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2 charged in pastor's wife killing say little in court
Court Watch | 2015/11/28 22:18
Two young men charged in the shooting death of an Indianapolis pastor's pregnant wife gave brief answers to a judge's questions Tuesday during their first court appearance since their arrest.

Marion County Superior Court Judge Grant Hawkins entered not guilty pleas for 18-year-old Larry Taylor Jr. and 21-year-old Jalen Watson and appointed attorneys for the Indianapolis men during their initial hearing on murder, burglary, theft and several other charges. The judge also set a Jan. 8 pretrial conference for both men.

Taylor, who authorities allege fatally shot 28-year-old Amanda Blackburn earlier this month, appeared distracted, swiveling back and forth in his chair. Hawkins told Taylor more than once that he needed to respond clearly and audibly to each of his questions about whether he understood the charges, rather than only "yeah." Watson, however, said "yes" and "yes sir," throughout.

Prosecutors said Taylor and Watson entered through the unlocked front door of Blackburn's home shortly after her husband, Pastor Davey Blackburn, left for the gym about 6 a.m. Nov. 10. A probable cause affidavit says Taylor shot Amanda Blackburn three times, including once in the back of the head.

Watson faces a murder charge because Blackburn was killed during a home burglary and prosecutors allege that he was involved in it.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said Monday it was not clear whether Blackburn, who was 13 weeks pregnant, had been sexually assaulted; she was found partially nude. Prosecutors have filed a request with the court that seeks to enhance the murder charge Taylor faces, citing that she was pregnant at the time of her killing.

Under the state's request, an additional six to 20 years could be added to Taylor's sentence if he is convicted or pleads guilty to the murder charge, and the jury or judge finds that prosecutors have proven that Taylor caused the termination of her pregnancy.



Lawyer: Don't judge Chicago officer based on shooting video
Breaking Legal News | 2015/11/22 20:46
An attorney for a white Chicago police officer who shot a black teenager 16 times says his client acted lawfully and urges the public not to rush to judgment based solely on a video of the shooting that's to be released within days.

Attorney Dan Herbert told reporters Friday that Officer Jason Van Dyke is — in his words — "scared to death." Herbert says the officer is concerned about the safety of his wife and two school-age children in the event the video prompts violence.

A judge on Thursday ordered the city to release squad car dashcam video of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald's 2014 shooting.

Herbert says the video doesn't capture the whole confrontation.

Van Dyke has been stripped of his police powers, but remains at work on desk duty.


Rancher pleads guilty to falsely claiming cattle losses
Business | 2015/11/21 20:47
A South Dakota rancher has pleaded guilty in federal court to falsely claiming he lost more than a hundred cattle during the autumn blizzard of 2013 that left ranchers in the state reeling with financial losses.
 
Karl Knutson pleaded guilty Friday as part of a deal with prosecutors, the Rapid City Journal reported. The agreement dismisses a felony count of making a false statement, and prosecutors are recommending Knutson be sentenced to probation and fines.

Knutson's indictment said he submitted a claim in May 2014 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency for the loss of 129 head of cattle in the October blizzard, even though the Vale rancher actually lost at most 13.

Court documents say the disaster payment for that claim would have paid out nearly $117,000.

The indictment also says Knutson told the agency in "a handwritten invoice" in August 2014 that he paid $135,350 for 103 head of cattle that he didn't actually buy.

Knutson didn't immediately return a telephone message from The Associated Press requesting comment regarding the plea. The maximum sentence the 27-year-old could face would be five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, followed by three years of supervised release.

The 2013 storm is estimated to have killed more than 50,000 livestock, causing financial problems for ranchers in the western part of the state.



Perry's indictment in hands of top Texas criminal court
Breaking Legal News | 2015/11/19 21:58
Attorneys for former Texas Gov. Rick Perry urged the state's highest criminal court Wednesday to dismiss felony abuse-of-power charges that the Republican blames in part for foiling his short-lived 2016 presidential run.

After two hours of arguments, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals gave no timetable for ruling whether Perry should face trial in the case that has dragged on since August 2014 — about five times longer than his second unsuccessful White House bid.

Perry didn't attend the crowded hearing in a courtroom behind his old Texas Capitol office, but his high-powered lawyers told judges that enough was enough.

"The danger of allowing a prosecutor to do this is mind-boggling," Perry attorney David Botsford said.

Perry is accused of misusing his power in 2013 when he vetoed funding for local prosecutors after Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, an elected Democrat, refused calls to resign following a drunken driving arrest. He was indicted a year later by a grand jury in liberal Austin and faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Perry has denounced the charges as a partisan attack. But in a lively back-and-forth with an eight-judge panel, all but one of whom is an elected Republican, Perry's legal team didn't raise claims of political retribution and instead framed the veto as a rightful constitutional power.

