Swiss court declines to remove judge from Sun Yang retrial

Court News 2020/12/26 13:05   Bookmark and Share
A legal challenge by Sun Yang against one of the judges who banned the Chinese swimmer for eight years in a now-overturned ruling has not been accepted by a Swiss federal judge.

Switzerland’s supreme court said Monday it deferred to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to decide if Romano Subiotto is eligible to serve on the judging panel at Sun’s retrial.

Subiotto was picked by the World Anti-Doping Agency last year to sit on the panel of three arbitrators that imposed the ban on three-time Olympic champion Sun for violating rules at a sample collection.

The ban was voided last week by the Swiss Federal Tribunal, whose bench of five judges upheld an appeal by Sun’s lawyers that CAS panel chairman Franco Frattini was biased. It did not consider the merits of the evidence.

Frattini, the former foreign minister of Italy, had posted anti-China comments on social media before Sun’s CAS hearing held in November 2019.

Because the first CAS process was quashed, the federal judge ruled she did not have authority over a request for an arbitrator to be recused, the supreme court said.

Subiotto and the other judge at the original hearing, Philippe Sands, a British barrister selected for the hearing by Sun’s legal team, could be picked for the retrial due next year.

However, Sun’s lawyers would likely object to them ? at a CAS panel that assesses such challenges ? because they were already part of a unanimous 3-0 verdict against him.

Sun’s lawyers have consistently objected to lawyers involved in the case.

Subiotto was selected by WADA after its original choice stepped aside during repeated challenges by Sun’s lawyers, and WADA’s American lead prosecutor stayed on the case despite a failed appeal to federal court  that he had an alleged conflict of interest.

The retrial faces a tight schedule and complications during the coronavirus pandemic to be decided before the Tokyo Olympics.

The 29-year-old Sun is the current world champion in the men’s 400-meter freestyle, which is among the first Olympic events scheduled to begin competition on July 24.
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Longtime Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Abrahamson dies

Court News 2020/12/19 18:15   Bookmark and Share
Shirley Abrahamson, the longest-serving Wisconsin Supreme Court justice in state history and the first woman to serve on the high court, has died. She was 87.

Abrahamson, who also served as chief justice for a record 19 years, died Saturday after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, her son Dan Abrahamson told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement that Abrahamson had a “larger-than-life impact” on the state's legal profession and her legacy is defined “not just by being a first, but her life’s work of ensuring she would not be the last, paving and lighting the way for the many women and others who would come after her.”

Long recognized as a top legal scholar nationally and a leader among state judges, Abrahamson wrote more than 450 majority opinions and participated in more than 3,500 written decisions during her more than four decades on Wisconsin’s highest court. She retired in 2019 and moved to California to be closer with her family.

In 1993, then-President Bill Clinton considered putting her on the U.S. Supreme Court, and she was later profiled in the book, “Great American Judges: An Encyclopedia.”

She told the Wisconsin State Journal in 2006 that she enjoyed being on the court.

“It has a mix of sitting, reading and writing and thinking, which I enjoy doing. And it’s quiet. On the other hand, all of the problems I work on are real problems of real people, and it matters to them, and it matters to the state of Wisconsin. So that gives an edge to it, and a stress,” she said.

The New York City native, with the accent to prove it, graduated first in her class from Indiana University Law School in 1956, three years after her marriage to Seymour Abrahamson. The couple moved to Madison and her husband, a world-renowned geneticist, joined the University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty in 1961. He died in 2016.

She earned a law degree from UW-Madison in 1962, then worked as a professor and joined a Madison law firm, hired by the father of future Gov. Jim Doyle.

Appointed to the state's high court by then-Gov. Patrick Lucey in 1976, Abrahamson won reelection four times to 10-year terms, starting in 1979. She broke the record for longest-serving in justice in 2013, her 36th year on the court.
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Georgia high court rejects latest Trump election appeal

Court News 2020/12/12 11:28   Bookmark and Share
President Donald Trump has lost his latest legal challenge seeking to overturn Georgia’s election results, with the state Supreme Court’s rejection late Saturday of a case from Trump’s campaign and Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer.

