Court weighing whether graffiti mecca was protected by law
Court Watch | 2017/10/21 18:51
For two decades, Jerry Wolkoff let graffiti artists use his crumbling Queens warehouse complex as a canvas for their vibrant works. Artists gave the spot the name "5Pointz" — a place where all five New York City boroughs come together — but painters traveled from as far as Japan and Brazil to tag, bomb and burn at what became a graffiti mecca and a tourist destination.

But like most graffiti, it didn't last. Wolkoff whitewashed the building in 2013 then tore it down to build luxury apartment towers.

Four years later, some of the artists whose work was destroyed are in court, arguing that even though the building belonged to Wolkoff, the art was protected by federal law.

A trial that started Tuesday at a federal court in Brooklyn will determine whether the artists should be compensated for the lost work.

More than 20 artists sued Wolkoff under the Visual Artists Rights Act, or VARA, a 1990 federal statute that protects artists' rights even if someone else owns the physical artwork.



Court, for now, blocks immigrant teen's access to abortion
Court News | 2017/10/21 18:51
An appeals court is blocking, for now, an abortion sought by a pregnant 17-year-old immigrant being held in a Texas facility, ruling that the government should have time to try to release her so she can obtain the abortion outside of federal custody.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued its ruling Friday hours after arguments from lawyers for the Trump administration and the teenager. The court ruled 2-1 that the government should have until Oct. 31 to release the girl into the custody of a sponsor, such as an adult relative in the United States. If that happens, she could obtain an abortion if she chooses. If she isn't released, the case can go back to court.

The judge who dissented wrote that the court's ruling means the teen will be forced to continue an unwanted pregnancy for "multiple more weeks."

The teen, whose name and country of origin have been withheld because she's a minor, is 15 weeks pregnant. She entered the U.S. in September and learned she was pregnant while in custody in Texas.

She obtained a court order Sept. 25 permitting her to have an abortion. But federal officials have refused to transport her or temporarily release her so that others may take her to have an abortion. A lower federal court ruled that she should be able to obtain an abortion Friday or Saturday, but the government appealed.

Federal health officials said in a statement that for "however much time" they are given they "will protect the well-being of this minor and all children and their babies" in their facilities.


Court extends house arrest for Russian theater director
Court Watch | 2017/10/20 01:52
A court in Russia's capital ruled Tuesday to extend the house arrest of a widely revered theater and film director.

Kirill Serebrennikov was detained and put under house arrest in August in a criminal case that sent shockwaves across Russia's art community and raised fears of return to Soviet-style censorship.

Moscow's Basmanny District Court decided to keep Serebrennikov under house arrest until Jan. 19 per investigators' request.

Investigators have accused him of scheming to embezzle about $1.1 million in government funds allocated for one of his productions and the projects he directed between 2011 and 2014.

Serebrennikov has dismissed the accusations as absurd.


The Latest: Spain asks for jailing of Catalonia police chief
Headline Legal News | 2017/10/19 15:54
A Spanish prosecutor is asking for Catalonia's regional police chief to be jailed in a sedition case related to the staging of Catalonia's banned Oct. 1 secession referendum.

Maj. Josep Lluis Trapero testified for about two hours at Madrid's National Court on Monday, following which the court prosecutor recommended he be sent to prison provisionally without bail. The judge will decide on the request after 6 p.m.

Trapero, another regional police offer and the leaders of two pro-independence associations are under investigation for sedition for their roles in Sept. 20-21 demonstrations in Barcelona as Spanish police arrested several Catalan officials and raided offices in a crackdown on referendum preparations.



High court to hear appeal in Newtown gun maker lawsuit
Headline Legal News | 2017/10/18 15:53
The appeal of a decision to dismiss a wrongful death lawsuit against the maker of the rifle used in the 2012 Newtown school shooting is headed to Connecticut's highest court next month.

The state Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments Nov. 14 in the civil case brought against North Carolina-based Remington Arms by some of the Newtown victims' families.

A Superior Court judge dismissed the case last year. At issue were exceptions to a federal ban on most lawsuits against gun makers. The judge rejected the families' argument that the suit is allowed under the exceptions.

Newtown shooter Adam Lanza used a Remington-made, AR-15-style rifle to kill 20 children and six educators.


Lawyers want Supreme Court to block Texas from executing man
Legal Topics | 2017/10/17 12:54
Attorneys for an inmate convicted in a prison guard's death are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to halt his Thursday evening execution.

Robert Pruett's lawyers want justices to review whether lower courts properly denied a federal civil rights lawsuit that sought additional DNA testing in the case. They are also questioning whether a prisoner who claims actual innocence, as Pruett does, can be put to death.

If the execution is carried out Thursday, Pruett would be the sixth prisoner executed this year in Texas, which carries out the death penalty more than any other state. Texas put seven inmates to death last year. His execution would be the 20th nationally, matching the U.S. total for all of 2016.

Pruett avoided execution in April 2015, when a state judge halted his punishment just hours before he could have been taken to the death chamber. His lawyers had convinced the judge that new DNA tests needed to be conducted on the steel rod used to stab the 37-year-old Nagle.

The new tests showed no DNA on the tape but uncovered DNA on the rod from an unknown female who authorities said likely handled the shank during the appeals process after the original tests in 2002.

In June, Pruett's execution was rescheduled for October. Pruett's attorneys then unsuccessfully sought more DNA testing and filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in August, arguing Pruett had been denied due process. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the lawsuit last week, and Pruett's attorneys appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday.




Oregon Supreme Court denies request for information release
Attorney News | 2017/10/16 08:52
The Oregon Supreme Court has denied a request by The Oregonian Publishing Co. for Oregon Health and Science University to release the names of patients who intend to sue.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the court ruled on Thursday that the information is protected from public disclosure under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

The company that publishes the Portland newspaper in 2011 sought a list of names of those who planned to sue the university, which is a public institution that receives taxpayer money. The list would have included patients, students, employees, contractors and visitors.

Lower courts ordered the university to release the information, but it appealed to the state Supreme Court. State attorneys filed a brief in support of the newspaper’s position.



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