Special prosecutors say that's for a trial to determine — and not for the court to settle now. Judges met that with a tone of skepticism, with Republican Judge Kevin Yeary pressing at one point whether going through with a trial would be "wasting everyone's time."

Perry was originally indicted on two counts, but a lower court has already thrown out the other charge of coercion of a public servant. Prosecutors are asking the court to not only order a trial on the remaining charge but also reinstate the other one.


India court orders action on crematorium near Taj Mahal
Breaking Legal News | 2015/11/17 15:14
India's Supreme Court has ordered a state government to remove a wood-burning crematorium from near the Taj Mahal to protect the monument from pollution damage.

The judges said Monday the Uttar Pradesh government could either move the crematorium or install an electric one in its place.

They ruled after a letter from another Supreme Court judge, who said that he'd noticed the mausoleum spewing smoke and ash during a recent visit to the monument and was concerned about the effect of air pollution on the marble structure.

In their order, the two judges suggested that the state could move the wood-burning crematorium and also build an electric one at the current site. This would allow people wanting to use wood pyres to do so, while others could use the electric crematorium, they said.

Hindus traditionally cremate their dead using wood fires. The government has been trying to encourage people to use electricity-powered crematoriums.

With its gleaming dome and graceful spires, the Taj Mahal is one of the world's most recognizable buildings, visited by more than 3 million tourists a year.

With its domes and minarets, semi-precious stone inlays and carvings, the monument is considered the finest example of Mughal art in India. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

On the banks of the Yamuna River in the city of Agra, the Taj Mahal was built in the 17th century by Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child.


Kansas court's approval of death sentence not seen as shift
Court Watch | 2015/11/16 15:15
Even though the state Supreme Court recently upheld a death sentence for the first time under the state’s 1994 capital punishment law, Kansas isn’t likely to see executions anytime soon or a shift in how the justices handle capital murder cases.

“Symbolically, there is something different,” said Robert Dunham, head of the anti-capital punishment, nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center. “But I wouldn’t read too much into it.”

Several prosecutors are encouraged by this month’s decision in the case of John E. Robinson Sr. ? who was sentenced to die for killing two women in 1999 and 2000 and tied by evidence or his own admission to six other deaths, including a teenage girl, in Kansas and Missouri ? saying it showed it is possible to preserve a death sentence on appeal in Kansas.

Two Kansas law professors said the 415-page decision in John E. Robinson’s case issued earlier this month suggests the Supreme Court’s examination of future capital cases will remain as thorough as it has been.

The high court’s past decisions overturning death sentences inspired a campaign that almost succeeded in ousting two justices in last year’s elections and handed republican Gov. Sam Brownback a potent issue in the final weeks of his race for re-election. And there are more capital cases before the justices.

Only four days after the Robinson decision, Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., an avowed anti-Semite, was sentenced to death for the fatal shootings of three people at Jewish sites in the Kansas City suburbs.


Snowboarders fight ban at Utah resort in appeals court
Law Center | 2015/11/16 15:14
A group of snowboarders who argue a ban on their sport at Utah's Alta Ski Area amounts to discrimination are set to present their case Tuesday to a federal appeals court in Denver.

The lawsuit, filed in early 2014, brought renewed attention to the long-festering culture clash on the slopes between skiers and snowboarders.

Alta lawyers have defended the ban, saying resort officials made a business decision to lure skiers to the private resort east of Salt Lake City with the promise of a snowboarder-free experience, and it's well within its rights to keep snowboards off the slopes.

The U.S. Forest Service, which approves a permit for Alta, has backed the ski area in the court battle.

The four snowboarders and their attorneys have countered that Alta doesn't have the right to keep snowboarders off public land designated by Congress for skiing and other sports. They point to 119 other ski resorts that operate on public land that allow snowboarding.

They take issue with Alta's claim that skiers find the slopes safer because they don't have to worry about being hit by snowboarders whose sideways stance leaves them with a blind spot. Alta's ban is irrational and based on stereotypes of snowboarders.



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Class action or a representative action is a form of lawsuit in which a large group of people collectively bring a claim to court and/or in which a class of defendants is being sued. This form of collective lawsuit originated in the United States and is still predominantly a U.S. phenomenon, at least the U.S. variant of it. In the United States federal courts, class actions are governed by Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule. Since 1938, many states have adopted rules similar to the FRCP. However, some states like California have civil procedure systems which deviate significantly from the federal rules; the California Codes provide for four separate types of class actions. As a result, there are two separate treatises devoted solely to the complex topic of California class actions. Some states, such as Virginia, do not provide for any class actions, while others, such as New York, limit the types of claims that may be brought as class actions. Medicare fraud advanced prosthetic devices
 
 
 
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