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Trump administration asks Supreme Court to allow asylum ban
Legal Interview | 2018/12/12 20:13
The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to allow enforcement of a ban on asylum for any immigrants who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

Two federal courts have temporarily blocked the policy President Donald Trump announced in November in response to caravans of migrants that were approaching the border. Last week, the federal appeals court in San Francisco said the ban is inconsistent with federal law and an attempted end-run around Congress.

The administration said in court papers filed Tuesday that the nationwide order preventing the policy from taking effect “is deeply flawed” and should be lifted pending an appeal that could reach the high court.

Trump’s proclamation is among measures that “are designed to channel asylum seekers to ports of entry, where their claims can be processed in an orderly manner; deter unlawful and dangerous border crossings; and reduce the backlog of meritless asylum claims,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco wrote in his Supreme Court filing.

Lee Gelernt, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer representing immigrant advocacy groups challenging the asylum policy, said, “The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to short-circuit the normal judicial process and reinstate a blatantly unlawful policy.”

Justice Elena Kagan, who handles emergency appeals from California and other western states, called for a response from opponents of the asylum policy by midday Monday.

In the first court ruling on the issue, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar said on Nov.19 that U.S. law allows immigrants to request asylum regardless of whether they entered the country legally.

The president “may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” the judge said in his order.


Thai court extends detention of refugee sought by Bahrain
Lawyer Blogs | 2018/12/11 04:14
A Thai court ruled Tuesday that a soccer player who holds refugee status in Australia can be held for 60 days pending the completion of an extradition request by Bahrain, the homeland he fled four years ago on account of alleged political persecution and torture.

Hakeem al-Araibi, who was detained Nov. 27 upon entry at Bangkok's main airport, was denied release on bail during his court appearance. Thai officials said he was originally held on the basis of a notice from Interpol in which Bahrain sought his custody because he had been sentenced in absentia in 2014 to 10 years in prison for vandalizing a police station, a charge he denies. He came to Thailand on vacation with his wife.

Al-Araibi says he fears being tortured if sent to Bahrain. Australia, which granted him refugee status and residency in 2017, has called for his release and immediate return to his adoptive home. He had played for Bahrain's national soccer team and now plays for Melbourne's Pascoe Vale Football Club. He has been publicly critical of the Bahrain royal family's alleged involvement in sports scandals.

He also has alleged he was blindfolded and had his legs beaten while he was held in Bahrain in 2012.

He said he believed he was targeted for arrest because of his Shiite faith and because his brother was politically active in Bahrain. Bahrain has a Shiite majority but is ruled by a Sunni monarchy, and has a reputation for harsh repression since its failed "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011.

Thai officials insist they are following the letter of the law in holding him, but rights groups suggest he should not have been detained because of his refugee status, and that international law to which Thailand is a party bars sending him to Bahrain if he has a legitimate fear of persecution and even torture. The court can extend the 60-day detention by another 30 days on application of the prosecutor's office, but otherwise he is free to go if Bahrain does not finish its extradition application by then.



Supreme Court won't hear Planned Parenthood case
Attorneys News | 2018/12/10 04:14
The Supreme Court is avoiding a high-profile case by rejecting appeals from Kansas and Louisiana in their effort to strip Medicaid money from Planned Parenthood over the dissenting votes of three justices.

Lower courts in both states had blocked the states from withholding money that is used for health services for low-income women. The money is not used for abortions. Abortion opponents have said Planned Parenthood should not receive any government money because of heavily edited videos that claimed to show the nation's largest abortion provider profiting from sales of fetal tissue for medical research.

Investigations sparked by the videos in several states didn't result in criminal charges.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch said they would have heard the case.

It takes four votes on the nine-justice court to grant review, so neither Chief Justice John Roberts nor new Justice Brett Kavanaugh was willing to join their conservative colleagues to hear the Medicaid funding challenge.

Thomas wrote for the three dissenters that the court seems to be ducking a case it should decide because it involves Planned Parenthood. "But these cases are not about abortion rights," Thomas wrote.

The issue is who has the right to challenge a state's Medicaid funding decisions, private individuals or only the federal government. The states say that the Medicaid program, a joint venture of federal and state governments to provide health care to poorer Americans, makes clear that only the Secretary of Health and Human Services can intervene, by withholding money from a state.


Man accused of killing tourist appears in New Zealand court
Opinions | 2018/12/09 04:15
A man accused of killing 22-year-old British tourist Grace Millane made his first appearance in a New Zealand court Monday.

The 26-year-old man stared at the ground while a judge addressed him during the brief appearance at the Auckland District Court. The man has not yet entered a plea on murder charges and the court has temporarily blocked his name from being published.

Millane's father, David Millane, traveled to New Zealand last week after his daughter vanished, and Judge Evangelos Thomas addressed him and other family members.

"I don't know what to say to you at this time, but your grief must be desperate," he said, according to television station Three. "We all hope justice will be fair and swift and ultimately bring you some peace."

