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Spain rejects extraditing HSBC whistleblower to Switzerland
Headline News | 2018/09/18 19:35
A Spanish court on Tuesday rejected a request to extradite a former HSBC employee to serve a five-year prison sentence in Switzerland, where he was convicted for leaking a massive trove of bank data that led to tax evasion probes worldwide.

The ruling was the second time Spain's National Court refused to extradite Herve Falciani, a French-Italian computer expert who in 2008 disclosed tens of thousands of records of HSBC customers who allegedly used the bank's Swiss branch to avoid taxes. He was convicted in absentia of breaching financial secrecy laws in Switzerland in 2015.

A panel of three National Court judges ruled Tuesday that Falciani had already been cleared from extradition in 2013, when the same court ruled that "aggravated economic espionage" is not a crime in Spain.

The judges also say that Falciani didn't reveal any secrets because he only shared them with authorities who initiated investigations in dozens of countries, including in Spain.

Falciani, 46, was first arrested in Spain in 2012. He spent 170 days in prison before he was released. He was arrested again in Madrid in April, in a renewed effort by Swiss authorities to make him serve his prison time.

Falciani said he believed Spain's previous conservative administration arrested him in order to use him as "a bargaining chip" in requests to extradite pro-independence Catalan politicians in Switzerland.

In an interview with The Associated Press last week, he said the only explanation of why he was arrested again this year after a lull in his case was political.


Audit: West Virginia Supreme Court skirted pay law
Headline News | 2018/09/10 02:17
A new legislative audit report says West Virginia's Supreme Court skirted state law concerning pay for senior status judges.

News outlets report the audit released last week found 10 senior-status judges were authorized overpayments. State law prohibits them from making more than active circuit judges. The audit said that to circumvent the law, Supreme Court officials began converting senior status judges from employees to independent contractors.

The audit by the Legislative Auditor's Office Post Audit Division also pegged renovations for Supreme Court offices between 2012 and 2016 at $3.4 million, including $1.9 million for the five justices' chambers. Auditors say invoices for renovations to the court's law library and administrative offices were not made available.

Four justices who were impeached by the House of Delegates are due to go before the state Senate on Tuesday.




Court may reconsider ruling on police deadly force measure
Headline News | 2018/09/04 13:53
The question of whether Washington voters will have their say on a measure designed to make it easier to prosecute police for negligent shootings might not be over after all.

One day after ruling that Initiative 940 should appear on the November ballot, the state Supreme Court requested a briefing by the end of the day Wednesday about how the justices' various opinions should be interpreted.

Supporters of the initiative said only a single justice, Barbara Madsen, voted that I-940 should go to voters while a compromise measure preferred by lawmakers, advocates and police groups should not. Supporters of I-940 said her opinion should not control the result of what amounted to a 4-4-1 decision, and late Tuesday they filed an emergency motion asking the court to reconsider.

"For reasons not explained, the Court seems to have adopted the view of that single Justice as the ruling of the Court as a whole," attorneys for De-Escalate Washington, the initiative's sponsor, wrote.

In their response Wednesday afternoon, frequent initiative sponsor Tim Eyman and Republican Sen. Mike Padden, who sued over the issue, said the court's action was appropriate because five justices believed I-940 should go to the ballot.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman also filed a response, taking no position on the outcome of the case but urging the court to hurry. Because of the reconsideration motion, her office had to halt certain election preparations, including notifying counties which initiatives would appear on their ballots.



Israeli court allows entry to Hamas kin for medical care
Headline News | 2018/08/30 13:49
Israel's Supreme Court has ruled that five critically ill women from Gaza may enter Israel for urgent medical treatment despite a government decision preventing relatives of Hamas members from doing so.

The five women appealed to the court last month after their requests to enter Israel were rejected on the grounds of their relation to Hamas members.

The government decision denies entry for health care to relatives of Hamas members and is meant to exert pressure Gaza's rulers who currently hold the remains of two Israeli soldiers.

The court ruled late Sunday that the government decision was unreasonable and could not stand up to a legal test.

Four human rights groups representing the women said the government was using them and others seeking care unavailable in Gaza as "bargaining chips."




Austrian court's approval for spy agency raid was illegal
Headline News | 2018/08/28 17:36
Judges in Austria say a lower court's authorization for police to raid the offices of the country's domestic intelligence agency was illegal.

The regional court in Vienna said Tuesday that the search of the BVT spy agency on Feb. 28 wasn't justified because the necessary information could have been obtained if police had simply asked for it. It also ruled that the search of three BVT employees' homes wasn't warranted, though a fourth was.

The raid, which was part of a probe into alleged misconduct by BVT staff, sparked a political storm earlier this year.

Opposition parties accused the government of attempting to purge political enemies. The Vienna court ruling didn't rule on whether evidence seized in the raid should be destroyed.



Alabama Supreme Court won't move lawsuit against Moore
Headline News | 2018/08/19 01:15
The Alabama Supreme Court on Friday refused to transfer a defamation lawsuit against former U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore by a woman who says Moore molested her decades ago.

The court denied Moore's request to have the case heard in Etowah County instead of Montgomery. Moore issued a statement calling the decision "ridiculous."

Leigh Corfman accused Moore of sexually molesting her decades ago when she was 14 and he was a prosecutor in his 30s. Moore has denied the allegations, but they became an issue in the 2017 race in Alabama to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate. Moore lost to Democrat Doug Jones.

Corfman in January filed a lawsuit against Moore and his campaign, saying they defamed her and made false statements, calling her a liar and immoral as they denied the claims in the midst of the election.

Moore sought to have the case heard in Etowah County where he and Corfman both live.

"The Court itself admits venue is proper in either county. Should not the case be tried in the county where we both live and where her reputation and character are well known?" Moore said.

Etowah County has also been friendlier territory for Moore. During the U.S. Senate race, Moore won about 60 percent of the vote in Etowah County, while he garnered just 27 percent of in Montgomery.

Several Supreme Court justices recused from the case involving Moore, who is a former chief justice of the court. Five retired judges were randomly selected to hear the case along with Associate Justice Brady Mendheim, Jr., and Associate Justice Will Sellers.



Court: EPA violated law on harmful pesticide, orders ban
Headline News | 2018/08/14 06:33
A federal appeals court says the Trump administration endangered public health by keeping the top-selling pesticide chlorpyrifos on the market despite extensive scientific evidence that even tiny levels of exposure can harm babies' brains.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to remove chlorpyrifos from sale in the United States within 60 days.

A coalition of farmworkers and environmental groups sued last year after then-EPA chief Scott Pruitt reversed an Obama-era effort to ban chlorpyrifos, which is widely sprayed on citrus fruits, apples and other crops.

In a split decision, the court said EPA violated federal law by ignoring the conclusions of agency scientists that chlorpyrifos is harmful. The pesticide is sold by Dow Agro Sciences and others.



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