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Russian court says bobsledder can keep Olympic titles
Top Legal News | 2019/01/10 09:59
Russian bobsledder Alexander Zubkov won a Moscow court ruling on Friday that could make it harder for the International Olympic Committee to recover his gold medals.

The Russian flagbearer at the 2014 Sochi Olympics was stripped of his two gold medals from those games in 2017 by the IOC for doping. He failed to overturn that disqualification at the Court of Arbitration for Sport last year.

But Moscow’s highest civil court in November upheld Zubkov’s claim that the CAS procedure was unfair and shouldn’t be recognized in Russia. That means Zubkov is legally recognized as an Olympic champion — but only in Russia.

On Friday, the court rejected an IOC-backed appeal from the Russian Olympic Committee, which earlier said letting Zubkov keep his medals could “give rise to doubt that Russia truly observes the main principles of the fight against doping.”

Zubkov strongly denies cheating. “I am a clean athlete. If you don’t know my story you can open Wikipedia and see how much I’ve done for sport and what I did in Sochi,” he said. “I brought gold medals here and gave sport 30 years (of my life).”

Friday’s ruling will also make it harder for Zubkov to be removed as president of the Russian Bobsled Federation, and may entitle him to a Russian state pension for retired star athletes.



EU top court adviser: Google can limit right to be forgotten
Legal Interview | 2019/01/08 09:58
An adviser to Europe's top court says Google doesn't have to extend "right to be forgotten" rules to its search engines globally.

The European Court of Justice's advocate general released a preliminary opinion Thursday in the case involving the U.S. tech company and France's data privacy regulator.

The case stems from the court's 2014 ruling that people have the right to control what appears when their name is searched online. That decision forced Google to delete links to outdated or embarrassing personal information that popped up in searches.

Advocate General Maciej Szpunar's opinion said the court "should limit the scope of the de-referencing that search engine operators are required to carry out," and that it shouldn't have to do it for all domain names, according to a statement.

Opinions from the court's advocate general aren't binding but the court often follows them when it hands down its ruling, which is expected later.

The case highlighted the need to balance data privacy and protection concerns against the public's right to know. It also raised thorny questions about how to enforce differing legal jurisdictions when it comes to the borderless internet.

Google's senior privacy counsel, Peter Fleischer, said the company acknowledges that the right to privacy and public access to information "are important to people all around the world ... We've worked hard to ensure that the right to be forgotten is effective for Europeans, including using geolocation to ensure 99 percent effectiveness."


Court orders mediation in Maryland desegregation case
Court Center | 2019/01/07 00:57
A federal appeals court has ordered a fourth attempt at mediation in a long-running dispute over the state of Maryland’s treatment of its historically black colleges.

The black colleges say the state has underfunded them while developing programs at traditionally white schools that directly compete with them and drain prospective students away.

In 2013, a judge found that the state had maintained an unconstitutional “dual and segregated education system.” The judge said the state allowed traditionally white schools to replicate programs at historically black institutions, thereby undermining the success of the black schools.

Despite three previous tries at mediation, the two sides have been unable to agree on a solution.

On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Maryland’s higher education commission and the coalition to begin mediation again to try to settle the 12-year-old lawsuit.


Son of ex-Nissan head Carlos Ghosn predicts court surprises
Legal Interview | 2019/01/05 08:58
The son of former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn said in an interview published Sunday that people will be surprised when his father, detained since Nov. 19 for allegedly falsifying financial reports, recounts his version of events to a Tokyo court on Tuesday.

Anthony Ghosn, 24, told France's Journal du Dimanche that his father — who will remain detained until at least Jan. 11 — will get 10 minutes to talk at the hearing, being held at his own request.

"For the first time, he can talk about his version of the allegations against him," Anthony Ghosn said in the interview with the weekly paper Journal du Dimanche. "I think everyone will be rather surprised hearing his version of the story. Until now, we've only heard the accusers."

The son has no direct contact with his father, and gets information via lawyers. He said his father, who for decades was a revered figure in the global auto industry, has lost about 10 kilograms (22 pounds) eating three bowls of rice daily, but he reads books and "he resists."

Ghosn refuses to cave in, said his son, contending that he would be freed from detention if he admitted guilt to the prosecutor.


GOP candidate asks North Carolina court to declare he won
Press Releases | 2019/01/03 09:01

The Republican in the nation's last undecided congressional race asked a North Carolina court Thursday to require that he be declared the winner because the now-defunct state elections board didn't act.

