex couples now can marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia, the product of a dizzying pace of change in state marriage laws. Just three years ago, only six states allowed it.


High court rejects Wisconsin appeal over tribal night hunts
Attorney News | 2015/04/23 21:35
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from Wisconsin officials who want to keep in place a decades-old ruling that bars Chippewa tribes from hunting deer at night.

The justices did not comment on their decision to let stand an appeals court ruling that orders a federal judge to reconsider the ban.

The Chippewa have pushed for years for a night hunt in northern Wisconsin in large swath of the state that the tribes handed over to the federal government in the 19th century. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled in 1991 that night hunting was too dangerous.

Last year, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered her to re-open that ruling, noting that that Oregon, Washington, Minnesota and Michigan allow tribal night hunts. The appeals court said the deer hunting has grown much safer over the past 20 years and said hunting at night was not likely to pose serious safety problems.

The Chippewa renewed their push for night hunting in 2012 after state lawmakers angered the tribes by allowing hunters to kill wolves at night. The Chippewa consider the wolf a spiritual brother. The wolf-hunting program ended after one season.


Man kills his lawyer, judge, co-defendant in Milan court
Attorney News | 2015/04/15 17:54
A real estate developer on trial for fraudulent bankruptcy fired 13 shots inside the Milan Tribunal on Thursday, killing his lawyer, a co-defendant and a judge, eluding court security before being captured 25 kilometers away.

The shooting raised concerns about security at Italy's courthouses, where much of the surveillance has been outsourced to private contractors, and about Italy's ability to protect visitors during the Milan Expo 2015 world's fair, which opens May 1 and is expected to attract 20 million visitors over six months.

Premier Matteo Renzi pledged a robust investigation into how the gunman, identified as Claudio Giardiello, managed to bring a pistol into the monumental Fascist-era tribunal, where defendants and other visitors are required to pass through metal detectors, but accredited court officials, including lawyers, are not.

"Our commitment is that this never happens again, and that those responsible pay," Renzi said.

The chief federal prosecutor in Milan, Edmondo Bruti Liberati, told reporters it appeared Giardiello may have used a fake document to enter through the only pedestrian entrance not equipped with a metal detector and intended only for use by accredited court officials. He said the metal detectors at the other entrances were in good working order.

Bruti Liberati praised law enforcement, who apprehended Giardiello at a shopping center more than an hour after the shooting. They had identified the license plate on his motor bike with video surveillance cameras and tracked his arrival in Vimercate, some 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the scene in the heart of Milan.

Prosecutors said Giardiello, 57, was still armed with a loaded pistol and intended to kill another business partner whom he blamed for a failed real estate venture.


Man run over by Suge Knight says he punched ex-rap mogul
Attorney News | 2015/04/15 17:54
A man who Marion "Suge" Knight ran over told authorities he was upset with the former rap music mogul and punched him through the window of the truck before a deadly encounter that left his friend dead.

Cle "Bone" Sloan testified Monday about the day he and friend Terry Carter were hit by a pickup truck driven by Knight, the co-founder of Death Row Records.

But Sloan refused to identify Knight as the man behind the wheel when he was struck outside a Compton burger stand on Jan. 29. He said he didn't remember specifics of the fight and does not want to be a "snitch."

"I will not be used to send Suge Knight to prison," Sloan, an adviser on the upcoming film "Straight Outta Compton," said, adding that he was only on the stand because he was subpoenaed.

Sloan's testimony was offered during a preliminary hearing Monday during which a judge will determine whether there's enough evidence for Knight to stand trial on murder, attempted murder, and hit-and-run charges. Authorities contend Knight intentionally hit Sloan and Carter. But Knight's attorney Matt Fletcher says his client was ambushed and was trying to escape an attack when he hit the men.


Ex-Premier Zia avoids arrest as Bangladesh court grants bail
Attorney News | 2015/04/07 19:26
Former Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia avoided arrest on corruption charges Sunday after a court granted her bail.

Judge Abu Ahmed Jamadder approved Zia's request for bail when she surrendered to court in the capital, Dhaka.

Zia left her office for the first since Jan. 5, when authorities had initially barred her from leaving to attend an anti-government rally calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, her archrival. Authorities later said she was free to move to her nearby residence, but Zia refused, vowing to continue with anti-government protests that have turned violent, leaving nearly 115 people dead since the beginning of the year.

Zia's lawyers have rejected allegations that she illegally collected more than $1 million in donations for a charity during her last premiership in 2001-2006, and say the charges are politically motivated, which authorities deny. The trial began early last year.

The court had issued an arrest warrant for Zia in February after she failed to appear to answer the charges against her. Prosecutors on Sunday did not oppose Zia's bail request.

Zia currently leads a 20-party opposition alliance that has been enforcing a nonstop transportation blockade across the South Asian country since early January to demand that Hasina resign and a new election be called.

The blockade began after a year of relative calm following a January 2014 election that was boycotted by Zia's party. The boycott allowed Hasina to come to power with an overwhelming majority, and she says there is no need for another election before 2019, when her five-year term ends.


Protesters inside Supreme Court face harsher charges
Attorney News | 2015/04/07 19:25
Protesters who demonstrated inside the U.S. Supreme Court are facing the threat of a year in jail and stiff fines, a sign that prosecutors and the justices themselves are losing patience over the courtroom interruptions after the third protest in just over a year.

Five people arrested last week after voicing displeasure with court decisions that removed limits on political campaign contributions now face charges including one that carries a maximum jail term of a year and up to a $100,000 fine — a sharp escalation from the possible penalties sought after two earlier protests.

A leader of the group behind the protests would not rule out future demonstrations, despite what he called an effort to crack down on the courtroom disturbances. "We are not going to be silenced," said Kai Newkirk, whose group 99Rise opposes the influence of big money in elections.

While protests on the sidewalk outside the U.S. Supreme Court are common, until last year demonstrators had rarely broken the decorum of oral arguments inside the courtroom. In February 2014, however, Newkirk was removed from the courtroom after he stood and called on the court to overturn its 2010 Citizens United decision, which freed corporations and labor unions from some limits on campaign spending. It was the first protest to disrupt an argument session in more than seven years.


Amanda Knox murder conviction overturned by Italy high court
Attorney News | 2015/03/27 23:11

Italy's highest court overturned the murder conviction against Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend Friday over the 2007 slaying of Knox's roommate, bringing to a definitive end the high-profile case that captivated trial-watchers on both sides of the Atlantic.

"Finished!" Knox's lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova exulted after the decision was read out late Friday. "It couldn't be better than this."

In a rare decision, the supreme Court of Cassation overturned last year's convictions by a Florence appeals court and declined to order another trial. The judges declared that the two did not commit the crime, a stronger exoneration than merely finding that there wasn't enough evidence to convict.

In a statement issued from her home in Seattle, Knox said she was "relieved and grateful" for the decision.

"The knowledge of my innocence has given me strength in the darkest times of this ordeal," she said, thanking her supporters for believing in her.

Experts have said such a complete exoneration is unusual for the high court, which could have upheld the conviction or ordered a new trial as it did in 2011 when the case first came up to its review on appeal.

The justices' reasoning will be released within 90 days.

The decision ends the long legal battle waged by Knox and Italian co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito to clear their names in the death of British student Meredith Kercher, after they spent nearly four years in prison immediately after the murder.



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