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NC high court reviews death penalty of man who beheaded wife
Law Firm Business | 2017/10/06 13:59
North Carolina's highest court is reviewing whether justice means the death penalty for a survivor of El Salvador's blood-soaked civil war of the 1980s who strangled and then decapitated his estranged wife.

The state's Supreme Court hears oral arguments Monday on whether the state can execute 41-year-old Juan Carlos Rodriguez of Winston-Salem for the 2010 murder of his wife, Maria. The high court automatically reviews death cases.

North Carolina is rare among southern states in that it hasn't had an execution in more than a decade because of various legal challenges. While the state has continued to suffer 500 to 600 murders a year, prosecutors have sought the death penalty only a handful of times each year and juries have condemned killers in only a fraction of those cases.

Rodriguez's children told investigators their father beat and bloodied Maria Rodriguez after she told them she was leaving in November 2010. He tossed the woman's still-breathing body over his shoulder, placed her in his vehicle, and said he was taking her to a hospital. Maria's body and severed head were found at different locations three weeks later, after Juan was already jailed for her kidnapping.

Justices are holding hearings in the case for the second time in almost exactly a year. Monday's hearing comes after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this spring that states needed to use current medical standards in deciding whether a killer is so mentally disabled he can't be executed. The U.S. constitution bans "cruel and unusual punishments," and that has been interpreted to prohibit executing people with severe mental shortcomings.

Rodriguez's IQ was estimated several times at below 70, a threshold for significantly impaired intellectual functioning. But accused killers in North Carolina also must show significant inability to adapt to daily life and that their mental handicaps were evident before adulthood.



Kenya Supreme Court says why it annulled presidential poll
Law Firm Business | 2017/09/22 09:04
Kenya's Supreme Court is delivering its full judgment on why it annulled President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election in August.

The court annulled Kenyatta's victory in the August 8 election saying there were irregularities and illegalities, in response to opposition leader Raila Odinga's petition challenging the official results that Kenyatta won with 54 percent of the vote.

The electoral commission has set Oct. 17 as the date for a fresh election. Kenya's Chief Justice David Maraga said Tuesday that since the September 1 judgment nullifying the election results, there have been attempts to intimidate judges.

Kenyatta has called the Supreme Court judges "crooks" and warned of unspecified action against the judiciary if he is re-elected next month. Kenyatta's supporters demonstrated outside the Supreme Court Tuesday ahead of the full judgment on Wednesday.



Former Pakistan PM challenges disqualification by court
Law Firm Business | 2017/08/16 16:07
A Pakistani official says former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has filed petitions with the Supreme Court to challenge his disqualification and removal from office.

Environment Minister Mushahidullah Khan, who is in Sharif's party, said Tuesday that the former prime minister's lawyers filed three petitions to review the verdict.

The court disqualified Sharif after documents leaked from a Panama-based law firm showed that his family held previously undisclosed overseas assets. A five-judge panel last month disqualified Sharif, accusing him of concealing assets.

Last week Sharif held a series of rallies across the country, criticizing the court ruling and seeking to whip up popular support.


Mental health court established for offenders on probation
Law Firm Business | 2017/08/03 23:09
A specialized court has been established in Pinal County to give defendants with mental problems an alternative path and keep them out of the criminal justice system.

Presiding Judge Stephen McCarville signed an administrative order last month calling for the establishment of Mental Health Treatment Court. It’s a therapeutic, post-sentence court for defendants placed on supervised probation.

People screened with a mental illness are referred to the court by the Pinal County Attorney’s Office or the county’s probation department. Then the court’s staff reviews the defendant’s case to determine whether the person’s situation is appropriate for the program, the Casa Grande Dispatch reported.

The offender undergoes outpatient treatment at a mental health facility while checking in with the court on a weekly basis. If defendants don’t follow the terms of the treatment, then they’re subject to having their probation revoked.

The goal is to keep people with mental disabilities out of the criminal justice system, Pinal County Superior Court Administrator Todd Zweig said. The number of probationers with mental health conditions has been increasing in the county, he added, prompting the need for this type of service.



