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Changed Supreme Court weighing Louisiana abortion clinic law
Legal Interview | 2019/02/03 03:18
The outcome of a fight over a Louisiana law regulating abortion providers could signal whether a fortified conservative majority on the Supreme Court is willing to cut back on abortion rights.

The high court is expected to decide in the next few days whether the state can begin enforcing a law requiring doctors who work at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. It was passed in 2014, but has never taken effect.

The Supreme Court struck down a similar law in Texas three years ago. But the court's lineup has changed since then. Two appointees of President Donald Trump have joined the bench and Justice Anthony Kennedy has retired. Kennedy voted to strike down the Texas law.


Appeals court reopens case involving payment to law firm
Legal Interview | 2019/01/27 03:25
An appeals court on Friday ordered more proceedings in a legal fight involving Kentucky's governor and two of his political rivals over a $4 million payment to a law firm for negotiating a settlement on behalf of the state with the maker of OxyContin.

A three-judge Kentucky Court of Appeals panel ruled unanimously that a summary judgment previously granted in the case was "premature" because it didn't allow more information to be reviewed. The ruling returned the case to a lower court, where it could have implications in this year's governor's race.

"In this case, there was no opportunity to take discovery," Judge Christopher Shea Nickell said in writing for the appeals court panel.

"Since there was no discovery, obviously there was no 'ample opportunity to complete discovery.' ... Thus, we do not even reach the question of whether there were any material issues of fact precluding summary judgment," he added.

The ruling keeping the case alive drew quick praise from Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's administration. Bevin's general counsel, Steve Pitt, said additional information could shed light on why Kentucky's lawsuit against a large pharmaceutical company was settled "for pennies on the dollar."

The case also involves Attorney General Andy Beshear, who already has declared himself a candidate for governor as a Democrat. Bevin and Beshear have been embroiled in several lawsuits since they took office. Bevin filed papers Friday to run for a second term.


Iowa Supreme Court contender was sued over unjustified case
Legal Interview | 2019/01/25 03:25
An eastern Iowa county agreed to pay $50,000 to settle a civil rights lawsuit against its top prosecutor last month, days before he applied for a seat on the Iowa Supreme Court.

The payment settled a lawsuit that alleged Muscatine County Attorney Alan Ostergren abused his power during his unsuccessful two-year prosecution of former West Liberty city manager Chris Ward. Ostergen pursued misconduct and fraud charges against Ward that courts later ruled were unjustified.

Ostergen, 46, a Republican considered a strong contender for the Supreme Court vacancy, has been involved in several high-profile cases. He applied for the opening created by the retirement of Justice Daryl Hecht last month and disclosed the lawsuit against him as required in his application .

He and other candidates will interview with the judicial nominating commission next week. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds will make the appointment from three finalists recommended by that panel. Her choice is expected to tilt the historically progressive court to the right at a time when a major abortion rights case is unfolding.

Ostergren was one of three finalists recommended last year by Republican Sens. Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst to be the top federal prosecutor in southern Iowa but was passed over by President Donald Trump. He narrowly won re-election in November in Muscatine County, where he's been the top prosecutor since 2011.

Ostergen has raised his profile by using his position with an organization representing county attorneys to file several friend-of-the-court briefs with the Supreme Court. Civil liberties advocates have been concerned by some of his actions including his support of limiting the voting rights of felons and his unsuccessful prosecution of an immigrant on identity theft charges.

The lawsuit that prompted the settlement accused Ostergren of filing unsupported criminal charges against Ward and taking actions to interfere with his new job as city manager in Vinton, Iowa. The lawsuit noted that Ward was one of three African-American city managers in Iowa but did not allege race was a factor in the prosecution.


EU top court adviser: Google can limit right to be forgotten
Legal Interview | 2019/01/08 09:58
An adviser to Europe's top court says Google doesn't have to extend "right to be forgotten" rules to its search engines globally.

The European Court of Justice's advocate general released a preliminary opinion Thursday in the case involving the U.S. tech company and France's data privacy regulator.

The case stems from the court's 2014 ruling that people have the right to control what appears when their name is searched online. That decision forced Google to delete links to outdated or embarrassing personal information that popped up in searches.

Advocate General Maciej Szpunar's opinion said the court "should limit the scope of the de-referencing that search engine operators are required to carry out," and that it shouldn't have to do it for all domain names, according to a statement.

