Pakistani court orders probe into ex-minister’s arrest
Court News | 2022/05/23 16:30
A court in Pakistan’s capital has ordered an investigation into the controversial arrest of a former human rights minister over a decades-old land dispute.

Chief Justice Ather Minallah of the Islamabad High Court late Saturday ordered the probe in response to a petition from the daughter of former minister Shireen Mazari.

Minallah questioned the decision by officials in Islamabad to allow police from a Punjab provincial district to make the arrest in the capital.

Mazari, who served in the Cabinet-level position under former Prime Minister Imran Khan, had been detained by police near her Islamabad home earlier in the day.

Fawad Chaudhry, former information minister in Khan’s administration, alleged that Mazari — the senior leader in Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party — had been politically targeted by the new administration of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif under the guise of a land dispute dating back to 1972.

Hours after Mazari’s arrest, Chief Minister of Punjab province Hamza Shahbaz ordered her release, and late Saturday she was brought to the Islamabad court for an urgent hearing. She was then released.

Mazari has been critical of Sharif’s government on Twitter since Khan’s government was toppled in a no-confidence vote in Parliament last month. Khan’s party lawmakers resigned from the body’s lower house in protest and Khan is mobilizing supporters through public rallies across the country to pressure the government into an early election.


Kansas Supreme Court upholds Republican congressional map
Legal Topics | 2022/05/18 19:30
Kansas’ highest court on Wednesday upheld a Republican redistricting law that makes it harder for the only Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation to win reelection in a big victory for the GOP.

The state Supreme Court declined for now to declare that overly partisan gerrymandering violates the Kansas Constitution. The ruling sets district boundaries less than a month before the state’s June 10 filing deadline for congressional candidates.

The court’s opinion was two paragraphs long, saying only that the voters and voting rights group challenging the map “have not prevailed on their claims” that the map violated the state constitution and that a full opinion would come later.

The brief decision was written by Justice Caleb Stegall, who is seen as the most conservative of the court’s seven justices, five of whom were appointed by Democratic governors. During arguments from attorneys on Monday, he questioned whether anyone could clearly define improper partisan gerrymandering.

Lawsuits over new congressional district lines have proliferated across the U.S., with Republicans looking to recapture a U.S. House majority in this year’s midterm elections. Congressional maps in at least 17 states have inspired lawsuits, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice.

In the past, congressional district lines have been reviewed by federal judges and not the state Supreme Court. The conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision in 2019 that complaints about partisan gerrymandering are political issues and not for the federal courts to resolve.

The state’s Republican-appointed solicitor general argued in defending the GOP-drawn map that because the state constitution doesn’t specifically mention gerrymandering or congressional redistricting, the Kansas Supreme Court should reject the legal challenges. He and other state officials said that the justices had no guidance on how to define improper political gerrymandering.


Man denies killing mother at sea to inherit family’s estate
Court Watch | 2022/05/11 07:38
A 28-year-old man who was rescued from a raft off the coast of New England in 2016 after his boat sank pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges he killed his mother at sea to inherit the family’s estate.

Nathan Carman was arraigned in federal court in Rutland on multiple fraud charges and a first-degree murder charge in the death of Linda Carman. He shouted “not guilty” in the direction of reporters who had asked him on his way into the courthouse whether he killed his mother.

Authorities allege in the indictment unsealed Tuesday that Carman also killed his grandfather, John Chakalos, at his home in Windsor, Connecticut, in 2013 as part of a scheme to obtain money and property from his grandfather’s estate, but he was not charged with that killing.

“As a central part of the scheme, Nathan Carman murdered John Chakalos and Linda Carman,” the indictment reads.

Carman was found in an inflatable raft eight days after leaving a Rhode Island marina to go fishing with his mother, who was never found. Prosecutors allege Carman altered the boat to make it more likely to sink that day. He has denied doing anything to intentionally make the boat unseaworthy.

Carman, who was arrested Tuesday, faces life in prison if convicted of killing his mother, Linda Carman, of Middletown, Connecticut. His attorney did not comment after the arraignment.


Abortion rights protesters rally in cities around US
Headline Legal News | 2022/05/09 22:43
Abortion rights protesters rallied in cities around the United States on Saturday, vowing to fight to ensure that abortion remains a legal option for women nationwide.

Hundreds gathered in Chicago, Atlanta, Houston and other cities days after a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion was leaked to the public suggesting the court is poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide. The draft opinion, which comes amid nearly 50 years of federal abortion protections, could change before the ruling is finalized in coming weeks.

“To think that, after all this time, people still want to control what women can do and our rights to make our personal healthcare decisions is just really outrageous,” Carole Levin, chair of Courts Matter Illinois, told WMAQ-TV during the rally in Chicago.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker attended the rally and vowed to protect reproductive rights in Illinois.