US Supreme Court could hear Charleston company, Lexmark case
Law Firm Business | 2016/11/23 04:57
A small Charleston company that refills and resells empty toner cartridges could soon be defending itself before the U.S. Supreme Court in a dispute that could affect huge tech companies and pharmaceutical firms.

Lexmark, a Lexington, Kentucky-based printing corporation, sued Impression Products, accusing the company of patent infringement for selling its cartridges, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.

At issue is what is known as the first-sale doctrine, a principle limiting a patent holder's rights after a product has been sold once.

Impression Products argued Lexmark's patents on its cartridges are no longer effective after the cartridges are sold, allowing the smaller company to sell them freely. Lexmark cartridges can cost up to hundreds of dollars, and Impression Products sells used ones at a lower price.

In February, a federal court sided with Lexmark, saying the corporation's patent rights weren't exhausted, regardless of whether the cartridges were being purchased from U.S. or foreign suppliers — Impression Products has purchased toner cartridges from Canadian suppliers in the past.

Last month, the federal government recommended the Supreme Court review the case.

Impression Products President Eric Smith explained that while this doesn't guarantee that the justices will review the case, it sharply increases the probability of it happening.

The implications of the case go beyond ink cartridges, as Samsung and Google have backed Impression Products' argument. The tech giants operate foreign supply chains that would have to jump through additional hoops if the first-sale doctrine did not apply for foreign purchases. Pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer have supported Lexmark, with a Lexmark victory likely giving their own patents greater protection.






Pakistan court adjourns case of British woman's murder
Law Firm Business | 2016/09/18 22:51
A Pakistani court on Saturday adjourned the case of a British-Pakistani woman's murder until Sept. 23 to give police more time to finalize charges against her father and ex-husband, who are accused of slaying her in the name of honor, police and lawyers said.

Police brought both men before the court in Jhelum as they covered their faces. They avoided most questions from journalists. However, when pressed, the woman's father, Mohammad Shahid, told reporters that the accusations are "all lies."

"The police arrested me, police charged me, you go to police station and check my report, check my statement," Shahid said.

The death of 28-year-old Samia Shahid has shocked the nation as the latest alleged case of so-called "honor killings" in Pakistan. The Bradford native's death while visiting Pakistan in July was originally declared to be from natural causes.

But Shahid's second husband, Mukhtar Kazim, publicly accused her family of killing her. The case was reopened and a police probe quickly concluded that Shahid's death was a "premeditated, cold-blooded murder," according to a police statement.

Police allege that Mohammed Shahid stood guard while his daughter's ex-husband, Mohammed Shakeel, raped her. The men then both strangled her, according to police.

Defense lawyer Mohammed Arif dismissed the police allegations as a baseless, saying his clients have been wrongly accused. He said he will appeal another court's recent rejection of bail for Mohammed Shahid.



Court rules man treated for mental illness can have a gun
Law Firm Business | 2016/09/18 22:50
A Michigan man who can't buy a gun because he was briefly treated for mental health problems in the 1980s has won a key decision from a federal appeals court, which says the burden is on the government to justify a lifetime ban against him.

The Second Amendment case was significant enough for 16 judges on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to participate. Cases usually are heard only by three-judge panels.

Clifford Tyler, 74, of Hillsdale said his constitutional right to bear arms is violated by a federal law that prohibits gun ownership if someone has been admitted to a mental hospital.

In 1985, Tyler's wife ran away with another man, depleted his finances and filed for divorce. He was deeply upset, and his daughters feared he was a danger to himself.

Tyler was ordered to a hospital for at least two weeks. He subsequently recovered, continued working for another two decades and remarried in 1999.

"There is no indication of the continued risk presented by people who were involuntarily committed many years ago and who have no history of intervening mental illness, criminal activity or substance abuse," Judge Julia Smith Gibbons wrote in the lead opinion.

The court on Thursday sent the case back to the federal court in Grand Rapids where the government must argue the merits of a lifetime ban or the risks of Tyler having a gun.

Gibbons suggests Tyler should prevail, based on his years of good mental health.



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