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Lesotho's PM fails to show in court to face murder charge
Legal Watch | 2020/02/22 05:47
Lesotho’s prime minister failed to show up in court on Friday to be charged with murder in the killing of his estranged wife, and police said he might have gone to neighboring South Africa for an undisclosed ailment.

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane's current wife, Maesaiah, also has been charged with murder in the 2017 death of Lipolelo Thabane. She had briefly fled the kingdom for South Africa, avoiding a police summons.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Paseka Mokete, who led the investigation, said he had heard rumors that the 80-year-old prime minister had gone to South Africa for a medical check-up.

“I have spoken to Thabane’s lawyer and he told me he is not aware of the prime minister’s whereabouts,” Mokete said. “We are now waiting for him to return so that he can be charged.”

It would be premature to seek an arrest warrant for the prime minister as police did when Maesaiah Thabane refused to honor a police summons last month, Mokete said.

On Thursday, Mokete confirmed to The Associated Press that the prime minister would appear at Maseru Magistrates Court to face a murder charge and an attempted murder charge in connection with a shooting of a friend of Lipolelo Thabane.

Thomas Thabane is the first sitting prime minister in Lesotho to be charged with any crime. He has announced he would step down by the end of July, if not sooner, amid pressure from the ruling party, which says he is no longer fit to rule.


Justices return for season of big decisions, amid campaign
Top Legal News | 2020/02/20 05:48
For a Supreme Court that says it has an allergy to politics, the next few months might require a lot of tissues.

The court is poised to issue campaign-season decisions in the full bloom of spring in cases dealing with President Donald Trump’s tax and other financial records, abortion, LGBT rights, immigration, guns, church-state relations and the environment.

The bumper crop of political hot potatoes on the court’s agenda will test Chief Justice John Roberts’ insistence that the public should not view the court as just another political institution.

“It’s interesting that all of this is coming together in an election year. The chief justice has made it clear that people should view the court as a nonpolitical branch of government and people tend to have the opposite view when they see these big cases,” said Sarah Harrington, who has argued 21 cases in front of the high court.

The justices are gathering on Friday for the first time in nearly a month to put the finishing touches on opinions in cases that were argued in the fall and decide what new cases to take on. Most prominent among the possibilities is the latest dispute over the Obama-era health care overhaul.


European court backs Spain on express migrant deportations
Law Firm Business | 2020/02/16 05:55
The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday backed Spain’s express deportation of two African migrants back to Morocco from a Spanish enclave in northwest Africa as part of a mass expulsion.

The court’s grand chamber ruled that there had been no violation of two articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case was taken by a Malian and an Ivorian with the support of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, or ECCHR.

The two men, along with several dozen others, crossed the high three border wire fences separating the Spanish enclave of Melilla from Morocco in August 2014. They were caught by Spanish police and immediately returned to Morocco.

Human rights organizations have long criticized express deportations. They claim that migrants are denied the opportunity to apply for asylum and an assessment of the risks they face if expelled.

The European court had initially condemned Spain in October 2017 for the case and concluded that the so-called summary returns from the Spanish North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla to Morocco were in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. Thursday's ruling followed an appeal by Spain.



Walker appointee, judge, prof face off in high court primary
Legal Interview | 2020/02/16 05:51
Wisconsin voters will choose between a Republican appointee, a Madison judge and a law professor as they winnow down the candidates for a state Supreme Court seat in a primary Tuesday.

Conservative Justice Dan Kelly will face off against liberal-leaning Jill Karofsky and Ed Fallone. The top two vote-getters will advance to the April 7 general election with a 10-year term on the high court at stake.

The race can’t change the court’s ideological leaning since conservative-leaning justices currently have a 5-2 edge. But a Kelly defeat would cut their margin to 4-3 and give liberals a shot at a majority in 2023.

