CAS asked to judge Ecuador case by 10 days before World Cup
Legal Topics | 2022/10/03 16:37
Sport’s highest court has been asked to judge a case that aims to remove Ecuador from the World Cup by no later than Nov. 10 — just 10 days before the team should face host Qatar in the opening game.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said it registered appeals by the Chilean and Peruvian soccer federations against a FIFA ruling this month that Ecuador defender Byron Castillo was in fact eligible to play in the eight qualifying games he was selected for.

CAS gave no timetable for appointing judges and organizing a hearing, though said both parties appealing asked for a final award by Nov. 10.

Chile officials claim to have documents proving Castillo is actually Colombian and that Ecuador should forfeit all eight games he played in as 3-0 losses.

That legal argument was dismissed by FIFA’s disciplinary committee in June and upheld by FIFA appeal judges two weeks ago.

Ecuador placed fourth in the South American qualifying group in March and claimed a direct World Cup entry. Days later it was drawn into Group A with Qatar – playing the host on Nov. 20 in Doha -- Netherlands and Senegal.

If the qualifying games were forfeited, the revised points totals would lift Chile to fourth from seventh.

Peru placed fifth and has asked CAS to get Ecuador’s entry as the next highest placed South American team. Peru already lost an intercontinental playoff to Australia in June.


Appeals ruling leaves Trump fate in defamation suit in flux
Legal Business | 2022/09/27 23:14
A federal appeals court asked a Washington D.C. appeals court Tuesday to help it decide whether the United States should be substituted for former President Donald Trump as the defendant in a defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who says he raped her over a quarter century ago.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan in a 2-to-1 decision reversed a lower court ruling that had concluded Trump must face the lawsuit brought in Manhattan federal court by columnist E. Jean Carroll.

But it stopped short of saying the U.S. can be substituted for Trump as the defendant in the lawsuit. Instead, it asked The D.C. Court of Appeals, the highest court in the District of Columbia, to decide whether Trump’s public statements denying Carroll’s rape claims occurred within the scope of his employment as president.

Carroll maintains Trump defamed her with public comments he made after she wrote in a 2019 book that Trump raped her during a chance encounter in the mid-1990s in a Manhattan department store. Trump denied the rape and questioned Carroll’s credibility and motivations.

The 2nd Circuit said Trump would be entitled to immunity by having the U.S. substituted as the defendant in the lawsuit if it was decided that his statements came within the scope of his employment.


Arizonan sentenced for Vegas-based scheme targeting migrants
Court News | 2022/09/23 23:30
An Arizona man who convinced recent immigrants from mainly Asian countries to pay him thousands of dollars each to help them gain U.S. citizenship has been sentenced to nearly six years in prison by a federal judge in Las Vegas, authorities announced.

Court documents show Douglas Lee Thayer, 70, of Mohave Valley collected payments of between $7,000 and $20,000 from at least 160 recent immigrants by promising them the company he ran would find a family to adopt them as adults. He told the victims he would then get them new birth certificates and other documents that would let them gain U.S. citizenship.

A federal jury in Las Vegas convicted Thayer of two criminal counts of mail fraud on April. 18, and he was sentenced on Friday. He is set to surrender to start his sentence next month.

According to the indictment and a sentencing memorandum from federal prosecutors, Thayer ran a Las Vegas-based business called U.S. Adult Adoption Services. After the Justice Department announced in 2016 that it had shut down a similar scheme in Sacramento, California, Thayer offered refunds to the Asian and Hispanic immigrants.

He had charged more than $1 million in fees, but the refunds were only a fraction of what he collected, and prosecutors said he netted more than $850,000.

The owner of the Sacramento business was later sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors said Thayer’s victims were particularly vulnerable because they mostly were recent immigrants who spoke little English and knew little if anything about immigration law. The government does not provide an easier path to citizenship for immigrants who are adopted as adults by Americans.

“This prison sentence should serve as a warning that taking advantage of vulnerable victims, regardless of citizenship status, will be investigated and prosecuted,” U.S. Attorney for Nevada Jason Frierson said in a statement.

In pushing for a harsh sentence, Assistant U.S. Attorney Simon Kung said in his sentencing memo to U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro that Thayer “has spent his entire life committing crimes,” included armed robbery, attempted murder and rape, narcotics and the latest, fraud.

“Despite spending more than 20 years in prison prior to the instant offense, he has not been deterred from crime,” Kung wrote.


Iran faces US in international court over asset seizure
Legal Topics | 2022/09/19 21:22
Iran told the United Nations’ highest court on Monday that Washington’s confiscation of some $2 billion in assets from Iranian state bank accounts to compensate bombing victims was an attempt to destabilize the Iranian government and a violation of international law.

In 2016, Tehran filed a suit at the International Court of Justice after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled money held in Iran’s central bank could be used to compensate the 241 victims of a 1983 bombing of a U.S. military base in Lebanon believed linked to Iran.

Hearings in the case opened Monday in the Hague-based court, starting with Iran’s arguments. The proceedings will continue with opening statements by Washington on Wednesday.

At stake are $1.75 billion in bonds, plus accumulated interest, belonging to the Iranian state but held in a Citibank account in New York.

In 1983, a suicide bomber in a truck loaded with military-grade explosives attacked U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 American troops and 58 French soldiers.

While Iran long has denied being involved, a U.S. District Court judge found Tehran responsible in 2003. That ruling said Iran’s ambassador to Syria at the time called “a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and instructed him to instigate the Marine barracks bombing.”

The international court ruled it had jurisdiction to hear the case in 2019, rejecting an argument from the U.S. that its national security interests superseded the 1955 Treaty of Amity, which promised friendship and cooperation between the two countries.


