Court complicates Trump's threat to cut 'Obamacare' funds
Court News | 2017/08/07 01:55
President Donald Trump's bold threat to push "Obamacare" into collapse may get harder to carry out after a new court ruling.

The procedural decision late Tuesday by a federal appeals panel in Washington has implications for millions of consumers. The judges said that a group of states can defend the legality of government "cost-sharing" subsidies for copays and deductibles under the Affordable Care Act if the Trump administration decides to stop paying the money.

Trump has been threatening to do just that for months, and he amped up his warnings after the GOP's drive to repeal and replace "Obamacare" fell apart in the Senate last week. The subsidies help keep premiums in check, but they are under a legal cloud because of a dispute over the wording of the ACA. Trump has speculated that he could force Democrats to make a deal on health care by stopping the payments.

The court's decision is "a check on the ability of the president to sabotage the Affordable Care Act in one very important way," said Tim Jost, professor emeritus at Washington and Lee University School of Law in Virginia, a supporter of the ACA who has followed the issue closely.

Because of the ruling, legal experts said, states can now sue if the administration cuts off the subsidies. Also, they said, the president won't be able to claim he's merely following the will of a lower court that found Congress had not properly approved the money.

The Justice Department had no comment on the decision. The White House re-issued an earlier statement saying, "the president is working with his staff and his Cabinet to consider the issues raised by the...payments."

Trump has made his feelings clear on Twitter. "If ObamaCare is hurting people, & it is, why shouldn't it hurt the insurance companies," he tweeted early Monday.

He elaborated in an earlier tweet, "If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies...will end very soon!"

In a twist, the appeals court panel seemed to take such statements into account in granting 17 states and the District of Columbia the ability to intervene on behalf of consumers.


Man suspected in Indiana officer's killing due in court
Court Watch | 2017/08/05 01:56
A man suspected in the fatal shooting of a police officer in Indianapolis is due in court as prosecutors weigh formal charges in the case.

Twenty-eight-year-old Jason Brown remains held without bond on suspicion of murder in Thursday's killing of Southport police Lt. Aaron Allan.

Indianapolis police spokesman Sgt. Kendale Adams says Brown was expected to be moved from a hospital to Marion County's jail for his initial hearing Tuesday.

Brown was hospitalized after another officer shot him following Allan's shooting. He has not been formally charged.

An affidavit filed Friday says Brown was "hysterical" and dangling upside down in his overturned car as Allan approached to help after Brown's speeding car overturned. It says Brown opened fire on Allen, who suffered 14 gunshot wounds.



Spanish court backs extradition of Russian programmer to US
Court Watch | 2017/08/01 20:41
Spain's National Court has recommended the extradition to the United States of a Russian computer programmer accused by U.S. prosecutors of developing malicious software that stole information from financial institutions and caused losses of $855,000.

Stanislav Lisov, 31, was arrested Jan. 13 in the Barcelona Airport while on honeymoon in Europe. Prosecutors accuse him of developing the NeverQuest software that targeted banking clients in the United States between June 2012 and January 2015.

The Spanish court said Tuesday that Lisov could face up to 25 years in prison for conspiracy to commit electronic and computer fraud. The extradition hearing took place July 20.

The court said its ruling can be appealed by Lisov. The extradition, if finally decided upon, must be approved by the government.



Man suspected in Indiana officer's killing due in court
Court News | 2017/08/01 20:41
formal charges in the case.

Twenty-eight-year-old Jason Brown remains held without bond on suspicion of murder in Thursday's killing of Southport police Lt. Aaron Allan.

Indianapolis police spokesman Sgt. Kendale Adams says Brown was expected to be moved from a hospital to Marion County's jail for his initial hearing Tuesday.

Brown was hospitalized after another officer shot him following Allan's shooting. He has not been formally charged.

An affidavit filed Friday says Brown was "hysterical" and dangling upside down in his overturned car as Allan approached to help after Brown's speeding car overturned. It says Brown opened fire on Allen, who suffered 14 gunshot wounds.


Ronaldo tells judge he has 'never tried to avoid taxes'
Court Watch | 2017/07/31 17:41
Cristiano Ronaldo told a Spanish judge Monday that he has "never tried to avoid taxes."

The Real Madrid forward, who is from Portugal, was questioned to determine whether he committed tax fraud worth almost 15 million euros ($17.5 million). Ronaldo spent more than 90 minutes answering the questions of investigating judge Monica Gomez.

