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Supreme Court rejects appeal in texting suicide case
Law Firm Business | 2020/01/14 18:38
The Supreme Court on Monday left in place the conviction of a Massachusetts woman who sent her boyfriend text messages urging him to kill himself.

Michelle Carter is serving a 15-month sentence after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the 2014 death of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III. A judge determined that Carter, who was 17, caused the death of the 18-year-old Roy when she ordered him in a phone call to get back in his carbon monoxide-filled truck that he’d parked in a Kmart parking lot.

The phone call wasn’t recorded, but the judge relied on a text Carter sent her friend in which she said she told Roy to get back in. In text messages sent in the days leading up to Roy’s death, Carter also encouraged Roy to follow through with his suicide plan and chastised him when he didn’t, Massachusetts courts found.

The case has garnered national attention and sparked legislative proposals in Massachusetts to criminalize suicide coercion.

Carter’s lawyers argued in their Supreme Court appeal that the conviction should be thrown out because it was an “unprecedented” violation of her free speech rights that raised crucial questions about whether “words alone” are enough to hold someone responsible for another person’s suicide.

The lawyers also argued there was simply not enough evidence to prove Carter urged Roy to to get back in his truck to die, or that he would have lived if she had called for help or taken other actions to try and save his life.

Joseph Cataldo, one of Carter’s lawyers, said Monday’s decision was an “injustice” and that the legal team is weighing its next steps. He didn’t elaborate.

“The Court passed on the rare chance to clarify an outdated and confusing exception to the First Amendment, which has divided courts around the country,” said Daniel Marx, another one of Carter’s lawyers. “It also missed an invaluable opportunity to address the toxic combination of mental illness, adolescent psychology, and social media that was at the heart of this suicide case and will likely lead to additional tragedies in the future.”

The court’s decision was welcomed by Bristol District Attorney Thomas Quinn III, whose office prosecuted the case.

“The US Supreme Court’s decision today brings closure to the family of Conrad Roy for his tragic death. I hope that the finality of this decision brings some solace to them,” he said in a statement.


Indian state challenges new citizenship law in Supreme Court
Court Center | 2020/01/12 02:39
The southern Indian state of Kerala on Tuesday became the first to legally challenge a new citizenship law that has triggered nationwide demonstrations.

In a petition to the Supreme Court, the state government said the law violates the secular nature of India's Constitution, and accused the government of dividing the nation along communal lines.

The citizenship law backed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist party provides a path to naturalization for people from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, unless they’re Muslim. It has triggered nationwide protests and clashes with police, leading to 23 deaths.
The rallies have slowly morphed into much wider anti-government protests.

Critics say the law, which was passed by Parliament on Dec. 11, will be used in conjunction with a citizenship registry that could require all Indians to produce documents proving their origins, a challenge in a country where many people lack official records including birth certificates.

Kerala, a state ruled by a communist party, has strongly opposed the law and passed a resolution against in early January. The state government criticized the law in front-page advertisements in at least three national newspapers on Jan. 10, saying the state is "leading the efforts to protect constitutional values.”

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party said the move by the state was political.

Pinarayi Vijayan, chief minister of the state, has also written to the heads of 11 other states not ruled by Modi’s party, urging them to unite in their fight against the law.


WikiLeaks' Assange in UK court fighting extradition to USA
Headline News | 2020/01/10 02:52
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange made a brief court appearance Monday in his bid to prevent extradition to the United States to face serious espionage charges.

He and his lawyers complained they weren't being given enough time to meet to plan their battle against U.S. prosecutors seeking to put him on trial for WikiLeaks' publication of hundreds of thousands of confidential documents.

The 48-year-old was brought to court from Belmarsh Prison on the outskirts of London. He saluted the public gallery, which was packed with ardent supporters including the musician MIA, when he entered the courtroom. He later raised his right fist in defiance when he was taken to holding cells to meet with lawyer Gareth Peirce.

Peirce said officials at Belmarsh Prison are making it extremely difficult for her to meet with Assange.

“We have pushed Belmarsh in every way ?- it is a breach of a defendant's rights,” she said.

Assange refrained from making political statements. He confirmed his name and date of birth, and at one point said he didn't understand all of the proceedings against him during the brief hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

He faces 18 charges in the U.S., including conspiring to hack into a Pentagon computer. He has denied wrongdoing, claiming he was acting as a journalist entitled to First Amendment protection.

Many advocacy groups have supported Assange's claim that the charges would have a chilling effect on freedom of the press.



Former IAAF president’s corruption trial opens in Paris
Legal Interview | 2020/01/09 02:41
The corruption trial involving the former president of track and field’s governing body was suspended Monday shortly after it began.

