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Mexico issues first permits for marijuana under court ruling
Court News | 2015/12/12 17:24
The Mexican government on Friday granted the first permits allowing the cultivation and possession of marijuana for personal use.

The federal medical protection agency said the permits apply only to the four plaintiffs who won a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court last month. The court said growing and consuming marijuana is covered under the right of "free development of personality."

The permits issued Friday won't allow smoking marijuana in the presence of children or anyone who hasn't given consent. The permits also don't allow the sale or distribution of the drug. Ironically, the plaintiffs said that even with the permits in hand, they don't plan to smoke the marijuana permitted.

They said they filed the suit to make a point about prohibitionist policies being wrong, not to get their hands on legal weed. "The objective is to change the policy, not to promote consumption," said Juan Francisco Torres Landa, one of the four plaintiffs. "We are going to set the example; we are not going to consume it."

The court's ruling didn't mean a general legalization for Mexico. But if the court ruled the same way on five similar petitions, it would then establish the precedent to change the law and allow general recreational use.

The government medical protection agency, known as COFEPRIS, said it has received 155 applications to get such permits. But other applicants would have to go through the appeals process, something supporters say would probably take at least a year.


India court orders action on crematorium near Taj Mahal
Court News | 2015/11/17 23:14
India's Supreme Court has ordered a state government to remove a wood-burning crematorium from near the Taj Mahal to protect the monument from pollution damage.

The judges said Monday the Uttar Pradesh government could either move the crematorium or install an electric one in its place.

They ruled after a letter from another Supreme Court judge, who said that he'd noticed the mausoleum spewing smoke and ash during a recent visit to the monument and was concerned about the effect of air pollution on the marble structure.

In their order, the two judges suggested that the state could move the wood-burning crematorium and also build an electric one at the current site. This would allow people wanting to use wood pyres to do so, while others could use the electric crematorium, they said.

Hindus traditionally cremate their dead using wood fires. The government has been trying to encourage people to use electricity-powered crematoriums.

With its gleaming dome and graceful spires, the Taj Mahal is one of the world's most recognizable buildings, visited by more than 3 million tourists a year.

With its domes and minarets, semi-precious stone inlays and carvings, the monument is considered the finest example of Mughal art in India. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

On the banks of the Yamuna River in the city of Agra, the Taj Mahal was built in the 17th century by Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child.


Ruling gives Sandusky back $4,900-a-month Penn State pension
Court News | 2015/11/12 05:38
The state must restore the $4,900-a-month pension of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky that was taken away three years ago when he was sentenced to decades in prison on child molestation convictions, a court ordered Friday.

A Commonwealth Court panel ruled unanimously that the State Employees' Retirement Board wrongly concluded Sandusky was a Penn State employee when he committed the crimes that were the basis for the pension forfeiture.

"The board conflated the requirements that Mr. Sandusky engage in 'work relating to' PSU and that he engage in that work 'for' PSU," wrote Judge Dan Pellegrini. "Mr. Sandusky's performance of services that benefited PSU does not render him a PSU employee."

Sandusky, 71, collected a $148,000 lump sum payment upon retirement in 1999 and began receiving monthly payments of $4,900.

The board stopped those payments in October 2012 on the day he was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison for sexually abusing 10 children. A jury found him guilty of 45 counts for offenses that ranged from grooming and fondling to violent sexual attacks. Some of the encounters happened inside university facilities.

The basis for the pension board's decision was a provision in the state Pension Forfeiture Act that applies to "crimes related to public office or public employment," and he was convicted of indecent assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

The judges said the board's characterization of Sandusky as a Penn State employee at the time those offenses occurred was erroneous because he did not maintain an employer-employee relationship with the university after 1999.

The judges ordered the board to pay back interest and reinstated the pension retroactively, granting him about three years of makeup payments.



German court: former SS Auschwitz guard fit for trial
Court News | 2015/11/03 05:14
A German court says a 93-year-old former SS sergeant charged with 170,000 counts of accessory to murder on allegations he served as an Auschwitz death camp guard has been declared fit for trial.
 
The Detmold state court said Monday a doctor determined that Reinhold H., whose last name wasn't given for privacy reasons, is fit to stand trial so long as sessions are limited to two hours per day.

Defense attorneys and prosecutors now have two weeks to submit responses to the expert opinion. The court will then decide whether to open a trial.

H. is accused of being an accessory to murders at Auschwitz from January 1943 to June 1944. The suspect says he was assigned to a part of the camp not involved in the mass murders.




High court rejects ex-stockbroker's appeal in fraud case
Court News | 2015/11/02 05:14
The Supreme Court turned away an appeal from a former Toronto stockbroker convicted in a multimillion-dollar securities fraud who says federal prosecutors should have turned over documents that might have helped his defense.

The justices Monday let stand an appeals court ruling that said prosecutors didn't have to share information about the drug use of a key witness against George Georgiou. The lower court sided with prosecutors who said defense lawyers could have discovered the publicly available records on their own.

Georgiou's lawyers said prosecutors had a duty to disclose the information if they were aware of it. Several former Justice Department officials backed his claim and urged the court to take the case.

Georgiou was convicted on charges of manipulating markets of four stocks, causing $55 million in losses.





'Whitey' Bulger's lover heads to court on contempt charge
Court News | 2015/10/18 21:32
The longtime girlfriend and fugitive companion of James "Whitey" Bulger is expected in federal court to face a contempt charge for refusing to tell whether other people helped the Boston mobster during his 16 years on the run.
 
Catherine Greig is scheduled to make an initial appearance on the new charge Monday in U.S. District Court.

Greig, 64, already is serving an eight-year sentence for conspiracy to harbor a fugitive, identity fraud and conspiracy to commit identity fraud.

The indictment alleges that from December 2014 until last month, Greig disobeyed a judge's order to testify before a grand jury in an investigation into "third parties" who assisted and harbored Bulger.

Bulger, now 86, fled Boston just before being indicted in early 1995. He was one of the FBI's most wanted fugitives until he was captured in Santa Monica, California, in 2011. He and Greig had been living together in a rent-controlled apartment.

When Greig was sentenced on the original charges in 2012, her lawyer, Kevin Reddington, said Greig was in love with Bulger when she fled with him and did not believe that Bulger was capable of murder.

In 2013, Bulger was convicted of playing a role in 11 murders and other charges in a sweeping racketeering indictment.

Prosecutors said Greig had numerous opportunities to leave Bulger during their time on the run. Instead, they said she helped him remain a fugitive by using false identities and posing as his wife so she could pick up his prescriptions.

The couple posed as married retirees from Chicago. After they were captured, authorities found a stash of more than $800,000 in cash and 30 weapons in their apartment.


Man pleads guilty in threats against Wichita courthouse
Court News | 2015/10/17 21:33
A 22-year-old man accused of threatening to storm the Sedgwick County Courthouse and kill law enforcement officers has pleaded guilty.

Samuel McCrory pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of criminal threat and three counts of criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon as part of a plea agreement. He was also

ordered to surrender his guns and to enter an anger management program.

Prosecutors say McCrory posted the threats on July 30 on Facebook in reference to the trial of Kyler Carriker. McCrory is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 1.



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