Gambia's leader says only court can declare who's president

Court Watch 2017/01/11 16:44   Bookmark and Share
Gambia's outgoing President Yahya Jammeh is criticizing foreign pressure for him to step down and calling on Gambians to wait for a Supreme Court decision to determine the credibility of the Dec. 1 elections that he lost.

On Tuesday, thousands of supporters of Jammeh's Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction gathered around a Supreme Court hearing, pushing for the annulment of the election outcome. The Supreme Court, with only one sitting member, adjourned until Monday but said it likely cannot hear the petition filed by the party until May, when the Nigeria and Sierra Leone judges appointed by Jammeh are available.

The delay creates uncertainty that many fear could turn to violence. Jammeh at first conceded defeat to opposition coalition candidate Adama Barrow but later called for a new vote, saying the Dec. 1 elections had irregularities.

The coalition has said it plans to move forward with Barrow's inauguration on Jan. 19, at the end of Jammeh's mandate, and the United Nations, European Union and West African bloc have called on Jammeh to respect the election and step down from power.

"Only the Supreme Court can declare anyone a president. So I ask anyone of us to respect the supreme law of the republic and await the Supreme Court review on the election result," said Jammeh in a late Tuesday address on state-run TV.

The incumbent criticized interference from other countries, including those of the Economic Community of West African States, which on Friday will send a delegation to try to persuade Jammeh to step down.
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Supreme Court temporarily blocks new NC districts, elections

Court News 2017/01/11 16:43   Bookmark and Share
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday temporarily blocked a lower court ruling that had directed North Carolina legislators to redraw state legislative districts by March 15 and hold special elections within the altered districts this fall.

The court order granted the request of North Carolina Republican legislative leaders and state officials to delay November's ruling by a three-judge panel. The panel last summer threw out 28 state House and Senate districts as illegal racial gerrymanders.

The Supreme Court says its order will stay in place at least until the court decides whether to hear an appeal the state previously requested. If the justices take up the case, the stay will remain in effect pending a decision.

If no special elections are required, the next round of General Assembly elections would be held in late 2018. The GOP currently holds majorities large enough to override any vetoes by newly installed Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Special elections could give Democrats a chance to narrow those margins and give leverage to Cooper.

The delay comes in an atmosphere of intense political division in the state: On Tuesday, the governor expanded the scope of a lawsuit he previously had filed seeking to overturn laws GOP legislators passed to limit his powers just two weeks before he was sworn in.

The voters who sued over the maps alleged that Republican lawmakers drew the boundaries to create more predominantly white and Republican districts by effectively cramming black voters into adjacent Democratic districts. GOP lawmakers said the majority-black districts were drawn to protect them against lawsuits alleging they violated the U.S. Voting Rights Act.
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High Court won't hear appeal over Backpage.com escort ads

Legal Insight 2017/01/10 16:44   Bookmark and Share
The Supreme Court said Monday it won't hear an appeal from three sex trafficking victims who accuse advertising website Backpage.com of helping to promote the exploitation of children.

The justices left in place a lower court ruling that said federal law shields Backpage from liability because the site is just hosting content created by people who use it.

The women say they were sold as prostitutes in Massachusetts and Rhode Island through advertisements for escort services on the site when they were as young as 15. They say Backpage is not protected by the Communications Decency Act because the company not only hosted the ads, but created a marketplace that makes child sex trafficking easier. Backpage has denied those allegations.

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Supreme Court won’t hear Giordano appeal in child-sex case

Topics in Legal News 2017/01/10 16:44   Bookmark and Share
The U.S. Supreme Court has again refused to hear an appeal by former Waterbury Mayor Philip Giordano, who is fighting a 37-year prison sentence for sexually abusing two young girls while in office.

The court’s decision was released Monday. Justices previously refused to hear two earlier appeals by Giordano.

Giordano was challenging a federal appeals court decision in June to dismiss his request to set aside or correct his sentence. Giordano says the prison sentence is unconstitutional and his lawyer during his 2003 trial, Andrew Bowman, made several mistakes.

Bowman has denied that he provided ineffective counsel.

A federal jury convicted Giordano in 2003 of violating the civil rights of two girls, ages 8 and 10, by sexually abusing them in the mayor’s office and other locations.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Airport shooting suspect due for Florida court appearance

Legal Business 2017/01/09 16:46   Bookmark and Share
The Iraq war veteran accused of fatally shooting five people and wounding six at a crowded Florida airport baggage claim is due for his first court appearance.

Esteban Santiago is scheduled to be in Fort Lauderdale federal court Monday morning. The 26-year-old from Anchorage, Alaska, faces airport violence and firearms charges that could mean the death penalty if he's convicted.

The initial hearing Monday is likely to focus on ensuring Santiago has a lawyer and setting future dates. Santiago has been held without bail since his arrest after Friday's shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

The FBI has says Santiago flew on a one-way ticket from Alaska to Florida with a handgun in his checked bag. Agents say he retrieved the gun and emerged from an airport bathroom firing.

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Circus operator agrees to plea deal in tent collapse

Topics in Legal News 2017/01/08 16:47   Bookmark and Share
Court records show a Florida-based circus operator has agreed to a plea deal following a tent collapse in New Hampshire in 2015 that killed two people and injured dozens.

The Caledonian-Record in Vermont reports details of the plea deal involving Sarasota-based Walker International Events weren't made available.

The company had previously pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of operating without a license and to misdemeanor counts alleging it hadn't complied with state standards. Corporations can face fines and sanctions on criminal convictions.

The company, now out of business, agreed to pay federal safety fines and settled some lawsuits.

Forty-one-year-old Robert Young and his 6-year-old daughter, Annabelle, of Concord, Vermont, died when a storm with 75 mph winds blew through the Lancaster Fairgrounds, toppling the tent.

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