The suit - similar to other Trump team legal challenges, which made baseless allegations of widespread fraud in Georgia’s presidential election - was initially filed Dec. 4, then rejected by the Fulton County Superior Court because the paperwork was improperly completed and it lacked the appropriate filing fees.

The case was subsequently appealed directly to the state Supreme Court, asking justices to consider the case before Monday’s meeting of the Electoral College. In a brief order, justices wrote that “petitioners have not shown that this is one of those extremely rare cases that would invoke our original jurisdiction.”

It’s the latest legal setback in the president’s efforts to overturn the election results. On Friday  the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit backed by Trump seeking to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory, a move that ended a desperate attempt to get legal issues rejected by state and federal judges before the nation’s highest court.

Even as lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies have been rejected around the country, the president has continued to make repeated baseless claims of widespread fraud. In Georgia, he has rained criticism on Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both fellow Republicans.

Raffensperger has been steadfast in his defense of the integrity of the election in the state, and Kemp has said he has no power to intervene in elections.

Results certified by Raffensperger last month showed that Biden led by a margin of 12,670 votes, or 0.25% of the roughly 5 million ballots cast. An audit involving a hand count of the paper ballots also showed Biden won.

Last week, Raffensberger again recertified the state’s election results after a recount requested by Trump confirmed once again that Biden won the state, and the governor then recertified the state’s 16 presidential electors.

“We have now counted legally cast ballots three times, and the results remain unchanged,” Raffensperger said during a news conference at the state Capitol.
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High court rejects GOP bid to halt Biden’s Pennsylvania win

Court News 2020/12/09 16:41   Bookmark and Share
The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected Republicans’ last-gasp bid to reverse Pennsylvania’s certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the electoral battleground.

The court without comment refused to call into question the certification process in Pennsylvania. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf already has certified Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump and the state’s 20 electors are to meet on Dec. 14 to cast their votes for Biden.

In any case, Biden won 306 electoral votes, so even if Pennsylvania’s results had been in doubt, he still would have more than the 270 electoral votes needed to become president. The court’s decision not to intervene came in a lawsuit led by Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northeastern Pennsylvania and GOP congressional candidate and Trump favorite Sean Parnell, who lost to Pittsburgh-area U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, a Democrat.

“Even Trump appointees & Republicans saw this for what it was: a charade,” Lamb said on Twitter.

In court filings, lawyers for Pennsylvania and Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, had called the lawsuit’s claims “fundamentally frivolous” and its request “one of the most dramatic, disruptive invocations of judicial power in the history of the Republic.”

“No court has ever issued an order nullifying a governor’s certification of presidential election results,” they wrote.

Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas had offered to argue the case, if the high court took it.

Having lost the request for the court to intervene immediately, Greg Teufel, a lawyer for Kelly and Parnell, said he will file a separate request to ask the court to consider the case on its underlying merits on an expedited basis.

Still, hopes for immediate intervention concerning the Nov. 3 election “substantially dimmed” with the court’s action Tuesday, Teufel said.

“But by no way is this over,” Kelly said on Fox News. Republicans had pleaded with the justices to intervene immediately after the state Supreme Court turned away their case last week.

The Republicans argued that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. Just one Republican state lawmaker voted against its passage last year in Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled Legislature.

Biden beat Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats.

The state’s high court said the plaintiffs waited too long to file the challenge and noted the Republicans’ staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively.

