Catalan politicians in Spanish court in secession probe

Lawyer Blog Post 2018/02/20 12:26   Bookmark and Share
Two prominent Catalan politicians are testifying before a Supreme Court judge for their roles in holding a banned independence referendum and making an illegal declaration of independence based on its results.

Judicial police have identified left-republican ERC party's secretary-general, Marta Rovira, and conservative PDeCAT's president, Marta Pascal, as key players in the secession bid in October.

The Spanish government responded by disbanding the regional government and calling a new Catalan election. Separatist parties have since been entangled in endless negotiations on how to form a new government.

Judge Pablo Llarena could decide after Monday's hearing whether to send the two politicians to jail while the investigation continues.

Other separatist leaders have been jailed and five former Catalan Cabinet members, including ex-president Carles Puigdemont, have fled to Belgium.

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Courts: Bail reform working, but sustainable funding needed

Court News 2018/02/19 12:26   Bookmark and Share
The number of defendants being held before trial since New Jersey overhauled its bail system last year dropped by 20 percent, but the judge overseeing the program says it faces financial difficulties.

A report submitted last week by Judge Glenn Grant, who runs the state's court system, also shows the program faces financial difficulties because it relies on court fees instead of a "stable sustainable funding stream."

Proponents say the reforms championed by former Republican Gov. Chris Christie keep violent offenders detained until trial while providing poor, low-level defendants the opportunity to be freed.

But critics — including some lawmakers, law enforcement officials and the bail bond industry — say it has led to the quick release of some who weren't deemed a threat but were soon re-arrested on new charges.

The data shows 44,319 people were issued complaint warrants in New Jersey last year. Prosecutors sought to have 19,366 defendants detained until trial, but only 8,043 of those people were ordered held.

That means the state's pretrial jail population dropped by 20 percent from January 2017 to January 2018, and by 35 percent from January 2015 to January 2018.

At least two lawsuits have been filed seeking to overturn the changes, including one from a group backed by reality TV star Dog the Bounty Hunter.
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Maldives court delays reinstating pro-opposition lawmakers

Court Watch 2018/02/18 12:26   Bookmark and Share
The Supreme Court of the Maldives delayed its order Sunday reinstating 12 pro-opposition lawmakers ahead of a key parliamentary sitting, the latest political turmoil to roil the island nation.

Opposition lawmaker Ahmed Mahloof said the government may call for important votes at a parliamentary sitting Monday to extend a state of emergency or dismiss two Supreme Court judges who have been arrested on allegations of corruption.

President Yameen Abdul Gayoom's ruling party may have lost a majority in the 85-member parliament if the 12 lawmakers were to be allowed to participate Monday.

The Maldives has faced upheaval since Feb. 1, when the Supreme Court ordered the release of Yameen's imprisoned political opponents and the reinstatement of 12 lawmakers sacked after they sided with the opposition.

The prisoners include Mohamed Nasheed, the country's first president elected in a free election, who could have been Yameen's main rival in his re-election bid later this year.

After days of conflict with the judiciary, Yameen declared a 15-day state of emergency and had the country's chief justice and another Supreme Court judge arrested on bribery allegations.
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Inmate in landmark Supreme Court case denied parole

Court News 2018/02/16 12:27   Bookmark and Share
A 71-year-old Louisiana inmate whose case led to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on juvenile-offender sentences was denied parole Monday, more than a half-century after he killed a sheriff's deputy at age 17.

A three-member panel from the state parole board voted 2 to 1 to keep Henry Montgomery imprisoned. The hearing was his first chance at freedom since his conviction decades ago and a vote to free him would have had to be unanimous. Montgomery now must wait another two years before he can request another parole hearing.

The Supreme Court's January 2016 decision in Montgomery's case opened the door for roughly 2,000 other juvenile offenders to argue for their release after receiving mandatory life-without-parole sentences.

Montgomery has served 54 years in prison for shooting East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff's deputy Charles Hurt in 1963, less than two weeks after Montgomery's 17th birthday. Last June, a state judge who resentenced Montgomery to life with the possibility of parole called him a "model prisoner" who seemed to be rehabilitated.

Montgomery's lawyers said he has sought to be a positive role model for other prisoners, serving as a coach and trainer for a boxing team he helped form at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.

But the two parole board members who voted against Montgomery questioned why he hadn't accessed more prison programs and services that could have benefited him. One of the panelists, Kenneth Loftin, also said he was disappointed in some of Montgomery's statements during the hearing but didn't elaborate.

James Kuhn, the other board member who voted against Montgomery, noted that the Louisiana Sheriffs' Association submitted a statement opposing his release.

"One of the things that society demands, and police officers certainly demand, is that everyone abide by the rule of law. One of the rules of law is you don't kill somebody, and when you do there's consequences," Kuhn said.
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GOP to take new congressional map to court

Topics in Legal News 2018/02/16 12:27   Bookmark and Share
Republicans say they’ll go to federal court this week to try to block new court-ordered boundaries of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts from remaining in effect for 2018’s elections.

Top Senate Republican lawyer Drew Crompton said Monday a separation of powers case will form the essence of the GOP’s argument. Crompton won’t say whether Republicans will go to a district court or the U.S. Supreme Court or what type of legal remedy they’ll seek.

But the case will involve making the argument the U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures and governors, not courts, the power to draw congressional boundaries.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court wouldn’t stop the state court’s order to redraw congressional districts. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf calls the new map an effort to remedy the state’s unfair and unequal congressional elections.

Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is applauding the new boundaries of congressional districts being imposed by the state Supreme Court.

Wolf said in a statement Monday that Pennsylvanians “are sick and tired of gerrymandering.” He calls the court’s map an effort to remedy the state’s unfair and unequal congressional elections.

Wolf had backed the Democratic-majority state high court’s ruling last month to throw out Pennsylvania’s district boundaries. Republicans have won 13 of Pennsylvania’s 18 seats in three elections under the invalidated map, although statewide elections are often closely contested.
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France argues World Court has no jurisdiction in graft case

Legal Business 2018/02/15 12:27   Bookmark and Share
A legal battle between France and Equatorial Guinea over the corruption prosecution of the African nation's vice president is back before the International Court of Justice, months after a Paris court convicted the vice president.

French lawyers said Monday that the Hague-based world court, the highest judicial U.N. organ, has no jurisdiction to rule in a 2016 case filed by Equatorial Guinea, which argues that Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue has immunity from prosecution because he's vice president.

The court in 2016 refused to order a halt to the Paris case against Obiang Mangue and he was subsequently convicted and handed a suspended three-year prison sentence for embezzling millions in public money, which he spent on cars, designer clothes, art and high-end real estate. Obiang Mangue and French prosecutors have appealed.


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