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Court rejects Ghosn’s request to attend Nissan board meeting
Court Center | 2019/03/10 03:42
A Japanese court has rejected a request by former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn, released on bail last week, to attend the Japanese automaker’s board meeting on Tuesday.

Nissan dismissed Ghosn as chairman after his Nov. 19 arrest, but he remains on the board. The Tokyo District Court said it rejected Ghosn’s request on Monday but did not elaborate on the reasons.

It had been unclear whether Ghosn could attend the board meeting. The court’s approval was needed based on restrictions imposed for his release on bail. The restrictions say he cannot tamper with evidence, and attending the board meeting could be seen as putting pressure on Nissan employees.

Prosecutors had been expected to argue against his attendance. They were not available for immediate comment.

Ghosn has been charged with falsifying financial reports in underreporting his compensation and breach of trust in making payments to a Saudi businessman and having Nissan shoulder investment losses.

He insists he is innocent, saying the compensation was never decided or paid, the payments were for legitimate services and Nissan never suffered the losses.

Since his release on March 6 from Tokyo Detention Center on 1 billion yen ($9 million) bail, he has been spotted taking walks in Tokyo with his family, but he has not made any comments.

His attempt to exercise what his lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, called his “duty” by attending the board meeting signals one way he may be fighting back.

Hironaka has said Ghosn will speak to reporters soon. A date for a news conference has not been announced.


Court: $700M judgment against North Carolina still unpaid
Law Firm Business | 2019/03/07 19:42
A North Carolina judge has affirmed that a court judgment issued more than 10 years ago stating school districts are owed over $700 million in civil penalties from several state agencies is still nearly all unpaid.

The order signed Wednesday by Wake Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier ends a lawsuit filed last summer by the North Carolina School Boards Association and many local boards.

But Rozier's ruling makes clear he can't direct how and when the General Assembly should pay because of constitutional limitations. The school districts hope the new litigation will revive efforts to get lawmakers to repay the $730 million.

At issue were fees collected by agencies for late tax payments, overweight vehicles and other items that never got forwarded to schools, as the state constitution required.


Ex-Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock to appear in court in Chicago
Court Center | 2019/03/07 03:43
Former Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock is scheduled to appear in court for the first time since the U.S. Supreme Court declined to get involved in his corruption case.

A federal judge in Chicago set a Wednesday hearing for the 37-year-old, who once was a rising star of the Republican Party.

Schock resigned from Congress in 2015 amid scrutiny of his spending, including redecorating his office in the style of the "Downton Abbey" TV series. He was indicted in 2016 on 22 counts, i ncluding wire fraud and falsification of election commission filings.

Schock has pleaded not guilty. His attorneys argued the case should be dismissed, saying his prosecution violated separation-of-powers clauses. The Supreme Court declined last month to consider it.

The case was originally filed in central Illinois. The Justice Department transferred it to prosecutors in Chicago last year.


Japan court OK's Nissan ex-Chairman Ghosn's release on bail
Legal Interview | 2019/03/06 03:45
A Tokyo court approved the release of former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn on 1 billion yen ($8.9 million) bail on Tuesday, rejecting an appeal by prosecutors to keep him jailed, a lawyer for the auto executive said.

He could be freed as soon as Wednesday morning, according to Japan's Kyodo News.

Jean-Yves Le Borgne, Ghosn's French lawyer, said a court issued a late-night ruling rejecting prosecutors' appeal of the initial ruling. Le Borgne cautioned that prosecutors still had leeway to file new charges as they had done once before.

Ghosn said in a written statement that he is grateful for his family and friends who had stood by him "throughout this terrible ordeal."

He said he is "innocent and totally committed to vigorously defending myself in a fair trial against these meritless and unsubstantiated accusations."

The former head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Motors alliance has been detained since he was arrested on Nov. 19. He says he is innocent of charges of falsifying financial information and of breach of trust.

His Japanese lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, is famous for winning acquittals in Japan, a nation where the conviction rate is 99 percent.

