Israeli protesters erect golden statue of High Court chief
Court Watch | 2017/08/31 23:05
Jerusalem residents woke to discover a surprising spectacle outside the country's Supreme Court — a golden statue of the court's president put up in protest by members of a religious nationalist group.

Police quickly removed the statue of Miram Naor, raised outside the court overnight, but after questioning some suspects, said no criminal activity had occurred.

Derech Chaim, which wants to impose Jewish religious law in Israel, said it had put up the statue to protest what one activist called the court's "dictatorship." Many Israeli hardliners consider the court to be excessively liberal and interventionist.

Ariel Gruner, a Derech Chaim activist, said the statue was erected in response to a court ruling this week over the country's treatment of African migrants. The ruling said that while Israel can transfer migrants to a third country, it cannot incarcerate them for more than 60 days to pressure them to leave.

The ruling is among a series of decisions that "eliminates the possibility of elected officials, of the government, to make decisions and rule," Gruner said.

He acknowledged that the statue had been inspired by a golden statue of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu erected by a left-wing artist in a main Tel Aviv square last year.



UK court increases sentence for surgeon who maimed patients
Court Watch | 2017/08/08 01:55
Britain's appeals court has increased to 20 years the prison sentence of a surgeon convicted of performing unnecessary operations, leaving scores of patients maimed and some in constant pain.

Ian Paterson falsely told patients they had cancer and performed operations including mastectomies. He was convicted of crimes against 10 patients in May and sentenced to 15 years. Prosecutors believe there were many more victims.

The government challenged the sentence, and three appeals judges agreed Thursday that it was "unduly lenient."

One of the judges, Heather Hallet, said "greed, self-aggrandizement, power" and other possible motives "do not come close to explaining how a doctor can falsely tell a patient he or she has cancer when they have not."

She said the victims "must feel no sentence could properly reflect their suffering."


Man suspected in Indiana officer's killing due in court
Court Watch | 2017/08/05 01:56
A man suspected in the fatal shooting of a police officer in Indianapolis is due in court as prosecutors weigh formal charges in the case.

Twenty-eight-year-old Jason Brown remains held without bond on suspicion of murder in Thursday's killing of Southport police Lt. Aaron Allan.

Indianapolis police spokesman Sgt. Kendale Adams says Brown was expected to be moved from a hospital to Marion County's jail for his initial hearing Tuesday.

Brown was hospitalized after another officer shot him following Allan's shooting. He has not been formally charged.

An affidavit filed Friday says Brown was "hysterical" and dangling upside down in his overturned car as Allan approached to help after Brown's speeding car overturned. It says Brown opened fire on Allen, who suffered 14 gunshot wounds.



Spanish court backs extradition of Russian programmer to US
Court Watch | 2017/08/01 20:41
Spain's National Court has recommended the extradition to the United States of a Russian computer programmer accused by U.S. prosecutors of developing malicious software that stole information from financial institutions and caused losses of $855,000.

Stanislav Lisov, 31, was arrested Jan. 13 in the Barcelona Airport while on honeymoon in Europe. Prosecutors accuse him of developing the NeverQuest software that targeted banking clients in the United States between June 2012 and January 2015.

The Spanish court said Tuesday that Lisov could face up to 25 years in prison for conspiracy to commit electronic and computer fraud. The extradition hearing took place July 20.

The court said its ruling can be appealed by Lisov. The extradition, if finally decided upon, must be approved by the government.



Ronaldo tells judge he has 'never tried to avoid taxes'
Court Watch | 2017/07/31 17:41
Cristiano Ronaldo told a Spanish judge Monday that he has "never tried to avoid taxes."

The Real Madrid forward, who is from Portugal, was questioned to determine whether he committed tax fraud worth almost 15 million euros ($17.5 million). Ronaldo spent more than 90 minutes answering the questions of investigating judge Monica Gomez.

According to a statement released by his public relations firm, the 32-year-old Ronaldo told the judge: "I have never hidden anything, and never tried to avoid taxes."

Judge Gomez took Ronaldo's testimony as part of an investigation to determine if there are grounds to charge him. The session at Pozuelo de Alarcon Court No. 1 on the outskirts of Madrid was closed to the public because it is part of an ongoing investigation.

