China releases prominent human rights lawyer on bail

Headline Legal News 2016/08/03 16:12   Bookmark and Share
China released a prominent human rights lawyer on bail amid protests Monday outside a northern city court, where supporters of other jailed lawyers and activists condemned the secrecy surrounding the government's yearlong campaign against legal activism.

The release of Wang Yu, who was detained last July, coincided with videos of an alleged confession by Wang posted on the websites of two Hong Kong media outlets in which she renounced her legal work and said "foreign forces" were using her law firm to undermine and discredit the Chinese government.

Wang's Beijing-based firm, Fengrui, has been at the center of a vast case in which dozens of lawyers and activists have been detained, questioned or charged with subversion since July last year.

Wen Donghai, a lawyer for Wang, told The Associated Press on Monday that he had learned from media reports that Wang had been released but had not seen her. Li Yuhan, another lawyer representing Wang, said Wang's mother did not know of her release.

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Democrats push McConnell, GOP on Supreme Court nomination

Headline Legal News 2016/04/16 01:18   Bookmark and Share
Senate Democrats called on Republicans to vote on Merrick Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court by Memorial Day, as GOP lawmakers showed no sign of relenting despite the latest round of courtesy calls.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., maintains that the president chosen by voters in November should fill the vacancy on the high court, and there will be no confirmation hearings or a vote. But Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and his Democratic colleagues are hoping that election-year pressure will eventually wear them down.

"We feel the public is on our side, and this is to their detriment," Reid told reporters Thursday at a news conference in which Democrats pressed for consideration of Garland's nomination.

One Republican in a tough re-election race, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, met with Garland Thursday morning and told the judge that he agreed with McConnell on delaying the nomination until after the next president takes office.

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Judge begins to deliver verdict in Ukrainian pilot trial

Headline Legal News 2016/03/21 16:56   Bookmark and Share
A Russian court has begun reading a verdict for Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko, who is charged with complicity to murder two Russian journalists in war-torn eastern Ukraine.
 
The judge began reading the verdict Monday morning. He quoted arguments by prosecutors who said Savchenko, who served in a volunteer Ukrainian battalion at the time, called in the coordinates for shelling that killed the two journalists and several civilians in July 2014. He also quoted them as saying she was driven by "political hatred" toward residents of Ukraine's Luhansk region.
   
The judge in the trial quoted the prosecution saying that Savchenko was part of a "criminal group" and aimed to kill an "unlimited number of people."

Prosecutors have asked for a 23-year prison sentence for Savchenko. Sentencing is expected on Tuesday.

This story has been corrected to show that Savchenko has not been found guilty. The judge, quoting prosecutors, said Savchenko was complicit in the killing, but stopped short of pronouncing her guilty. A verdict will come at the end of the verdict-reading process, which is expected to take two days.

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White S.C. trooper pleads guilty in shooting of unarmed black man

Headline Legal News 2016/03/18 16:55   Bookmark and Share
A white South Carolina trooper pleaded guilty Monday to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature in the 2014 shooting an unarmed black driver seconds after a traffic stop.

Trooper Sean Groubert, 32, faces up to 20 years in prison. The shooting captured on dash-cam video from the trooper's patrol car shocked the country, coming during a wave of questionable police shootings.

Levar Jones was walking into a convenience store in September 2014 when Groubert got out of his patrol car and demanded Jones' driver's license.

Jones turned back to reach into his car and Groubert fired four shots. Jones' wallet is seen flying out of his hands.

Groubert's boss, state Public Safety Director Leroy Smith, fired Groubert after seeing the video.

Jones was shot in the hip and survived. He walked into the courtroom Monday with a noticeable limp and played with a Rubik's Cube before the hearing started.

Video of the encounter was played in the courtroom and showed Groubert pulling up to Jones without his siren on, and the trooper asking Jones for his license after he also was out of his car.

As Jones turns and reaches back into his car, Groubert shouts, "Get outta the car, get outta the car." He begins firing and unloads a third shot as Jones staggers away, backing up with his hands raised, and then a fourth.

From the first shot to the fourth, the video clicks off three seconds.


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RNC launches campaign to oppose Obama's Supreme Court pick

Headline Legal News 2016/03/17 16:55   Bookmark and Share
The Republican Party is launching a campaign to try to derail President Barack Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court, teaming up with a conservative opposition research group to target vulnerable Democrats and impugn whomever Obama picks.

A task force housed within the Republican National Committee will orchestrate attack ads, petitions and media outreach to bolster a strategy that Senate Republicans adopted as soon as Justice Antonin Scalia died last month: refusing to consider an Obama nominee out of hopes that the next president will be a Republican.

The RNC will contract with America Rising Squared, an outside group targeting Democrats that's run by a longtime aide to GOP Sen. John McCain. GOP chairman Reince Priebus said it would be the most comprehensive judicial response effort in the party's history.

Priebus said the RNC would "make sure Democrats have to answer to the American people for why they don't want voters to have a say in this process."

Obama is expected to announce his pick as early as this week, touching off a heated election-year battle as Obama and Democrats try to pressure Republicans into relenting and allowing hearings and a vote. Advocacy groups on both sides are primed to unleash an onslaught of activity aimed at rallying public support, and a number of former top Obama advisers have been drafted to run the Democratic effort.

RNC officials said that in addition to scouring the nominee's history for anything that can be used against him or her, the party will also work to portray Democrats as hypocritical, dredging up comments that Vice President Joe Biden and other Democrats made in previous years suggesting presidents shouldn't ram through nominees to the high court in the midst of an election.


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Supreme Court rejects NJ employees' appeal over pension fund

Headline Legal News 2016/02/29 14:39   Bookmark and Share
The Supreme Court is refusing to disturb a ruling from New Jersey's top court that sided with Gov. Chris Christie in a legal fight with public worker unions over pension funds.

The justices did not comment Monday in rejecting the unions' appeal. The high court order came less than three weeks after Christie ended his run for the Republican presidential nomination.

New Jersey's Supreme Court ruled last year that the state is obligated to pay individual retirees their pensions. But it overturned a lower court ruling that would have forced the state to come up with billions to pay promised pension benefits.

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