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.



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.


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