In June, a state prosecutor accused Ronaldo of four counts of tax fraud from 2011-14 worth 14.7 million euros ($16.5 million). The prosecutor accused the Portugal forward of having used shell companies outside Spain to hide income made from image rights. The accusation does not involve his salary from Real Madrid. Ronaldo denies any wrongdoing.

"Spain's Tax Office knows all the details about my sources of income because we have reported them," Ronaldo told the judge, according to his statement. "I always file my tax returns because I think that we should all file and pay our taxes.

"Those who know me know that I tell my consultants that they must have everything in order and paid up to date because I don't want trouble."

Both before and after his court appearance, Ronaldo used an alternative entrance to avoid a large swarm of more than a hundred journalists from Spain and aboard gathered near the main door to the court.

Court officials had said that either Ronaldo or his lawyer would speak to the media after he saw the judge, but instead the player's spokesman, Inaki Torres, stepped up to the temporary podium in front of the courthouse to announce that Ronaldo "was on his way home."

The prosecutor said in June that Ronaldo used what was deemed a shell company in the Virgin Islands to "create a screen in order to hide his total income from Spain's Tax Office."

The prosecutor accused Ronaldo of declaring 11.5 million euros ($12.8 million) earned from 2011-14 in a tax return filed in 2014, when the prosecutor said Ronaldo's real income during that period was almost 43 million euros ($48 million). It added that Ronaldo falsely claimed the income as coming from real estate, which "greatly" reduced his tax rate.


D.C. on edge: rumors of new Supreme Court vacancy swirl
Court Watch | 2017/06/24 13:15
White House sources think Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court's ideological fulcrum, may announce his retirement today, as the justices gather on the bench for the last time this term.

If that happens, Day 158 instantly becomes President Trump's biggest moment.

Trump's first Court appointment, of Justice Neil Gorsuch, was a one-for-one ideological swap for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Replacing Kennedy would be even more historic and consequential: a momentous chance to edge the Court right, since Kennedy is the center of the Court — the one most willing to listen to both sides. On a controversial case, both sides pitch to him. It's been called "Kennedy's Court."

No one's predicting: Court watchers say no one knows, and Kennedy has said nothing publicly. He could well wait one more year: The Court buzz is that it'll be this year or next.

Be smart: Few domestic developments could more instantly and decisively change the national conversation — blotting out almost everything else, and vastly reducing the sting for conservatives is healthcare tanks.

A Washington wise man emails: "With two court appointments and maybe one more, Trump's presidency will be consequential even if he has few legislative achievements. This week may well demonstrate both."



Top court to hear case that could reshape US political map
Court Watch | 2017/06/20 16:43
The Supreme Court will take up a momentous fight over parties manipulating electoral districts to gain partisan advantage in a case that could affect the balance of power between Democrats and Republicans across the United States.

At issue is whether Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin drew legislative districts that favored their party and were so out of whack with the state's political breakdown that they violated the constitutional rights of Democratic voters.

It will be the high court's first case in more than a decade on what's known as partisan gerrymandering. A lower court struck down the districts as unconstitutional last year.

The justices won't hear the arguments until the fall, but the case has already taken on a distinctly ideological, if not partisan, tone. Just 90 minutes after justices announced Monday that they would hear the case, the five more conservative justices voted to halt a lower court's order to redraw the state's legislative districts by November, in time for next year's elections.

The four more liberal justices, named to the court by Democrats, would have let the new line-drawing proceed even as the court considers the issue.

That divide could be significant. One factor the court weighs in making such decisions is which side seems to have a better chance of winning.

Republicans who control the state legislature assured the court that they could draw new maps in time for the 2018 elections, if the court strikes down the districts. If the state wins, there'll be no need for new districts.

Democrats hope a favorable decision will help them cut into Republican electoral majorities. Election law experts say the case is the best chance yet for the high court to put limits on what lawmakers may do to gain a partisan advantage in creating political district maps.

Both parties have tried to get the largest partisan edge when they control redistricting. Yet Democrats are more supportive of having courts rein in extreme districting plans, mainly because Republicans control more legislatures and drew districts after the 2010 census that enhanced their advantage in those states and in the House of Representatives.


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