Pakistan's top court seeks reply from PM over money scandal

Legal Business 2016/10/20 20:43   Bookmark and Share
Pakistan's Supreme Court Thursday sought a reply from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in response to several petitions seeking his resignation over a financial scandal involving his family.

The court gave Sharif two weeks to submit his response, Sharif's aides and opposition leaders told reporters outside the courthouse.

The premier has been under pressure from the opposition to step down because his family members were named as holders of offshore bank accounts in leaked financial documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

One of the petitions has come from the opposition party of cricketer turned politician Imran Khan who is threatening to bring tens of thousands of protesters to the capital, Islamabad, on Nov. 2 to press for Sharif's disqualification. This was the first step to make the prime minister answerable to the law, Khan said. "We wanted to have it settled in parliament, but the prime minister didn't present himself there for accountability."

He said the court proceedings didn't mean that he would postpone the street rallies.

Sharif's aide and Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said the government was ready to be transparent and accountable. "We will never escape," he said. "We're ready for accountability at any forum."

Another of Sharif's ministers Khawaja Saad Rafique said there was no reason for any more protest rallies now that the country's top court had taken up the issue.


Grassley: GOP can't stonewall a Clinton Supreme Court pick

Lawyer Blog Post 2016/10/20 20:42   Bookmark and Share
Republicans "can't just simply stonewall" nominees to the Supreme Court even if the president making the choice is Democrat Hillary Clinton, says the GOP chairman of the Judiciary Committee in a reaffirmation of the Senate's advise-and-consent role on judicial picks.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley's comments on Tuesday was a response to fellow Republican Sen. John McCain, who a day earlier vowed that Republicans would unite against any nominee Clinton puts forward if she becomes president. That unprecedented pledge raised the possibility that the Supreme Court would have to operate for four years of a Clinton term with one or more vacancies, rather than nine justices.

The court has had one vacancy for months since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. Republicans have refused to consider President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland, arguing that the next president should fill the opening.

"I think we have a responsibility to very definitely vet — if you want to use the word vet — whoever nominee that person puts forward," Grassley told radio reporters in Iowa. "We have the same responsibility for (Donald) Trump. We know more the type of people Trump would nominate because he's listed 20. They fall into the category of strict constructionists. As I heard about Hillary on the last debate, the type of people she's going to appoint, I would say they're judicial activists."

He added that the new president should make the choice and "if that new president happens to be Hillary. We can't just simply stonewall."

McCain's comments came in an interview with Philadelphia talk radio host Dom Giordano to promote the candidacy of Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., one of the more vulnerable GOP incumbents as Republicans scramble to hold onto their Senate majority.

Landowners to court: Exxon Mobil pipeline breaches contract

Court News 2016/10/19 20:43   Bookmark and Share
Attorneys for landowners along a crude oil pipeline that ruptured in Arkansas in 2013 say Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. breached its contract because the pipeline interferes with their ability to enjoy their property.

Attorneys for the landowners and Exxon Mobil appeared Wednesday before judges from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Minnesota.

The landowners asked the appeals court to reinstate their case, which was dismissed last year, and have it re-certified as a class-action suit. Attorney Phillip Duncan says it's an issue of honoring easements.

Exxon Mobil attorney Gary Marts said the case was properly dismissed. He says landowners are essentially trying to regulate pipeline safety through a lawsuit - but that's the job of a federal agency.

The Pegasus Pipeline runs through Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and Texas.


As time runs out, dozens of judge nominees waiting on Senate

Opinions 2016/10/16 20:43   Bookmark and Share
Federal judges in New Jersey have struggled with a workload approaching 700 cases each, nearly double what's manageable, because of judicial vacancies. In Texas, close to a dozen district judgeships remain open, more than in any other state.

Senate confirmation of President Barack Obama's nominees slowed to a halt this election year, a common political occurrence for the final months of divided government with a Democratic president and a Republican-controlled Senate. The vacancy on the Supreme Court attracted the most attention as Republicans refused to even hold confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland, insisting that the choice to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February rests with the next president.

But more than 90 vacancies in the federal judiciary are taking a toll on judges, the courts and Americans seeking recourse. Obama has nominated replacements for more than half of those spots, including 44 nominees for the district court and seven for the appeals court. Yet the Senate has confirmed only nine district and appeals court judges this year — and only four since Scalia died.

Court hearing on potential Ontario ban of Indians name, logo

Legal Insight 2016/10/15 20:43   Bookmark and Share
A Toronto court will hear arguments on an attempt to bar the Cleveland Indians from using their team name and logo in Ontario.

The legal challenge by indigenous activist Douglas Cardinal comes on the same day the baseball team takes on the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series in Toronto.

Cardinal's lawyers will ask the court Monday to bar the usage of the name and logo by the team, Major League Baseball and Toronto team owner Rogers Communications, which is broadcasting the game in Canada.

The logo, called Chief Wahoo, is a cartoon man with red skin and a feather in his headband.

Cardinal says they shouldn't be allowed to wear their regular jerseys, the logo shouldn't be broadcast and the team should be referred to as "the Cleveland team."

Iraq's federal court rules against prime minister's reforms

Lawyer Blog Post 2016/10/13 22:44   Bookmark and Share
Iraq's federal court ruled on Monday that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's move to abolish the largely ceremonial posts of the country's vice president and deputy prime minister is unconstitutional.

Under Iraq's constitution, abolishing the posts would require the approval of an absolute majority in parliament followed by a national referendum, the court said in a statement.

The decision, which is binding for the Iraqi government, was a slap for al-Abadi, who canceled the posts last year as part of a wide-ranging reform plan that was approved by his Cabinet and passed by Parliament. It was intended to shore up public support for his government in the face of widespread protests.

The cancellations were also an apparent attempt to consolidate power under al-Abadi's government in order to combat corruption and tackle the country's ballooning budget crisis, sparked in part because of a plunge in the price of oil over the past two years, government spokesman Saad al-Hadithi said.

"The return of the (vice president and the deputy prime minister) will affect the expenses of the state," al-Hadithi said.

The decision underscores the government's enduring weakness as Iraqi forces prepare to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State group. While the U.S.-led coalition has closely supported Iraq's security forces in the military fight against IS, coalition officials say the Iraqi government is responsible for enacting political reforms that will prevent IS from growing in power in Iraq once again.


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