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The Latest: 6 countries seek criminal probe of Venezuela
Legal Watch | 2018/09/29 07:22
Six countries from the Americas say they are asking the International Criminal Court to investigate Venezuela's government for alleged crimes against humanity. It's the first time that member countries have referred another country to the Netherlands-based U.N. court.

Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay and Canada made the announcement on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting.

The court has already opened a preliminary investigation into allegations that since April 2017 Venezuelan government forces "frequently used excessive force to disperse and put down demonstrations," and abused some opposition members in detention.

Wednesday's move could broaden the scope of the existing preliminary probe. The countries accuse Venezuela of several crimes including murder, torture and unjust imprisonment.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says his meeting with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho was "very positive."

Pompeo made the comment on Twitter on Wednesday after meeting with Ri at the U.N. General Assembly. The meeting comes as U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un work to set up a widely expected second summit to restart stalled diplomacy meant to rid the North of its nuclear weapons.

Pompeo said that "much work remains, but we will continue to move forward."

Kim made denuclearization vows last week in a summit with the South Korean president in Pyongyang, but there's still skepticism over his sincerity to relinquish weapons that many believe are the only major guarantee of his continued authoritarian rule.


The Latest: Authorities: Officer arrested for manslaughter
Legal Watch | 2018/09/10 02:17
The Texas Department of Public Safety says a white Dallas police officer has been arrested on a manslaughter warrant in the shooting of a black man at his apartment.

The department said in a news release Sunday night that Officer Amber Guyger was booked into the Kaufman County Jail and that the investigation is ongoing. It said no additional information is available at this time. The 30-year-old Guyger killed 26-year-old Botham Jean on Thursday.

Police say Guyger shot and killed Jean after returning in uniform to the South Side Flats, where they both had apartments, following her shift. She reported the shooting to dispatchers and she told officers who responded that she had mistaken Jean's apartment for her own.

The lawyer for the family of a 26-year-old man who was shot and killed by a Dallas police officer who said she mistook his apartment for hers is calling for her to be charged.

S. Lee Merritt, who is representing the family of 26-year-old Botham Jean, said Saturday that the family isn't calling on the authorities to jump to conclusions or to deny Officer Amber Guyger her right to due process.

But he says they want Guyger "to be treated like every other citizen, and where there is evidence that they've committed a crime, that there's a warrant to be issued and an arrest to be made."

Online records show that Guyger hadn't been charged as of Sunday morning.


German court mulls jail for some over Munich air pollution
Legal Watch | 2018/08/26 00:38
A German newspaper reports that judges are considering jailing senior Bavarian officials for failing to take action against air pollution in Munich, home to automaker BMW.

Daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Monday that the southern German state's administrative court believes jailing officials may be the most effective way of forcing the Bavarian government to enforce emissions-cutting measures.

Munich topped the ranks of 65 German cities that exceeded levels of harmful particles last year. Bavarian officials have refused to impose measures in the state capital — such as limited bans on driving diesel vehicles — despite heavy fines.

According to the report, Bavarian judges want to seek legal guidance from the European Court of Justice on whether jailing officials — including state Environment Minister Marcel Huber and Governor Markus Soeder — would be permissible.



Cities vying for 2020 convention court Democrats in Chicago
Legal Watch | 2018/08/25 00:38
The three cities vying to host the 2020 Democratic convention are courting party leaders and activists at their summer meeting in Chicago.

Houston, Miami and Milwaukee are the finalists. A selection committee has been visiting the potential sites. A decision is expected early next year.

Miami gave people attending the Democratic National Committee meeting a taste of Chicago's waterfront offerings by renting out a boat docked at Navy Pier for its party.

Milwaukee's gathering featured an appearance by onetime Milwaukee Bucks basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The city has suggested the Bucks' new arena as the convention's venue.

Gospel singer Yolanda Adams highlighted Houston's party. Houston also scattered promotions throughout the DNC's meeting hotel, including Texas-shaped decals on the carpet and bar tabletops.


Sen. Collins, potential swing vote, meets with Kavanaugh
Legal Watch | 2018/08/20 11:55
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh met Tuesday with Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a centrist who's seen as a potential swing vote on his confirmation, while Democrats push him to release more documents from his years in the George W. Bush White House.

Collins supports abortion rights and has vowed to oppose any nominee who has "demonstrated hostility" to Roe v. Wade. But she has spoken highly of President Donald Trump's nominee, saying he's qualified for the job.

The meeting Tuesday comes as Kavanaugh, an appellate court judge, is making the rounds on Capitol Hill ahead of confirmation hearings in September. One key meeting will be with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who says he'll ask Kavanaugh to fully support releasing documents from the Bush White House that Republicans have declined to review.

Schumer said he will ask Kavanaugh, as he has Republicans, "What are they hiding?" He expects the judge to be able to fully explain his record. "I hope he comes prepared to answer direct questions," he said.

Democrats complain that Republicans, who have a slim 51-49 majority in the Senate, are withholding documents in their rush to confirm Trump's pick for the court ahead of the midterm elections.

Kavanagh, 53, is a conservative who, in replacing retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, could tip the court rightward for a generation.

Several Democratic women senators joined with advocates for women's health care Tuesday to talk about the stakes of adding Kavanaugh to the court, particularly when it comes to access to abortion services.



Lawyers will seek to shift blame for warehouse fire at trial
Legal Watch | 2018/08/17 08:15
Lawyers for the two men charged in the Northern California warehouse fire that killed 36 people said Friday they are now preparing for a trial where they will try to shift blame for the blaze from their clients to others, including the building's owner and government officials.

Derick Almena, 48, and Max Harris, 28, on Friday appeared briefly in an Oakland courtroom for the first time since a judge scuttled a plea deal agreed to by prosecutors. They were ordered back to court in three weeks to schedule a trial.

Outside court, the men's lawyers say there's plenty of blame to share for the Dec. 2, 2016, fire in an Oakland warehouse illegally converted into an underground entertainment venue and live-work space for artists. The cause of the fire has never been determined, which the lawyers said is key part of the men's defense.

Serra also said numerous government officials visited the illegally converted warehouse before the fire, and they had a duty to report the building's condition to authorities. Almena lived in the warehouse with his wife and three children and were visited by Alameda County's Child Protective Services officials several times. Oakland police officers were also called to the warehouse on several occasions to investigate noise complaints and tenant disputes, among other issues.


Top Pakistan court bars former minister from holding office
Legal Watch | 2018/08/02 04:27
Pakistan's top court has barred the former deputy interior minister from holding office for the next five years for insulting judges in a speech earlier this year.

Thursday's ruling by the Supreme Court says Talal Chaudhry, who was deputy interior minister under former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, disparaged judges during a March speech.

In the speech, Chaudry assailed the top court for dismissing Sharif from office. The former prime minister is now appealing a 10-year prison sentence for corruption handed down by an anti-graft tribunal in June.

Sharif's party — the Pakistan Muslim League — was defeated in general elections last month that saw former cricket star turn politician Imran Khan's party win the vote.

Khan is expected to form a coalition government and become prime minister later this month.


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