Supreme Court: Judges can be Facebook friends with attorneys

Headline Legal News 2018/11/15 22:15   Bookmark and Share
The Florida Supreme Court says it's OK for judges to be friends on Facebook with attorneys who have cases before them.

In a 4-3 decision, the justices ruled that a Facebook friend is more casual and not comparable to a "traditional" friendship in terms of a potential conflict of interest. The decision says that many Facebook friends are complete strangers.

The ruling settles a split between two Florida appeals courts on the question. The three dissenters argued that a judge having a Facebook friend as an attorney before him could undermine confidence in the neutrality of the courts.

And Justice Jorge LaBarga, while agreeing with the majority, said all judges should stay off Facebook, delete their account when becoming a judge or at least limit their social media friendships.

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Attorney files challenge to eastern Iowa judge appointment

Headline Legal News 2018/11/03 22:31   Bookmark and Share
An Iowa attorney has filed documents in state court challenging the validity of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ appointment of an eastern Iowa judge.

Lawyer Gary Dickey says Reynolds failed to appoint Judge Jason Besler within 30 days as required by the Iowa Constitution.

Reynolds filed the paperwork to appoint Besler in June five days after the deadline had passed. She says she made the appointment by the deadline verbally to her chief of staff but acknowledges no documentation exists to prove it.

Dickey, who served as former Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack’s chief attorney, filed documents Thursday seeking permission of the court to challenge Besler’s appointment.

Dickey also seeks to move it from eastern Iowa, where Besler sits as a judge, to Des Moines to avoid having fellow district judges ruling on his status.

In October Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady said the governor’s word that the appointment was timely deserves respect unless resolved differently through the legal proces.
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Trump visit stirs debate; massacre defendant in court

Headline Legal News 2018/10/29 23:05   Bookmark and Share
The man charged in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre was brought into court in a wheelchair Monday, as some members of the Jewish community and others objected to President Donald Trump’s plans to visit, accusing him of contributing to a toxic political climate in the U.S. that might have led to the bloodshed.

With the first funerals set for Tuesday, the White House announced that Trump and first lady Melania Trump will visit the same day to “express the support of the American people and to grieve with the Pittsburgh community” over the 11 congregants killed Saturday in the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.

Some Pittsburghers urged Trump to stay away. “His language has encouraged hatred and fear of immigrants, which is part of the reason why these people were killed,” said Marianne Novy, 73, a retired college English professor who lives in the city’s Squirrel Hill section, the historic Jewish neighborhood where the attack at the Tree of Life synagogue took place.

Meanwhile, the alleged gunman, 46-year-old truck driver Robert Gregory Bowers, was released from the hospital where he was treated for wounds suffered in a gun battle with police. Hours later he was wheeled into a downtown federal courtroom in handcuffs to face charges.

A judge ordered him held without bail for a preliminary hearing on Thursday, when prosecutors will outline their case. He did not enter a plea.

During the brief proceeding, Bowers talked with two court-appointed lawyers and said little more than “Yes” in a soft voice a few times in response to routine questions from the judge. Courtroom deputies freed one of his cuffed hands so he could sign paperwork.
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Condemned inmate's last meal includes pancakes

Headline Legal News 2018/10/24 02:51   Bookmark and Share
A South Dakota inmate facing execution has received a last meal that included pancakes, waffles, breakfast sausage, scrambled eggs and French fries.

South Dakota's attorney general says the state Supreme Court has rejected two motions to stop the execution of a man who killed a prison guard in a failed 2011 escape attempt.

Attorney General Marty Jackley says there are currently no court orders to stop or delay Rodney Berget's execution, which is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday. One motion was filed by a woman whose son is serving a life sentence, the other by an attorney without Berget's support.

Berget is to be put to death for the slaying of Ronald "R.J." Johnson. Berget and fellow inmate Eric Robert beat Johnson with a pipe and covered his head in plastic wrap.

He's to be put to death for the slaying of prison guard Ronald "R.J." Johnson in a failed 2011 escape attempt. Berget and fellow inmate Eric Robert beat Johnson with a pipe and covered his head in plastic wrap.

Robert was executed in October 2012. Berget in 2016 appealed his death sentence, but later asked to withdraw it.

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Young climate activists say their lawsuit should go to trial

Headline Legal News 2018/10/22 21:27   Bookmark and Share
Young activists who are suing the U.S. government in a high-profile climate change lawsuit say the case poses important constitutional questions that should be fully evaluated at trial next week.

The 21 young people issued a response Monday after the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily put the trial on hold. Lawyers for the young people, ages 11 to 22, argue that the move "will disrupt the integrity of the judiciary's role as a check on the political branches and will irreparably harm these children."

The trial had been set to start Oct. 29 in federal court in Eugene, Oregon. The lawsuit filed in 2015 argues that government officials have known for more than 50 years that carbon pollution from fossil fuels was causing climate change and that policies on oil and gas deprive the young people of life, liberty and property.

They also say the government has failed to protect natural resources as a "public trust" for future generations. The lawsuit wants a court to order the government to take action to quickly phase out carbon dioxide emissions to a certain level by 2100 and develop a national climate recovery plan.

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Supreme Court hopeful had DWI charge in 2009

Headline Legal News 2018/10/18 14:12   Bookmark and Share
A candidate for the North Carolina Supreme Court pleaded guilty more than nine years ago to trespassing and driving while impaired.

The Charlotte Observer reports Republican Chris Anglin was stopped by police in Greensboro in January 2009 and charged after he registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.14, nearly twice the legal limit. The following September, he pleaded guilty.

That December, Anglin was charged with attempted breaking and entering and pleaded guilty to second-degree trespassing. On Wednesday, he attributed both cases to struggles with alcohol in his 20s.

Both incidents happened while Anglin was a student at Elon University School of Law. He said that in 2010, he sought help for his drinking problem with a lawyer-assistance program. He said he's since gotten sober.

Anglin criticized N.C. Republican Party Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse for emailing Anglin's arrest records to a listserv the GOP maintains. Anglin has feuded with the GOP since he switched party affiliation and entered the Supreme Court race.

Woodhouse has previously said Anglin "will be treated like the enemy he is," and Anglin said the GOP is acting desperate "by sending something out that occurred almost a decade ago."

Republicans have described Anglin as a Democratic plant in the race and Woodhouse said as much Wednesday, writing that "Democrats had one of their own with a very questionable background pretend to be a Republican, so they could try and fool the voters."

Republican legislators responded earlier this summer to Anglin's campaign by passing a law, which was later overturned as unconstitutional, that would have banned Anglin from listing his Republican Party on the ballot even though his opponents could list their parties.

Anglin is one of three candidates seeking a place on the court. The other candidates are Barbara Jackson, a Republican who's seeking re-election, and Anita Earls, a Democrat and longtime civil rights lawyer.
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