Court: Wisconsin Bell discriminated against worker

Court Watch 2017/04/01 15:26   Bookmark and Share
A Wisconsin appeals court says state labor officials properly determined that Wisconsin Bell's decision to fire a bipolar employee amounted to discrimination.

According to court documents, Wisconsin Bell fired Charles Carlson in 2011 for engaging in electronic chats with co-workers and leaving work early one day. Carlson maintained he was reacting to news he didn't get a promotion, he was looking for support as his therapist had suggested and he doesn't react like other people.

The Labor Industry Review Commission found the company fired Carlson because of his disability in violation of employment discrimination laws.

The 1st District Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the commission's interpretation was reasonable and there's enough evidence to support imposing liability on Wisconsin Bell.

Wisconsin Bell says it does not tolerate discrimination of any kind, including that based on disability. The company says it disagrees with the ruling and is considering its options.

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S Korea's Park questioned at court hearing on arrest request

Court Watch 2017/04/01 15:24   Bookmark and Share
South Korea's disgraced ex-President Park Geun-hye was being questioned Thursday by a court that will decide if she should be arrested over corruption allegations that have already toppled her from power.

Live TV footage earlier showed a stern-looking Park entering the Seoul Central District Court building amid a barrage of camera flashes. She did not comment to reporters. The court is expected to decide by Friday morning whether to approve her arrest.

If the court approves the arrest warrant requested by prosecutors, Park will be immediately sent to a detention facility as prosecutors can detain her for up to 20 days before laying formal charges.

If the court rejects the arrest request, prosecutors can still indict and charge her.

Prosecutors accuse Park of colluding with a confidante to extort from big businesses, take a bribe from one of the companies and commit other wrongdoings. The allegations prompted millions of South Koreans to stage streets protests every weekend for months before the Constitutional Court ruled to dismiss her on March 10. Park's presidential powers had already been suspended after parliament impeached her in December.

It was a dramatic setback to Park, South Korea's first female president who rose to power four years ago amid conservatives' nostalgia for her late dictator father who is credited by supporters for pulling a war-torn country out of poverty in the 1960-70s. Liberal critics revile her father as a ruthless leader who tortured and imprisoned his opponents.

Earlier Thursday, hundreds of her supporters, mostly elderly conservative citizens, gathered near her Seoul home, waving national flags and chanting slogans when she left for the court.
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NC governor, legislature head to court in power showdown

Court Watch 2017/03/04 10:48   Bookmark and Share
North Carolina's new Democratic governor and majority Republican legislature are charging at each other in a constitutional game of chicken over their powers, a confrontation that could shape the recent conservative direction of state policies and spending.

The confrontation continues Tuesday, when the two branches of state government appear for a court hearing before the third. A panel of three trial judges will gather in Raleigh to hear lawyers for Gov. Roy Cooper dispute attorneys for the state House and Senate leaders over whether new laws are constitutional.

"This is a fight that involves really the three branches of government. It's one of a series of possible contests that we can see as the governor serves his term in office about who is going to make what decisions," High Point University political scientist Martin Kifer said. "It also has to do with the pace of policymaking. This isn't speeding things up."

GOP lawmakers passed several provisions that reduced the incoming governor's powers during a surprise special legislative session two weeks before Cooper took office Jan. 1. The laws:

? require Cooper's choices to run 10 state agencies to be approved by the GOP-led Senate.

? strip Cooper's control over administering elections and gives Republicans control over state and local elections boards during even-numbered years when elections for major statewide and national office are held.

? slash Cooper's patronage hiring discretion and gives civil service protections to hundreds of political appointees hired by former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who narrowly lost to Cooper last fall.

Cooper might not like the increasing number of limits Republicans impose, but he'd better get used to it, attorneys for legislative leaders said in a court filing. The state's constitution and legal precedents have created one of the country's weakest governors, and makes the General Assembly the dominant branch, attorneys for state House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger wrote.

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Supreme Court Hears Case on Fatal Border Shooting

Court Watch 2017/02/24 09:28   Bookmark and Share
How a U.S. Border Patrol argent’s use of lethal force at the U.S-Mexican border implicates constitutional rights and foreign affairs dominated arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday in Hernandez v. Mesa. The lawyer arguing that the agent should be held liable had a rough day in front of the justices.

Both sides agree that while standing on American soil at the border on June 7, 2010, Border Patrol Agent Jesus Mesa fatally shot Sergio Hernandez, a 15-year-old Mexican national standing on the Mexican side. But then the factual accounts diverge.

According to Hernandez’s family, the teenager was playing with his friends near the border opposite El Paso, Texas, where the border runs through the middle of a concrete culvert. There is a fence on the U.S. side of the culvert.

According to Mesa and the federal government, Mesa was detaining one of Hernandez’s companions on the U.S. side of the border, when Hernandez and the other teenagers started throwing rocks at Hernandez. Mesa claims that the rocks posed a danger to his safety. He repeatedly ordered then to stop and back away, but they persisted. Finally Mesa fired in what he claims is self-defense, fatally striking Hernandez.

Hernandez’s family sued, and Mesa filed a motion to dismiss. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, when considering a motion to dismiss, a federal court must consider the plaintiff’s allegations as true when deciding whether to throw out the lawsuit versus letting it continue. The parties later present evidence to prove their version of the facts if the lawsuit goes forward, but when deciding whether to end the case before it gets started, judges must consider only plaintiff’s version.

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Court appeals temporarily delay Texas execution

Court Watch 2017/01/24 18:09   Bookmark and Share
Texas prison officials temporarily delayed the scheduled Thursday night execution of a man convicted of a fatal robbery at a Dallas-area sandwich shop while the U.S. Supreme Court considered multiple appeals to keep him from lethal injection.

Terry Edwards remained in a small cell near the Texas death chamber. A Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman, Jason Clark, described him as apprehensive.

The court order setting his punishment gave prison officials a six-hour window to carry out the execution. The order expires at midnight and Texas would not move forward with the punishment if the appeals were not resolved by then.

Evidence showed Edwards worked at the restaurant but was fired a few weeks earlier for stealing from the cash register. An employee and the store manager were killed in the $3,000 holdup in Balch Springs, about 15 miles southeast of downtown Dallas.

Edwards, 43, would be the second prisoner executed this year in Texas, the third nationally.
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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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