Belgian court rules out extradition for Spanish rapper
Headline Legal News | 2018/09/17 19:15
A Belgian court on Monday ruled that Spanish rapper Valtonyc should not be sent back to Spain, where he was sentenced to prison accused of writing lyrics that praise terror groups and insult the royal family.

The rapper, whose real name is Jose Miguel Arenas Beltran, was supposed to turn himself in voluntarily in May to authorities in Spain, where he faces prison sentences totaling three and a half years, but instead fled to Belgium.

"The judge has decided there will be no extradition and discarded all three charges," his lawyer, Simon Bekaert, told reporters near the court in the city of Ghent.

Bekaert said the judge ruled "there is no terrorism involved, there is no incitement of terrorism, so there is no question of a crime according to Belgian law." He said the judge also found that there is no crime to answer to over insulting the Spanish king and that no threat was made that could warrant extradition.

"I feel good, I am happy. But I am sad for the people in Spain, who unlucky, they don't have justice like me here," Arenas told reporters, in English."

The ruling could re-ignite tensions between Belgium and Spain over extradition demands.

Late last year, Spain dropped a European arrest warrant against former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont after it became clear that Belgian justice authorities were unlikely to recognize some of the Spanish charges against him.




Court: Cities can't prosecute people for sleeping on streets
Headline Legal News | 2018/09/05 23:58
Cities can't prosecute people for sleeping on the streets if they have nowhere else to go because it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, which is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court said Tuesday.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with six homeless people from Boise, Idaho, who sued the city in 2009 over a local ordinance that banned sleeping in public spaces. The ruling could affect several other cities across the U.S. West that have similar laws.

It comes as many places across the West Coast are struggling with homelessness brought on by rising housing costs and income inequality.

When the Boise lawsuit was filed, attorneys for the homeless residents said as many as 4,500 people didn't have a place to sleep in Idaho's capital city and homeless shelters only had about 700 available beds or mats. The case bounced back and forth in the courts for years, and Boise modified its rules in 2014 to say homeless people couldn't be prosecuted for sleeping outside when shelters were full.

But that didn't solve the problem, the attorneys said, because Boise's shelters limit the number of days that homeless residents can stay. Two of the city's three shelters also require some form of religious participation for some programs, making those shelters unsuitable for people with different beliefs, the homeless residents said.

The three-judge panel for the 9th Circuit found that the shelter rules meant homeless people would still be at risk of prosecution even on days when beds were open. The judges also said the religious programming woven into some shelter programs was a problem.


Blankenship ballot bid denied by West Virginia Supreme Court
Headline Legal News | 2018/08/31 16:02
The state Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a last-minute bid by former coal CEO Don Blankenship to get his name on the ballot in November's U.S. Senate race in West Virginia.

The court upheld a decision by the secretary of state denying Blankenship's application for a third-party candidacy.

"The West Virginia Secretary of State is ordered to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that Donald L. Blankenship does not appear on the 2018 General Election Ballot for the Office of United States Senator for the State of West Virginia," the decision said.

The court itself is in a state of upheaval. One of the judges hearing the case Wednesday was filling in for a suspended justice, and two sat in for judges who retired after lawmakers voted to impeach them over allegations of improper use of court funds.

The justices issued the decision in the form of an order, rather than an opinion that would have laid out how each one voted and included comments from a majority ruling.

In a statement, Blankenship thanked his supporters and said he will evaluate his next step with his attorneys, which could include an appeal.

"For those who believe in democracy, it is a frightening decision," he said. "Americans desperately need to pay attention as the politicians continue to move voters to the sidelines and out of the election process."

Secretary of State Mac Warner had blocked Blankenship's bid to run as the Constitution Party's nominee, based on the state's "sore loser" law. It prohibits major-party primary candidates who lose from switching to a minor party. Blankenship finished third in the Republican primary in May.


Alabama Supreme Court won't move lawsuit against Moore
Headline Legal News | 2018/08/19 08:34
The Alabama Supreme Court on Friday refused to transfer a defamation lawsuit against former U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore by a woman who says Moore molested her decades ago.

The court denied Moore's request to have the case heard in Etowah County instead of Montgomery. Moore issued a statement calling the decision "ridiculous."

