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NC court: Counties not responsible for school underfunding
Court Center | 2018/12/22 05:34
North Carolina's top court says the state is responsible, not the counties, when schools are so underfunded that some children don't get the constitutionally required sound basic education.

In a decision issued Friday, the state Supreme Court ruled against parents and children in Halifax County, who contended county commissioners haven't fairly distributed tax money, hurting some students.

The Supreme Court decision says only the state has "the power to create and maintain a system of public education." The case was the first to address whether local governments have a duty to provide every child an opportunity to receive a sound basic education. In a landmark 1997 case known as Leandro, the court determined the state has that duty.

The ruling upholds an earlier decision by the state Court of Appeals.



Polish president signs bill reinstating Supreme Court judges
Politics & Law | 2018/12/19 19:07
Poland's president signed legislation Monday that reinstates Supreme Court judges who were forced into early retirement despite the European Union condemning the removals as a violation of democratic standards.

Earlier in the day, the EU's top court, the European Court of Justice, ruled that Poland needed to suspend a law that lowered the retirement age for Supreme Court judges and to put about two dozen justices the law had affected back on the bench.

President Andrzej Duda signed the revisions that removed the early retirement provisions, presidential aide Pawel Mucha said late Monday. The quick response comes amid a broader push by Poland's conservative ruling party, Law and Justice, to ease tensions with the EU.

Monday's ruling confirmed the Court of Justice's interim judgment from October ordering Poland to reinstate justices who were forced to step down when the retirement age was lowered from 70 to 65. The European Commission, which enforces EU law in member countries, had asked the court to review Poland's law.



California court blocks pardon of man who killed at age 14
Headline News | 2018/12/18 17:07
In a rare step, the California Supreme Court has blocked Gov. Jerry Brown’s attempt to issue a pardon to a 37-year-old Cambodian refugee who killed a woman when he was 14 years old.

The court gave no reason for the rejection, but earlier noted it only had the authority to do so in the case of an “abuse of power.” Brown’s pardon would have effectively stopped Borey Ai’s deportation to Cambodia, a nation where his mother was born but he has never seen.

The governor in the last 10 months has pardoned seven ex-convicts who otherwise faced the threat of deportation to Cambodia, drawing the ire of President Donald Trump, whose administration has stepped up efforts to deport immigrants with criminal convictions.

It takes at least four votes of the seven justices to block pardons. The unsigned ruling Wednesday didn’t say how many justices voted to block the pardon. The governor is required to obtain the court’s approval for pardons and sentence commutations for twice-convicted felons.


Judge’s ruling on ‘Obamacare’ poses new problems for GOP
Headline News | 2018/12/17 03:07
A federal judge’s ruling that the Obama health law is unconstitutional has landed like a stink bomb among Republicans, who’ve seen the politics of health care flip as Americans increasingly value the overhaul’s core parts, including protections for pre-existing medical conditions and Medicaid for more low-income people.

While the decision by the Republican-appointed judge in Texas was sweeping, it has little immediate practical impact because the Affordable Care Act remains in place while the legal battle continues, possibly to the Supreme Court.

HealthCare.gov , the government’s site for signing up, was taking applications Saturday, the deadline in most states for enrolling for coverage next year, and those benefits will take effect as scheduled Jan. 1. Medicaid expansion will proceed in Virginia, one of the latest states to accept that option. Employers will still be required to cover the young adult children of workers, and Medicare recipients will still get discounted prescription drugs.

But Republicans, still stinging from their loss of the House in the midterm elections, are facing a fresh political quandary after U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor said the entire 2010 health law was invalid.

Warnings about the Texas lawsuit were part of the political narrative behind Democrats’ electoral gains. Health care was the top issue for about one-fourth of voters in the November election, ahead of immigration and jobs and the economy, according to VoteCast, a nationwide survey for The Associated Press. Those most concerned with health care supported Democrats overwhelmingly.


Indian court rejects probe into Rafale fighter jet deal
Law Firm Business | 2018/12/17 03:06
India's top court on Friday rejected petitions by activists seeking a probe into the government purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France. Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said there was no reason to doubt the government's decision-making process in the multibillion dollar deal.

The purchase has become a major political issue in India with the main opposition Indian National Congress party accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government of buying the aircraft at nearly three times the price being negotiated when it was the ruling party before Modi came to power in 2014.

The government has denied the claim but says a secrecy clause governs the deal's pricing. Gogoi said it was not the job of the court to deal with the comparative details of the pricing. Activist Prashant Bhushan, a petitioner, said he believes that the court verdict was against the country's interests.

"The aircraft deal needed a proper investigation in view of allegations about its pricing" and the choice of Indian partners, Bhushan said.

Congress party President Rahul Gandhi has accused Modi's government of favoring a company owned by industrialist Anil Ambani, Reliance Group, when choosing an Indian partner for Dassault, the aircraft manufacturer.

Randeep Surjewala, a party spokesman, demanded a probe by a joint parliamentary committee. The government has denied any wrongdoing. The Supreme Court said "there was no substantial evidence of commercial favoritism to any private entity" and there was no reason to interfere with the issues of procurement, pricing and partner.

The controversy has intensified following comments in October by former French President Francois Hollande — who was in charge when the deal was signed in 2016 + suggesting France had no say in selecting the Indian company.



Court: Florida police can use 'stand your ground' law
Legal Watch | 2018/12/16 03:06
Florida law enforcement officers can invoke the state's "stand your ground" law to protect them from criminal prosecution in a shooting, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday.

The court issued its 7-0 decision in the case of Peter Peraza, a Broward County sheriff's deputy charged with manslaughter in the 2013 fatal shooting of a man carrying what turned out to be an air rifle.

Peraza's lawyers claimed he was immune from prosecution under the stand your ground law, which permits use of deadly force when a person has a legitimate fear of "imminent death or great bodily harm." The justices agreed with two lower court rulings, which concluded that the law applies to law enforcement officers the same as anyone else.

"Simply put, a law enforcement officer is a 'person' whether on duty or off, and irrespective of whether the officer is making an arrest," Justice Alan Lawson wrote for the court.

"In common understanding, 'person' refers to a 'human being,' which is not occupation-specific and plainly includes human beings serving as law enforcement officers," he added.

Peraza shot 33-year-old Jermaine McBean during a confrontation with deputies at his apartment complex. Several people had called 911 to report a man openly carrying a rifle down a busy street and acting erratically.



The Latest: Macron: No new Brexit accord, ball in UK court
Court Center | 2018/12/15 03:06
French President Emmanuel Macron says the withdrawal deal on Brexit cannot be renegotiated and that it’s now up to the British Parliament to make the next move.

Macron spoke Friday after an EU summit and a one-on-one meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May, seeking help from EU leaders to help her sell the deal to skeptical lawmakers.

Macron insisted “there is one accord, the only one possible,” adding “we cannot renegotiate it.” He told reporters that now it’s “the British parliament’s time” to decide whether to accept or reject it.

He said EU leaders are willing to “clarify and discuss” the accord, and said EU leaders at the summit sought to debunk “fantasies” about the so-called backstop for the Irish border.

Romania’s president is stressing how important it is for Romanians and other European Union citizens in the U.K. to have their rights respected after it leaves bloc.

In a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May in Brussels, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said the divorce deal was “important... to guarantee the rights of (Romanians) who live, work or study in Britain.”

Iohannis said all EU citizens living in the U.K. should be treated in a non-discriminatory way, both those currently there and those who move there in the future.

Romania takes over the rotating presidency of the EU on Jan. 1. Britain’s departure from the bloc, scheduled for March 29, occurs on its watch.



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