Lawyers: Immigration court system is ‘red tape gone crazy’

Lawyer Blog Post 2020/01/17 16:01   Bookmark and Share
A court in eastern Germany indicated Tuesday that it will likely reject a Jewish man’s bid to force the removal of an ugly remnant of centuries of anti-Semitism from a church where Martin Luther once preached.

The Naumburg court's senate said, at a hearing, that “it will maybe reject the appeal,” court spokesman Henning Haberland told reporters.

“The senate could not follow the plaintiff's opinion that the defamatory sculpture can be seen as an expression of disregard in its current presentation,” Haberland said.

The verdict will be announced on February 4.

The so-called “Judensau,” or “Jew pig,” sculpture on the Town Church in Wittenberg dates back to around 1300. It is perhaps the best-known of more than 20 such anti-Semitic relics from the Middle Ages that still adorn churches across Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

Located 4 meters (13 feet) above the ground on a corner of the church, it depicts Jews suckling on the teats of a sow, while a rabbi lifts the animal’s tail. In 1570, after the Protestant Reformation, an inscription referring to an anti-Jewish tract by Luther was added.

Judaism considers pigs impure and no one disputes that the sculpture is deliberately offensive. But there is strong disagreement about what to do with the relief.

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Supreme Court rejects appeal in texting suicide case

Lawyer Blog Post 2020/01/14 10:17   Bookmark and Share
The Supreme Court on Monday left in place the conviction of a Massachusetts woman who sent her boyfriend text messages urging him to kill himself.

Michelle Carter is serving a 15-month sentence after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the 2014 death of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III. A judge determined that Carter, who was 17, caused the death of the 18-year-old Roy when she ordered him in a phone call to get back in his carbon monoxide-filled truck that he’d parked in a Kmart parking lot.

The phone call wasn’t recorded, but the judge relied on a text Carter sent her friend in which she said she told Roy to get back in. In text messages sent in the days leading up to Roy’s death, Carter also encouraged Roy to follow through with his suicide plan and chastised him when he didn’t, Massachusetts courts found.

The case has garnered national attention and sparked legislative proposals in Massachusetts to criminalize suicide coercion.

Carter’s lawyers argued in their Supreme Court appeal that the conviction should be thrown out because it was an “unprecedented” violation of her free speech rights that raised crucial questions about whether “words alone” are enough to hold someone responsible for another person’s suicide.

The lawyers also argued there was simply not enough evidence to prove Carter urged Roy to to get back in his truck to die, or that he would have lived if she had called for help or taken other actions to try and save his life.

Joseph Cataldo, one of Carter’s lawyers, said Monday’s decision was an “injustice” and that the legal team is weighing its next steps. He didn’t elaborate.

“The Court passed on the rare chance to clarify an outdated and confusing exception to the First Amendment, which has divided courts around the country,” said Daniel Marx, another one of Carter’s lawyers. “It also missed an invaluable opportunity to address the toxic combination of mental illness, adolescent psychology, and social media that was at the heart of this suicide case and will likely lead to additional tragedies in the future.”

The court’s decision was welcomed by Bristol District Attorney Thomas Quinn III, whose office prosecuted the case.

“The US Supreme Court’s decision today brings closure to the family of Conrad Roy for his tragic death. I hope that the finality of this decision brings some solace to them,” he said in a statement.

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Russian court jails 2 terrorism suspects arrested on US tip

Lawyer Blog Post 2020/01/03 11:25   Bookmark and Share
A St. Petersburg court on Monday ordered the detention of twoRussianmen who were arrested on a tip provided by the U.S. and are suspected of plotting unspecified terrorist attacks in the city during the New Year holidays.

The Dzerzhinsky District Court ruled that the suspects identified as Nikita Semyonov and Georgy Chernyshev should remain in custody pending their trial.

The Federal Security Service (FSB), the main KGB successor agency, said in a statement that the suspects detained on Friday confessed to plotting the attacks. It added that it also seized materials proving their guilt.

The FSB didn’t elaborate on their alleged motives or targets, but Russia’s state television reported that the suspects had recorded a video swearing their allegiance to the Islamic State group.

The FSB said it was acting on a tip provided by its “American partners.”