Alabama must disclose status of nitrogen hypoxia executions
Court News | 2022/09/14 20:17
A federal judge told Alabama to stop being vague and give a firm answer by Thursday evening on if the prison system is ready to use the untested execution method of nitrogen hypoxia at an execution next week.

U.S. District Judge R. Austin Huffaker, Jr. gave the state the deadline to file an affidavit, or declaration, on whether the state could try to execute inmate Alan Miller by nitrogen hypoxia on Sept. 22 if the use of lethal injection is blocked. The order came after the state dangled the possibility during a Monday court hearing of being ready to become the first state to attempt an execution with nitrogen hypoxia.

Nitrogen hypoxia is a proposed execution method in which death would be caused by forcing the inmate to breathe only nitrogen, thereby depriving him or her of the oxygen needed to maintain bodily functions. It’s authorized as an execution method in three states — Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi — but has never been used.

The state provided “vague and imprecise statements regarding the readiness and intent to move forward with an execution on September 22, 2022, by nitrogen hypoxia,” Huffaker said.

The judge asked the state Monday whether it was ready to use the method at Miller’s execution. A state attorney replied that it was “very likely” it could use nitrogen hypoxia next week, but said the state prison commissioner has the final decision.

“On or before September 15, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. CDT, the defendants shall file an affidavit or declaration of Commissioner John Q. Hamm, Attorney General Steve Marshall, or other appropriate official with personal knowledge, definitively setting forth whether or not the Defendants can execute the Plaintiff by nitrogen hypoxia on September 22, 2022,” the judge wrote in a Tuesday order.

Miller is seeking to block his scheduled execution by lethal injection, claiming prison staff lost paperwork he returned in 2018 choosing nitrogen hypoxia as his execution method.

Miller testified Monday that he is scared of needles so he signed a form selecting nitrogen hypoxia as his execution method. He said he left the form in his cell door tray for an prison officer to pick up. The state said there is no evidence to corroborate his claim.


Utah-based company wins auction to buy Jay Peak in Vermont
Legal Topics | 2022/09/08 19:45
Utah-based Pacific Group Resorts, Inc., which owns five ski resorts, has won the auction to buy Jay Peak Resort, the Vermont ski area that was shaken by a massive fraud case involving its former owner and president.

The court-appointed receiver who has been overseeing Jay Peak for more than six years announced Thursday the results of Wednesday’s auction, with Pacific Group Resorts making the highest and best bid among the multiple bidders. The offer was not disclosed.

“We are pleased an experienced operating company like Pacific Group Resorts ended up with this great asset,” receiver Michael Goldberg said in a statement.

A federal court must approve the bid and a hearing is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 16, according to Goldberg. The sale is expected to close before the upcoming ski season, Goldberg said.

Pacific Groups Resorts, which owns Ragged Mountain Resort in New Hampshire and Powderhorn Mountain Resort in Colorado, as well as properties in British Columbia, Virginia, Maryland, had originally offered to buy Jay Peak for $58 million. Goldberg wanted to be able to continue to market the resort, and if there were qualified bids to hold an auction “in order to assure the highest and best offer,” according a court filing last month.

Vern Greco, PGRI’s president and CEO, said the company started pursuing the acquisition over three years ago.

“Jay has a high quality team of dedicated employees who have weathered the uncertainty of the receivership for a long time,” he said in a statement. “We look forward to bringing renewed stability to the property and its staff, we’re enthusiastic about the prospects for the resort, and we are delighted to be in Vermont which is an important market for any mountain resort operator.”

Former Jay Peak owner Ariel Quiros, former president William Stenger and Quiros’ adviser William Kelly were sentenced this spring to federal prison for their roles in a failed plan to build a biotechnology plant using tens of millions of dollars in foreign investors’ money raised through a special visa program.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the state of Vermont also alleged in 2016 that Quiros and Stenger took part in a “massive eight-year fraudulent scheme” that involved misusing more than $200 million of about $400 million raised from foreign investors for various ski area developments through the same visa program.

They settled civil charges with the SEC, with Quiros surrendering more than $80 million in assets, including Jay Peak and Burke Mountain ski resorts.


Kenya’s Supreme Court upholds Ruto’s narrow presidential win
Attorney News | 2022/09/06 16:18
Kenya’s Supreme Court on Monday unanimously rejected challenges to the official results of the presidential election and upheld Deputy President William Ruto’s narrow win in East Africa’s most stable democracy.

Ruto is expected to be sworn in on Sept. 13. Opposition candidate Raila Odinga had alleged irregularities in the otherwise peaceful Aug. 9 election that was marked by last-minute drama when the electoral commission split and traded accusations of misconduct.

The court found little or no evidence for the various allegations and called some “nothing more than hot air.” It also expressed puzzlement why the four dissenting commissioners participated until the final minutes in a vote-tallying process they criticized as opaque.

The commission “needs far-reaching reforms,” the court acknowledged, “but are we to nullify an election on the basis of a last-minute boardroom rupture?”

The Supreme Court shocked Kenyans in the previous election in 2017 by overturning the results of the presidential election, a first in Africa, and ordered a new vote after Odinga filed a challenge. He then boycotted that new election.

This time, Odinga was backed by former rival and outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta in the latest example of shifting political alliances. Odinga’s team had challenged the technology used by the electoral commission and alleged that voting results had been tampered with, and it argued that the electoral commission chair had essentially acted alone in declaring the winner.

The election had been seen as the country’s most transparent, with results from tens of thousands of polling stations posted online within hours of the vote for Kenyans to follow the tally themselves. Such reforms were in part the result of Odinga’s previous election challenge.


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