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Israel's Supreme Court rejects former PM Olmert's appeal
Legal News | 2016/09/29 20:11
Israel's imprisoned former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert faces an additional eight months behind bars after the country's Supreme Court rejected an appeal.

Olmert is already serving a 19-month sentence after being convicted of bribery and obstructing justice. The court this week unanimously rejected the appeal of a separate set of charges that included accepting cash-stuffed envelopes from a U.S. businessman.

He began his sentence in February. Olmert was a longtime fixture in Israel's hawkish right wing when he began taking a dramatically more conciliatory line toward the Palestinians as deputy prime minister a decade ago.

He played a leading role in Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. He became prime minister in January 2006 after then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a debilitating stroke.



Senate confirms district court judge for New Jersey
Legal News | 2016/07/02 15:50
The Senate has confirmed President Barack Obama's nominee for the U.S. District Court for the district of New Jersey.

The vote was 92-5 on Wednesday for Brian Martinotti, who has served as a judge on the Superior Court of New Jersey since 2002. Obama nominated him to the district court post in June 2015.

Martinotti worked from 1987 to 2002 at the law firm of Beattie Padovano LLC, where he was elevated to partner in 1994. While at the firm, Martinotti also served as a councilmember for the borough of Cliffside Park from 1991 to 2002.

He was a law clerk to Judge Roger M. Kahn of the New Jersey Tax Court from 1986 to 1987.



US appeals court revisits Texas voter ID law
Legal News | 2016/06/14 20:12
A federal appeals court is set to take a second look at a strict Texas voter ID law that was found to be unconstitutional last year.

Texas' law requires residents to show one of seven forms of approved identification. The state and other supporters say it prevents fraud. Opponents, including the U.S. Justice Department, say it discriminates by requiring forms of ID that are more difficult to obtain for low-income, African-American and Latino voters.

Arguments before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are set for Tuesday morning. The full court agreed to rehear the issue after a three-judge panel ruled last year that the law violates the Voting Rights Act.

Lawyers for Texas argue that the state makes free IDs easy to obtain, that any inconveniences or costs involved in getting one do not substantially burden the right to vote, and that the Justice Department and other plaintiffs have failed to prove that the law has resulted in denying anyone the right to vote.

Opponents counter in briefs that trial testimony indicated various bureaucratic and economic burdens associated with the law ? for instance, the difficulty in finding and purchasing a proper birth certificate to obtain an ID. A brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union cites testimony in other voter ID states indicating numerous difficulties faced by people, including burdensome travel and expenses to get required documentation to obtain IDs.



Indiana court to hear woman's appeal of feticide conviction
Legal News | 2016/06/11 20:12
Attorneys for an Indiana woman found guilty of killing the premature infant she delivered after ingesting abortion-inducing drugs will ask an appeals court Monday to throw out the convictions that led to her 20-year prison sentence.

At issue is Indiana's feticide statute, which the defense says was "passed to protect pregnant women from violence" that could harm their developing fetus, not to prosecute women for their own abortions. The state says that law "is not limited to third-party actors" and can apply to pregnant women.

Attorneys for 35-year-old Purvi Patel will urge the Indiana Court of Appeals to reverse her 2015 convictions on charges of feticide and neglect of a dependent resulting in death. The state's attorney general's office will defend the northern Indiana jury's decision.

Patel, of Granger, was arrested in July 2013 after she sought treatment at a local hospital for profuse bleeding after delivering a 1½-pound infant boy and putting his body in a trash bin behind her family's restaurant. Court records show Patel purchased abortion-inducing drugs online through a pharmacy in Hong Kong, took those drugs and delivered a premature baby in her home bathroom.



Supreme Court rejects Blagojevich appeal in corruption case
Legal News | 2016/03/28 18:24
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's appeal of his corruption convictions that included his attempt to sell the vacant Senate seat once occupied by President Barack Obama.
 
