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US appeals court revisits Texas voter ID law
Breaking Legal News | 2016/05/22 23:20
A federal appeals court is set to take a second look at a strict Texas voter ID law that was found to be unconstitutional last year.

Texas' law requires residents to show one of seven forms of approved identification. The state and other supporters say it prevents fraud. Opponents, including the U.S. Justice Department, say it discriminates by requiring forms of ID that are more difficult to obtain for low-income, African-American and Latino voters.

Arguments before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are set for Tuesday morning. The full court agreed to rehear the issue after a three-judge panel ruled last year that the law violates the Voting Rights Act.

Lawyers for Texas argue that the state makes free IDs easy to obtain, that any inconveniences or costs involved in getting one do not substantially burden the right to vote, and that the Justice Department and other plaintiffs have failed to prove that the law has resulted in denying anyone the right to vote.

Opponents counter in briefs that trial testimony indicated various bureaucratic and economic burdens associated with the law — for instance, the difficulty in finding and purchasing a proper birth certificate to obtain an ID. A brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union cites testimony in other voter ID states indicating numerous difficulties faced by people, including burdensome travel and expenses to get required documentation to obtain IDs.



Maryland high court issues opinion in Gray case
Court Watch | 2016/05/21 23:21
Maryland's highest court has released an opinion explaining its recent decision to force an officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray to testify against his colleagues.

The Maryland Court of Appeals issued its opinion Friday. Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbara writes that compelling Officer William Porter to testify while he awaits retrial is not a violation of his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. The judge says there are ways to ensure that the testimony, which is protected by immunity, doesn't make it into his retrial. Porter's trial ended in a hung jury in December.

Gray died April 19, 2015, a week after his neck was broken in a police van. Six officers were charged in his death. One of them, Officer Edward Nero, is currently on trial.


Court rejects blocking health warning on sugary drinks ads
Law Center | 2016/05/20 23:21
A federal court in Northern California has rejected an effort to block a new San Francisco law that requires health warnings on ads for sugary drinks.

U.S. District Court Judge Edward M. Chen's decision Tuesday clears the way for the law approved by city lawmakers last year to take effect in July.

The ordinance requires the warnings to appear on ads for soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages that appear on billboards, buses, transit shelters, posters and stadiums within the city.

The labels would read: "WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay."

The American Beverage Association and other groups have sued the city to overturn the law. Chen denied their request for an injunction to keep the measure on hold while the case proceeds.



Planned Parenthood shooting defendant returning to court
Court Watch | 2016/05/11 10:42
A man who admitted killing three people at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic is returning to court for the continuation of a hearing on whether he's mentally competent to stand trial.

A psychologist who examined 57-year-old Robert Dear is scheduled to testify Tuesday.

Dear is charged with 179 counts including murder, attempted murder and assault in the Nov. 27 shootings at the Colorado Springs clinic. Nine people were injured in the attack.

In court, he has declared himself a "warrior for the babies" and said he was guilty.

The hearing started last month, when two psychologists testified that Dear isn't competent to stand trial.

If the judge agrees, Dear's case would be put on hold while he undergoes treatment at a state psychiatric hospital intended to restore him to competency.




Kansas Supreme Court reviews lawmakers' school aid changes
Law Center | 2016/05/10 10:42
Attorneys for Kansas hope to persuade the state Supreme Court that recent changes in the state's education funding system are fair enough to poor districts that the justices can abandon a threat to shut down public schools.

The high court was set to hear arguments Tuesday on whether the technical changes legislators made earlier this year comply with a February order from the justices to improve funding for poor school districts. The changes leave most districts' aid unchanged and don't boost overall education spending.

Lawyers for four school districts suing the state contend legislators' work shouldn't satisfy the Supreme Court because aid to all poor districts didn't increase. But the state's attorneys have submitted more than 950 pages of documents in an attempt to show that lawmakers' solution was in keeping with past court decisions.

"I'm hopeful the Supreme Court's going to take what the Legislature has done and say it's an appropriate answer," Republican Gov. Sam Brownback told reporters ahead of the arguments.

The Dodge City, Hutchinson, Wichita and Kansas City, Kansas, districts sued the state in 2010, arguing that Kansas spends too little on its schools and unfairly distributes the aid it does provide, more than $4 billion a year.

The court concluded in February that lawmakers hadn't done enough to ensure that poor districts keep up with wealthy ones. The justices ordered lawmakers to fix the problems by June 30 or face having schools shut down.



El Salvador court takes up case on ex-president's finances
Law Center | 2016/05/09 10:42
A court in El Salvador has agreed to consider a civil case against former President Mauricio Funes, his wife and one of his sons for possible illicit enrichment.

The San Salvador court press office said Saturday that several government institutions have been ordered to hand over information related to the family's finances, properties and businesses.

Under scrutiny is some $728,000 in unexplained income and expenditures. Funes has 20 days to respond to present evidence in his defense.

The former president has criticized the allegations in the past. He said some of the Supreme Court justices who voted to order the lower court to open the case in February had previously attacked his government while sitting on the Constitutional Court.



Spanish court seeks arrest of Putin-linked Russians
Bankruptcy | 2016/05/08 22:53
A Spanish judge wants two senior Russian officials with links to the Kremlin arrested so they can be questioned in court about suspected money laundering and criminal association.

National court judge Jose de la Mata Amaya has issued international arrest warrants for Nikolai Aulov, deputy director of Russia's federal drug control agency, and Vladislav Reznik, who is a member of parliament's lower house for the main Kremlin party and deputy chairman of its financial markets committee. Both men are viewed as allies of President Vladimir Putin.

They are among 15 suspects in a years long investigation into alleged Russian mafia activities in Spain, according to court documents released this week. The court said their whereabouts are not known.

The judge handed down his ruling in January. A national court spokesman said the case was never placed under judicial secrecy after the arrest orders were issued on Jan. 22 but it only became publicly known after Spain's El Mundo on Tuesday published a story based on documents outlining the judge's order.

The spokesman said he did not know whether those named in the document had Spanish lawyers. He spoke on condition of anonymity, in keeping with court policy.

The Russian federal drug control agency said the Spanish judge's decision to seek Aulov's arrest was "legally unprofessional, a political hit job and perhaps connected with drug mafia revenge," the state RIA Novosti news agency reported.

A lawyer for Reznik, Alexander Gofshtein, also has described the case as being politically driven.



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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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