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New Jersey's top court won't hear ex-NFL star's appeal
Top Legal News | 2019/02/01 03:24
The New Jersey Supreme Court won't hear a request from former NFL star Irving Fryar to overturn his conviction for his role in a mortgage scam.

The court announced its decision Tuesday but did not elaborate.

Fryar and his mother were convicted in August 2015 of applying for mortgage loans in quick succession while using the same property as collateral. They eventually were found guilty of conspiracy and theft by deception.

Fryar's defense argued at trial he was the victim of a "con artist" who told him to carry out the scheme.

Fryar was a star wide receiver at the University of Nebraska and played in the NFL in the 1980s and 1990s for the New England Patriots, the Miami Dolphins, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins.



Congress to Probe Report that Trump Directed Lawyer to Lie
Top Legal News | 2019/01/22 07:08
The Democratic chairmen of two House committees pledged Friday to investigate a report that President Donald Trump directed his personal attorney to lie to Congress about negotiations over a real estate project in Moscow during the 2016 election.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said “we will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true.” He said the allegation that Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie in his 2017 testimony to Congress “in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date.”

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, said directing a subordinate to lie to Congress is a federal crime.

The report by BuzzFeed News, citing two unnamed law enforcement officials, says that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress and that Cohen regularly briefed Trump and his family on the Moscow project — even as Trump said he had no business dealings with Russia.



Congo court poised to rule on presidential vote challenge
Top Legal News | 2019/01/15 15:14
Congo's constitutional court is poised to rule on a challenge to the presidential election, with the government on Friday dismissing an unprecedented request by the African Union continental body to delay releasing the final results because of "serious doubts" about the vote.

Upholding the official results could spark new violence in a country hoping for its first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since independence in 1960. At least 34 people have been killed since provisional results were released on Jan. 10, the United Nations said.

The AU on Monday will send a high-level delegation to Congo to address the crisis in the vast Central African nation rich in the minerals key to smartphones and electric cars around the world. Its neighbors are concerned that unrest could spill across borders.

Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende called the matter one for the country's judicial bodies, and "the independence of our judiciary is no problem."

The declared runner-up in the Dec. 30 election, Martin Fayulu, has requested a recount, alleging fraud. He asserts that Congo's electoral commission published provisional results wildly different from those obtained at polling stations.

Fayulu welcomed the AU's stance and urged Congolese to support it.

Congo faces the extraordinary accusation of an election allegedly rigged in favor of the opposition. Fayulu's supporters have asserted that outgoing President Joseph Kabila made a backroom deal with the declared winner, Felix Tshisekedi, when the ruling party's candidate did poorly.



Russian court says bobsledder can keep Olympic titles
Top Legal News | 2019/01/10 09:59
Russian bobsledder Alexander Zubkov won a Moscow court ruling on Friday that could make it harder for the International Olympic Committee to recover his gold medals.

The Russian flagbearer at the 2014 Sochi Olympics was stripped of his two gold medals from those games in 2017 by the IOC for doping. He failed to overturn that disqualification at the Court of Arbitration for Sport last year.

But Moscow’s highest civil court in November upheld Zubkov’s claim that the CAS procedure was unfair and shouldn’t be recognized in Russia. That means Zubkov is legally recognized as an Olympic champion — but only in Russia.

On Friday, the court rejected an IOC-backed appeal from the Russian Olympic Committee, which earlier said letting Zubkov keep his medals could “give rise to doubt that Russia truly observes the main principles of the fight against doping.”

Zubkov strongly denies cheating. “I am a clean athlete. If you don’t know my story you can open Wikipedia and see how much I’ve done for sport and what I did in Sochi,” he said. “I brought gold medals here and gave sport 30 years (of my life).”

Friday’s ruling will also make it harder for Zubkov to be removed as president of the Russian Bobsled Federation, and may entitle him to a Russian state pension for retired star athletes.



Condemned inmate's last meal includes pancakes
Top Legal News | 2018/10/25 13:15
A South Dakota inmate facing execution has received a last meal that included pancakes, waffles, breakfast sausage, scrambled eggs and French fries.

South Dakota's attorney general says the state Supreme Court has rejected two motions to stop the execution of a man who killed a prison guard in a failed 2011 escape attempt.

