Court strikes down possible payments to college athletes
Legal Topics | 2015/09/30 21:00
A federal appeals court agreed Wednesday that the NCAA's use of college athletes' names, images and likenesses in video games and TV broadcasts violated antitrust laws but struck down a plan to allow schools to pay players up to $5,000.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the NCAA could not stop schools from providing full scholarships to student athletes but vacated a proposal for deferred cash payments.

"The difference between offering student-athletes education-related compensation and offering them cash sums untethered to educational expenses is not minor; it is a quantum leap," Judge Jay Bybee wrote. "Once that line is crossed, we see no basis for returning to a rule of amateurism and no defined stopping point."

A statement from NCAA President Mark Emmert said the organization agrees with the court that "allowing students to be paid cash compensation of up to $5,000 per year was erroneous."

"Since Aug. 1, the NCAA has allowed member schools to provide up to full cost of attendance; however, we disagree that it should be mandated by the courts," he said.

El Paso abortion clinic reopens amid Texas court battles
Legal Business | 2015/09/29 21:00
An El Paso clinic shuttered by Texas' tough 2013 abortion law reopened Tuesday, the first in the state to do so since the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocked enforcement of some of the key restrictions three months ago.

The Reproductive Services clinic, so close to the Texas-Mexico border that its windows offer views of Ciudad Juarez across the Rio Grande, is now taking appointments and should begin performing abortions next week.

The reopening brings to 20 the number of abortion clinics in America's second most-populous state. But that's still down from 41 in 2012, and the facility could close again soon.

A June 29 Supreme Court order only created a temporary block that will hold until the high court decides whether to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling refusing to suspend the Texas restrictions. It's not clear when that decision will come, but the summer ruling is a strong indication that the Supreme Court eventually will hear the full appeal — which could be the biggest abortion case in decades.

"We're so excited about the reopening, but the discouraging part is we could be closed down at any time," said Marilyn Eldridge, president of Nova Health Systems, which operates Reproductive Services. She and her late husband, a Christian minister, first opened the clinic in 1977.

Int'l court prosecutor extends preliminary Ukraine probe
Attorney News | 2015/09/27 20:59
The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor has broadened her preliminary probe in Ukraine to cover possible crimes committed in the country since early 2014 — a period that saw Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Tuesday's announcement by Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda came after Ukrainian authorities accepted the court's jurisdiction dating back to early last year.

While Ukraine is not a member of the court, it has twice voluntarily accepted its jurisdiction.

The first acceptance covered the period from November 2013 until February 2014 — weeks during which former President Viktor Yanukovych's regime staged a violent crackdown on demonstrators. Kiev's second acceptance of jurisdiction, lodged three weeks ago, starts in early 2014 and has no end date.

Court tosses Chicago inmate's $10M suit for escape
Legal Topics | 2015/09/25 20:59
An inmate who escaped from a high-rise federal jail in Chicago has an unusual theory on who's to blame: He says the government was negligent in enabling the breakout, so he sued for $10 million for damages.

The 7th U.S. Court of Appeals said in a Friday ruling that Jose Banks "gets credit for chutzpah." But a three-judge panel at the Chicago-based court tossed his 2014 lawsuit.

"No one has a personal right to be better guarded or more securely restrained, so as to be unable to commit a crime," the ruling said.

In a 2012 jailbreak, Banks and a cellmate rappelled 17 stories down on a rope fashioned from bed sheets and dental floss, then hailed a cab. Banks, now 40, was caught within days and his cellmate within weeks.

Banks' suit says the damages he suffered from the escape included the trauma of dangling on the makeshift rope in fear of his life.

Authorities dropped the escape charges against him because he was going to prison for decades anyway on a bank robbery conviction.

But Banks, who represented himself in the civil case, alleged his cellmate forced him to participate in the escape, which took months to plan and execute. His suit says guards should have noticed the two were chiseling an escape hole in their cell and should have stopped them long before they fled.

Banks says he has had to endure tighter restrictions than fellow inmates at his current prison because of the escape from the Metropolitan Correctional Center three years ago.

Arizona sheriff faces judge after defying court orders
Headline Legal News | 2015/09/24 20:58
The sheriff in the nation's sixth-largest city faces a new round of contempt-of-court hearings Thursday for openly disobeying a judge's order to stop carrying out his signature immigration patrols.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio could face fines as a result of the hearings and could later be called into criminal court on the same grounds.

The sheriff has acknowledged violating court orders by conducting immigration patrols for 18 months after he was ordered to stop, failing to turn over traffic-stop recordings before the 2012 racial profiling trial, and bungling a plan to gather videos once they were publicly revealed.

Other subjects to be examined include allegations the sheriff launched an investigation of the judge in the profiling case in a failed bid to get him disqualified and that Arpaio's officers pocketed identification and other personal items seized from people during traffic stops and safe-house busts.

The sheriff underwent a first round of contempt hearings in April. The second round is scheduled to stretch into November.

The first witness is expected to be Arpaio's second-in-command, Jerry Sheridan, who has acknowledged violating two of the judge's orders. It's unclear when Arpaio will testify.

The toughest legal defeats in Arpaio's 22-year tenure as sheriff have come from U.S. District Judge Murray Snow, who concluded more than two years ago that the police agency had systematically racially profiled Latinos in regular traffic and immigration patrols.

Court rejects ex-NY Fed employee's retaliation claim lawsuit
Attorney News | 2015/09/23 21:47
A New York-based federal appeals court has rejected claims of a former employee of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York who says she was fired for her probe into the banking firm Goldman Sachs.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan on Wednesday upheld a lower-court ruling dismissing Carmen Segarra's lawsuit.        

She claimed the New York Fed interfered with her examination of Goldman Sachs' legal and compliance divisions and directed her to change findings.

The appeals court was particularly dismissive of Segarra's effort to hold three New York Fed employees responsible. It said the effort was "speculative, meritless, and frankly quite silly."

The Federal Reserve oversees Wall Street's biggest financial institutions.

Last year, Senate Democrats accused the Fed of being too close to big banks it regulates.

Indiana's high court to consider State Fair stage collapse
Legal Topics | 2015/09/23 21:47
The Indiana Supreme Court is set to consider whether the state is responsible for some of the legal damages faced by a company that supplied stage rigging that collapsed at a state fair event in 2011, killing seven people.

The justices are scheduled to hear oral arguments Wednesday in the state's appeal of a March Court of Appeals ruling involving Mid-America Sound Corp.

That ruling found Indiana might be responsible for some legal damages faced by Mid-America, after high winds toppled the stage rigging onto fans awaiting the start of a concert by country duo Sugarland in August 2011.

Mid-America contends the state is financially responsible by contract for the cost of its defense and any judgments against it.

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