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Trump visit stirs debate; massacre defendant in court
Law Firm Business | 2018/10/30 06:12
The man charged in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre was brought into court in a wheelchair Monday, as some members of the Jewish community and others objected to President Donald Trump’s plans to visit, accusing him of contributing to a toxic political climate in the U.S. that might have led to the bloodshed.

With the first funerals set for Tuesday, the White House announced that Trump and first lady Melania Trump will visit the same day to “express the support of the American people and to grieve with the Pittsburgh community” over the 11 congregants killed Saturday in the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.

Some Pittsburghers urged Trump to stay away. “His language has encouraged hatred and fear of immigrants, which is part of the reason why these people were killed,” said Marianne Novy, 73, a retired college English professor who lives in the city’s Squirrel Hill section, the historic Jewish neighborhood where the attack at the Tree of Life synagogue took place.

Meanwhile, the alleged gunman, 46-year-old truck driver Robert Gregory Bowers, was released from the hospital where he was treated for wounds suffered in a gun battle with police. Hours later he was wheeled into a downtown federal courtroom in handcuffs to face charges.

A judge ordered him held without bail for a preliminary hearing on Thursday, when prosecutors will outline their case. He did not enter a plea.

During the brief proceeding, Bowers talked with two court-appointed lawyers and said little more than “Yes” in a soft voice a few times in response to routine questions from the judge. Courtroom deputies freed one of his cuffed hands so he could sign paperwork.


Court suspends law license for SC prosecutor facing charges
Law Firm Business | 2018/09/27 10:19
defendants to pay for personal trips to Europe and the Galapagos Islands.

The court issued that order Monday for 5th Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson, whose jurisdiction includes Richland and Kershaw counties, along with the state's capital city of Columbia.

Johnson was suspended from office last week following his indictment on more than two dozen federal charges including wire fraud and theft of government funds. His communications director, Nicole Holland, faces the same 26 charges.

State and federal authorities have been investigating the travel and spending habits of Johnson, who logged more than 70 days of travel over a period of less than two years. Trips to locations including Amsterdam, Colombia and the Galapagos Islands were reflected in credit card bills and receipts released by a nonprofit that obtained them through open-records laws.

The money, prosecutors said, was taken from state and federal accounts holding assets forfeited by defendants in illegal drug cases. Johnson recently lost a primary bid for a third term and hasn't responded to messages about charges against him. Previously, he has declined to answer specific questions about his travels but has said he didn't intend for public money to be used for personal expenses.


The Latest: New Mexico court blocks straight-ticket option
Law Firm Business | 2018/09/14 02:31
The New Mexico Supreme Court is blocking a ballot option that would have allowed voters to select candidates from one particular party in all races by marking a single box.

The court made its decision Wednesday after listening to oral arguments about a plan from the state's top elections regulator to reinstate straight-ticket voting in the November general election.

The court found that Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver did not have authority to impose such a change.

Critics of the practice say it primarily harms independent, minor-party and Republican candidates in a state dominated by registered Democrats.

They argued in court that state law doesn't clearly say whether authority to design ballot forms extends to substantive decisions about straight-party voting, and that Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver should have consulted the public through the rulemaking process.

The New Mexico Supreme Court has indicated it will decide Wednesday whether voters should be allowed to select candidates from a particular party in all races by marking a single ballot box.

At issue is a plan from the state's top elections regulator to reinstate straight-ticket voting in the November general election.

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver argued she has authority over ballot forms, including the discretion to determine whether to include a straight-party voting option.

Critics questioned that authority Wednesday, saying such decisions should be made by the Legislature and should be informed by data on voting behavior. They also raised concerns that no public hearings were held before Toulouse Oliver announced the change.



Court: Dismissal of cop's Black Lives Matter lawsuit is just
Law Firm Business | 2018/08/16 08:15
A federal appeals court says a Louisiana court rightly dismissed a deputy's lawsuit accusing Black Lives Matter and several leaders of inciting violence that led to a deadly 2016 attack on law enforcement officers.

The Advocate reports a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans unanimously supported the lower court's ruling Wednesday. A judge found last year that the lawsuit failed to state a plausible claim for relief.

The suit doesn't name the officer but its description of the plaintiff matches East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Deputy Nicholas Tullier, who was critically wounded by 29-year-old Gavin Long. Long killed three law enforcement officers and was later gunned down by authorities.

The attack occurred less than two weeks after a white Baton Rouge officer killed 37-year-old black man Alton Sterling during a struggle.



Swedish court: Ghana international to be jailed, deported
Law Firm Business | 2018/06/08 23:54
A Swedish court has sentenced a Ghana international to 32 months in prison after Kingsley Sarfo was found guilty of two cases of rape of an under-aged girl.

The Malmo District Court says the 23-year old Sarfo, a midfielder with top Swedish club Malmo FF, had sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old girl in an apartment and in a public toilet.

The court on Friday also ordered Sarfo to pay 150,000 kronor ($17,260) in compensation to the girl, adding he should be deported after jail and banned from returning to Sweden for a 10-year period.

Safro has said his contract with Malmo FF, which he joined in 2016, would be terminated if found guilty. The club said it would comment after next week's board meeting.



Indian court grants bail to Bollywood superstar Salman Khan
Law Firm Business | 2018/04/08 06:22
A court on Saturday granted bail to Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, who will be allowed to remain free while he appeals his conviction on charges of poaching rare deer in a wildlife preserve two decades ago.

Khan was convicted Thursday and sentenced to five years in prison and was immediately sent to jail. On Saturday, Judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi ordered him to sign a surety bond of 50,000 rupees ($770) before he could be set free from the jail in Jodhpur, a town in western India.

After he was released, he was driven straight to the airport to fly to his home in Mumbai, India's entertainment capital.

Hundreds of Khan's overjoyed fans danced outside the courtroom and chanted "We love you, Salman." His sisters, Alvira and Arpita, were present during the hearing.

Carrying big garlanded posters of Khan, they also set off firecrackers and sang songs from his Bollywood movies as some of them chased his car heading to the airport.

The scenes were more intense outside his Mumbai residence. Thousands of fans waited for hours and lit up the sky with fireworks as Khan reached his home.

Flanked by his father and other relatives, he came to the balcony of his apartment with folded hands and waved, thanking them for their support. He retreated after signalling his fans to go home.

Four other Bollywood stars accused in the case - Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam - were acquitted Thursday by Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri. They were in the vehicle that Salman Khan was believed to be driving during the hunt in 1998. Tabu and Neelam both use just one name.

Khan says he did not shoot the two blackbuck deer. The heavily muscled actor was acquitted in two related cases.

His attorney Mahesh Bora has challenged the conviction and sentence, and Khan will remain free pending the outcome of the appeal.



Catalan politicians in Spanish court in secession probe
Law Firm Business | 2018/02/21 06:54
Two prominent Catalan politicians are testifying before a Supreme Court judge for their roles in holding a banned independence referendum and making an illegal declaration of independence based on its results.

Judicial police have identified left-republican ERC party's secretary-general, Marta Rovira, and conservative PDeCAT's president, Marta Pascal, as key players in the secession bid in October.

The Spanish government responded by disbanding the regional government and calling a new Catalan election. Separatist parties have since been entangled in endless negotiations on how to form a new government.

Judge Pablo Llarena could decide after Monday's hearing whether to send the two politicians to jail while the investigation continues.

Other separatist leaders have been jailed and five former Catalan Cabinet members, including ex-president Carles Puigdemont, have fled to Belgium.



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