Rolling Stone defamation case over rape story back in court
Legal Interview | 2017/02/10 15:27
Attorneys for Rolling Stone magazine are heading back to federal court to try to overturn a jury's defamation verdict over its botched story "A Rape on Campus."

A judge is holding a hearing in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Thursday to consider Rolling Stone's request to throw out the jury's November verdict. The jury awarded University of Virginia administrator Nicole Eramo $3 million after finding Rolling Stone and a reporter defamed her.

The 2014 story told the account of a woman identified only as "Jackie," who said she was gang raped at the school. A police investigation found no evidence to back up Jackie's claims.

The magazine argues, among other things, there's no evidence reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely acted with actual malice. Eramo's attorneys are urging the judge to keep the verdict.




Court ponders mass murderer Breivik's prison conditions
Legal Interview | 2017/01/22 06:53
An appeals court in Norway is considering whether the prison conditions under which mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik is being held amount to a violation of his human rights.

The six-day trial ended Wednesday in a makeshift courtroom inside Skien prison in southern Norway where Breivik, 37, is serving a 21-year sentence for killing 77 people in a 2011 bomb-and-shooting rampage.

Breivik's lawyer, Oystein Storrvik, spent most of the last day seeking to show that restrictions on his client's visitors and the strict control over Breivik's mail and phone calls have led to a lack of human interaction and privacy, which amounts to a violation of his rights.

The case is "really about a person that is sitting very, very alone in a small prison within a prison" since 2012, explained Storrvik.

He dismissed the benefits of the weekly visits by a state-appointed prison confidante for Breivik, saying "it's a paid job."

Addressing the court last week, Breivik said his solitary confinement had deeply damaged him and made him even more radical in his neo-Nazi beliefs.

The Norwegian state rejected the criticism and said efforts to find a prison confidante show the authorities have "gone out of their way" to remedy the situation.

In a surprise verdict last year, the Oslo District Court sided with Breivik, finding that his isolation was "inhuman (and) degrading" and breached the European Convention on Human Rights. It ordered the government to pay his legal costs.

But it dismissed Breivik's claim that his right to respect for private and family life was violated by restrictions on contacts with other right-wing extremists, a decision that Breivik is appealing.

If the state loses the appeal, Breivik's prison regime will have to be revised. The government could decide to take the case to the Norwegian Supreme court. A ruling is expected in February.


Man accused of killing Orlando officer defiant in court
Legal Interview | 2017/01/19 06:54
A man suspected of fatally shooting a Florida police officer spoke out of turn and was defiant in an Orlando courtroom where he made an initial appearance on charges of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend.

Forty-one-year-old Markeith Loyd told the judge Thursday morning that he plans to represent himself and said the charges against him were made up. The judge ordered Loyd held without bond.

Loyd's eye was bandaged and two officers flanked him as he stood at the podium wearing a bullet-proof vest. He was injured during his arrest Tuesday night following a weeklong manhunt.

Loyd faces multiple charges including first-degree murder, unlawful killing of an unborn child and attempted murder in the December death of Sade Dixon. He hasn't been charged in the death of Lt. Debra Clayton who was gunned down while she searched for him outside a Wal-Mart store Jan. 9.



Court says convicted killer Skakel's defense was adequate
Legal Interview | 2017/01/03 02:14
Convicted killer Michael Skakel could be headed back to prison after the Connecticut Supreme Court reinstated his 2002 conviction for the gruesome murder of his 15-year-old neighbor Martha Moxley.

Moxley was killed — bludgeoned with a golf club belonging to the Skakel family and stabbed in the neck with the broken-off handle — the night before Halloween in 1975 in the driveway of her Greenwich home. No physical evidence tied Skakel to the crime, but he was convicted because of incriminating things he said to friends and a weak alibi he gave investigators.

Skakel, the now 56-year-old nephew of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, served a decade of his 20-to-life sentence until he was released in 2013 when an appeals court ruled he didn’t get an adequate legal defense from his lawyer Mickey Sherman.

Connecticut’s highest court rejected that ruling yesterday in a divided 4-3 decision that found Sherman “rendered constitutionally adequate representation” — setting in motion a series of last-ditch efforts by Skakel’s appellate attorneys to keep him from heading back to the lock-up.


Delaware County creates domestic violence court
Legal Interview | 2016/11/16 20:57
The Indiana Supreme Court has approved the creation of a domestic violence court in Delaware County.

Delaware County Prosecutor Jeffrey Arnold tells The (Muncie) Star Press all felony domestic battery cases now will be filed in Delaware Circuit Court 1, where Judge Marianne Vorhees presides.

Arnold says the judge volunteered to create the domestic violence court. He says when one judge brings a lot of expertise to a legal area, it creates consistency.

Arnold recently has added a deputy prosecutor, an investigator and a victim advocate to deal exclusively deal with domestic violence cases.

Arnold says Vorhees will continue to preside over other types of criminal cases.


Grassley: GOP can't stonewall a Clinton Supreme Court pick
Legal Interview | 2016/10/21 03:01
Republicans "can't just simply stonewall" nominees to the Supreme Court even if the president making the choice is Democrat Hillary Clinton, says the GOP chairman of the Judiciary Committee in a reaffirmation of the Senate's advise-and-consent role on judicial picks.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley's comments on Tuesday was a response to fellow Republican Sen. John McCain, who a day earlier vowed that Republicans would unite against any nominee Clinton puts forward if she becomes president. That unprecedented pledge raised the possibility that the Supreme Court would have to operate for four years of a Clinton term with one or more vacancies, rather than nine justices.

The court has had one vacancy for months since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. Republicans have refused to consider President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland, arguing that the next president should fill the opening.

"I think we have a responsibility to very definitely vet — if you want to use the word vet — whoever nominee that person puts forward," Grassley told radio reporters in Iowa. "We have the same responsibility for (Donald) Trump. We know more the type of people Trump would nominate because he's listed 20. They fall into the category of strict constructionists. As I heard about Hillary on the last debate, the type of people she's going to appoint, I would say they're judicial activists."

He added that the new president should make the choice and "if that new president happens to be Hillary. We can't just simply stonewall."

McCain's comments came in an interview with Philadelphia talk radio host Dom Giordano to promote the candidacy of Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., one of the more vulnerable GOP incumbents as Republicans scramble to hold onto their Senate majority.



Appeals court orders judge to expunge woman's convictions
Legal Interview | 2016/09/16 21:01
A state appeals court has overruled a western Indiana judge and ordered him to expunge a woman's convictions despite his disgust for her crimes.

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 last week that Jay Circuit Judge Brian Hutchison must expunge the convictions of 35-year-old Mindy M. McCowan of Dunkirk for forgery in 2003 and for dealing methamphetamine in 2004.

The ruling said McCowan was released from prison in 2007 and completed probation in 2010. She has since maintained employment and earned an associate's degree and professional certifications.

The Star Press reports Hutchison declined to expunge the convictions last November, saying he has drug cases before him every day and he wasn't "doing favors for people who are causing these problems in Jay County."


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