Bangladesh court bans Rana Plaza movie because of terrifying scenes
Attorney News | 2015/08/25 06:34
Bangladesh’s high court has imposed a six-month ban on a film about a garment worker who was rescued from the rubble 17 days after a five-storey factory complex collapsed, killing more than 1,000 people.

The director, Nazrul Islam Khan, had argued that the real-life story of Reshma Begum depicted courage amid the tragedy.

The disaster on 24 April 2013 left 1,135 people dead. Thousands more were rescued from the ruins of the illegally built complex which housed five factories supplying garments to international companies.
Rescue workers had given up hope of finding anyone else alive in the rubble of the Rana Plaza. Then they heard a faint tapping.

When the collapse started, Begum said she raced down a stairwell into the basement, where she became trapped in a pocket of space that allowed her to survive. She found some dried food and bottles of water to sustain her until she was rescued. She now works in a hotel.

The collapse triggered an outcry at home and abroad. There have been efforts to reform Bangladesh’s garment industry to improve safety and working conditions.

Investigators say several factors contributed to the building’s collapse: it was overloaded with machines and generators, constructed on swampy land, and the owner added floors in violation of the original building plan.


Appeals court won't reinstate 1990 arson-murder conviction
Attorney News | 2015/08/19 19:16
An elderly man who spent 24 years in prison for his daughter's death in a fire will remain free after a federal appeals court in Pennsylvania on Wednesday refused to reinstate his murder conviction.

Han Tak Lee, 80, a native of South Korea who earned U.S. citizenship, was exonerated and freed last year after a judge concluded the case against him was based on since-discredited scientific theories about arson. Prosecutors appealed, saying that other evidence pointed to his guilt.

The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the appeal, meaning Lee will stay out of prison.

The New York City shop owner had taken his 20-year-old, mentally ill daughter to a religious retreat in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains where, prosecutors say, he set fire to their cabin. Lee has long contended the 1989 fire was accidental.

Lee, who returned to Queens after his release from prison, did not answer his phone Wednesday. He told The Associated Press in an interview last month that he still loved America and "I expect America to make the right decision."

His attorney, Peter Goldberger, called on prosecutors to let the ruling stand.

"I hope, now, that they will finally see there is no basis for this conviction," Goldberger said. "They can say it's nobody's fault, that science changed, that this is over now, and the federal court has had the last word."

Monroe County District Attorney David Christine, who prosecuted Lee in 1990 and whose office lost the appeal, did not immediately return a text and email seeking comment.



Court rejects inmate's challenge in 5 Ohio prison slayings
Attorney News | 2015/08/17 19:16
A federal appeals court has rejected a challenge by an inmate convicted and sentenced to be executed for the slayings of five fellow inmates during a 1993 prison riot in Ohio.

Death row inmate Keith LaMar was convicted of aggravated murder in 1995 in the deaths of five inmates during the riot at the Southern Ohio Correctional Institution in Lucasville. A jury recommended the death penalty in four of the slayings.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a lower court's decision keeping the 46-year-old LaMar's convictions and death sentences in place.

LaMar argues he was denied a fair trial when prosecutors were allowed to withhold evidence from the defense.

A three-judge panel ruled the evidence would not have changed the outcome of LaMar's trial.



Brady lawsuit transferred from Minnesota to New York court
Attorney News | 2015/08/02 22:27
Tom Brady's lawsuit against the NFL in which he wants his four-game suspension overturned will be heard in New York instead of Minnesota.

Brady and the players' union filed their suit Wednesday in Minnesota. But the NFL already had filed papers Tuesday in New York, moments after announcing that Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the suspension for Brady's involvement in the use of underinflated footballs in the AFC championship game.

U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle, based in Minnesota, ordered the transfer.

The judge wrote that he "sees little reason for this action to have been commenced in Minnesota at all."

He noted that Brady plays in Massachusetts, the union is headquartered in Washington and the NFL in New York, Kyle added that "the arbitration proceedings took place in New York and the award was issued in New York." Jeffrey Kessler, the lead attorney for Brady and the union, wasn't concerned about this game of musical witness chairs.



