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Wisconsin court to rule on conservative professor's firing
Court Center | 2018/07/06 06:41
The Wisconsin Supreme Court is set to rule on whether Marquette University was correct to fire a conservative professor who wrote a blog post criticizing a student instructor he believed shut down discussion against gay marriage.

John McAdams sued the private Catholic school in 2016, arguing that he lost his job for exercising freedom of speech.

Marquette says McAdams wasn't fired for the content of his 2014 post, but because he named the instructor and linked to her personal website that had personal identifying information. The instructor later received a flood of hateful messages and threats.

The court heard arguments in April. The ruling expected Friday has been eagerly awaited by conservatives who see universities as liberal havens and by private businesses that want control over employee discipline.



Prosecutor to press court to release church abuse report
Court Center | 2018/07/02 07:49
Pennsylvania's highest court is being pressed to publicly release a major grand jury report on allegations of child sexual abuse and cover-ups in six of the state's Roman Catholic dioceses.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro will ask the court to swiftly decide lingering legal issues before it, his office said Friday. He expects to make that request Monday.

"The people of Pennsylvania have a right to see the report, know who is attempting to block its release and why, and to hear the voices of the victims of sexual abuse within the Church," Shapiro said in a statement.

The state Supreme Court is blocking the release of the report as the result of legal challenges filed under seal by people apparently named in the report. The court has declined to make those filings or dockets public, or name the people who filed the challenges.

The Supreme Court's chief justice, Thomas Saylor, declined comment through a spokeswoman, and lawyers for the unnamed people challenging the report did not respond to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, seven news organizations, including The Associated Press, on Friday filed a motion to intervene in the case in a bid to argue that the court should release the report, contending that it is required by law. If the court decides it needs more time to consider the legal challenges, it could immediately order the report's release with only those parts that are in question shielded from view, lawyers for the news organizations wrote.

The court also should be consistent with practice in other grand jury matters and make public the filings and dockets in the case, with redactions if necessary, the news organizations wrote.

Victim advocates have said the report is expected to be the largest and most exhaustive such review by any state. The grand jury spent two years investigating allegations of child sex abuse in the dioceses of Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton, churches with some 1.7 million members.


Court blocks 'millionaire tax' question from state ballot
Court Center | 2018/06/19 00:54
Massachusetts' highest court on Monday struck down a proposed "millionaire tax" ballot question, blocking it from going before state voters in November and ending advocates' hopes for generating some $2 billion in additional revenue for education and transportation.

The Supreme Judicial Court, in a 5-2 ruling, said the initiative petition should not have been certified by Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey because it violated the "relatedness" clause of the state constitution that prohibits ballot questions from mingling unrelated subjects — in this case, taxing and spending.

The proposed constitutional amendment — referred to by its proponents as the "Fair Share Amendment," would have imposed a surtax of 4 percent on any portion of an individual's annual income that exceeds $1 million. The measure called for revenues from the tax to be earmarked for transportation and education.

Writing for the majority, Associate Justice Frank Gaziano said a voter who supported the surtax but opposed earmarking the funds for a specific purpose would be left "in the untenable position of choosing which issue to support and which must be disregarded."

The justices offered hypothetical examples of voters who might support spending on one priority but not the other, such as a subway commuter with no school-age children.

The measure had been poised to reach voters in November after receiving sufficient support from the Legislature in successive two-year sessions. But several business groups, including the Massachusetts High Technology Council and Associated Industries of Massachusetts, sued to block it.

The court's ruling was a devastating blow for Raise Up Massachusetts, a coalition of labor unions, community and religious organizations that collected more than 150,000 signatures in support of the millionaire tax.


USCIS Efforts Lead to Prison Sentence for Fremont Business Owner
Court Center | 2018/06/16 00:54
Kondamoori, 56, of Incline Village, Nev., and Sandhya Ramireddi, 58, of Pleasanton, in a 33-count indictment filed May 5, 2016.  The indictment contains charges in connection with the submission of fraudulent applications for H-1B specialty-occupation work visas.

“USCIS is committed to combatting instances of fraud, abuse and other nefarious activities threatening the integrity of our nation’s immigration system,” stated USCIS San Francisco District Director John Kramer. “This sentencing sends a strong message to anyone thinking about circumventing or violating our rule of law.”

