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Judge allows Palin's son therapeutic court for proceedings
Legal Watch | 2018/05/19 06:58
The eldest son of former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin will go through Alaska's therapeutic court system in a criminal case accusing him of assaulting his father last year at the family home.

State District Judge David Wallace on Tuesday approved Track Palin's request to formally transfer his case to Veterans Court, which gives eligible veterans the option of enrolling in mental health treatment programs instead of a traditional sentence.

The judge also barred the media from using cameras or other recording devices during that proceeding after Track Palin's attorney filed a motion seeking to prohibit or limit media access. Wallace said he will formally rule on the matter later.

The motion to limit media access was filed Friday by Track Palin's attorney, Patrick Bergt, in an effort to ensure the case does not become a distraction to other veterans in the system.

Veterans Court program rules say veterans opt in by agreeing to plead guilty or not guilty to at least one charge.

Bergt declined to say if his client is making such a plea to get into the program, adding he can't comment on specifics of the case.


Court program in Dona Ana County focuses on veterans
Legal Watch | 2018/05/03 06:58
A new court program has opened in Dona Ana County that focuses on the substance abuse and mental health issues facing military veterans who have been charged with non-violent crimes.

Las Cruces Sun-News reports that the first hearing in the 3rd Judicial District Court's Veterans Treatment Court program was held on Wednesday.

It's the first veterans court program in southern New Mexico

The judicial district already has other "problem-solving courts," such as a drug court for juveniles and adults that tries to help rehabilitate repeat offenders whose offenses are driven by substance abuse.

Veterans participating in the new program will be given individualized treatment and counseling programs that run an average of 14 months or longer.



Czech court: Attacker on Petra Kvitova taken into custody
Legal Watch | 2018/04/29 06:59
A Czech Republic court has ruled a suspect in a knife attack on two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova be taken into custody.

Zuzana Buresova, a spokesperson for the county court in the city of Prostejov, says the court issued the ruling on Thursday. Buresova declined to give any further details.

Police have not commented yet, and declined to confirm the man's arrest, citing an ongoing investigation.

After the attack in her home in Prostejov in December 2016, Kvitova had surgery on injuries to her playing left hand.

It took her more than five months to recover.

In a message to local media from Paris, where she is getting ready for the French Open, Kvitova called it "good news."



Dayton appoints Democratic Rep. Thissen to Supreme Court
Legal Watch | 2018/04/15 03:05
Gov. Mark Dayton appointed longtime Democratic state Rep. Paul Thissen to the Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday, the latest in a long line of partisans to join the state's highest court.

Thissen is an attorney and Minneapolis lawmaker who has served eight terms in the House — including one as House Speaker and two as its Minority Leader — and had eyes on the governor's office until he suspended his campaign in February. He'll resign from his House seat on Friday and join the court soon after.

He replaces Justice David Stras, who was nominated by Donald Trump to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and recently confirmed. Thissen's addition means Dayton has picked five of the seven members on the state's highest court, and while the court has not been openly partisan, it's a mark that will long outlast the Democratic governor's tenure ending early next year.

The other two members were appointed by former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

"Judicial appointments are one of, if not the most, important appointments I make," Dayton said, noting he had emphasized increasing the diversity throughout state courts during his time in office.

Thissen was one of four finalists on the shortlist to replace Stras that also included Lucinda Jesson, Dayton's former commissioner at the Department of Human Services who he appointed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals in 2016. Minnesota Tax Court Chief Judge Bradford Delapena and District Court Judge Jeffrey Bryan were also in the running.

Dayton and others said Thissen's blend of legal work and political experience made him the perfect choice for the Supreme Court.

"Under the intense pressures of end of session deal-making, he always stood firm on his own principled convictions and to the high standards of proper Minnesota governance," Dayton said.

