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Appeals court rules Mississippi can resume Google inquiry
Law Firm Business | 2016/04/14 08:43
Mississippi's attorney general can resume an investigation into whether Google facilitates illegal behavior, an appeals court ruled.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday overturned a district judge who had sided with Google. U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate ruled last year that the unit of Alphabet Inc. didn't have to answer a subpoena by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood.

Hood began complaining in 2012 that Google wasn't doing enough to prevent people from breaking the law. In October 2014, he sent a 79-page subpoena demanding Google produce information about a wide range of subjects, including whether Google helps criminals by allowing its search engine to lead to pirated music, having its autocomplete function suggest illegal activities and sharing YouTube ad revenue with the makers of videos promoting illegal drug sales. Instead of complying, Google sued.

The appeals court also dissolved the lower judge's injunction that had barred Hood from bringing any civil or criminal lawsuits against the Mountain View, California-based company, saying that a mere subpoena wasn't enough to rule that Hood was acting in bad faith.

Mississippi court upholds Democratic primary ballot change
Law Firm Business | 2016/02/26 22:09
The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld its ruling Friday that another candidate must be added to the March 8 Democratic presidential primary ballot.

The court, in a 6-3 ruling, said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann doesn’t have to reissue already-sent absentee ballots to include Chicago businessman Willie Wilson’s name.

The ruling rejected Hosemann’s request that the court overturn its Thursday ruling, or at least allow him to resend absentee ballots including Wilson to roughly 200 military and other voters outside the country, so they would get the same ballot as voters at the polls. Absentee voting started Jan. 23 for those voters.

Hosemann said about 7,000 absentee ballots have also been sent to people in Mississippi.

“I am diametrically opposed to having different ballots,” Hosemann said.

Most counties vote electronically, but some use paper ballots that must be reprinted, and Hosemann’s office told the court changes would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

More than 7,000 voting machines have already been tested with a previously set ballot that lists five candidates in the Democratic presidential primary: Hillary Clinton, Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders. The ballot was prepared before O’Malley dropped out.

Mississippi law says the secretary of state puts nationally recognized presidential candidates on the Democratic and Republican primary ballots. Other presidential candidates can get on the ballot by submitting a petition with at least 500 signatures.

South African court hears case against president
Law Firm Business | 2016/02/09 22:55
The chant "Pay back the money" filtered into South Africa's highest court on Tuesday, as judges heard a case in which President Jacob Zuma is accused of violating the constitution in a scandal over state spending on his private home.
Inside court, lawyers argued before 11 judges over whether the president broke the law by failing to follow a 2014 recommendation from the state watchdog agency that he pay back some of the more than $20 million in security upgrades to his rural home.

Outside, several thousand opposition party supporters demonstrated against what they described as corruption by the head of state, shouting that he should return state money used to improve his private home.

Zuma's office, on Feb. 3, said he was willing to reimburse some money, an about-turn to his previous position that he did nothing wrong. His critics said he was trying to avoid the embarrassment of a court hearing and a repeat of last year's heckling during his State of the Nation address, to be held on Thursday.

Supreme Court considers if Pistorius guilty of murder
Law Firm Business | 2015/11/03 17:48
South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal grilled Oscar Pistorius' attorney and a prosecutor on Tuesday as it weighed whether to convict him of murder for killing his girlfriend, uphold a lower court's manslaughter conviction or order a retrial.
Prosecutors say the North Gauteng High Court erred in convicting Pistorius of the lesser charge, and that the double-amputee Olympian should have known that someone could be killed when he fired four times into a locked toilet cubicle in his home. In the trial last year, prosecutors said Pistorius killed Reeva Steenkamp as she sought shelter in the toilet cubicle during an argument on Valentine's Day 2013. The defense said Pistorius opened fire because he thought an intruder was about to burst out of the toilet.

One of the five appeals court judges noted during the session on Tuesday, broadcast across the country and around the world on live TV, that Pistorius could still be convicted of murder even if he didn't think it was Steenkamp in the cubicle but knew someone was in there. Under the concept of dolus eventualis in South African law, a person can be convicted of murder if they foresaw the possibility of someone dying through their actions and went ahead anyway.

"If you look at the photographs, there's room behind there for a toilet bowl and a person and just about nothing else," Justice Lorimer Leach said to defense lawyer Barry Roux. "There's nowhere to hide. It would be a miracle if you didn't shoot someone."

Britain's High Court rules that Uber app is lawful
Law Firm Business | 2015/10/18 07:11
Britain's High Court has ruled that the Uber app to hail minicabs is lawful ? a blow to London's famous black cab drivers, who argued that it violated city regulations.

The court's decision Friday came after Transport for London sought clarification as to whether the San Francisco-based company's app worked in the same way as meters used by the strictly regulated black cabs.

The Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association argued the app ? which records a car's location and travel time and feeds it back to servers in California ? worked like a meter.

But Justice Duncan Ouseley disagreed, ruling that the app relies on GPS signals and did not operate in the same way.

Uber has come under fire in several European countries, including France, Italy and Spain.

Amended voter identification law subject of court hearing
Law Firm Business | 2015/08/31 21:36
North Carolina's voter identification mandate recently was eased before its slated 2016 start. But attorneys for voters and groups who oppose the law say the new exceptions don't mean their lawsuit challenging voter ID should evaporate.

A Superior Court judge scheduled arguments Monday in Raleigh about the state's request to have the litigation dismissed.

The original law required someone showing a qualifying photo identification card before voting in person. Now people with a "reasonable impediment" to getting a qualified ID can sign forms and present information and still vote.

The plaintiffs say the amended law still will hinder potential voters and want the judge to delay the voter ID mandate until after March's presidential primary.

This is one of four lawsuits filed challenging all or parts of 2013 elections changes.

Legal public nudity; cattle rustling; sheriff pays tax
Law Firm Business | 2015/07/06 21:48
A Minnesota volunteer firefighter was suspended Sunday for flying a Confederate flag from an engine that he drove in a holiday parade, and he said he expects to be asked to resign.

Brian Nielsen, 43, drove a Hartland Fire Department truck in the Third of July Parade in the southern Minnesota city of Albert Lea, the Albert Lea Tribune first reported. Nielsen, who's been with the department for about 10 years, flew both the Confederate and American flags from the back of the truck. He said neither his town nor his department had anything to do with it.

Nielsen said he's not for slavery, but did it because he was fed up with political correctness.

"It was my decision and I didn't think it was going to be a big deal, but boy was I wrong," Nielsen told The Associated Press.

He said Hartland Fire Chief Trent Wangen suspended him Sunday pending an investigation.

"More than likely I'll probably be asked to step down," Nielsen said. "I respect that and will do that if they want."

The killings of nine people at a historically black South Carolina church last month have sparked debate nationwide about the appropriateness of displaying the Confederate flag. The man charged in the shooting deaths had posted photographs of himself with the flag on social media.

Nielsen said he didn't think flying the flag would draw as much flak as it has. It's been the subject of critical tweets and Facebook postings. He said a woman wearing a Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party patch came up to him and criticized the flag before the parade, but other spectators stood up and clapped as the truck flying both the U.S. and Confederate flags passed by.

Friday's parade was organized by the Albert Lea Chamber of Commerce. Its executive director, Randy Kehr, said the display was "unfortunate" but within the firefighter's rights. He told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis he didn't know ahead of time that the truck would carry the Confederate flag, and probably would have respectfully asked Nielsen not to fly it if he had known.

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