Trial set for 1 of 4 impeached W.Va. Supreme Court justices
Attorney News | 2018/10/01 16:18
The first West Virginia Supreme Court justice to go on trial in an impeachment scandal is looking forward to explaining her decisions since taking office.

Justice Beth Walker's trial is set to start Monday in the state Senate. Senators are serving as jurors with several members of the House of Delegates serving as prosecutors.

Four justices were impeached by the House in August. The cases targeted spending, including renovations to the justices' offices, and also raised questions about corruption, incompetence and neglect of duty earlier this decade.

In a statement after her impeachment last month, Walker said she takes "full responsibility" for her actions and she will "look forward to explaining those actions and decisions before the State Senate."

Walker, who joined the court in 2017, said she has been committed to greater transparency and accountability in the judicial branch and agreed that "expenditures prior to my election were ill-advised, excessive and needed greater oversight."

Some Democrats have criticized the impeachment moves as a power grab by majority Republican lawmakers, strategically timed to allow GOP Gov. Jim Justice to name their temporary replacements.



Supreme Court upholds hospital 'charity care' tax exemption
Attorney News | 2018/09/23 21:49
The Illinois Supreme Court has upheld a 2012 law that sought to clarify property tax exemptions for charitable hospitals.

The court voted 7-0 in an opinion issued Thursday. It ruled on a law that allows issuing tax exemptions to hospitals when the value of the "charity care" or "free or discounted services" they provide exceed its estimated tax liability.

Constance Oswald argued in her lawsuit that the law requires issuing an exemption regardless of whether the constitutional requirements are met. The court found that the language of the law merely allows allowing an exemption in warranted cases.

Illinois Health and Hospital Association spokesman Danny Chun says the law has cleared up previous confusion and ensured financially stretched hospitals can serve their communities.


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Attorney News | 2018/09/16 02:13
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EU backs ICC after US questions court's legitimacy
Attorney News | 2018/09/14 21:43
The European Union's top diplomat says the bloc remains a staunch supporter of the International Criminal Court despite U.S. condemnation of the tribunal.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Thursday that "we will continue to fully and strongly support the ICC and its work."

The Hague-based court was created in 2002 to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in areas where perpetrators might not otherwise face justice.

Mogherini said the ICC "has strengthened universal justice beyond power politics and beyond geopolitical interests," and added that "accountability is essential to build the foundations for peace."

U.S. National security adviser John Bolton denounced the ICC earlier this week just as a judge weighs whether to investigate allegations of war crimes against U.S. and Afghan personnel in Afghanistan since 2003.



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.



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