Neither Dayton nor his predecessors have shied away from party allies when filling seats on the state's highest court. Dayton appointed longtime Democratic attorney David Lillheaug to the court in 2013. Lillehaug helped Dayton during his 2010 recount victory and also worked on former Sen. Al Franken's 2008 recount and other Democratic elections. Pawlenty named both his campaign attorney Christopher Dietzen and Minnesota Republican Party attorney Barry Anderson to the Supreme Court.


Trump administration backs PLO in victims' high court appeal
Legal Watch | 2018/03/31 18:34
Despite its bumpy relationship with the Palestinians, the Trump administration is siding with the Palestine Liberation Organization in urging the Supreme Court to reject an appeal from American victims of terrorist attacks in the Middle East more than a decade ago.

The victims are asking the high court to reinstate a $654 million verdict against the PLO and Palestinian Authority in connection with attacks in Israel in 2002 and 2004 that killed 33 people and wounded hundreds more.

The case was scheduled to be considered at the justices’ private conference on Thursday. A decision to reject the appeal could come as early as Monday. If the court decides to hear the case, it could say so by the middle of this month.

The federal appeals court in New York tossed out the verdict in 2016. It said U.S. courts can’t consider lawsuits against foreign-based groups over random attacks that were not aimed at the United States.

The victims sued under the Anti-Terrorism Act, signed into law in 1992. The law was passed to open U.S. courts to victims of international terrorism, spurred by the killing of American Leon Klinghoffer during a 1985 terrorist attack aboard the Achille Lauro cruise ship.

The victims argued that offices the Palestinians maintain in the nation’s capital to promote their cause in speeches and media appearances and to retain lobbyists were sufficient to allow the lawsuit in an American court. The appeals court disagreed.

In late June, the justices asked the administration to weigh in on the case, as they often do in cases with foreign policy implications. The Justice Department filed its brief eight months later, saying there was nothing in the appeals court ruling to “warrant this court’s intervention at this time.”

In unusually strong language for a Supreme Court filing, Theodore Olson, the lawyer for the victims, wrote, “The government is not being square with the court.” Olson said the administration was being cagey about its view of the law, even after the lower court cut back on its use by attack victims to try to hold groups financially liable.


Father testifies in Australian court cardinal abused son
Legal Watch | 2018/03/16 04:29
A father testified in an Australian court Thursday that his son said he was sexually abused by Vatican Cardinal George Pell during a waterskiing outing years ago. When a defense lawyer accused him of lying, the father told the court it was an insult.

The testimony in the Melbourne Magistrate Court came at a hearing to determine whether prosecutors have sufficient evidence to put Pell on trial.

Pope Francis' former finance minister was charged in June with sexually abusing multiple people in his Australian home state of Victoria. The details of the allegations have yet to be released to the public, though police have described the charges as "historical," meaning they allegedly occurred decades ago.

Pell, 76, has said he will plead not guilty if the magistrate rules a jury trial is warranted.

The father of one of the alleged victims, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, testified via a video link that he first learned of the alleged abuse in 2015 and that his son struggled to talk about it.

Defense lawyer Robert Richter said the father did not name Pell in a statement he made to police then. "Do you have any explanation as to how it is there is no mention of Pell there, as having done anything wrong at the lake?" Richter asked.

The lawyer said the father had only recently named Pell as the alleged offender. "That's an invention of yours since July 2015 when you made your statement," Richter told the father.


South Carolina court questions transportation tax spending
Legal Watch | 2018/03/06 12:32
The South Carolina Supreme Court is questioning how a county is spending transportation tax money.

The court said Wednesday the state revenue department did not have the authority to withhold payments to Richland County.

But the justices also said the revenue department's request for an injunction preventing the county from spending the money should have been approved.

The Supreme Court said a lower court judge should require the county to establish safeguards to make sure the money is spent only on transportation-related projects and some administrative costs.

The high court said the lower court judge could also order the county to repay any previous improper spending.

A county spokeswoman said the ruling is being reviewed by its attorneys.



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