Court suspends ex-Chad dictator trial to ready new lawyers
Attorney News | 2015/07/21 18:15
The trial of Chad's ex-dictator Hissene Habre was suspended on Tuesday until September to allow court-appointed lawyers to prepare his defense.

The Extraordinary African Chambers, established by Senegal and the African Union, is trying the former leader of Chad for crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture, in an unprecedented case of one African country prosecuting the former ruler of another.

Habre on Tuesday refused representation but Attorney General Mbacke Fall said Habre must accept lawyers appointed by the judge, since he refused to be represented by his own.

Three Senegalese lawyers were appointed by the court to represent Habre and they were given until Sept. 7 to prepare the defense.

"The appointed lawyers have a duty to defend Habre. Even if the accused refuses to collaborate with the appointed lawyers for him, the procedure will continue," said Judge Gberdao Gustave Kam.

Habre has said he does not recognize the special tribunal, dismissing it as politically motivated. On Monday, Habre was taken away from court by security guards after he and a supporter yelled out, causing chaos. He then refused to return, submitting a statement saying he had been illegally detained.

Habre's government was responsible for an estimated 40,000 deaths, according to a report published in May 1992 by a 10-member truth commission formed by Chad's current President Idriss Deby. The commission singled out Habre's political police force for using torture.



Wisconsin court ends probe of presidential hopeful Walker
Attorney News | 2015/07/15 15:47
Presidential candidate Scott Walker won a major legal victory Thursday when Wisconsin's Supreme Court ended a secret investigation into whether the Republican's gubernatorial campaign illegally coordinated with conservative groups during the 2012 recall election.
 
No one has been charged in the so-called John Doe probe, Wisconsin's version of a grand jury investigation in which information is tightly controlled, but questions about the investigation have dogged Walker for months.

Barring an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the ruling makes Walker's campaign that much smoother as he courts voters in early primary states.

"Today's ruling confirmed no laws were broken, a ruling that was previously stated by both a state and federal judge," said Walker's spokeswoman Ashlee Strong. "It is time to move past this unwarranted investigation that has cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars."

The case centers on political activity conducted by Wisconsin Club for Growth and other conservative organizations during the 2012 recall, which was spurred by Democrats' anger over a Walker-authored law that effectively ending collective bargaining for most public workers.

The justices cited free speech in effectively tossing out the case, ruling state election law is overbroad and vague in defining what amounts to "political purposes."

Justice Michael Gableman, part of the court's conservative majority, praised the groups for challenging the investigation.

"It is fortunate, indeed, for every other citizen of this great State who is interested in the protection of fundamental liberties that the special prosecutor chose as his targets innocent citizens who had both the will and the means to fight the unlimited resources of an unjust prosecution," Gableman wrote in the majority opinion.



Decisions in last 3 Supreme Court cases expected Monday
Attorney News | 2015/06/29 16:03
The Supreme Court is meeting for the final time until the fall to decide three remaining cases and add some new ones for the term that starts in October.

The court decided its two blockbuster cases last week by declaring the right of same-sex couples to marry in all 50 states and upholding a critical part of the health care overhaul.

The three remaining cases that are expected to be decided Monday raise important questions about a controversial drug that was implicated in botched executions, state efforts to reduce partisan influence in congressional redistricting and costly Environmental Protection Agency limits on the emission of mercury and other toxic pollutants from power plants.

The justices also could add important cases for next term on abortion, affirmative action and the power of unions that represent government workers.

Here are more details about the three undecided cases:

—Lethal injection: Death-row inmates in Oklahoma are objecting to the use of the sedative midazolam in lethal-injection executions after the drug was implicated in several botched executions. Their argument is that the drug does not reliably induce a coma-like sleep that would prevent them from experiencing the searing pain of the paralytic and heart-stopping drugs that follow sedation.

—Independent redistricting commissions: Roughly a dozen states have adopted independent commissions to reduce partisan politics in drawing congressional districts. The case from Arizona involves a challenge from Republican state lawmakers who complain that they can't be completely cut out of the process without violating the Constitution.



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