In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly, Parnell and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors.
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Cosby’s sex assault conviction goes before high-level court

Court News 2020/12/01 16:46   Bookmark and Share
Pennsylvania’s highest court questioned Tuesday whether Bill Cosby’s alleged history of intoxicating and sexually assaulting young women amounted to a signature crime pattern, given studies that show as many as half of all sexual assaults involve drugs or alcohol. Cosby, 83, hopes to overturn his 2018 sex assault conviction because the judge let prosecutors call five other accusers who said Cosby mistreated them the same way he did his victim, Andrea Constand. The defense said their testimony prejudiced the jury against the actor and should not have been allowed.

“That conduct you describe ? the steps, the young women ? there’s literature that says that’s common to 50% of these assaults ? thousands of assaults ? nationwide,” Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor said during oral arguments in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. “So how can that be a common scheme?”

The prosecutor, in response, offered more precise details about the relationships, saying Cosby used his fame and fortune to mentor the women and then took advantage of it. And he sometimes befriended their mothers or families.

“There was a built-in level of trust because of his status in the entertainment industry and because he held himself out as a public moralist,” said Assistant District Attorney Adrienne Jappe, of suburban Philadelphia’s Montgomery County, where Constand says she was assaulted at Cosby’s estate in 2004.

“The signature was isolating and intoxicating young women for the purpose of sexually assaulting them,” Jappe said.

Cosby, 83, has served more than two years of his three- to 10-year prison sentence for drugging and molesting Constand, whom he met through the basketball program at his alma mater, Temple University.

Courts have long wrestled with decisions about when other accusers should be allowed to testify in criminal cases. It’s generally not allowed, but exceptions are allowed to show a signature crime pattern or to prove someone’s identity. The state’s high court appears eager to address the issue, and in doing so took on the first celebrity criminal case of the #MeToo era. The court typically takes several months to issue its opinion.

Judge Steven T. O’Neill had allowed just one other accuser to testify at Cosby’s first trial in 2017, when the jury could not reach a verdict. The #MeToo movement took hold months later with media reports about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and other men accused of sexual misconduct.
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Tory Lanez pleads not guilty in Megan Thee Stallion shooting

Court News 2020/11/20 00:49   Bookmark and Share
Rapper Tory Lanez pleaded not guilty through his attorney Wednesday to felony assault charges in the July shooting of hip-hop star Megan Thee Stallion.

Lawyer Shawn Chapman Holley entered the plea in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom to counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle on behalf of Lanez, 28, who was not at the hearing.

Lanez was told to return for a hearing Jan. 20 and an order keeping him from making any kind of contact with Megan Thee Stallion was extended.

In a criminal complaint, prosecutors said Lanez, whose legal name is Daystar Peterson, fired on a victim identified as “Megan P.” after she got out of an SUV during an argument in the Hollywood Hills on July 12, and “inflicted great bodily injury” on her. Megan Thee Stallion’s legal name is Megan Pete. If convicted, Lanez faces a maximum sentence of roughly 23 years.

The Canadian rapper was charged in October after months of speculation and publicity surrounding the incident. At first, Los Angeles police reported the incident only as shots fired, a woman with foot injuries, and a man arrested on a weapons allegation.

Megan Thee Stallion, whose legal name is Megan Pete, revealed a few days later that her foot injuries came from gunshots, and more than a month later said in an Instagram video that it was Lanez who fired them. She slowly revealed more via social media in subsequent weeks.

“The way people have publicly questioned and debated whether I played a role in my own violent assault proves that my fears about discussing what happened were, unfortunately, warranted,” she wrote.

The day after he was charged, Lanez tweeted “the truth will come to the light,” and “a charge is not a conviction.”

Lanez has not reached the stardom that Megan the Stallion has, but his album “Daystar,” released in September after the shooting but before he was charged, reached the top 10 on the Billboard album chart, and he has had a successful run of mixtapes and major-label records since his career began in 2009.

Megan Thee Stallion was already a major up-and-coming star at the time of the shooting, and since then, her guest stint on the Cardi B song “WAP” helped turn the track ? and music video ? into a huge cultural phenomenon, and she appeared on the season premiere of “Saturday Night Live.”
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