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India's top court calls for new law to curb mob violence
Headline News | 2018/07/16 05:34
India's highest court on Tuesday asked the federal government to consider enacting a law to deal with an increase in lynchings and mob violence fueled mostly by rumors that the victims either belonged to members of child kidnapping gangs or were beef eaters and cow slaughterers.

The Supreme Court said that "horrendous acts of mobocracy" cannot be allowed to become a new norm, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

"Citizens cannot take law into their hands and cannot become law unto themselves," said Chief Justice Dipak Misra and two other judges, A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, who heard a petition related to deadly mob violence. They said the menace needs to be "curbed with iron hands," the news agency reported.

The judges asked the legislature to consider a law that specifically deals with lynchings and cow vigilante groups and provides punishment to offenders.

India has seen a series of mob attacks on minority groups since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party won national elections in 2014. The victims have been accused of either smuggling cows for slaughter or carrying beef. Last month, two Muslims were lynched in eastern Jharkhand state on charges of cattle theft. In such mob attacks, at least 20 people have been killed by cow vigilante groups mostly believed to be tied to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling party.

Most of the attacks waged by so-called cow vigilantes from Hindu groups have targeted Muslims. Cows are considered sacred by many members of India's Hindu majority, and slaughtering cows or eating beef is illegal or restricted across much of the country.

However, most of the mob attacks this year have been fueled mainly by rumors ignited by messages circulated through social media that child-lifting gangs were active in villages and towns. At least 25 people have been lynched and dozens wounded in the attacks. The victims were non-locals, mostly targeted because they looked different or didn't speak the local language.



Florida school shooting suspect's statement issue in court
Headline News | 2018/07/15 05:35
How much of Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz's statement to investigators should be made public is an issue going before a judge.

A hearing is set Monday on whether any or all of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting suspect's statement should be released. Attorneys for the 19-year-old Cruz want most of the statement suppressed, contending it would improperly influence jurors in his trial.

News organizations including The Associated Press want as much of the statement released as possible. Florida law requires most evidence to be made public once it is turned over by prosecutors to the defense.

Cruz faces the death penalty if convicted of killing 17 people in the Valentine's Day attack. His attorneys say he would plead guilty in exchange for a life prison sentence.


Suspect in 1988 killing of Indiana girl, 8, appears in court
Attorneys News | 2018/07/14 05:35
A judge has given prosecutors until Thursday to formally charge a man who's being held in the 1988 slaying of an 8-year-old Indiana girl.

Fifty-nine-year-old John D. Miller of Grabill was arrested Sunday on preliminary murder, child molesting and criminal confinement charges in the abduction, rape and killing of April Marie Tinsley.

The Fort Wayne girl's body was found three days after her April 1988 abduction in a ditch about 20 miles (32 kilometers) away.

Court documents say Miller's DNA matches DNA recovered from Tinsley's underwear. WANE-TV reports Miller appeared Monday morning before an Allen County judge, who gave prosecutors 72 hours to formally charge Miller in the killing.

He's being held without bond. It wasn't clear if Miller has a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.


Court: Drug users can be jailed for relapsing on probation
Legal News | 2018/07/13 05:35
In a case that has attracted national attention, Massachusetts' highest court ruled Monday that judges in the state have the authority to order people to remain drug free as a condition of probation and under some circumstances order a defendant jailed for violating the drug-free requirement.

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled unanimously that such a requirement does not violate the constitutional rights of people with substance use disorder or unfairly penalize them because of a medical condition beyond their control.

The court ruled in the case of Julie Eldred, who was jailed in 2016 after she tested positive for the powerful opioid fentanyl days into her probation on larceny charges. Eldred, who has severe substance use disorder, spent more than a week in jail after relapsing until her lawyer could find a bed for her at a treatment facility.

Eldred's lawyer argued before the high court in October that her client's substance use disorder made her powerless to control her desire to use drugs, and that jailing her effectively criminalized relapse - which often happens in the recovery process.

But the justices said the defendant's claims were based partly on untested science.

"Nor do we agree with the defendant that the requirement of remaining drug free is an outdated moral judgment about an individual's addiction," wrote Associate Justice Barbara Lenk. "The judge here did not abuse her discretion by imposing the special condition of probation requiring the defendant to remain drug free."