A lawsuit by GOP candidate Mark Harris claims the disbanded elections board had been declared unconstitutional, so its investigation into alleged ballot fraud by an operative hired by the Republican's campaign was invalid.

The elections board was dissolved Dec. 28 by state judges who in October declared its makeup unconstitutional but had allowed investigations to continue. A revamped board doesn't officially come into existence until Jan. 31.

"Time is of the essence," Harris' lawsuit states. Because the new elections board won't be created for weeks, "the uniform finality of a federal election is endangered by the State Board's actions and the citizens of the 9th District have no representation in Congress."

State elections staffers on Wednesday said a planned Jan. 11 evidentiary hearing to outline what investigators have found since November's election had to be postponed due to the lack of a board authorized to subpoena witnesses and hold hearings.

The investigation is continuing, however, with Harris being interviewed for two hours Thursday as all other U.S. House winners were sworn into office in Washington.

"We certainly want to help in any way we can with any investigation to get to the bottom of it, but we believe that, again, that I should be certified," Harris said. "We don't believe that the number of ballots in question would change the outcome of this election and we believe, again, that that is the standard ultimately that the board of elections looks to."

Harris narrowly led Democrat Dan McCready in unofficial vote counts, but the elections board refused to certify him as the winner amid an unusually large number of unused absentee ballots and a large advantage in absentees favoring the Republican in two of the 9th congressional district's rural counties.



High court to take new look at partisan electoral districts
Court Center | 2019/01/02 09:00
The Supreme Court is plunging back into the issue of whether electoral districts can be too partisan.

Disputes have arisen in cases involving North Carolina's heavily Republican congressional map and a Democratic congressional district in Maryland, and the justices said Friday they will hear arguments in March.

The high court could come out with the first limits on partisan politics in the drawing of electoral districts, but also could ultimately decide that federal judges have no role in trying to police political mapmaking.

The court took up the issue of partisan gerrymandering last term in cases from Wisconsin and the same Maryland district, but the justices failed to reach a decision on limiting political line-drawing for political gain.

Justice Anthony Kennedy had said he was open to limits. He has since retired, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh has taken Kennedy's seat. He has no judicial record on the issue.

The court again has taken one case in which Democrats are accused of unfairly limiting Republicans' political power and one in which Republicans are the alleged culprits. The court also has the entire North Carolina congressional map before it, but only the one Maryland district.

In both cases, however, lower courts have found that the party in charge of redistricting — Republicans in North Carolina, Democrats in Maryland — egregiously violated the rights of voters in the other party.

The North Carolina map was redrawn in 2016 because federal courts determined two districts originally drawn in 2011 were illegal because of excessive racial bias.


Court extends detention for Nissan ex-chair Ghosn by 10 days
Legal Interview | 2019/01/01 08:59
the once revered auto industry figure faces allegations that have marked a stunning downfall.

Ghosn, who led Nissan Motor Co. for two decades and helped save the Japanese automaker from near bankruptcy, was arrested Nov. 19 on suspicion of falsifying financial reports. He also faces a breach of trust allegation, for which his detention had been approved previously through Jan. 1.

The Tokyo District Court said in a statement that it had approved prosecutors' request for a 10-day extension.

Ghosn has been charged in the first set of allegations, about under-reporting Ghosn's pay by about 5 billion yen ($44 million) in 2011-2015.

Those close to Ghosn and his family say he is asserting his innocence as the alleged underreported amount of money was never really decided or paid, and Nissan never suffered any monetary losses from the alleged breach of trust.

It is unclear when Ghosn may be released on bail. Tokyo prosecutors consider Ghosn, a Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry, a flight risk.

In Japan, formal charges can mean a suspect will get detained for months, sometimes until the trial starts, because of fears of tampered evidence.

Another Nissan executive, Greg Kelly, was arrested on suspicion of collaborating with Ghosn on the under-reporting of income and was freed Dec. 25 on 70 million yen ($635,600) bail after more than a month of detention.

Kelly said in a statement released through his lawyers he had suffered while in detention because of his neck ailment and hoped to get medical treatment. He also said he was innocent and hoped to regain his reputation.

"I expect that the trial will start soon. I have not been involved in alleged false entry. I believe my innocence will be revealed in the trial," Kelly said.



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