South Korean court sentences Samsung heir to 5 years prison
Attorney News | 2017/08/25 06:07
A South Korean court sentenced the billionaire chief of Samsung to five years in prison for crimes that helped topple the country’s president, a stunning downfall that could freeze up decision making at a global electronics powerhouse long run like a monarchy.

The Seoul Central District Court said Friday that Lee Jae-yong, 49, was guilty of offering bribes to Park Geun-hye when she was South Korea’s president, and to Park’s close friend, to get government support for efforts to cement his control over the Samsung empire. The revelations that led to Lee’s arrest in February fed public outrage which contributed to Park’s removal.

A panel of three judges also found Lee guilty of embezzling Samsung funds, hiding assets overseas, concealing profit from criminal acts and perjury. Prosecutors had sought a 12-year prison term.

The court said Lee and Samsung executives who advised him caused “a big negative effect” to South Korean society and its economy.

“The essence of the case is unethical collusion between political power and capital,” the court said in a statement. It led the public to fundamentally question the public nature of the president’s work and to have “mistrust in the morality of the Samsung group,” it said.

The families who control South Korea’s big conglomerates, known as chaebol, were lionized a generation ago for helping to turn South Korea into a manufacturing powerhouse put public tolerance for double standards that put them above the law has been rapidly diminishing.

Analysts said the verdict will not immediately have an impact on Samsung’s business operations, which are overseen by three chief executives. The company has successfully weathered past crises that include two recalls of Galaxy Note 7 smartphones prone to catch fire and Lee’s arrest. It is set to report its highest-ever earnings this year.

But long-term business decisions, such as finding future growth areas and identifying companies for acquisitions, may have to be put on hold.


DJ says taking Taylor Swift to court was only option
Attorney News | 2017/08/17 07:00
The former radio host who lost a groping lawsuit to Taylor Swift in federal court this week said he realizes the case was in the pop star's favor, but he had no interest in backing down.

David Mueller told The Associated Press on Tuesday that someone he knew suggested he pull out of the case early, but he refused.

"I knew that I couldn't go on with my life without representing myself," he said. "I'm never going to back down."

A six-woman, two-man jury determined Monday that Mueller groped Swift during a photo op before a concert in Denver in 2013. In keeping with Swift's request, they awarded her $1 in damages — an amount her attorney, Douglas Baldridge, called "a single symbolic dollar, the value of which is immeasurable to all women in this situation."

Mueller said he is thinking of giving Swift a Sacagawea dollar because the Native American is a prominent female.

"I mean if this is all about women's rights. ... It's a little poke at them, a little bit," he said. "I mean, I think they made this into a publicity stunt, and this is my life."

Swift's team initially tried to keep the accusation quiet by not reporting the incident to police, and instead contacting Mueller's bosses.

But it became public when Mueller sued Swift for up to $3 million, claiming her allegation cost him his $150,000-a-year job at country station KYGO-FM, where he was a morning host.

After Mueller sued, Swift countersued for assault and battery. During an hour of testimony last week, she blasted a low-key characterization by Mueller's attorney, Gabriel McFarland, of what happened. While Mueller testified he never grabbed Swift, she insisted she was groped.


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.


Court: FAA must reconsider regulating airline seat size
Attorney News | 2017/07/31 03:41
An appeals court panel said Friday that federal officials must reconsider their decision not to regulate the size of airline seats as a safety issue.

One of the judges called it “the Case of the Incredible Shrinking Airline Seat.”

The Flyers Rights passenger group challenged the Federal Aviation Administration in court after the agency rejected its request to write rules governing seat size and the distance between rows of seats.

On Friday, a three-judge panel for the federal appeals court in Washington said the FAA had relied on outdated or irrelevant tests and studies before deciding that seat spacing was a matter of comfort, not safety.

The judges sent the issue back to the FAA. They said the agency must come up with a better-reasoned response to the group’s safety concerns.

“We applaud the court’s decision, and the path to larger seats has suddenly become a bit wider,” said Kendall Creighton, a spokeswoman for Flyers Rights.

The passenger group says small seats that are bunched too close together slow down emergency evacuations and raise the danger of travelers developing vein clots.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said the agency was considering the ruling and its next steps. He said the FAA considers the spacing between seat rows when testing to make sure that airliners can be evacuated safely.

The airline industry has long opposed the regulation of seat size. Its main U.S. trade group, Airlines for America, declined to comment on the ruling.


Top Vatican official to face Australian court on sex charges
Attorney News | 2017/07/25 22:52
The most senior Vatican official ever charged in the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis is expected to make his first court appearance in Australia on Wednesday, as he vows to clear his name in a scandal that has rattled Rome.

Cardinal George Pell, Australia's highest-ranking Catholic and Pope Francis' top financial adviser, was charged last month with sexually abusing multiple people years ago in his Australian home state of Victoria. The details of the allegations against the 76-year-old cardinal have yet to be released to the public, though police have described the charges as "historical" sexual assault offenses - meaning crimes that occurred years ago.

Pell is to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court for a hearing that will likely last just minutes and deal largely with administrative matters, such as setting future court dates. Despite the routine nature of the hearing, it is expected to draw hordes of journalists, abuse survivors and spectators.

Pell took a leave of absence from his duties in Rome to return to Australia to fight the charges. He has vehemently denied the allegations, saying last month, "The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me."

The pope has said he will wait for Australian justice to run its course before making a judgment of Pell himself.

For years, Pell has faced allegations that he mishandled cases of clergy abuse when he served as archbishop of Melbourne and, later, Sydney. But more recently, Pell became the focus of a clergy sex abuse investigation, with Victoria detectives flying to the Vatican to interview him last year.



North Carolina Court to Rule on Law on Gov's Elections Role
Attorney News | 2017/07/20 15:24
North Carolina's highest court is speeding up a final decision on whether Republican legislators could strip down the election oversight powers of the state's new Democratic governor.

The state Supreme Court said Wednesday it will take up Gov. Roy Cooper's lawsuit against state legislative leaders. The decision bypasses an intermediate appeals court and schedules a Supreme Court hearing on Aug. 28.

GOP lawmakers have sought to dilute Cooper's powers since he narrowly beat incumbent GOP Gov. Pat McCrory last year.

The contested law takes away Cooper's ability to appoint a majority of the state elections board and make every county's elections board a Democratic majority. The law would make a Republican head of the decision-making state board in presidential election years when most people vote and ballot disputes are hottest.


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