S. Indiana city's mayor defends rental ordinance in court
Legal Topics | 2017/09/04 02:00
The mayor of a southern Indiana city is defending a rental inspection ordinance that’s resulted in thousands of dollars in fines against property owners and is the subject of a lawsuit.

Charlestown Mayor Bob Hall testified during Friday’s daylong hearing in Scott County Circuit Court that the ordinance is needed to ensure safe housing in his Ohio River community.

The News and Tribune reported the Institute for Justice sued the city of Charlestown on behalf of residents in the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood.

The nonprofit law firm’s attorneys argued during Friday’s hearing that the city broke Indiana law when it fined property owners without first giving them “reasonable time” to make repairs to return to compliance.

The group wants to block Charlestown officials from enforcing the ordinance.



Court: Cherokee Freedmen have right to tribal citizenship
Legal Topics | 2017/08/31 23:05
Descendants of black slaves, known as freedmen, who were once owned by members of the Cherokee Nation have a right to tribal citizenship under a ruling handed down by a federal court in Washington, D.C.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan ruled Wednesday in a long-standing dispute between the Cherokee Freedmen and the second largest tribe in the United States.

Freedmen have long argued that the Treaty of 1866, signed between the U.S. government and the Tahlequah, Oklahoma-based Cherokees, gave them and their descendants "all the rights of native Cherokees." There are around 3,000 freedmen descendants today.

But Cherokee leaders have argued the tribe has the fundamental right to determine its citizens, and in 2007 more than three-fourths of Cherokee voters approved an amendment to remove the Freedmen from tribal rolls.


Nevada pot regulators back in court as supplies dwindle
Legal Topics | 2017/08/21 15:27
Nevada's marijuana regulators are headed back to court in a turf battle with liquor wholesalers over exclusive rights to distribute pot products to the state's new recreational retailers.

Nevada's Taxation Department says the protracted legal fight has created a delivery bottleneck that's undermining an otherwise robust marijuana industry and the state revenue that comes with it.

Legal sales started with a bang July 1. But Tax Director Deonne Contine (kahn-TEEN') says the tiny distribution network's inability to keep pace with demand is forcing up prices and sending buyers back to the black market.

She says it's also jeopardizing worker safety at dispensaries forced to stockpile supplies and huge amounts of cash to accommodate erratic deliveries.

A Carson City judge plans to hear her request Thursday to lift the latest injunction blocking licenses for anyone other than alcohol distributors.



Federal court's agenda has topics that draw Trump's ire
Legal Topics | 2017/07/16 08:26
The nation’s largest federal court circuit has clashed repeatedly with President Trump over the past six months, and the agenda for its annual meeting is not shying away from topics that have stoked the president’s ire.

Immigration, fake news and meddling in the U.S. election are among the subjects to be discussed or touched on at the four-day conference of the 9th Circuit courts in San Francisco starting Monday.

Judges in the circuit have blocked both of Trump’s bans on travelers from a group of mostly Muslim countries and halted his attempt to strip funding from so-called sanctuary cities.

Trump has fired back, referring to a judge who blocked his first travel ban as a “so-called judge” and calling the ruling that upheld the decision disgraceful. Republicans have accused the 9th Circuit appeals court of a liberal slant and renewed efforts to break it up — a move Trump supports.

The 9th Circuit’s spokesman, David Madden, acknowledged that someone could see a connection between the conference agenda and the administration, but he said there was no intention to link the two.


Man charged with killing Maine couple on Christmas in court
Legal Topics | 2017/07/13 17:19
The case of a New York man charged with killing a Maine couple on Christmas Day 2015 is scheduled to return to court in Portland.

Police charged David Marble Jr. of Rochester with shooting 35-year-old Eric Williams and 26-year-old Bonnie Royer in Manchester. His case is scheduled for a court conference on Thursday.

A judge granted a request from Marble's attorney in April to move the trial from Kennebec County to Cumberland County due to the publicity the case has received.

A court spokeswoman says the trial has not yet been scheduled. Marble's attorney made the case that finding an impartial jury in Kennebec County would be difficult. Marble has pleaded not guilty to the charges.



Indiana high court to rule on Lake Michigan beach ownership
Legal Topics | 2017/07/09 22:50
The Indiana Supreme Court will decide who owns the land immediately adjacent to Lake Michigan.

Don and Bobbie Gunderson claim their land on Lake Michigan extends to the water’s edge, meaning no one can access the beach by their house without permission, the (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

The state said it owns the land in a trust for all residents up to the “ordinary high-water mark.” The line is generally defined as the mark on the shore where the presence of water is continuous enough to distinguish it from land through erosion, vegetation changes or other characteristics.

The state was granted the land at statehood in 1816, said Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher. He said the state must control beach erosion, which it can’t do effectively if nearby homeowners are allowed to claim the beach as their own.

The high court’s order granting transfer of the case vacates a 2016 state Court of Appeals ruling that established an unprecedented property-sharing arrangement between the state and lakefront landowners. All parties involved with the case agreed the appellate court’s decision was unsatisfactory and asked the state Supreme Court to rule on the matter independently.

Justices will receive written briefs and likely hear oral arguments later this year before issuing a decision, likely in 2018.

The decision will determine if visitors can walk, sunbathe and play on Lake Michigan beaches located between the water and privately owned properties next to the lake



Abduction suspect makes first appearance in court
Legal Topics | 2017/07/03 10:16
Hundreds of people gathered outside a federal courthouse Monday as the suspect in the kidnapping of a Chinese scholar at the University of Illinois made his first appearance since being arrested last week.

During the nine-minute hearing, 28-year-old Brendt Christensen acknowledged to the judge that he understood his rights, but did not say anything else. U.S. Magistrate Eric Long ordered Christensen held without bond in the kidnapping of Yingying Zhang. Authorities say facts in the case indicate the 26-year-old Zhang is dead, although her body hasn't been found.

Long ordered Christensen to return to the court in Urbana on Wednesday to determine bond. A preliminary hearing was set for July 14, but that would be waived if a grand jury returns an indictment before then. The federal kidnapping charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, according to a U.S. attorney's office spokeswoman.


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