Spain court orders Operation Puerto blood bags released
Court News | 2016/06/14 10:41
A Spanish court ruled Tuesday that blood bags that are key evidence in one of Spain's worst doping scandals should be handed over to authorities for investigation.

The Madrid Provincial Court said bags containing blood samples and plasma should be handed over to the Spanish Cycling Federation, the World Anti-Doping Agency, the International Cycling Union and Italy's Olympic Committee.

The announcement came 10 years after Operation Puerto revealed a doping network involving some of the world's top cyclists when police seized coded blood bags from the Madrid clinic of sports doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.

The decision backed an appeal by lawyers for prosecuting parties against a 2013 court ruling that the bags should be destroyed for privacy reasons.

The court said Thursday's ruling "took into account that the goal is to fight against doping, which goes against sport's ethical values."

Not ordering the bags to be made available would have "generalized the danger of other sports people being tempted to dope themselves and sent a negative social message that the end justifies the means," the court said.

The 2013 order to destroy the blood bags outraged the sports community. Spain's anti-doping agency, the International Cycling Union and the World Anti-Doping Agency were among the entities that appealed.



Court upholds net neutrality rules on equal internet access
Headline Legal News | 2016/06/14 10:41
A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld the government's "net neutrality" rules that require internet providers to treat all web traffic equally.

The 2-1 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is a win for the Obama administration, consumer groups and content companies such as Netflix that want to prevent online content from being blocked or channeled into fast and slow lanes.

The rules treat broadband service like a public utility and prevent internet service providers from offering preferential treatment to sites that pay for faster service.

The Federal Communications Commission argued that the rules are crucial for allowing customers to go anywhere on the internet without a provider favoring its own service over that of other competitors. The FCC's move to reclassify broadband came after President Barack Obama publicly urged the commission to protect consumers by regulating internet service as it does other public utilities.

Cable and telecom opponents argue the new rules will prevent them from recovering costs for connecting to broadband hogs like Netflix that generate a huge amount of internet traffic. Providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T say the rules threaten innovation and undermine investment in broadband infrastructure.

But Judges David Tatel and Sri Srinivasan denied all challenges to the new rules, including claims that the FCC could not reclassify mobile broadband as a common carrier. That extends the reach of the new rules as more people view content on mobile devices.


Court Vacates $1.8M Ventura Award in 'American Sniper' Case
Court News | 2016/06/13 10:41
A federal appeals court on Monday threw out a $1.8 million judgment awarded to former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who says he was defamed in the late author Chris Kyle's bestselling book "American Sniper."

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the jury's 2014 award of $500,000 for defamation and $1.3 million for unjust enrichment against Kyle's estate. Kyle, a former SEAL who was the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history with 160 confirmed kills, died in 2013.

The majority of the three-judge panel reversed the unjust-enrichment award, saying it fails as a matter of law. The majority also vacated the defamation award, but sent that portion of the case back to court for a new trial.

Messages left with Ventura's publicist and attorney were not immediately returned Monday. A message left with an attorney for Kyle's estate also did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Kyle claimed in a subchapter called "Punching Out Scruff Face," to have decked a man, whom he later identified as Ventura, during a fallen SEAL's wake at a California bar in 2006. He wrote that "Scruff Face" had made offensive comments about the elite force, including a remark that the SEALs "deserve to lose a few" in Iraq.

Ventura, a former Underwater Demolition Teams/SEAL member and ex-pro wrestler, testified at trial that Kyle's story was a fabrication. Ventura said he never made the comments and that the altercation never happened. He said the book ruined his reputation in the tight-knit SEAL community.



High Court won't hear dispute over birthright citizenship
Court News | 2016/06/12 10:42
The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a group of American Samoans who say the United States should grant full citizenship to people born in the U.S. territory.

The justices on Monday let stand a lower court ruling that said the constitutional guarantee of birthright citizenship does not extend to the islands that have been a part of the country since 1900.

Current law considers American Samoans to be "nationals," not full citizens like those born in Puerto Rico, Guam and other U.S. territories. Nationals are allowed to work and live anywhere in the United States, but unlike citizens, they can't vote or hold elective office.

The challengers said that the law violates the 14th Amendment, which grants citizenship to anyone born in the United States. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled last year that birthright citizenship does not automatically apply to the nation's unincorporated political territories.

The lawsuit was filed by a small group of American Samoans who did not have the support of the islands' government officials. The government of American Samoa has argued that automatic U.S. citizenship could undermine local traditions and practices, including rules that restrict land ownership to those of Samoan ancestry.



Bollywood filmmaker challenges censoring of drug-abuse film
Legal Business | 2016/06/09 08:48
A Bollywood film producer took his row with India's censor board to a court Wednesday, challenging dozens of cuts and changes to a film that depicts the menace of drug abuse in the northern state of Punjab.

Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalini said in a newspaper interview that the movie wrongly depicts 70 percent of people of the state consuming drugs and defaming them. He told reporters that the censor board has approved the movie for screening in theaters with the cuts ordered.

He accused producer Anurag Kashyap of whipping up a controversy to create interest in his film. Compared to Hollywood, movie norms in India are extremely strict. Censorship authorities often order filmmakers — both Indian and foreign — to chop scenes deemed offensive. Films with graphic content can be barred completely.

Last year, India's censor authorities ordered that kissing scenes in the James Bond movie, "Spectre," be shortened before it was released in the country.

Kashyap asked the Mumbai High Court to overrule the cuts ordered by the censor board. The court is expected to take up the petition later Wednesday. It could reject the matter or order reconsideration.

Kashyap said the censor board chief Nihalini demanded 89 cuts to the film and even asked him to drop the name of the state from the title, "Udta Punjab," or "Flying Punjab."

Bollywood producers and directors rallied behind Kashyap in his fight with the censor board. "The job of the censor board is to certify films and not suggest cuts."



Appeals court denies Hope Solo's bid to avoid trial
Court News | 2016/06/08 08:48
A state appeals court has rejected U.S. women's soccer team goalkeeper Hope Solo's request to avoid trial on misdemeanor domestic violence charges.
 
Seattlepi.com reports the 34-year-old's appeal related to a 2014 incident at her sister's home in suburban Seattle was denied in a Tuesday ruling.

Solo was accused of being intoxicated and assaulting her sister and 17-year-old nephew in the incident. Her lawyer has said Solo was a victim in the altercation.

The case has bounced between the city of Kirkland and King County courts and is currently back in city court, where Solo had asked for a review.

The appeals court denied the review, essentially upholding the county court's ruling.

It's unclear whether Solo will ask the state Supreme Court to review the appeals court decision.



High court rejects Google's appeal in class action lawsuit
Legal Business | 2016/06/07 10:23
The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from Google over a class action lawsuit filed by advertisers who claim the internet company displayed their ads on "low quality" web sites.
 
The justices on Monday let stand a lower court ruling that said the lawsuit representing hundreds of thousands of advertisers using Google's AdWords program could go forward.

Google argued that a federal appeals court in San Francisco should not have approved the class action because damages must be calculated individually for each company advertiser. The appeals court rejected that argument and approved use of a formula that would calculate harm based on the average advertiser's experience.

Google runs what is by far the world's largest digital ad network. It generated $67 billion in revenue last year.



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