Walker appointee, judge, prof face off in high court primary
Attorney News | 2020/02/17 18:49
Wisconsin voters will choose between a Republican appointee, a Madison judge and a law professor as they winnow down the candidates for a state Supreme Court seat in a primary Tuesday.

Conservative Justice Dan Kelly will face off against liberal-leaning Jill Karofsky and Ed Fallone. The top two vote-getters will advance to the April 7 general election with a 10-year term on the high court at stake.

The race can’t change the court’s ideological leaning since conservative-leaning justices currently have a 5-2 edge. But a Kelly defeat would cut their margin to 4-3 and give liberals a shot at a majority in 2023.

Then-Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, appointed Kelly to the Supreme Court in 2016 to replace the retiring David Prosser. An attorney by trade, he represented Republican lawmakers in a federal trial over whether they illegally gerrymandered Wisconsin’s legislative district boundaries in 2011. He’s also a member of The Federalist Society, a conservative organization that advocates for a strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

Karofsky is a wiry marathon runner who has completed two Iron Man competitions. She also won the state doubles tennis championship in 1982 for Middleton High School.

She has served as an assistant prosecutor in the Dane County district attorney’s office, general counsel for the National Conference of Bar Examiners and executive director of the state Department of Justice’s Office of Crime Victim Services. She won election as a Dane County circuit judge in 2017.



Spanish court keeps former Mexican oil chief in detention
Attorney News | 2020/02/15 02:48
A Spanish court ruled Thursday that a former head of Mexico’s state oil company must remain in custody while an extradition case is heard against him.

A judge ruled that Emilio Lozoya is a flight risk, according to a statement from the National Court in Madrid.

Mexico issued international arrest warrants against Lozoya last year as a result of corruption investigations. Lozoya has denied wrongdoing.

When he was arrested Wednesday in the southeastern Spanish port of Malaga, Lozoya had a driving license bearing his photograph but a different name, according to the court statement. The judge took that as an attempt to evade justice.

Spanish authorities said Lozoya had entered Spain two days earlier, but a search had been on for him throughout Europe since May.

He is one of the most high-profile detentions for alleged corruption under Mexico’s current president, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has vowed to crack down on graft.

Lozoya was the director of Pemex between 2012 and 2016, during the administration of former President Enrique Pena Nieto. He had also been a key member of Pena Nieto’s presidential campaign.

Last year, Lopez Obrador’s administration issued a number of orders for his arrest. One tied him to the bribery scandal of Brazilian construction behemoth Odebrecht and another to the sale of a fertilizer plant to Pemex at allegedly inflated prices.


WADA asks sports court to open Russia case to public hearing
Attorney News | 2020/02/06 03:15
The World Anti-Doping Agency wants a rare public hearing for sport’s highest court to judge a four-year slate of punishments faced by Russia for persistent cheating.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport is preparing a hearing expected within weeks for the blockbuster case in Switzerland.

“It is WADA’s view — and that of many of our stakeholders — that this dispute at CAS should be held in a public forum to ensure that everybody understands the process and hears the arguments,” the Montreal-based agency’s director general, Olivier Niggli, said in a statement.

Urged on by President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s anti-doping agency, known as RUSADA, is formally challenging a WADA ruling in December to declare it non-compliant after key data from the Moscow testing laboratory was corrupted.

The CAS panel of three judges will have power to enforce WADA-recommended sanctions including a ban on Russia’s team name, flag and anthem at Olympic Games and world championships.

WADA also wants Russian athletes to compete as neutrals at the Olympics and major events only if they pass a vetting process which examines their history of drug testing and possible involvement in lab cover-ups of positive tests.

CAS hearings can be opened to media and public observers in some cases when both parties consent.

The court held its first public hearing for 20 years in November when WADA appealed a ruling by swimming’s world body not to ban China’s three-time Olympic gold medalist Sun Yang for alleged doping rule violations.


Fewer candidates seek WVa Supreme Court seats after scandal
Attorney News | 2020/01/27 21:13
A little over a year removed from an impeachment scandal that included pricey renovations of court offices, the West Virginia Supreme Court’s lineup is about to finish its own complete makeover, barring a last-second filing.

There are far fewer names for the three races in May than there were for two spots up for grabs in a November 2018 special election. What the races lack in numbers, they make up with cash.

