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Appeals court: Apple must submit to imposition of monitor
Court Watch | 2015/06/02 16:38
A federal appeals panel has refused to disqualify a court-appointed monitor after a judge found Apple colluded with book publishers in 2010 to raise electronic book prices.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled against Apple Inc. Thursday. The three-judge panel concluded that a judge did not act improperly when she declined Apple's request to disqualify a monitor she had appointed to evaluate Apple's antitrust policies.

A lawyer for Apple, based in Cupertino, California, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The 2nd Circuit did not yet rule on a separate appeal in which Apple is challenging the judge's finding that it colluded with publishers.

After a 2013 civil trial, a judge ordered the technology giant to modify contracts with publishers to prevent price fixing.


Abortion ban based on heartbeat rejected by appeals court
Court Watch | 2015/06/02 16:38
A federal appeals court struck down one of the nation's toughest abortion restrictions on Wednesday, ruling that women would be unconstitutionally burdened by an Arkansas law that bans abortions after the 12th week of pregnancy if a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat.
 
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with doctors who challenged the law, ruling that abortion restrictions must be based on a fetus' ability to live outside the womb, not the presence of a fetal heartbeat that can be detected weeks earlier. The court said that standard was established by previous U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

The ruling upholds a decision of a federal judge in Arkansas who struck down the 2013 law before it could take effect, shortly after legislators approved the change. But the federal judge left in place other parts of the law that required doctors to tell women if a fetal heartbeat was present; the appeals court also kept those elements in place.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office was reviewing the decision "and will evaluate how to proceed," office spokesman Judd Deere said Wednesday afternoon.

The ruling wasn't a surprise to Rita Sklar, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, which represented the two doctors challenging the law. She said the case was a waste of taxpayer time, and that the decision leaves medical decisions to doctors and their patients, rather than politicians.

"We were kind of surprised it took as long as it did, frankly," Sklar said. "From our point of view it was a pretty simple case."

The law was among several abortion restrictions Republicans pushed through the Arkansas Legislature shortly after they took control of both the Senate and House for first time since Reconstruction.

A similar law restricting abortions to 20 weeks' gestation is still in effect in Arkansas, as are similar bans in 11 other states, according to the nonprofit Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights.


Supreme Court to hear Texas Senate districts case
Court Watch | 2015/06/01 16:38
The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to hear an important case about whether states must count only those who are eligible to vote, rather than the total population, when drawing electoral districts for their legislatures.

The case from Texas could be significant for states with large immigrant populations, including Latinos who are children or not citizens. The state bases its electoral districts on a count of the total population, including non-citizens and those who aren't old enough to vote.  

But those challenging that system argue that it violates the constitutional requirement of one person, one vote. They claim that taking account of total population can lead to vast differences in the number of voters in particular districts, along with corresponding differences in the power of those voters.

A ruling for the challengers would shift more power to rural areas and away from urban districts in which there are large populations of immigrants who are not eligible to vote because they are children or not citizens. Latinos have been the fasting growing segment of Texas' population and Latino children, in particular, have outpaced those of other groups, according to census data.

"And because urban areas are more Democratic, the ruling could help Republicans," said Richard Hasen, an expert on election law at the University of California-Irvine law school.

The Project on Fair Representation is funding the lawsuit filed by two Texas residents. The group opposes racial and ethnic classifications and has been behind Supreme Court challenges to affirmative action and the federal Voting Rights Act.


Ohio man accused in US Capitol terror plot returns to court
Law Center | 2015/05/16 11:46
A suburban Cincinnati man accused of plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol in support of Islamic State extremists is due back in federal court.

An indictment last week added a fourth charge against 21-year-old Christopher Lee Cornell. The count of attempting to provide material support to a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization carries a potential sentence of up to 15 years in prison with conviction.

He already faced two charges with possible 20-year sentences. Cornell pleaded not guilty to those charges.

He is scheduled for arraignment Tuesday in Cincinnati on the new count. He has been held without bond since his Jan. 14 arrest.

His father has said Cornell was coerced by a government "snitch."

U.S. authorities are on alert for "lone wolf" terrorist plots inspired by the Islamic State group.


Attorney: Court orders release of anti-nuclear activists
Breaking Legal News | 2015/05/16 11:45
A federal appeals court has ordered the immediate release of an 85-year-old nun and two fellow Catholic peace activists who vandalized a uranium storage bunker, their attorney said Friday.
 
The order came after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati last week overturned the 2013 sabotage convictions of Sister Megan Rice, 66-year-old Michael Walli and 59-year-old Greg Boertje-Obed and ordered resentencing on their remaining conviction for injuring government property. The activists have spent two years in prison, and the court said they likely already have served more time than they will receive for the lesser charge.

On Thursday, their attorneys petitioned the court for an emergency release, saying that resentencing would take weeks if normal court procedures were followed. Prosecutors on Friday afternoon responded that they would not oppose the release, if certain conditions were met.

After the close of business on Friday, attorney Bill Quigley said the court had ordered the activists' immediate release. He said he was working to get them out of prison and was hopeful they could be released overnight or on the weekend.

"We would expect the Bureau of Prisons to follow the order of the court and release them as soon as possible," he said.

Rice, Walli and Boertje-Obed are part of a loose network of activists opposed to the spread of nuclear weapons. To further their cause, in July 2012, they cut through several fences to reach the most secure area of the Y-12 complex. Before they were arrested, they spent two hours outside a bunker that stores much of the nation's bomb-grade uranium, hanging banners, praying and spray-painting slogans.

In the aftermath of the breach, federal officials implemented sweeping security changes, including a new defense security chief to oversee all of the National Nuclear Security Administration's sites.

Rice was originally sentenced to nearly three years and Walli and Boertje-Obed were each sentenced to just over five years. In overturning the sabotage conviction, the Appeals Court ruled that the trio's actions did not injure national security.


Appeals court skeptical of fairness of trader's conviction
Court Watch | 2015/05/14 11:45
An appeals court panel on Wednesday expressed doubts about the fairness of a prosecution that led to a prison sentence for a man convicted of defrauding a government bailout program.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had plenty of questions for a prosecutor as it conducted oral arguments in an appeal by Jesse Litvak, a bond trader on the Stamford, Connecticut, trading floor at Jefferies & Co. Inc.

Litvak, who's from New York, was sentenced last year to two years in prison after a jury convicted him of securities fraud, defrauding the Troubled Asset Relief Program and making false statements to the federal government. He has not had to serve his sentence pending appeal.

The conviction made Litvak, 40, the first person convicted of a crime related to the program, which used bailout funds in the financial meltdown to boost the economy.


Court report raises conflict-of-interest concern in Ferguson
Business | 2015/05/13 11:46
The lines separating government powers have been blurred among Ferguson's court staff, police and prosecutor, raising concerns about potential conflicts of interest, according to a report released Monday by Missouri's judiciary.

The state report examining Ferguson's municipal court system comes as a follow-up to a highly critical U.S. Justice Department report released earlier this year, which asserted that the city's police and courts had been used as a revenue-generating machine.

The Justice Department review was prompted by the fatal shooting last August of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black, by a white Ferguson police officer.After the federal review, the Missouri Supreme Court in March appointed appeals Judge Roy Richter to take over the Ferguson court and asked court administration experts to take a look at how things were working.

The new report summarizes the observations and recommendations of those unnamed experts, noting several potential conflicts of interest that caused concern.

Until very recently, the report said, court staff were required to report to the police chief. That structure "potentially compromises the separation our government is to have" between the judicial and executive branches, the report said.


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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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