Hironaka said the legal team "proposed concrete ways showing how he would not tamper with evidence or try to flee."

Hironaka said Monday that he had offered new ways to monitor Ghosn after his release, such as camera surveillance. Hironaka also questioned the grounds for Ghosn's arrest, calling the case "very peculiar," and suggesting it could have been dealt with as an internal company matter.

In Japan, suspects are routinely detained for months, often until their trials start. That's especially true of those who insist on their innocence.

The 1 billion yen bail set by the court was relatively high but not the highest ever in Japan.

Among the conditions for Ghosn's release were restrictions on where he can live, his mobile phone use, as well as a ban on foreign travel and contact with Nissan executives, according to Kyodo News.


N Carolina court: State retirees should pay health premiums
Attorneys News | 2019/03/06 03:44
A North Carolina appeals court is throwing out a judge's ruling that a former Supreme Court chief justice and other retired state government workers can't be forced to pay part of their health insurance premiums.

A state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday the retirees don't have a contract preventing them from contributing to their coverage. A three-judge panel ruled unanimously that retired state employees were promised nothing more than what is offered to current workers.

Legislators passed a law in 2011 requiring retirees to pay premiums they didn't pay while working. Retirees including former Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake sued, saying that broke the state's promise to provide health insurance.

The State Health Plan covers more than 700,000 employees, retirees and their dependents.


Oregon's high court: Developers can't offset harm to farmers
Legal Interview | 2019/03/02 03:46
The Oregon Supreme Court has ruled that negative impacts on Oregon's farmers from non-farm development can't be offset by making payments.

The Capital Press reported Friday that the court also ruled this week that it's not enough for a development to avoid taking away agriculturally-zoned land. A project also can't change costs or agricultural practices for farmers.

The ruling settles a lawsuit filed over a planned expansion of a landfill in Yamhill County that would affect nearby farms and orchards.

Waste Management, the owner of the Riverbend Landfill, is reviewing the Oregon Supreme Court's ruling.



Supreme Court seems inclined to retain cross on public land
Headline News | 2019/02/28 03:41
The Supreme Court seemed inclined Wednesday to rule that a 40-foot-tall cross that stands on public land in Maryland is constitutional, but shy away from a sweeping ruling.

The case the justices heard arguments in is being closely watched because it involves the place of religious symbols in public life. But the particular memorial at issue is a nearly 100-year-old cross that was built in a Washington, D.C., suburb as a memorial to area residents who died in World War I.

Before arguments in the case, it seemed that the memorial's supporters, including the Trump administration, had the upper hand based on the court's conservative makeup and its decision to take up the matter. On Wednesday, even liberal justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer suggested that they could join a narrow ruling upholding this particular memorial.

Kagan noted that the cross is a symbol linked with soldiers killed in World War I.

"When you go into a World War I battlefield, there are Stars of David there, but because those battlefields were just rows and rows and rows of crosses, the cross became, in people's minds, the pre-eminent symbol of how to memorialize World War I dead," she said, adding that there are no religious words on the Maryland cross and that it sits in an area with other war memorials. She asked, "So why in a case like that can we not say essentially the religious content has been stripped of this monument?"

Breyer, for his part, asked a lawyer arguing for the cross' challengers what she thought about saying that "history counts" and that "We're not going to have people trying to tear down historical monuments even here."

"What about saying past is past?" he said at another point during arguments conducted in a courtroom whose friezes include depictions of Moses and Muhammed and that began, as always, with the marshal's cry: "God save the United States and this honorable court."

The cross's challengers include three area residents and the District of Columbia-based American Humanist Association, a group that includes atheists and agnostics. They argue that the cross's location on public land violates the First Amendment's establishment clause, which prohibits the government from favoring one religion over others. They say the cross should be moved to private property or modified into a nonreligious monument such as a slab or obelisk. The group lost the first round in court, but in 2017 an appeals court ruled the cross unconstitutional.


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