Congress to Probe Report that Trump Directed Lawyer to Lie
Court News | 2019/01/21 03:22
The Democratic chairmen of two House committees pledged Friday to investigate a report that President Donald Trump directed his personal attorney to lie to Congress about negotiations over a real estate project in Moscow during the 2016 election.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said “we will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true.” He said the allegation that Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie in his 2017 testimony to Congress “in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date.”

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, said directing a subordinate to lie to Congress is a federal crime.

The report by BuzzFeed News, citing two unnamed law enforcement officials, says that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress and that Cohen regularly briefed Trump and his family on the Moscow project — even as Trump said he had no business dealings with Russia.



Lawyer: Incapacitated woman who gave birth not in coma
Court Watch | 2019/01/20 11:22
A lawyer for the family of an incapacitated Arizona woman who gave birth in a long-term care facility said she is not in a coma as previously reported.

The Arizona Republic reported Friday that attorney John Micheaels said the 29-year-old woman has “significant intellectual disabilities” and does not speak but has some ability to move, responds to sounds and is able to make facial gestures.

Phoenix police have said the woman was the victim of a sexual assault and have disclosed little other information.

A Jan. 8 statement by San Carlos Apache Tribe officials said the woman, a tribal member, gave birth while in a coma.

News media outlets have reported that the woman, who has not been publicly identified, was in a vegetative state at the facility where she spent many years.

“The important thing here is that contrary to what’s been reported, she is a person, albeit with significant intellectual disabilities. She has feelings and is capable of responding to people she is familiar with, especially family,” Micheaels told the newspaper.

He responded to a request Saturday by The Associated Press for comment by saying in an email that the information reported in the Republic is correct. He did not comment further.


Connecticut Supreme Court issues fewer rulings in 2018
Areas of Focus | 2019/01/20 11:22
Connecticut officials say state Supreme Court rulings declined sharply in 2018, possibly a result of a major shakeup of the court over the past two years that included the appointments of a new chief justice and four new associate justices.

The Connecticut Law Tribune reports the seven-member high court decided 86 cases in 2018, a 17 percent decrease from the 104 cases decided in 2017.

Paul Hartan is the chief administrative officer for state appeals courts. He says the learning curve of new justices likely contributed to the decline in rulings.

New justices appointed to fill vacancies since March 2017 include Gregory D'Auria, Raheem Mullins, Maria Araujo Kahn and Steven Ecker. Justice Richard Robinson became chief justice last May, succeeded Chase Rogers, who retired.


US presses ahead with border wall in court despite shutdown
Areas of Focus | 2019/01/19 11:22
A federal attorney in South Texas said in court this week that during the ongoing partial government shutdown, he only has been allowed to work on cases related to President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.

The Texas Civil Rights Project on Thursday released a transcript of a Tuesday hearing in a case where the U.S. government has sued a local landowner for her property along the U.S.-Mexico border. Many other civil cases have been delayed during the shutdown, which was triggered by Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to build a wall.

According to the transcript, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez noted that government attorneys working on border wall cases have not been furloughed despite the shutdown.

The prosecutor, Eric Paxton Warner, responded, “This is all I’m allowed to work on, Your Honor.”

Warner and a spokeswoman for the local U.S. attorney’s office did not return messages. A spokesman for the Department of Justice says each U.S. attorney had the authority to determine which civil cases should move forward or be delayed, but that civil cases would be delayed “to the extent this can be done without compromising to a significant degree the safety of human life or the protection of property.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said last year that it planned to start building in February. But unlike on other parts of the border, most border land in South Texas is owned privately. That requires the government to seize it through eminent domain, suing private landowners in cases that can take months or years. Some landowners who would be affected have already vowed to fight the government in court.


Florida school shooting suspect due back in court
Legal Topics | 2019/01/18 17:32
Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz is due back in court for more motions from defense lawyers.

Cruz's lawyers want Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer on Friday to hold the Broward Sheriff's Office in contempt of court for improperly providing the suspect's medical records to a state commission investigating the shooting.

They say only certain authorized investigators and prosecutors should get access to such records in a criminal case, and the commission is not included.

The 20-year-old Cruz faces the death penalty if convicted in the Valentine's Day shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. His lawyers have offered a guilty plea in exchange for life in prison, but prosecutors reject that.




India's top court paves way for bars with dancers to reopen
Areas of Focus | 2019/01/18 01:32
India's Supreme Court on Thursday paved the way for the reopening of Mumbai's dance bars, which had been a nightlife staple in the country's entertainment capital until they were outlawed six years ago.

The court ruled that the bars featuring young women paid to wear sexy clothing and dance to Bollywood music no longer need to be more than a kilometer (half a mile) from religious sites, schools and colleges. It also scrapped plans to force the bars to have security cameras and a partition between bar rooms and dance floors.

There were some 700 dance bars in Mumbai and another 650 in other parts of Maharashtra state, employing 75,000 dancers, before the state government ordered them closed in 2012 on the grounds they corrupted young people.

The state government framed a new law in 2016 imposing stiff restrictions, but the hotel and restaurant owners found them to be unacceptable and petitioned the top court.

The court, however, accepted the state government's plea that the dance bars be allowed to stay open in Maharashtra state between 6:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. every day and not until 1:30 a.m. as demanded by the Bar Owners Association.

People at these bars can tip the dancers, but can't throw money at them as in the past, the court ruled.


Chief justice seeks budget increase for court technology
Legal Interview | 2019/01/16 01:32
The head of the Iowa court system says technology and the need to ensure justice for everyone demands increased spending.

Speaking Wednesday in his annual speech to the Legislature, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady told lawmakers “we simply can no longer proceed into the future thinking it will be a modest linear extension from where we are today.”

The judicial branch is requesting nearly $185 million, a 4 percent increase from the current year’s budget. Gov. Kim Reynolds is proposing nearly $183 million.

Among the new programs Cady proposes is a $1.6 million rural courts initiative to secure courthouses and upgrade services to ensure court services in all 99 counties.

He also proposes a $2.5 million digital upgrade that would allow judges to send search warrants electronically to investigators, improve an internet-based telephone system and upgrade technology to allow for remote video appearances for witnesses, parties in cases and court reporters.

Cady also seeks $1.9 million to pay for a proposed 4 percent increase in pay for judiciary officers.


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