Missing from the list of nine candidates is Justice Margaret Workman, whose 12-year term also ends this year. Saturday was the deadline for candidates to have their papers postmarked. Three seats are up for grabs on May 12.

Workman did not file precandidacy papers for re-election. She did not respond to a request for comment last week.

If the 72-year-old Workman retires, it would mark the last piece in a court turnover over the past four years. Three justices joined the five-member court in 2018. Beth Walker, who was elected in 2016, is the court’s senior member. The last time all five justices were replaced occurred over a four-year span in the late 1990s

Judicial elections in West Virginia became nonpartisan in 2016. In 2018, the court’s impeachment scandal stirred political attacks and some Democrats argued the court’s shakeup was a power grab by Republicans. Regardless of what Workman decides, career Republicans would retain control of the Supreme Court.

While 20 candidates filed for two open seats in the 2018 special election, this year’s races prompted just nine candidates for three races.


Supreme Court rejects fast-track review of health care suit
Attorney News | 2020/01/21 18:14
The Supreme Court refused Tuesday to consider a fast-track review of a lawsuit that threatens the Obama-era health care law, making it highly unlikely that the justices would decide the case before the 2020 election.

The court denied a request by 20 mainly Democratic states and the Democratic-led House of Representatives to decide quickly on a lower-court ruling that declared part of the statute unconstitutional and cast a cloud over the rest.

Defenders of the Affordable Care Act argued that the issues raised by the case are too important to let the litigation drag on for months or years in lower courts, and that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans erred when it struck down the health law's now toothless requirement that Americans have health insurance.

The justices did not comment on their order. They will consider the appeal on their normal timetable and could decide in the coming months whether to take up the case.



German court may reject appeal to remove anti-Semitic relic
Attorney News | 2020/01/18 02:15
A court in eastern Germany indicated Tuesday that it will likely reject a Jewish man’s bid to force the removal of an ugly remnant of centuries of anti-Semitism from a church where Martin Luther once preached.

The Naumburg court's senate said, at a hearing, that “it will maybe reject the appeal,” court spokesman Henning Haberland told reporters.

“The senate could not follow the plaintiff's opinion that the defamatory sculpture can be seen as an expression of disregard in its current presentation,” Haberland said.

The verdict will be announced on February 4.

The so-called “Judensau,” or “Jew pig,” sculpture on the Town Church in Wittenberg dates back to around 1300. It is perhaps the best-known of more than 20 such anti-Semitic relics from the Middle Ages that still adorn churches across Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

Located 4 meters (13 feet) above the ground on a corner of the church, it depicts Jews suckling on the teats of a sow, while a rabbi lifts the animal’s tail. In 1570, after the Protestant Reformation, an inscription referring to an anti-Jewish tract by Luther was added.

Judaism considers pigs impure and no one disputes that the sculpture is deliberately offensive. But there is strong disagreement about what to do with the relief.


Connecticut courts moving notices from newspapers to website
Attorney News | 2019/12/26 17:12
The Connecticut court system will usher in the new year by moving required public notices to its website and out of newspapers, citing lower costs and the potential to reach a wider audience.

Media representatives, however, believe the move will result in fewer residents being informed of important legal matters and will be another blow to news companies already dealing with huge declines in revenues. A single public notice can cost a few hundred dollars to run in a newspaper.

It's a concept that's been debated by government officials across the country, but so far one that appears to have gained little traction amid opposition by newspapers.

“State government’s thirst for keeping information out of the public hands knows no bounds," said Chris VanDeHoef, executive director of the Connecticut Daily Newspapers Association. “Every branch of government in our state should be focused on getting information that is pertinent to the citizens of Connecticut out in as many places possible — not fewer.”

The Connecticut Judicial Branch has set up a legal notices section on its website that will go live on Jan. 2, when it ends the requirement to publish them in newspapers.

“It is expected that this will save a great deal of time and expense, and provide greater accuracy and broader notice than newspaper publication," the Judicial Branch said in a statement on its website announcing the move.

Most of the notices at issue are intended for people involved in civil and family court cases, usually defendants, who cannot be located because their current addresses are unknown. While a good portion of the publishing costs are paid for by litigants, the Judicial Branch foots the bill for a large number of people who cannot afford it, officials said.



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