Venkat Guntipally pleaded guilty on April 24, 2017, at which time he admitted that he and his wife founded and owned DS Soft Tech and Equinett, two employment-staffing companies for technology firms. In addition, Guntipally admitted that between approximately 2010 and 2014, he and his wife, together with others, submitted to the government more than one hundred fraudulent petitions for foreign workers to be placed at other purported companies.  The end-client companies listed in the fraudulent H-1B applications either did not exist or never received the proposed H-1B workers.  None of the listed companies ever intended to receive those H-1B workers.  The scheme’s intended purpose was to create a pool of H-1B workers who then could be placed at legitimate employment positions in the Northern District of California and elsewhere.  Through this scheme, Venkat Guntipally, along with his co-conspirators, gained an unfair advantage over competing employment-staffing firms, and the Guntipally’s earned millions in ill-gotten gains.  Venkat Guntipally also admitted that he and his codefendants obstructed justice, including by directing workers to lie to investigators and by laundering money. 


Supreme Court: Son can sue father over hunting accident
Court Center | 2018/06/08 23:54
A Minnesota man has taken a lawsuit against his father all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court. And, dad is just fine with that.

The Supreme Court this week clarified a state law on public access for hunting, clearing the way for Corey Ouradnik to sue his father, Robert Ouradnik, over a deer hunting accident.

Corey Ouradnik broke both legs when he fell from a tree stand on the family's hunting land near Hinckley in 2012 when he was 29. His recovery took multiple surgeries and left Ouradnik with a six-figure medical bill.

The Star Tribune reports his attorney, Matt Barber, says the lawsuit is all about recovering insurance money. He says Minnesota requires people who are injured to sue the person who injured them if they hope to recover a payment.


The Latest: Colorado governor announces Supreme Court pick
Court Center | 2018/05/19 06:57
Gov. John Hickenlooper has named Carlos Samour to the Colorado Supreme Court, filling a vacancy left by Chief Justice Nancy Rice's imminent retirement.

Samour, a judge in the 18th Judicial District in Arapahoe County, is best known for presiding over the Aurora theater shooting trial in 2015.

Samour was raised in El Salvador, where his father was also a judge. Hickenlooper said his family fled the country when Samour was 13 because his father feared retaliation for finding a military official guilty.

"His father was ousted from his judicial position and his home was riddled by bullets because his father chose to faithfully apply the laws of that country," said Hickenlooper, a Democrat.

Samour was chosen from three nominees after Rice in March announced her plans to retire at the end of June. She will have served more than four years as chief justice, nearly 20 years on the court and about 31 years total as a judge in Colorado.

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday plans to announce his choice to fill a vacancy on the Colorado Supreme Court.

Earlier this month, a judicial nominating commission gave the governor three judges to choose from, after Chief Justice Nancy Rice announced her retirement.

The nominees are Maria Berkenkotter, the former chief judge of the 20th Judicial District in Boulder County; Karen Brody, a judge in the 2nd Judicial District in Denver County; and Carlos Samour, a judge in the 18th Judicial District in Arapahoe County.


UK Supreme Court declines appeal from parents of ill toddler
Court Center | 2018/04/20 20:03
Britain’s Supreme Court declined Friday to hear an appeal from a mother and father who want to take their terminally ill toddler to Italy for treatment instead of allowing a hospital to remove him from life support.

The decision is another setback for the parents of 23-month-old Alfie Evans, who have been engaged in a protracted legal fight with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital over their son’s care.

The Supreme Court decision means an earlier Court of Appeal ruling will stand. Justices in that court upheld a lower court’s conclusion that it would be pointless to fly the boy to Rome for treatment.

Alfie is in a “semi-vegetative state” as the result of a degenerative neurological condition that doctors have been unable to definitively identify. Earlier court rulings blocked further medical treatment and ordered the boy’s life support to be withdrawn.

In appealing the rulings, Alfie’s parents, Tom Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20, argued their son had shown improvement in recent weeks. But doctors said his condition was irreversible.

Pope Francis prayed Sunday for Alfie and others who are suffering from serious infirmities.

It was the second time the pope offered his views about a case involving a terminally ill British child. In July, Francis spoke out on behalf of Charlie Gard, who died a week before his first birthday from a rare genetic disease after his parents fought in court to obtain treatment for him outside of Britain.


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