On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called U.S. President Donald Trump to thank him “for information transmitted through the special services that helped prevent terrorist attacks in Russia,” according to the Kremlin.


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Roberts will tap his inner umpire in impeachment trial

Lawyer Blog Post 2019/12/21 09:01   Bookmark and Share
America’s last prolonged look at Chief Justice John Roberts came 14 years ago, when he told senators during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing that judges should be like baseball umpires, impartially calling balls and strikes.

“Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire,” Roberts said.

His hair grayer, the 64-year-old Roberts will return to the public eye as he makes the short trip from the Supreme Court to the Senate to preside over President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. He will be in the national spotlight, but will strive to be like that umpire ? doing his best to avoid the partisan mire.

“He’s going to look the part, he’s going to play the part and he’s the last person who wants the part,” said Carter Phillips, who has argued 88 Supreme Court cases, 43 of them in front of Roberts.

He has a ready model he can follow: Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who never became the center of attention when he presided over President Bill Clinton’s Senate trial.

As Roberts moves from the camera-free, relative anonymity of the Supreme Court to the glare of television lights in the Senate, he will have the chance to demonstrate by example what he has preached relentlessly in recent years: Judges are not politicians.

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Protests of Indian law grow despite efforts to contain them

Lawyer Blog Post 2019/12/18 09:20   Bookmark and Share
From campuses along India’s Himalayan northern border to its southern Malabar Coast, a student-led protest movement against a new law that grants citizenship on the basis of religion spread nationwide on Wednesday despite efforts by the government to contain it.

The law provides a path to citizenship for Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and other religious minorities who are in India illegally but can demonstrate religious persecution in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It does not apply to Muslims.

Critics say it’s the latest effort by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government to marginalize India’s 200 million Muslims, and a violation of the country’s secular constitution.

Modi has defended it as a humanitarian gesture, but on Wednesday, authorities tightened restrictions on protesters, expanding a block on the internet and a curfew in Assam, where protests since the law’s passage a week ago have disrupted life in Gauhati, the state capital. They also restricted assembly in a Muslim neighborhood in New Delhi where demonstrators on Tuesday burned a police booth and several vehicles.

After India’s Supreme Court postponed hearing challenges to the law Wednesday, huge demonstrations erupted in Gauhati, in Chennai, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, and in Mumbai, India’s financial capital. Protesters also rallied in Srinagar, the main city in disputed Kashmir and in the tourist mecca of Jaipur in the desert state of Rajasthan, and threw stones at buses in Kochi, the capital of the southernmost state of Kerala.
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Judge criticized by abortion foes named to top Kansas court

Lawyer Blog Post 2019/12/16 09:19   Bookmark and Share
Kansas' Democratic governor on Monday named a veteran trial-court judge who is opposed by the state's most influential anti-abortion group to the state Supreme Court ? an appointment that's likely to further stoke conservatives' efforts to change how such positions are filled.

Gov. Laura Kelly's selection of Shawnee County District Judge Evelyn Wilson comes with many Republican lawmakers already seeking to give the GOP-controlled Legislature power it doesn't have now to block appointments to the state's high court. Abortion opponents also are pushing for a change in the state constitution that would overturn the court's April ruling that protected abortion rights.

Kelly passed over two veteran lawyers working for Republican state Attorney General Derek Schmidt. Kansans for Life, an anti-abortion group long influential in GOP politics, opposed Wilson's appointment because of her husband's past political contributions to Kelly and other abortion-rights candidates.

“It’s my sense that Judge Wilson is more than qualified to fill this role,” Kelly told reporters during a Statehouse news conference. “Ideology was not really part of the conversation with any of the nominees. "

Kansans for Life said Wilson's selection shows the need to overturn the high court's abortion-rights ruling to protect "women and their babies." Lobbyist Jeanne Gawdun said the group is not surprised that Kelly would make an appointment to further her "vision for unlimited abortion.”

Wilson has not ruled on major abortion cases and declined to comment on the court's abortion-rights ruling declaring that access to abortion is a “fundamental” right under the Kansas Constitution. She will replace former Justice Lee Johnson, who retired in September and was a member of the 6-1 majority in that case.
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