“I’m proud Illinois is an island for reproductive freedom in the Midwest,” he said. “Our shores remain open for any person left marooned by these extremist politicians.”

In the nation’s capital, abortion rights protesters stood outside the Supreme Court, holding signs that said abortion is a human right, or “Abort the Court.” Protesters who oppose abortion demonstrated across the street.

In Atlanta, demonstrators carried signs in favor of abortion rights as they marched through that city’s downtown and chanted, “Not the church and not the state, women must decide our fate.”

In Houston, thousands attended a reproductive rights rally headlined by Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who is running for Texas governor. Texas is one of several states that would automatically ban abortion, leaving no exceptions for rape or incest, if the high court overturns the nationwide right to abortion.

An investigation is underway to determine who leaked the Supreme Court draft opinion to Politico.



Tennessee, South Carolina extend health care for new moms
Attorney News | 2022/05/06 19:08
Tennessee and South Carolina are joining five other states in extending health care coverage to women with low-to-modest incomes for a full year after childbirth, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced on Friday.

The expansion of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program comes as the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn women’s constitutional right to abortion. That could make the coverage more urgently needed than ever if more women, especially older women or those in poorer health, end up carrying pregnancies to term. In Tennessee, a trigger law would outlaw abortion in the state if Roe v. Wade were overturned. South Carolina has a law banning abortions after six weeks.

States are currently required to provide 60 days of coverage after childbirth, but medical experts say women can die from pregnancy-related conditions up to a year after giving birth and that most pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. Maternal mortality is particularly serious for Black women, whose pregnancy-related death rate is three times that of white women.

Asked about the effect of an abortion ban on Tennessee women at a Thursday news conference, Republican Gov. Bill Lee, who opposes abortion, pointed to the extension.

“It’s important that we recognize that women in crisis need support and assistance through this process. For example, that’s why we’ve expanded our postpartum coverage for women in TennCare,” Lee said.

TennCare is Tennessee’s version of Medicaid, the federal-state program covering about one in five Americans, from many newborns, to low-income adults and frail nursing home residents. The program pays for about four out of every 10 births in the United States.

About 700 U.S. women die annually because of pregnancy-related problems, a little over half after the woman has given birth, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 12% of maternal deaths occur 43 to 365 days after delivery.

The expanded coverage is made possible by a provision in the COVID-19 relief bill that will expire after five years unless Congress reapproves it or makes it permanent.


Connecticut Senate OKs bill that protects abortion providers
Court News | 2022/05/02 21:26
The Connecticut Senate gave final legislative approval shortly before midnight Friday to a bill abortion rights advocates contend is needed to protect in-state medical providers from legal action stemming from out-of-state laws, as well as the patients who travel to Connecticut to terminate a pregnancy and those who help them.

Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said lawmakers in Connecticut, a state with a long history of supporting abortion rights, needed to pass the legislation “in defense of our own values and our own legal system.” It comes after Texas enacted a law that authorizes lawsuits against clinics, doctors and others who perform or facilitate a banned abortion, even in another state.

The bill, which already cleared the House of Representatives earlier this month, passed in the Senate on a 25-9 vote. It now moves to Gov. Ned Lamont’s desk. The Democrat has said he will sign it.

Supporters voiced concern about the spate of new abortion restrictions being enacted in a growing number of conservative states and the possibility the U.S. Supreme Court may overturn or weaken Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established a nationwide right to abortion.


Supreme Court Notebook: Roberts pays tribute to Breyer
Headline Legal News | 2022/04/27 07:07
The fertile mind of Justice Stephen Breyer has conjured a stream of hypothetical questions through the years that have, in the words of a colleague, “befuddled” lawyers and justices alike.

Breyer, 83, seemed a bit subdued as he sat through the last of more than 2,000 arguments Wednesday in which he has taken part during 28 years on the high court. His wife, Joanna, also was in the courtroom.

But at the end of the case about Oklahoma’s authority to prosecute people accused of crimes on Native American lands, an emotional Chief Justice John Roberts paid tribute to Breyer for his prowess during arguments.

“For 28 years, this has been his arena for remarks profound and moving, questions challenging and insightful, and hypotheticals downright silly,” Roberts said.

A day earlier, Breyer provided only the most recent example, inventing a prison inmate named John the Tigerman in a case involving transporting an inmate for a medical test. Breyer called him “the most dangerous prisoner they have ever discovered.”

Just since Breyer announced in late January that he was retiring, he has asked lawyers to answer questions involving spiders, muskrats and “4-foot-long cigars smoked through hookahs” — none of which, it’s fair to say, had any actual links to the cases at hand.


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