Leigh Corfman accused Moore of sexually molesting her decades ago when she was 14 and he was a prosecutor in his 30s. Moore has denied the allegations, but they became an issue in the 2017 race in Alabama to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate. Moore lost to Democrat Doug Jones.

Corfman in January filed a lawsuit against Moore and his campaign, saying they defamed her and made false statements, calling her a liar and immoral as they denied the claims in the midst of the election.

Moore sought to have the case heard in Etowah County where he and Corfman both live.

"The Court itself admits venue is proper in either county. Should not the case be tried in the county where we both live and where her reputation and character are well known?" Moore said.

Etowah County has also been friendlier territory for Moore. During the U.S. Senate race, Moore won about 60 percent of the vote in Etowah County, while he garnered just 27 percent of in Montgomery.

Several Supreme Court justices recused from the case involving Moore, who is a former chief justice of the court. Five retired judges were randomly selected to hear the case along with Associate Justice Brady Mendheim, Jr., and Associate Justice Will Sellers.



Ugandan pop star, a government critic, faces military court
Headline Legal News | 2018/08/16 15:58
A pop singer and prominent critic of Uganda's government was charged with unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition in a military court on Thursday for his alleged role in clashes in which the longtime president's motorcade was attacked by people throwing stones.

Lawmaker Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, whose stage name is Bobi Wine, was arrested in the northwestern town of Arua earlier this week. In a court session closed to reporters, he was remanded and will reappear on Aug. 23, the military said in a statement.

Ssentamu's wife insisted he doesn't know how to handle a weapon, and rights activists demanded his release. In a suburb of the capital, Kampala, small groups of his supporters took to the streets and burned tires in protest but police quickly dispersed them, national police spokesman Emilian Kayima said.

Three other lawmakers arrested alongside Ssentamu were charged earlier on Thursday with treason in a magistrates' court in the northern town of Gulu, where he was detained.

Many Ugandans expressed concern for Ssentamu's safety after Uganda's deputy prime minister told lawmakers he had been hospitalized in custody, without giving details.

The clashes broke out on Monday when Ssentamu and other politicians, including President Yoweri Museveni, were in Arua campaigning in a by-election to choose a lawmaker after the previous one was shot dead near Kampala in June.

Ssentamu's driver was shot dead in the clashes. The lawmaker later posted a picture of the dead man on Twitter, saying he had been killed by the police "thinking they've shot at me."

A group of lawmakers authorized by the parliamentary speaker to investigate the situation told reporters on Thursday that they had been unable to see the pop star.


Zimbabwe's opposition challenges election results in court
Headline Legal News | 2018/08/13 20:24
Zimbabwe's main opposition party on Friday filed a legal challenge to the results of the country's first election without Robert Mugabe on the ballot, alleging "gross mathematical errors" and calling for a fresh vote or a declaration that their candidate Nelson Chamisa was the winner.

The filing brings more uncertainty to a country that had hoped the peaceful vote would begin a new era but has been rocked since then by scenes of military in the streets and opposition supporters harassed and beaten.

The court now has 14 days to rule, and Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the inauguration, once planned for Sunday for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, is "on hold' until then.

Zimbabwe's main opposition party on Friday filed a legal challenge to the results of the country's first election without Robert Mugabe on the ballot, alleging "gross mathematical errors" and calling for a fresh vote or a declaration that their candidate Nelson Chamisa was the winner.

The filing brings more uncertainty to a country that had hoped the peaceful vote would begin a new era but has been rocked since then by scenes of military in the streets and opposition supporters harassed and beaten.

The court now has 14 days to rule, and Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the inauguration, once planned for Sunday for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, is "on hold' until then.


Wisconsin court to rule on conservative professor's firing
Headline Legal News | 2018/07/08 04:02
The Wisconsin Supreme Court is set to rule on whether Marquette University was correct to fire a conservative professor who wrote a blog post criticizing a student instructor he believed shut down discussion against gay marriage.

John McAdams sued the private Catholic school in 2016, arguing that he lost his job for exercising freedom of speech.

Marquette says McAdams wasn't fired for the content of his 2014 post, but because he named the instructor and linked to her personal website that had personal identifying information. The instructor later received a flood of hateful messages and threats.

The court heard arguments in April. The ruling expected Friday has been eagerly awaited by conservatives who see universities as liberal havens and by private businesses that want control over employee discipline.




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