Attorney General Marty Jackley says there are currently no court orders to stop or delay Rodney Berget's execution, which is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday. One motion was filed by a woman whose son is serving a life sentence, the other by an attorney without Berget's support.

Berget is to be put to death for the slaying of Ronald "R.J." Johnson. Berget and fellow inmate Eric Robert beat Johnson with a pipe and covered his head in plastic wrap.

He's to be put to death for the slaying of prison guard Ronald "R.J." Johnson in a failed 2011 escape attempt. Berget and fellow inmate Eric Robert beat Johnson with a pipe and covered his head in plastic wrap.

Robert was executed in October 2012. Berget in 2016 appealed his death sentence, but later asked to withdraw it.


Kavanaugh to hear his 1st arguments as Supreme Court justice
Top Legal News | 2018/10/08 01:14
A Supreme Court with a new conservative majority takes the bench as Brett Kavanaugh, narrowly confirmed after a bitter Senate battle, joins his new colleagues to hear his first arguments as a justice.

Kavanaugh will emerge Tuesday morning from behind the courtroom's red velvet curtains and take his seat alongside his eight colleagues. It will be a moment that conservatives have dreamed of for decades, with five solidly conservative justices on the bench.

Kavanaugh's predecessor, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired in June, was a more moderate conservative and sometimes sided with the court's four liberal justices. Kavanaugh, in contrast, is expected to be a more decidedly conservative vote, tilting the court right for decades and leaving Chief Justice John Roberts as the justice closest to the ideological middle.

With justices seated by seniority, President Donald Trump's two appointees will flank the Supreme Court bench, Justice Neil Gorsuch at one end and Kavanaugh at the other. Court watchers will be looking to see whether the new justice asks questions at arguments and, if so, what he asks. There will also be those looking for any lingering signs of Kavanaugh's heated, partisan confirmation fight. But the justices, who often highlight their efforts to work together as a collegial body, are likely to focus on the cases before them.

Republicans had hoped to confirm Kavanaugh in time for him to join the court on Oct. 1, the start of the new term. Instead, the former D.C. Circuit judge missed the first week of arguments as the Senate considered an allegation that he had sexually assaulted a woman in high school, an allegation he adamantly denied.

Kavanaugh was confirmed 50-48 Saturday, the closest vote to confirm a justice since 1881, and has had a busy three days since then. On Saturday evening, Kavanaugh took his oaths of office in a private ceremony at the Supreme Court while protesters chanted outside the court building.


Court to explore competency claim of ailing Alabama inmate
Top Legal News | 2018/10/01 08:25
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in the case of an inmate sentenced to death for killing an Alabama police officer in 1985 but who lawyers say can no longer remember the murder because of stroke-induced dementia.

Justices will decide if it would violate the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment to execute Vernon Madison, 68, because of the mental declines he has experienced resulting from strokes. Madison was convicted of killing Mobile police officer Julius Schulte in 1985.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said death row prisoners must have "rational understanding" that they are about to be executed and why.

Atorneys for Madison say he has an IQ score of 72, suffers from vascular dementia and memory loss as a result of brain damage from several strokes and "does not remember the crime for which he has been convicted and does not have a rational understanding of why the state of Alabama seeks to execute him."

"The execution of Vernon Madison consequently is prohibited by the Eighth Amendment's essential commitment to human dignity," attorney Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative wrote.

Madison's lawyers in court filings described him as a physically and mentally frail man who attended a competency hearing in a wheelchair. They say he is incontinent, legally blind, frequently confused, can no longer recite the alphabet and repeatedly asks for his deceased mother to visit him.

A state court in 2016 ruled that Madison was competent. A neuropsychologist hired by the defense team said that Madison has no independent recollection of the murder. A court-appointed psychologist found that while Madison had suffered a mental and physical decline, he was able to recall details of his case and appeals.

The Alabama attorney general's office cast doubt on the defense description of Madison's mental state in court filings. They argued he claimed as far back as 1990 to have amnesia about the murder and that the court-appointed expert concluded he could recall and understood many details about his life, trial and looming death sentence.

But ultimately, the state argued the Eighth Amendment doesn't prohibit executing someone who lost can't remember their crime.


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