Court may reconsider ruling on police deadly force measure
Attorney News | 2018/08/29 23:02
The question of whether Washington voters will have their say on a measure designed to make it easier to prosecute police for negligent shootings might not be over after all.

One day after ruling that Initiative 940 should appear on the November ballot, the state Supreme Court requested a briefing by the end of the day Wednesday about how the justices' various opinions should be interpreted.

Supporters of the initiative said only a single justice, Barbara Madsen, voted that I-940 should go to voters while a compromise measure preferred by lawmakers, advocates and police groups should not. Supporters of I-940 said her opinion should not control the result of what amounted to a 4-4-1 decision, and late Tuesday they filed an emergency motion asking the court to reconsider.

"For reasons not explained, the Court seems to have adopted the view of that single Justice as the ruling of the Court as a whole," attorneys for De-Escalate Washington, the initiative's sponsor, wrote.

In their response Wednesday afternoon, frequent initiative sponsor Tim Eyman and Republican Sen. Mike Padden, who sued over the issue, said the court's action was appropriate because five justices believed I-940 should go to the ballot.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman also filed a response, taking no position on the outcome of the case but urging the court to hurry. Because of the reconsideration motion, her office had to halt certain election preparations, including notifying counties which initiatives would appear on their ballots.


Florida court clears way to release school shooting video
Attorney News | 2018/08/23 09:36
The Florida Supreme Court has cleared the way for the release of exterior surveillance video showing law enforcement's response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

The court on Wednesday declined to review a lower court's decision to release the video from the Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 people. No timetable for that release has been set.

The school board contended releasing the video might reveal security blind spots at the school. Prosecutors also opposed release because it could be evidence in a criminal case.

Nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz faces the death penalty if convicted of the mass shooting. His lawyers say he would plead guilty in exchange for a life prison sentence.


Lawyers will seek to shift blame for warehouse fire at trial
Attorney News | 2018/08/18 08:34
Lawyers for the two men charged in the Northern California warehouse fire that killed 36 people said Friday they are now preparing for a trial where they will try to shift blame for the blaze from their clients to others, including the building's owner and government officials.

Derick Almena, 48, and Max Harris, 28, on Friday appeared briefly in an Oakland courtroom for the first time since a judge scuttled a plea deal agreed to by prosecutors. They were ordered back to court in three weeks to schedule a trial.

Outside court, the men's lawyers say there's plenty of blame to share for the Dec. 2, 2016, fire in an Oakland warehouse illegally converted into an underground entertainment venue and live-work space for artists. The cause of the fire has never been determined, which the lawyers said is key part of the men's defense.

Serra also said numerous government officials visited the illegally converted warehouse before the fire, and they had a duty to report the building's condition to authorities. Almena lived in the warehouse with his wife and three children and were visited by Alameda County's Child Protective Services officials several times. Oakland police officers were also called to the warehouse on several occasions to investigate noise complaints and tenant disputes, among other issues.



EU steps up action against Poland over supreme court law
Attorney News | 2018/08/14 22:59
The European Union is increasing pressure on Poland over what it sees as flaws in the country's Supreme Court law, and has given Warsaw a month to act before facing possible court action.

Tuesday's move centers on Polish legislation that forces the early retirement of over a third of the Supreme Court justices. The law is the culmination of the ruling populist Law and Justice party's efforts to put Poland's entire court system under its control, a plan it began nearly three years ago.

The EU Commission objected to the law, saying it falls short of the values guiding the 28-nation bloc, and said that Poland's explanation "does not alleviate the Commission's legal concerns." It said a case could be opened at the EU's highest court in a month.



Nevada Supreme Court taking up execution case
Attorney News | 2018/08/11 03:25
The Nevada Supreme Court has stepped in to decide whether drug companies can try to stop the state from using their medications in a twice-postponed lethal injection of a condemned inmate who wants to die.

A state court judge in Las Vegas cancelled hearings Thursday following an order late Wednesday from six of the high court's seven justices.

Supreme Court intervention had been sought by the state attorney general's office regarding the execution of Scott Raymond Dozier.

The judge had planned to hear drugmaker Sandoz's request to join a bid by Alvogen and Hikma Pharmaceuticals to prevent Nevada from using their products in a three-drug combination never before tried in any state.

A Nevada death-row inmate whose execution has been postponed twice says the legal fight over his fate is taking a tortuous toll on him and his family and he wants his sentence carried out.

Scott Raymond Dozier told The Associated Press that the state should, in his words, "just get it done, just do it effectively and stop fighting about it."

Dozier's comments in a brief prison telephone call on Wednesday came a day before a third drug company is due to ask a state court judge in Las Vegas to let it join with two other firms suing to block the use of their products in executions.

The companies say they publicly declared they didn't want their products used in executions and allege that Nevada improperly obtained their drugs.


SC Supreme Court to decide if elected sheriff is qualified
Attorney News | 2018/08/04 23:49
Clarke Stearns has been working as sheriff for more than 18 months in McCormick County, but it's still up in the air whether he is qualified to be the county's top lawman.

Stearns' Democratic opponent in the 2016 election, J.R. Jones, sued him within a month after his victory, saying Stearns never served as a law officer in South Carolina and therefore didn't meet the requirement of being a certified officer in the state.

Stearns' lawyers have successfully argued so far that his 30 years certified as a law enforcement officer in Virginia are more than enough to cover the qualification to be sheriff and he also got his certification in South Carolina after the election.

After a lower court judge ruled against Jones, the lawsuit is now going before the state Supreme Court. Jones' lawyer Charles Grose, told The Index-Journal of Greenwood the Supreme Court has expedited the case.

Stearns, a Republican, received 57 percent of the vote in the 2016 election.

Both sides said they have sent their briefs to the South Carolina Supreme Court and are ready for the justices either to rule or set a time for arguments.

Under South Carolina law , sheriffs must be at least 21 years old, a citizen of the United States, a registered voter and have a year of experience as a certified officer if they have a four-year college degree.


Court: Release surveillance video in Florida school shooting
Attorney News | 2018/07/25 16:52
An appeals court says news organizations are entitled to obtain surveillance video showing the law enforcement response to the Valentine's Day mass shooting at a Florida high school.

The 4th District Court of Appeal on Wednesday upheld a lower court's ruling that the video is public record that must be disclosed. News organizations including The Associated Press are seeking the video to better understand the actions of law enforcement and first responders during the shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Authorities say the school had 70 operating video cameras that day. The media organizations are not seeking any footage depicting the massacre or any victims.

Broward County prosecutors and its school board opposed the video release. Nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz faces murder charges in the shooting.



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