The case has riveted people both in Britain and New Zealand.

Described by her father as fun-loving and family-oriented, Millane had been traveling in New Zealand as part of a planned yearlong trip abroad that began in Peru. She went missing Dec. 1 and failed to get in touch with her family on her birthday the next day, or on the days that followed, which alarmed them.

Before she vanished, Millane had been staying at a backpacker hostel in Auckland and left some of her belongings there. Detective Inspector Scott Beard said she met a man for a couple of hours in the evening before surveillance cameras showed them entering the CityLife hotel at about 9:40 p.m.

A week after Millane disappeared, police detained a man for questioning and later charged him with murder.


Rwandan court drops all charges against opposition figure
Court Center | 2018/12/06 22:03
Rwanda’s high court on Thursday acquitted the country’s most prominent opposition figure of all charges related to her election challenge of President Paul Kagame, as judges said the prosecution failed to provide proof of insurrection and forgery.

Diane Rwigara’s case has drawn global attention as Kagame again faces pressure to give more space to critics in this highly controlled East African country.

Rwigara’s mother, Adeline, 59, also was acquitted of inciting insurrection and promoting sectarianism. Both women had denied the charges.

The courtroom, packed with diplomats and supporters, erupted in applause as Diane Rwigara and her mother were overcome with tears. Excited relatives who had prayed before the hearing for protection swarmed them with hugs.

The 37-year-old Rwigara, who had denounced the charges as politically motivated, had faced 22 years in prison if convicted. She was arrested after trying to run in last year’s election, and is the rare person to publicly criticize the government from inside the country.

“I will continue my campaign to fight for the rights of all Rwandans,” a surprised but happy Rwigara told reporters after celebrating. “This is the beginning, because there’s still a lot that needs to be done in our country.”

She said she will move ahead with her People Salvation Movement, an activist group launched shortly before her arrest to encourage Rwandans to hold their government accountable. And she thanked everyone who pressured the government to free her.



Supreme Court to hear closely watched double jeopardy case
Legal Interview | 2018/12/06 22:02
The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments about an exception to the Constitution's ban on being tried for the same offense. The outcome could have a spillover effect on the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

The justices are taking up an appeal Thursday from federal prison inmate Terance Gamble. He was prosecuted separately by Alabama and the federal government for having a gun after an earlier robbery conviction.

The high court is considering whether to overturn a court-created exception to the Constitution's double-jeopardy bar that allows state and federal prosecutions for the same crime. The court's ruling could be relevant if President Donald Trump were to pardon someone implicated in

Supreme Court lawyer Tom Goldstein joked at a Washington event before the term began in October that the high court case should be called New York v. Manafort, a reference to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Trump has refused to rule out an eventual pardon for Manafort, who has been convicted of federal financial fraud and conspiracy crimes. It's by no means certain that the high court ruling will affect future prosecutions.

But Trump's Justice Department is urging the court not to depart from what it says is an unbroken line of cases reaching back nearly 170 years in favor of allowing prosecutions by state and federal authorities. Thirty-six states that include Republican-led Texas and Democratic-led New York are on the administration's side, as are advocates for Native American women who worry that a decision for Gamble would make it harder to prosecute domestic and sexual violence crimes.



Indian court orders Briton held during copter bribery probe
Politics & Law | 2018/12/03 20:04
An Indian court on Wednesday ruled that officials may hold a British man while they investigate him for alleged bribery in a canceled $670 million helicopter deal between India and an Italian defense company.

Judge Arvind Kumar allowed Briton Christian James Michel to meet briefly with his attorney, who sought unsuccessfully to have him released on bail while the charges are investigated. Michel was extradited to India from Dubai on Tuesday to face charges of channeling bribes to Indian contacts.


Judge Arvind Kumar allowed Briton Christian James Michel to meet briefly with his attorney, who sought unsuccessfully to have him released on bail while the charges are investigated. Michel was extradited to India from Dubai on Tuesday to face charges of channeling bribes to Indian contacts.

Michel was detained in Dubai last year after India asked the United Arab Emirates for his extradition.

Indian investigators said in court documents that Michel transferred the money from a British subsidiary of Finmeccanica, which has since been renamed Leonardo S.p.A.

In 2014, India received three of 12 AW101 helicopters it had ordered to fly senior officials but then halted the deal after the bribery allegations surfaced.

The Central Bureau of Investigation said Michel was a frequent visitor to India when the deal was being negotiated and "was operating as a middleman for defense procurements through a wide network of sources cultivated in the Indian Air Force and Ministry of Defense at different levels, including retired and serving officials."

Indian investigators want Michel to reveal the names of Indian politicians involved in the alleged scheme. The opposition Congress party was ruling the country at the time.

With national elections due in March-April, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist party is expected to try to embarrass the Congress party, its main rival, if Michel names some of its leaders as beneficiaries in the helicopter deal.


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