Lamine Diack, the former head of the IAAF, has been charged with far-reaching corruption and doping cover-ups.

At the opening of the hearing, the prosecution asked that the two-week trial be delayed to weigh new evidence received from Senegal, where Diack was born. His son, Papa Massata Diack, also charged in the case, lives in Senegal, shielded from an international arrest warrant issued by France.

The prosecution also asked for the delay to clear up a procedural technicality regarding one of the charges against Papa Massata Diack. There will next be a hearing in April to see whether a new trial date in June is feasible.

Addressing the court, the 86-year-old Diack asked that in the wake of the delay he be allowed to travel to Senegal to visit his elder brother, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday. Diack has not been allowed to leave France since his arrest in 2015. But he promised the court that he would come back to France if allowed to travel, saying he wants to clear his name.


Mother of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts dies at age 90
Headline News | 2020/01/03 19:38
Rosemary Roberts, the mother of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, has died. She was 90. A spokeswoman for the court said Rosemary Roberts died Saturday. Roberts was born Rosemary Podrasky in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and married John G. Roberts Sr. in 1952, according to an obituary published in The Tribune-Democrat.

She worked in Pennsylvania and New York as a customer service representative for A&P supermarkets and the Bell Telephone Company, according to the obituary.

The family moved around over the years for Roberts Sr.’s job at Bethlehem Steel Corp. and lived in New York, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Maryland. They later moved to Ohio and South Carolina for other business opportunities and for retirement.

Rosemary Roberts participated in local religious and charitable organizations and served as a hospital and library volunteer, the obituary said. She and her husband moved to Maryland in 2001 to be closer to their family.

Their son, John Roberts, was nominated in 2005 by President George W. Bush to be chief justice of the Supreme Court. He replaced the late William Rehnquist.

Rosemary Roberts is survived by four children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Her husband died in 2008 after a long illness.



President, Supreme Court top Wisconsin races in 2020
Legal Watch | 2020/01/02 03:39
Everyone knows Wisconsin will be in the spotlight for the presidential race in 2020. It's one of just a few states where the electorate is so evenly divided, it could swing either way. That is the biggest prize on the ballot this year, but it's far from the only contest for Wisconsin voters. Here are the highlights of what's on Wisconsin's political horizon in 2020:

PRESIDENTIAL RACE

Wisconsin will be the focus of the presidential race all year. President Donald Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016 and both sides expect another close race. Wisconsin is one of just a few states expected to be competitive and for that reason, many expect it to be the epicenter of the fight for the White House. Democrats will get a chance to vote for their nominee on April 7. With a large field and unsettled race, many expect it to still be undecided for Wisconsin's primary. Milwaukee hosts the Democratic National Convention in July and both sides are expected to flood the state with money ? and candidate appearances ? before the November election.

SUPREME COURT

Wisconsin elects its Supreme Court justices and one of them who was appointed by then-Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, is up for election in April. Dan Kelly was appointed in 2016 and now he's running for a full 10-year term. He's part of the current 5-2 conservative majority on the court. If he wins, that majority will not change. But if one of two liberal candidates prevail, the conservative hold on the court will drop to 4-3. Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky and Marquette University law professor Ed Fallone have Democratic support in the race. A Feb. 18 primary will narrow the field to two candidates. The winner will be elected on April 7. That is the same day as Wisconsin's presidential primary, when Democratic turnout is expected to be high. That could spell trouble for Kelly.



Connecticut courts moving notices from newspapers to website
Court Center | 2019/12/26 17:07
The Connecticut court system will usher in the new year by moving required public notices to its website and out of newspapers, citing lower costs and the potential to reach a wider audience.

Media representatives, however, believe the move will result in fewer residents being informed of important legal matters and will be another blow to news companies already dealing with huge declines in revenues. A single public notice can cost a few hundred dollars to run in a newspaper.

It's a concept that's been debated by government officials across the country, but so far one that appears to have gained little traction amid opposition by newspapers.

“State government’s thirst for keeping information out of the public hands knows no bounds," said Chris VanDeHoef, executive director of the Connecticut Daily Newspapers Association. “Every branch of government in our state should be focused on getting information that is pertinent to the citizens of Connecticut out in as many places possible — not fewer.”

The Connecticut Judicial Branch has set up a legal notices section on its website that will go live on Jan. 2, when it ends the requirement to publish them in newspapers.

“It is expected that this will save a great deal of time and expense, and provide greater accuracy and broader notice than newspaper publication," the Judicial Branch said in a statement on its website announcing the move.

Most of the notices at issue are intended for people involved in civil and family court cases, usually defendants, who cannot be located because their current addresses are unknown. While a good portion of the publishing costs are paid for by litigants, the Judicial Branch foots the bill for a large number of people who cannot afford it, officials said.


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