The justices let stand an appeals court ruling that found Blagojevich crossed the line when he sought money in exchange for naming someone to fill the seat. Blagojevich, 59, is serving a 14-year sentence at a federal prison in Colorado.

A federal appeals court last year threw out five of his 18 convictions and Blagojevich was hoping the Supreme Court would consider tossing the rest. His lawyers argued in an 83-page November filing that the line between the legal and illegal trading of political favors has become blurred, potentially leaving politicians everywhere subject to prosecution.

The appeal to the high court was a last slim hope for Blagojevich, who has proclaimed his innocence for years. Since his 2008 arrest and through his two trials, Blagojevich has argued he was participating in legal, run-of-the-mill politicking.

Blagojevich meanwhile is awaiting a resentencing ordered in July by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago when it ruled to toss the five convictions.

The Supreme Court hears only around 80 cases a year out of more than 10,000 requests and typically accepts cases that raise weighty and divisive legal issues.


Supreme Court will hear Samsung-Apple patent dispute
Legal News | 2016/03/21 23:20
The Supreme Court has agreed to referee a pricy patent dispute between Samsung and Apple.
 
The justices said Monday they will review a $399 million judgment against South Korea-based Samsung for illegally copying patented aspects of the look of Apple's iPhone.
   
Apple, based in Cupertino, California, and Samsung are the top two manufacturers of increasingly ubiquitous smartphones.

The two companies have been embroiled in patent fights for years.

The justices will decide whether a court can order Samsung to pay Apple every penny it made from the phones at issue, even though the disputed features are a tiny part of the product.

The federal appeals court in Washington that hears patent cases ruled for Apple.

None of the earlier-generation Galaxy and other Samsung phones involved in the lawsuit remains on the market, Samsung said.

The case involved common smartphone features for which Apple holds patents: the flat screen, the rectangular shape with rounded corners, a rim and a screen of icons.

The case, Samsung v. Apple, 15-777, will be argued in the court's new term that begins in October.



Texas court tosses criminal case against former Gov. Perry
Legal News | 2016/02/24 22:09
The felony prosecution of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry ended Wednesday when the state's highest criminal court dismissed an abuse-of-power indictment that the Republican says hampered his short-lived 2016 presidential bid.

The 6-2 decision by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which is dominated by elected Republican judges, frees Perry from a long-running criminal case that blemished the exit of one of the most powerful Texas governors in history and hung over his second failed run for the White House.

A grand jury in liberal Austin had indicted Perry in 2014 for vetoing funding for a public corruption unit that Republicans have long accused of wielding a partisan ax. The unit worked under Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, an elected Democrat. Perry wanted her to resign after she was convicted of drunken driving.

Perry was accused of using his veto power to threaten a public official and overstepping his authority, but the judges ruled that courts can't undermine the veto power of a governor.

"Come at the king, you best not miss," Republican Judge David Newell wrote in his concurring opinion, quoting a popular line from the HBO series "The Wire."

Perry has been campaigning for Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz since becoming the first major GOP candidate to drop out of the race last year. He conceded to reporters in Austin on Wednesday that the indictments hurt his candidacy but didn't dwell on the impact, and said he would veto the same funding again if given the chance.

"I've always known the actions I took were not only lawful and legal, they were right," said Perry, who spoke at the headquarters of an influential Texas conservative think tank, which has previously christened its balcony overlooking downtown as the "Gov. Rick Perry Liberty Balcony."

The court said veto power can't be restricted by the courts and the prosecution of a veto "violates separations of powers." A lower appeals court had dismissed the other charge, coercion by a public servant, in July.

Perry had rebuked the charges as a partisan attack from the start, calling it a "political witch hunt," but the dismissal brought accusations of Republican judges doing a favor for a party stalwart. Texans for Public Justice, a left-leaning watchdog group that filed the original criminal complaint that led to the indictment, said Perry was handed a "gift" based on his stature.



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