According to a statement released by his public relations firm, the 32-year-old Ronaldo told the judge: "I have never hidden anything, and never tried to avoid taxes."

Judge Gomez took Ronaldo's testimony as part of an investigation to determine if there are grounds to charge him. The session at Pozuelo de Alarcon Court No. 1 on the outskirts of Madrid was closed to the public because it is part of an ongoing investigation.

In June, a state prosecutor accused Ronaldo of four counts of tax fraud from 2011-14 worth 14.7 million euros ($16.5 million). The prosecutor accused the Portugal forward of having used shell companies outside Spain to hide income made from image rights. The accusation does not involve his salary from Real Madrid. Ronaldo denies any wrongdoing.

"Spain's Tax Office knows all the details about my sources of income because we have reported them," Ronaldo told the judge, according to his statement. "I always file my tax returns because I think that we should all file and pay our taxes.

"Those who know me know that I tell my consultants that they must have everything in order and paid up to date because I don't want trouble."

Both before and after his court appearance, Ronaldo used an alternative entrance to avoid a large swarm of more than a hundred journalists from Spain and aboard gathered near the main door to the court.

Court officials had said that either Ronaldo or his lawyer would speak to the media after he saw the judge, but instead the player's spokesman, Inaki Torres, stepped up to the temporary podium in front of the courthouse to announce that Ronaldo "was on his way home."

The prosecutor said in June that Ronaldo used what was deemed a shell company in the Virgin Islands to "create a screen in order to hide his total income from Spain's Tax Office."

The prosecutor accused Ronaldo of declaring 11.5 million euros ($12.8 million) earned from 2011-14 in a tax return filed in 2014, when the prosecutor said Ronaldo's real income during that period was almost 43 million euros ($48 million). It added that Ronaldo falsely claimed the income as coming from real estate, which "greatly" reduced his tax rate.


Court: FAA must reconsider regulating airline seat size
Attorney News | 2017/07/31 03:41
An appeals court panel said Friday that federal officials must reconsider their decision not to regulate the size of airline seats as a safety issue.

One of the judges called it “the Case of the Incredible Shrinking Airline Seat.”

The Flyers Rights passenger group challenged the Federal Aviation Administration in court after the agency rejected its request to write rules governing seat size and the distance between rows of seats.

On Friday, a three-judge panel for the federal appeals court in Washington said the FAA had relied on outdated or irrelevant tests and studies before deciding that seat spacing was a matter of comfort, not safety.

The judges sent the issue back to the FAA. They said the agency must come up with a better-reasoned response to the group’s safety concerns.

“We applaud the court’s decision, and the path to larger seats has suddenly become a bit wider,” said Kendall Creighton, a spokeswoman for Flyers Rights.

The passenger group says small seats that are bunched too close together slow down emergency evacuations and raise the danger of travelers developing vein clots.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said the agency was considering the ruling and its next steps. He said the FAA considers the spacing between seat rows when testing to make sure that airliners can be evacuated safely.

The airline industry has long opposed the regulation of seat size. Its main U.S. trade group, Airlines for America, declined to comment on the ruling.


Australian court debates release of Queen's secret letters
Headline Legal News | 2017/07/30 03:42
A legal battle over secret letters revealing what Queen Elizabeth II knew of her Australian representative's stunning plan to dismiss Australia's government in 1975 opened in federal court Monday, in a case that could finally solve a mystery behind the country's most dramatic political crisis.

Historian Jenny Hocking is asking the Federal Court to force the National Archives of Australia to release the letters between the British monarch, who is also Australia's constitutional head of state, and her former Australian representative, Governor-General Sir John Kerr. The Archives have classified the letters as "personal," meaning they might never be made public.

The letters would reveal what, if anything, the queen knew about Kerr's plan to dismiss Prime Minister Gough Whitlam's government in 1975 to resolve a deadlock in Parliament. It is the only time in Australian history that a democratically elected federal government was dismissed on the British monarch's authority. The dismissal stunned Australians and bolstered calls for the country to sever its colonial ties to Britain and become a republic.

Whitlam's own son, lawyer Antony Whitlam, is arguing the case on behalf of Hocking, and took on the case free of charge.

Hocking, a Whitlam biographer, argues that Australians have a right to know the details of their history, and that the letters written in the months leading up to the unprecedented dismissal are key to unraveling the truth.


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