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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.



Spain court grants $1.7 billion compensation for oil spill
Legal Interview | 2018/12/23 05:35
Spain's Supreme Court has ruled that the captain and the insurer of the Prestige oil tanker must pay more than 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in compensation for Spain's biggest environmental disaster, when the vessel sank in 2002.

The court said in a statement Thursday that captain Apostolos Mangouras and The London Owners Mutual Insurance Association shall pay the damages to Spain, France and authorities in Spain's Galicia region, as well as to another 269 companies, communities and individuals affected by the spill.

The tanker sprang a leak and sank off northwest Spain, polluting a long stretch of coastline and ruining the area's rich fishing grounds. Years of legal challenges slowed the compensation process.



Fight over report on Wynn allegations back in court Jan. 4
Legal Interview | 2018/12/23 05:34
The fight over a Massachusetts Gaming Commission report on allegations of sexual misconduct against former casino mogul Steve Wynn will be back in a Nevada courtroom next month.

Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez on Thursday set a Jan. 4 court hearing on whether to extend an order blocking the report's release. It details an investigation into how Wynn Resorts handled the allegations and could affect whether the company keeps a gambling license for a $2 billion casino and hotel set to open near Boston in June.

Wynn has denied allegations of misconduct and sued last month to keep the report from going public. He argued that it contains confidential information obtained from his attorneys, which is protected by attorney-client privilege.

Wynn resigned from his company in February, and his name has been stripped from the new casino. It is now called Encore Boston Harbor.

Wynn Resorts attorney Patrick Byrne said Thursday that the company supports the investigation and is cooperating with Massachusetts regulators.

Ahead of the January hearing, Wynn's attorneys are negotiating with Wynn Resorts and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission over what interviews and documents his lawyers can review to determine if they're privileged.



Trump administration asks Supreme Court to allow asylum ban
Legal Interview | 2018/12/12 20:13
The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to allow enforcement of a ban on asylum for any immigrants who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

Two federal courts have temporarily blocked the policy President Donald Trump announced in November in response to caravans of migrants that were approaching the border. Last week, the federal appeals court in San Francisco said the ban is inconsistent with federal law and an attempted end-run around Congress.

The administration said in court papers filed Tuesday that the nationwide order preventing the policy from taking effect “is deeply flawed” and should be lifted pending an appeal that could reach the high court.

Trump’s proclamation is among measures that “are designed to channel asylum seekers to ports of entry, where their claims can be processed in an orderly manner; deter unlawful and dangerous border crossings; and reduce the backlog of meritless asylum claims,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco wrote in his Supreme Court filing.

Lee Gelernt, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer representing immigrant advocacy groups challenging the asylum policy, said, “The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to short-circuit the normal judicial process and reinstate a blatantly unlawful policy.”

Justice Elena Kagan, who handles emergency appeals from California and other western states, called for a response from opponents of the asylum policy by midday Monday.

In the first court ruling on the issue, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar said on Nov.19 that U.S. law allows immigrants to request asylum regardless of whether they entered the country legally.

The president “may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” the judge said in his order.


Supreme Court to hear closely watched double jeopardy case
Legal Interview | 2018/12/06 22:02
The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments about an exception to the Constitution's ban on being tried for the same offense. The outcome could have a spillover effect on the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

The justices are taking up an appeal Thursday from federal prison inmate Terance Gamble. He was prosecuted separately by Alabama and the federal government for having a gun after an earlier robbery conviction.

The high court is considering whether to overturn a court-created exception to the Constitution's double-jeopardy bar that allows state and federal prosecutions for the same crime. The court's ruling could be relevant if President Donald Trump were to pardon someone implicated in

Supreme Court lawyer Tom Goldstein joked at a Washington event before the term began in October that the high court case should be called New York v. Manafort, a reference to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Trump has refused to rule out an eventual pardon for Manafort, who has been convicted of federal financial fraud and conspiracy crimes. It's by no means certain that the high court ruling will affect future prosecutions.

But Trump's Justice Department is urging the court not to depart from what it says is an unbroken line of cases reaching back nearly 170 years in favor of allowing prosecutions by state and federal authorities. Thirty-six states that include Republican-led Texas and Democratic-led New York are on the administration's side, as are advocates for Native American women who worry that a decision for Gamble would make it harder to prosecute domestic and sexual violence crimes.



Mexico's high court tosses law on policing by military
Legal Interview | 2018/11/28 05:56
Mexico's Supreme Court invalidated a controversial law signed last year that created a legal framework for the military to work in a policing role in much of the country, ruling Thursday that the measure violated the constitution by trying to normalize the use of the armed forces in public safety.

Deep-rooted corruption and ineffectiveness among local and state police forces has led Mexico to rely heavily on the military to combat drug cartels in parts of the country.

But military commanders have long expressed uneasiness about what was essentially an open-ended policing mission. The armed forces have been implicated in a number of human rights abuse cases.

On Wednesday, President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced a security plan that would also lean on the military. He proposed forming a National Guard initially made up of elements from the navy and army police as well as federal police.

After drawing a raft of criticism, especially from human rights groups, Lopez Obrador sought on Thursday to distinguish between his plan and his predecessors'. He said congress would seek a constitutional reform to allow it.

"Because I don't want to use the army and the navy like they have been doing for public safety work if they are not authorized to carry out those functions," Lopez Obrador said.

But the international human rights group Amnesty International said the Supreme Court's decision should cause Lopez Obrador to rethink his security plan.


Trump moves to limit asylum; new rules challenged in court
Legal Interview | 2018/11/10 23:13
President Donald Trump issued a proclamation Friday to deny asylum to migrants who enter the country illegally, tightening the border as caravans of Central Americans slowly approach the United States. The plan was immediately challenged in court.

Trump invoked the same powers he used last year to impose a travel ban that was upheld by the Supreme Court. The new regulations are intended to circumvent laws stating that anyone is eligible for asylum no matter how he or she enters the country. About 70,000 people per year who enter the country illegally claim asylum, officials said.

“We need people in our country, but they have to come in legally,” Trump said Friday as he departed for Paris.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other legal groups swiftly sued in federal court in Northern California to block the regulations, arguing the measures were illegal.

“The president is simply trying to run roughshod over Congress’s decision to provide asylum to those in danger regardless of the manner of one’s entry,” said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt.

The litigation also seeks to put the new rules on hold while the case progresses.

The regulations go into effect Saturday. They would be in place for at least three months but could be extended, and don’t affect people already in the country. The Justice Department said in a statement the regulations were lawful.

Trump’s announcement was the latest push to enforce a hard-line stance on immigration through regulatory changes and presidential orders, bypassing Congress, which has not passed any immigration law reform. But those efforts have been largely thwarted by legal challenges and, in the case of family separations this year, stymied by a global outcry that prompted Trump to retreat.


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