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New Jersey's top court won't hear ex-NFL star's appeal
Top Legal News | 2019/02/01 03:24
The New Jersey Supreme Court won't hear a request from former NFL star Irving Fryar to overturn his conviction for his role in a mortgage scam.

The court announced its decision Tuesday but did not elaborate.

Fryar and his mother were convicted in August 2015 of applying for mortgage loans in quick succession while using the same property as collateral. They eventually were found guilty of conspiracy and theft by deception.

Fryar's defense argued at trial he was the victim of a "con artist" who told him to carry out the scheme.

Fryar was a star wide receiver at the University of Nebraska and played in the NFL in the 1980s and 1990s for the New England Patriots, the Miami Dolphins, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins.



Appeals court reopens case involving payment to law firm
Legal Interview | 2019/01/27 03:25
An appeals court on Friday ordered more proceedings in a legal fight involving Kentucky's governor and two of his political rivals over a $4 million payment to a law firm for negotiating a settlement on behalf of the state with the maker of OxyContin.

A three-judge Kentucky Court of Appeals panel ruled unanimously that a summary judgment previously granted in the case was "premature" because it didn't allow more information to be reviewed. The ruling returned the case to a lower court, where it could have implications in this year's governor's race.

"In this case, there was no opportunity to take discovery," Judge Christopher Shea Nickell said in writing for the appeals court panel.

"Since there was no discovery, obviously there was no 'ample opportunity to complete discovery.' ... Thus, we do not even reach the question of whether there were any material issues of fact precluding summary judgment," he added.

The ruling keeping the case alive drew quick praise from Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's administration. Bevin's general counsel, Steve Pitt, said additional information could shed light on why Kentucky's lawsuit against a large pharmaceutical company was settled "for pennies on the dollar."

The case also involves Attorney General Andy Beshear, who already has declared himself a candidate for governor as a Democrat. Bevin and Beshear have been embroiled in several lawsuits since they took office. Bevin filed papers Friday to run for a second term.


Iowa Supreme Court contender was sued over unjustified case
Legal Interview | 2019/01/25 03:25
An eastern Iowa county agreed to pay $50,000 to settle a civil rights lawsuit against its top prosecutor last month, days before he applied for a seat on the Iowa Supreme Court.

The payment settled a lawsuit that alleged Muscatine County Attorney Alan Ostergren abused his power during his unsuccessful two-year prosecution of former West Liberty city manager Chris Ward. Ostergen pursued misconduct and fraud charges against Ward that courts later ruled were unjustified.

Ostergen, 46, a Republican considered a strong contender for the Supreme Court vacancy, has been involved in several high-profile cases. He applied for the opening created by the retirement of Justice Daryl Hecht last month and disclosed the lawsuit against him as required in his application .

He and other candidates will interview with the judicial nominating commission next week. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds will make the appointment from three finalists recommended by that panel. Her choice is expected to tilt the historically progressive court to the right at a time when a major abortion rights case is unfolding.

Ostergren was one of three finalists recommended last year by Republican Sens. Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst to be the top federal prosecutor in southern Iowa but was passed over by President Donald Trump. He narrowly won re-election in November in Muscatine County, where he's been the top prosecutor since 2011.

Ostergen has raised his profile by using his position with an organization representing county attorneys to file several friend-of-the-court briefs with the Supreme Court. Civil liberties advocates have been concerned by some of his actions including his support of limiting the voting rights of felons and his unsuccessful prosecution of an immigrant on identity theft charges.

The lawsuit that prompted the settlement accused Ostergren of filing unsupported criminal charges against Ward and taking actions to interfere with his new job as city manager in Vinton, Iowa. The lawsuit noted that Ward was one of three African-American city managers in Iowa but did not allege race was a factor in the prosecution.


Congress to Probe Report that Trump Directed Lawyer to Lie
Top Legal News | 2019/01/22 07:08
The Democratic chairmen of two House committees pledged Friday to investigate a report that President Donald Trump directed his personal attorney to lie to Congress about negotiations over a real estate project in Moscow during the 2016 election.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said “we will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true.” He said the allegation that Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie in his 2017 testimony to Congress “in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date.”

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, said directing a subordinate to lie to Congress is a federal crime.

The report by BuzzFeed News, citing two unnamed law enforcement officials, says that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress and that Cohen regularly briefed Trump and his family on the Moscow project — even as Trump said he had no business dealings with Russia.



Lawyer: Incapacitated woman who gave birth not in coma
Legal Watch | 2019/01/20 15:08
A lawyer for the family of an incapacitated Arizona woman who gave birth in a long-term care facility said she is not in a coma as previously reported.

The Arizona Republic reported Friday that attorney John Micheaels said the 29-year-old woman has “significant intellectual disabilities” and does not speak but has some ability to move, responds to sounds and is able to make facial gestures.

Phoenix police have said the woman was the victim of a sexual assault and have disclosed little other information.

A Jan. 8 statement by San Carlos Apache Tribe officials said the woman, a tribal member, gave birth while in a coma.

News media outlets have reported that the woman, who has not been publicly identified, was in a vegetative state at the facility where she spent many years.

“The important thing here is that contrary to what’s been reported, she is a person, albeit with significant intellectual disabilities. She has feelings and is capable of responding to people she is familiar with, especially family,” Micheaels told the newspaper.




Model in Russian court apologizes for US election claim
Court Center | 2019/01/17 15:15
A Belarusian model and self-styled sex instructor who last year claimed to have evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election said Saturday that she apologizes to a Russian tycoon for the claim and won't say more about the matter.

Anastasia Vashukevich made the statement in a Moscow court that was considering whether to keep her in jail as she faces charges of inducement to prostitution. The court extended her detention for three more days.

Vashukevich's statement appears to head off any chance of her speaking to U.S. investigators looking into possible collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump's campaign.

Vashukevich, who goes by the name Nastya Rybka on social media, was arrested in Thailand last February on prostitution charges. She and several others were arrested in connection with a sex training seminar they were holding in Thailand.

After her arrest she claimed she had audio tapes of Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska, who is close to President Vladimir Putin, talking about interference in the U.S. election.

She had shot to world attention a few weeks earlier when a Russian opposition leader published an investigation based on her social media posts that suggested corrupt links between Deripaska and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko. The report featured video from Deripaska's yacht in 2016, when Vashukevich says she was having an affair with him.

She was deported from Thailand on Thursday after pleading guilty and was detained when her flight arrived in Moscow, along with three other deportees including mentor Alexander Kirillov.

She told journalists in the Moscow court that she has apologized to Deripaska and says "I will no longer compromise him."

Deripaska is among the Russian tycoons and officials who have been sanctioned in recent years by the United States in connection with Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea. His business empire includes aluminum, energy and construction assets.

He also once was a client of Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager for Trump. Manafort was convicted last year in the United States of tax and bank fraud.


Connecticut Supreme Court issues fewer rulings in 2018
Court Center | 2019/01/17 15:10
Connecticut officials say state Supreme Court rulings declined sharply in 2018, possibly a result of a major shakeup of the court over the past two years that included the appointments of a new chief justice and four new associate justices.

The Connecticut Law Tribune reports the seven-member high court decided 86 cases in 2018, a 17 percent decrease from the 104 cases decided in 2017.

Paul Hartan is the chief administrative officer for state appeals courts. He says the learning curve of new justices likely contributed to the decline in rulings.

New justices appointed to fill vacancies since March 2017 include Gregory D'Auria, Raheem Mullins, Maria Araujo Kahn and Steven Ecker. Justice Richard Robinson became chief justice last May, succeeded Chase Rogers, who retired.



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