Then-Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, appointed Kelly to the Supreme Court in 2016 to replace the retiring David Prosser. An attorney by trade, he represented Republican lawmakers in a federal trial over whether they illegally gerrymandered Wisconsin’s legislative district boundaries in 2011. He’s also a member of The Federalist Society, a conservative organization that advocates for a strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

Karofsky is a wiry marathon runner who has completed two Iron Man competitions. She also won the state doubles tennis championship in 1982 for Middleton High School.

She has served as an assistant prosecutor in the Dane County district attorney’s office, general counsel for the National Conference of Bar Examiners and executive director of the state Department of Justice’s Office of Crime Victim Services. She won election as a Dane County circuit judge in 2017.


UK parents lose court appeal to keep baby on life support
Top Legal News | 2020/02/13 05:54
The parents of a baby declared brain dead by doctors have lost the latest round of a legal battle in Britain’s courts to keep him on life support.

Britain’s Court of Appeal on Friday rejected an attempt by Karwan Ali and Shokhan Namiq to overturn a High Court order that doctors could stop treating their infant son, Midrar Ali.

The baby was starved of oxygen due to complications at birth, and was born not breathing and without a heartbeat. He has been on a ventilator ever since.

Judges at both courts agreed with doctors that Midrar Ali had experienced “irreversible brain stem death” by Oct. 1, when he was 14 days old. Three appeals judges ruled Friday that doctors could lawfully "cease to mechanically ventilate" the baby.

One of the judges, Andrew McFarlane, said Midrar Ali no longer had a "brain that is recognizable as such." "There is no basis for contemplating that any further tests would result in a different outcome," he said.

The baby's parents, who live in Manchester in northwest England, do not accept that his condition is irreversible and want the courts to consider opinions from foreign experts.

Their lawyer, David Foster, said the couple was considering an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The case is a latest in a series of legal challenges by parents to doctors in Britain’s state-funded National Health Service.

The cases often become flashpoints for debates on the rights of children and parents, the responsibilities of hospitals and the role of the state.


Court ‘deeply troubled’ by woman’s jailing over unpaid fines
Court Center | 2020/02/13 05:53
Federal appeals court judges said they were “deeply troubled” that a Georgia municipal court jailed a woman when she couldn’t pay a fine for driving without insurance.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of Ziahonna Teagan’s claims that her civil rights were violated, but said she could pursue a false imprisonment claim against the city of McDonough, news outlets reported.

“We are deeply troubled by what happened to Ms. Teagan in the McDonough municipal court,” the unsigned opinion says. “She, like all other citizens of that city, deserved better.”

After Teagan pleaded not guilty in December 2013, Judge Donald Patten found her guilty during a bench trial in March 2014. He imposed a $745 fine for driving without insurance and a $50 fine for arriving late to court.

Teagan told the judge she couldn’t immediately pay the fine but would be able to pay just over a week later. Patten sentenced her to serve 60 days in jail, suspending the sentence on the condition that she pay the total amount within nine days.


Court fight over lost dog survives after dog's owner dies
Headline News | 2020/02/10 03:29
A federal appeals court has ruled that a legal fight over a lost dog could continue in Mississippi, even after the dog's owner has died.

The dispute is over a German shepherd named Max who jumped out a window and escaped from his owner's Hattiesburg home in 2015. Max got loose when people were providing medical help to his owner, Charles Holt, who had fallen and could not get up.

Holt was more than 90 years old at the time. He was hospitalized after the fall. Max was captured weeks after he escaped, and he was impounded in an animal shelter. More weeks passed before Holt was notified that his dog was in the shelter, according to court papers. When Holt tried to reclaim his dog, the shelter refused, based on orders from the city.

A city court judge ordered the shelter to keep Max because the dog allegedly posed a threat to the people taking care of Holt. A county court judge later agreed with that decision.

Holt then filed a federal lawsuit saying the city had deprived him of his property, Max, without due process. A district court judge threw out his claim, and Holt appealed.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that although Holt has died, questions about his property claim survive. The appeals court sent it back to a district court for the possibility of further consideration.


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