Opinions from the court's advocate general aren't binding but the court often follows them when it hands down its ruling, which is expected later.

The case highlighted the need to balance data privacy and protection concerns against the public's right to know. It also raised thorny questions about how to enforce differing legal jurisdictions when it comes to the borderless internet.

Google's senior privacy counsel, Peter Fleischer, said the company acknowledges that the right to privacy and public access to information "are important to people all around the world ... We've worked hard to ensure that the right to be forgotten is effective for Europeans, including using geolocation to ensure 99 percent effectiveness."


Son of ex-Nissan head Carlos Ghosn predicts court surprises
Legal Interview | 2019/01/05 08:58
The son of former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn said in an interview published Sunday that people will be surprised when his father, detained since Nov. 19 for allegedly falsifying financial reports, recounts his version of events to a Tokyo court on Tuesday.

Anthony Ghosn, 24, told France's Journal du Dimanche that his father — who will remain detained until at least Jan. 11 — will get 10 minutes to talk at the hearing, being held at his own request.

"For the first time, he can talk about his version of the allegations against him," Anthony Ghosn said in the interview with the weekly paper Journal du Dimanche. "I think everyone will be rather surprised hearing his version of the story. Until now, we've only heard the accusers."

The son has no direct contact with his father, and gets information via lawyers. He said his father, who for decades was a revered figure in the global auto industry, has lost about 10 kilograms (22 pounds) eating three bowls of rice daily, but he reads books and "he resists."

Ghosn refuses to cave in, said his son, contending that he would be freed from detention if he admitted guilt to the prosecutor.


Court extends detention for Nissan ex-chair Ghosn by 10 days
Legal Interview | 2019/01/01 08:59
the once revered auto industry figure faces allegations that have marked a stunning downfall.

Ghosn, who led Nissan Motor Co. for two decades and helped save the Japanese automaker from near bankruptcy, was arrested Nov. 19 on suspicion of falsifying financial reports. He also faces a breach of trust allegation, for which his detention had been approved previously through Jan. 1.

The Tokyo District Court said in a statement that it had approved prosecutors' request for a 10-day extension.

Ghosn has been charged in the first set of allegations, about under-reporting Ghosn's pay by about 5 billion yen ($44 million) in 2011-2015.

Those close to Ghosn and his family say he is asserting his innocence as the alleged underreported amount of money was never really decided or paid, and Nissan never suffered any monetary losses from the alleged breach of trust.

It is unclear when Ghosn may be released on bail. Tokyo prosecutors consider Ghosn, a Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry, a flight risk.

In Japan, formal charges can mean a suspect will get detained for months, sometimes until the trial starts, because of fears of tampered evidence.

Another Nissan executive, Greg Kelly, was arrested on suspicion of collaborating with Ghosn on the under-reporting of income and was freed Dec. 25 on 70 million yen ($635,600) bail after more than a month of detention.

Kelly said in a statement released through his lawyers he had suffered while in detention because of his neck ailment and hoped to get medical treatment. He also said he was innocent and hoped to regain his reputation.

"I expect that the trial will start soon. I have not been involved in alleged false entry. I believe my innocence will be revealed in the trial," Kelly said.



The Latest: Shutdown affects court cases that involve Trump
Legal Interview | 2018/12/27 09:12
The partial government shutdown has prompted the chief judge of Manhattan federal courts to suspend work on civil cases involving U.S. government lawyers. The order suspends action in several civil lawsuits in which President Donald Trump is a defendant.

Judge Colleen McMahon said in a written order that the suspension will remain in effect until the business day after the president signs a budget appropriation law restoring Justice Department funding.

The Manhattan courts, with several dozen judges, are among the nation’s busiest courts.

In one case involving Trump, a judge last week ruled that a group of people suing Trump and his three eldest children can remain anonymous because they fear retaliation by the president or his followers.

Back from a 29-hour trip to visit U.S. troops in Iraq, President Donald Trump is returning his attention to the ongoing partial U.S. government shutdown, which is in its sixth day.

In a morning tweet, Trump says “we desperately need” a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, funding for which has been a flashpoint between the White House and Congress ever since Trump took office.

The president is calling on Democrats in Congress to fund his wall, saying the shutdown affects their supporters. He says: “Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?”

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers are on unpaid furlough and even more are required to work without pay after Trump and Congress could not reach consensus on a short-term funding bill last week.



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