The court called the actions of two district court judges and the state probation department "exemplary." The justices noted that Eldred had admitted to police that she had stolen to support her drug habit.

Most addiction specialists - including groups such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse and American Society of Addiction Medicine - view substance use disorder as a brain disease that interferes with a person's ability to control his or her desire to use drugs.


Rebel Wilson back in Australian courts in defamation appeal
Top Legal News | 2018/07/12 05:36
Rebel Wilson has applied to Australia's highest court to increase the comic actress's payout from a defamation case against a magazine publisher.

The 38-year-old, best known for parts in the "Pitch Perfect" and "Bridesmaids" movies, was awarded in September an Australian record 4.6 million Australian dollars ($3.5 million) in damages.

A Victoria state Supreme Court jury found that that German publisher Bauer Media defamed her in a series of articles in 2015 claiming she lied about her age, the origin of her first name and her upbringing in Sydney.

But three judges on the Court of Appeal last month upheld an appeal by Bauer and slashed Wilson's payout to AU$600,000 ($454,000).

The appeal court ruled that the trial Judge John Dixon should not have compensated Wilson for film roles, including "Trolls" and "Kung Fu Panda 3," which she testified she had lost due to the damage the articles had done to her reputation.

She was also ordered to pay 80 percent of Bauer's legal costs in mounting its appeal.

Wilson lodged an application to the High Court late Wednesday to restore Dixon's ruling. The High Court registry made the court documents public on Thursday.

The Court of Appeal overturned Dixon's finding that Wilson's career had been on an "upward trajectory" before the articles, instead saying the judge had given "a picture of the plaintiff's career trajectory that significantly overstated its success and ignored its hiccups."

According to court documents, Wilson's lawyers will argue Dixon was correct, and that he was also correct in finding the articles caused a "huge international media firestorm" affecting Wilson's career and reputation.

The lawyer will also argue the Court of Appeal was wrong in concluding Wilson needed to prove economic loss by showing a project had been canceled.


Conservatives close in on dream: Tipping court right
Legal Watch | 2018/07/12 05:35
project unparalleled in American history to install a reliable conservative majority on the nation’s highest tribunal, one that could shape the direction of the law for years to come.

“They’ve been pushing back for 30 years, and, obviously, the announcement is a big step in the right direction,” said Curt Levey, president of the Committee for Justice, a conservative activist group that’s been working toward this goal full time since 2005. “It’ll be the first time we can really say we have a conservative court, really the first time since the 1930s.”

This presumes that Trump can push Kavanaugh through a closely divided Senate heading into a midterm election season, hardly a given. More so than any nomination in a dozen years, Trump’s choice of a successor for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the influential swing vote retiring at the end of the month, holds the potential of changing the balance of power rather than simply replacing a like-minded justice with a younger version.

But if the president succeeds in confirming his selection, the new justice is expected to join Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch in forming a much more consistently conservative majority than before.

That has not happened by accident. A network of activists and organizations has worked assiduously since the 1980s to reach this point, determined to avoid the disappointment they felt after Republican appointees like Earl Warren, William J. Brennan Jr., David H. Souter, Sandra Day O’Connor and Kennedy proved more moderate or liberal once they joined the court.


Demonstrators force Fox crew from Supreme Court broadcast
Legal News | 2018/07/10 09:36
Fox News' Shannon Bream said the network had to move a planned live broadcast indoors after she and her crew felt threatened by demonstrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday following President Donald Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

People shouted obscenities at Bream and her crew, crowded around and touched crew members as they prepared to air Fox's 11 p.m. Eastern hour from the location two hours after the nomination, she said.

"I've been in the middle of many protesters and signs and chanting and we all do our jobs," Bream said Tuesday. "But last night had a different feel to it."

Bream said Fox felt specifically targeted, although she said other reporters had a difficult time with the crowd. Disturbed by the scene, Fox executives made the decision to move to a nearby studio. Bream had been at the court for several hours, doing live reports during several programs.

The incident on an emotional political night exposed Fox News to a threatening atmosphere frequently faced by reporters at other news organizations at Trump rallies. CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta recently described how an elderly woman swore at him and tried to get him to leave one of Trump's recent rallies.

Bream, who has covered the Supreme Court for 11 years, said that often during demonstrations security separates demonstrators from the press with barricades, but they weren't on duty Monday night. She recalled only one other similar situation, but that happened during daylight hours.



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