Russian authorities asks court to block messaging app
Court Watch | 2018/04/04 12:03
Russia's communications watchdog says it has asked a court to block access to a popular messaging app.

The Russian Communications Agency said on Friday it has filed a lawsuit against the messaging app Telegram after it refused to hand over encryption keys to Russian intelligence.

The announcement follows a months-long row between Telegram and Russian authorities, who insist they need access to the keys to investigate serious crimes including terrorist attacks.

Russia's Supreme Court last month threw out an appeal by Telegram against demands from the Federal Security Service intelligence agency to provide access to user data.

Telegram argues that the FSB violates consumer rights, while authorities say the app has been used by violent extremists.


Arkansas high court: Some execution drug info can be secret
Court Watch | 2018/03/30 19:31
The Arkansas Supreme Court says the state prison system must continue to identify the manufacturers of its execution drugs but that it can conceal information that could identify those who obtain the drugs for the state.

Pharmaceutical companies won't sell their drugs for use in executions, which has led some states to obtain execution drugs through middle men or from made-to-order compounding pharmacies.

Arkansas prison officials insist secrecy is needed to ensure a steady supply of the drugs. They argued that secrecy for the middle men who obtain the drugs should also extend to manufacturers, but a Pulaski County judge said it should not and justices on Thursday agreed with that ruling.


Supreme Court hears case alleging unconstitutional 6th District gerrymander
Court Watch | 2018/03/29 02:31
U.S. Supreme Court justices expressed frustration with partisan gerrymandering on Wednesday as they heard arguments in a case challenging Maryland’s 6th Congressional District.

The case, which alleges a Democratic gerrymander in Maryland at the same time justices are considering the constitutionality of an alleged Republican gerrymander in Wisconsin, has some legal experts wondering whether the justices might be on the verge of establishing a standard that would allow judicial intervention in partisan gerrymandering cases for the first time in the court’s history.

The 6th District challenge was brought by seven Maryland residents, including three from Frederick County, who argue that the district — which includes southwestern parts of Frederick County and the city of Frederick — was unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor Democrats and punish Republicans during the reapportionment process after the 2010 census.

The justices heard arguments in the Wisconsin political gerrymandering case in October, but have not yet released an opinion.

The Maryland and Wisconsin cases both focus on unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering, but there are some important differences. The Maryland case challenges the redrawing of a single federal district to favor Democrats, while the Wisconsin case is based on the statewide redrawing of Wisconsin State Assembly districts to favor Republicans.

The two cases also allege different violations of voters’ rights: The Maryland case claims retaliation against Republican voters under a First Amendment framework, while the Wisconsin plaintiffs are alleging a violation of the equal protection clause under the 14th Amendment.




Agency: School boards, counties should stay out of court
Court Watch | 2018/03/23 02:32
School districts across North Carolina will present fall funding requests in the coming weeks, with the threat of costly and lengthy litigation if local county commissioners can't see eye-to-eye with school board members on spending.

The General Assembly's government watchdog agency told legislators Monday they should pass a law barring school districts from suing when funding disagreements can't be settled through formal mediation.

The Program Evaluation Division recommended the new law instead direct a county fund a district when mediation is exhausted through a formula based on student membership and inflation.

Some committee members hearing the agency report questioned whether it was worth changing the law since school funding impasses reached the courts just four times between 1997 and 2015. It took 21 months on average to resolve them.



Former Trump campaign aide Nunberg at court for grand jury
Court Watch | 2018/03/10 10:37
A former Trump campaign aide appeared for hours before a federal grand jury Friday, after he defiantly insisted in a series of news interviews just days earlier that he intended to defy a subpoena in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

Sam Nunberg spent more than six hours inside the federal courthouse in Washington. He declined to speak with journalists on the way in or out of the building, and it was not immediately clear what testimony he offered to the grand jury or what documents he provided.

His appearance marked a turnabout from extraordinary public statements Monday when Nunberg, in multiple interviews, balked at complying with a subpoena that sought his appearance before the grand jury as well as correspondence with other campaign officials. In doing so, he became the first witness in the Mueller probe to openly threaten to defy a subpoena.

Nunberg said he worked for hours to produce the thousands of emails and other communications requested by Mueller, who is investigating whether Donald Trump's campaign improperly coordinated with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing. His lawyers are currently negotiating the terms and scope of a possible interview with Mueller's office.


Turkish court rejects request for Greek soldiers' release
Court Watch | 2018/03/03 02:46
A Turkish court on Monday rejected lawyers' requests for two Greek soldiers arrested in Turkey to be released from custody.

The two were arrested last week for allegedly entering a Turkish military zone and on suspicion of attempted espionage. Greece said the two soldiers - a lieutenant and a sergeant - accidentally strayed into Turkey due to bad weather during a patrol of the Greek-Turkish border.

The development has added further tensions to already strained ties between the NATO allies.

Lawyers for the two Greek soldiers filed a demand Monday for their release at the court in the northwestern Turkish city of Edirne. The court however, ruled that they must remain in custody on grounds that they did not have permanent residence in Turkey and because the court was still examining the "digital data" seized from them, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Family members of the two soldiers were able to visit them in jail Monday.

Earlier in Athens, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias renewed a demand for their swift release.

"Turkey must observe procedures prescribed by international law, and not turn a routine incident into a big political and legal issue," he said.

A river marks most of the Greek-Turkish border, while a fence runs along much of the land section. However, some parts aren't clearly marked.

Relations between neighbors Greece and Turkey have soured in recent weeks over longstanding disputes about boundaries in the Aegean Sea and natural gas drilling rights off the coast of war-divided Cyprus.

Last month, a Greek coast guard vessel was rammed by a Turkish patrol boat off disputed islets in the east Aegean, and Turkish warships prevented an exploratory gas rig from drilling near Cyprus.

Turkey meanwhile, is angered by court decisions in Greece rejecting the extradition of eight Turkish servicemen wanted by Ankara for their alleged involvement in a failed military coup in 2016. The eight deny any involvement in the failed coup, and Greek courts have ruled they would be at risk of not receiving a fair trial if returned to Turkey.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag rejected speculation that Ankara could use the Greek soldiers' arrest to secure the extradition of the eight Turkish soldiers.

"The arrest of the two soldiers in Turkey is not the subject of a swap," Bozdag said. "Neither the Greek government nor the Turkish government have made a request for a swap."


Court: US anti-discrimination law covers sexual orientation
Court Watch | 2018/02/27 06:58
A New York federal appeals court says U.S. anti-discrimination law protects employees from being fired due to sexual orientation.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday. The decision stemmed from a rare meeting of the full appeals court, which decided to go against its precedents.

Three judges dissented. The ruling pertained to a skydiver instructor who said he was fired after telling a client he was gay.

The case led to two government agencies offering opposing views. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act covers sexual orientation. The Department of Justice had argued that it did not.

Donald Zarda was fired in 2010 from a skydiving job in Central Islip (EYEl-slihp), New York. He has since died.


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