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SC Supreme Court to decide if elected sheriff is qualified
Attorneys News | 2018/08/04 04:25
Clarke Stearns has been working as sheriff for more than 18 months in McCormick County, but it's still up in the air whether he is qualified to be the county's top lawman.

Stearns' Democratic opponent in the 2016 election, J.R. Jones, sued him within a month after his victory, saying Stearns never served as a law officer in South Carolina and therefore didn't meet the requirement of being a certified officer in the state.

Stearns' lawyers have successfully argued so far that his 30 years certified as a law enforcement officer in Virginia are more than enough to cover the qualification to be sheriff and he also got his certification in South Carolina after the election.

After a lower court judge ruled against Jones, the lawsuit is now going before the state Supreme Court. Jones' lawyer Charles Grose, told The Index-Journal of Greenwood the Supreme Court has expedited the case.

Stearns, a Republican, received 57 percent of the vote in the 2016 election.

Both sides said they have sent their briefs to the South Carolina Supreme Court and are ready for the justices either to rule or set a time for arguments.

Under South Carolina law , sheriffs must be at least 21 years old, a citizen of the United States, a registered voter and have a year of experience as a certified officer if they have a four-year college degree.


With scant record, Supreme Court nominee elusive on abortion
Lawyer Blogs | 2018/08/03 04:26
Twice in the past year, Brett Kavanaugh offered glimpses of his position on abortion that strongly suggest he would vote to support restrictions if confirmed to the Supreme Court.

One was in a dissent in the case of a 17-year-old migrant seeking to terminate her pregnancy. The other was a speech before a conservative group in which he spoke admiringly of Justice William Rehnquist's dissent in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case that established a woman's right to abortion.

Yet the big question about Kavanaugh's view on abortion remains unanswered: whether he would vote to overturn Roe. He'll almost certainly decline to answer when he is asked directly at his confirmation hearing. Decades of Kavanaugh's writings, speeches and judicial opinions, reviewed by The Associated Press, reveal a sparse record on abortion.

That leaves the migrant case, known as Garza v. Hargan, and the Rehnquist speech as focal points for anti-abortion activists who back President Donald Trump's nominee and for abortion rights advocates who say Kavanaugh has provided ample clues to justify their worst fears.

"This is the rhetoric from the anti-abortion groups being used by a potential Supreme Court justice, and that really gives us pause," said Jacqueline Ayers, the national director of legislative affairs for Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Democrats have been casting Kavanaugh as a threat to abortion rights as they face the difficult task of blocking his nomination in a Senate where Republicans hold a narrow majority. Kavanaugh's views on other issues, such as the reach of presidential powers, will also be part of a confirmation fight. But abortion is perpetually a contentious issue for court nominees, and the stakes are particularly high this time since Kavanaugh would be replacing the moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has voted to uphold abortion rights.


Top Pakistan court bars former minister from holding office
Legal Watch | 2018/08/02 04:27
Pakistan's top court has barred the former deputy interior minister from holding office for the next five years for insulting judges in a speech earlier this year.

Thursday's ruling by the Supreme Court says Talal Chaudhry, who was deputy interior minister under former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, disparaged judges during a March speech.

In the speech, Chaudry assailed the top court for dismissing Sharif from office. The former prime minister is now appealing a 10-year prison sentence for corruption handed down by an anti-graft tribunal in June.

Sharif's party — the Pakistan Muslim League — was defeated in general elections last month that saw former cricket star turn politician Imran Khan's party win the vote.

Khan is expected to form a coalition government and become prime minister later this month.


Officer involved in militia leader's death named in court
Headline News | 2018/08/02 04:26
A state police officer has accidently revealed the name of one of the officers who fatally shot a militia leader who participated in the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the officer's name slipped out this week during the trial of indicted FBI agent W. Joseph Astarita, who accused of lying about firing shots toward Robert "LaVoy" Finicum's truck.

Authorities have concealed the officers' names for more than two years citing concerns about threats from militias.

People who were involved in or supported the refuge occupation have circulated the officer's name and photo online. Several threats toward the officer followed.

Finicum's widow and Ammon Bundy have spoken out against these actions. The occupiers seized the refuge in 2016 to protest the imprisonment of two Oregon ranchers.


Iowa woman promoted to nation's lone all-male Supreme Court
Legal News | 2018/07/30 04:27
Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds on Wednesday promoted a female district judge to the Supreme Court in Iowa, the only state where all of its current justices are men.

Susan Christensen will be the first woman on Iowa's high court in roughly eight years. The appointment doesn't require confirmation by lawmakers for Christensen to take the bench.

During brief remarks from her formal office at the state Capitol, Reynolds praised Christensen's background, which most recently includes being a district court judge in the Fourth Judicial District in southwest Iowa. She previously worked as an assistant county attorney and a district associate judge.

Reynolds prefaced Christensen's announcement by saying that Iowans need "judges who understand the proper role of the courts within our government. Judges who will apply the law, and not make it."

The last woman to serve on the Iowa Supreme Court was Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, who lost her retention election in 2010. Ternus was part of a unanimous decision in 2009 that effectively legalized same-sex marriage in the state. Groups opposing same-sex marriage then led a successful campaign to get Ternus and two other justices voted out of the court.


US Supreme Court ruling in union dues impacts case in Oregon
Headline News | 2018/07/29 04:28
An Oregon state employee and a labor union have reached a settlement over her lawsuit seeking payback of obligatory union fees, marking the first refund of forced fees since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in late June that government workers can't be required to contribute to labor groups, the employee's lawyers said Monday.

Debora Nearman, a systems analyst with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, said in her lawsuit filed in April in federal court that the state's practice of forcing her to pay fees to fund union activity violated her First Amendment freedoms. She said the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, opposes her political and religious views and even led a campaign against her husband Mike when he successfully ran as a Republican candidate for the state Legislature in 2016.

Nearman is a member of a state-wide bargaining unit represented by SEIU but doesn't belong to the union. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which was involved in both the Supreme Court case and Nearman's, is handling some 200 other cases across the country, including a class-action lawsuit in California by 30,000 state employees, said Patrick Semmens, the group's vice president.

If the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules in favor of the plaintiffs in the California case, they stand to be refunded more than $100 million, Semmens estimated.

Nearman said in a telephone interview the mailers sent by a political action committee funded by the union were "disgusting."

One showed a photo of her husband superimposed in front of a police car with flashing lights, giving the impression that he was a criminal, she said. Another hinted he didn't care about disabled people, said Nearman, who suffers from a progressive neuro-muscular disease. "I was just heartbroken to see that," she said.


Tennessee abortion change vote case appealed to high court
Legal News | 2018/07/24 06:55
Opponents of a state constitutional amendment that passed in 2014 to allow tougher abortion restrictions are appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court after a circuit appellate court denied a recount.

The appeal in the Amendment 1 case was filed earlier this month.

A 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals opinion in January said the state's vote tabulating method was reasonable and true to the meaning of the state constitution and didn't infringe on plaintiffs' voting rights.

The order overturned an April 2016 district court ruling that sided with eight voters that sued the state by ordering the recount. The judge called Tennessee's vote-counting unconstitutional and fundamentally unfair. The recount was put on hold pending the appeal.

Tennessee officials have said they followed their longstanding practice of counting amendment votes.


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