Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch: Rule of law 'a blessing'

Legal Interview 2017/06/03 10:37   Bookmark and Share
Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch acknowledged Friday that there is "a lot of skepticism about the rule of law" in the country but defended the United States judicial system as "a blessing" and "a remarkable gift" during a talk at Harvard University.

The court's newest justice marveled that in America "nine old people in polyester black robes" and other judges can safely decide cases according to their conscience and that the government can lose cases without resorting to the use of armed force to impose its will.

"That is a heritage that is very, very special," he said. "It's a remarkable gift. Travel elsewhere. See how judges live. See whether they feel free to express themselves."

Gorsuch, made the comments during his first public appearance since joining the high court in a conversation with fellow Justice Stephen Breyer at Harvard University.

Gorsuch said that particularly in tumultuous times it's important to convince the next generation "that the project (of justice) is worth it because many of them have grave doubts."

"I think there is a lot of skepticism about the rule of law, but I see it day in and day out in the trenches — the adversarial process of lawyers coming to court and shaking hands before and after, the judges shaking hands as we do, before we ascend to the bench," he said. "That's how we resolve our differences in this society."

Gorsuch, who was nominated to the high court earlier this year by Republican President Donald Trump, said he believes there is still confidence in the judicial system. He said that 95 percent of all cases are decided in the trial court, while only 5 percent are appealed, and the Supreme Court hears about 80 cases in a good year.
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East Timor court drops premier's libel case against media

Legal Interview 2017/06/01 10:37   Bookmark and Share
An East Timor court on Thursday dismissed a criminal defamation case brought by the country's prime minister against two journalists due to lack of evidence.

Rights groups and press advocates had urged that the case be dropped, fearing it would further undermine press freedom in one of the world's youngest democracies.

Accused journalist Raimundo Oki said there was "big applause" when Dili District Court judge Patrocino Antonino Goncalves issued his ruling. The trial was observed by the International Federation of Journalists, USAID and other groups.

"I am happy with the final decision because since the beginning I have always believed that the judge will do his job freely and independently," Oki said.

Oki and his former editor at the Timor Post, Lourenco Vicente Martins, would have faced up to three years in prison if found guilty of slanderous denunciation.

The defamation accusation stemmed from an error in a story published two years ago about Prime Minister Rui Aria de Araujo's involvement in a state contract for information technology services when he was an adviser to East Timor's finance minister in 2014.

The story, which said Araujo had recommended a particular company for the contract before bids opened, misidentified that company as the eventual winner of the contract.

The newspaper apologized for that error, published a front-page story on Araujo's denial and Martins resigned. But Araujo has insisted on prosecuting. East Timor's fragile press freedom has come under attack with the passing of a restrictive media law in 2014 that can be used to stifle investigative journalism.
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Ohio high court will review full autopsies from 8 slayings

Legal Interview 2017/04/17 11:13   Bookmark and Share
The Ohio Supreme Court wants to see unredacted autopsy reports from eight slayings in one family as justices consider media lawsuits seeking access to those full reports from the year-old, unsolved case.

The court on Wednesday ordered the Pike County coroner in southern Ohio to submit the reports within two weeks for justices to review outside of public view.

The case involves seven adults and a teenage boy from the Rhoden family who were found shot to death at four homes near Piketon last April.

The Columbus Dispatch and The Cincinnati Enquirer separately sued for access to the full autopsies.

Authorities want to shield information, arguing that its release could compromise the investigation. The coroner also says victims' relatives raised concerns about sharing details of how their loved ones died.
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Bollywood filmmaker challenges censoring of drug-abuse film

Legal Interview 2016/06/10 12:47   Bookmark and Share
A Bollywood film producer took his row with India's censor board to a court Wednesday, challenging dozens of cuts and changes to a film that depicts the menace of drug abuse in the northern state of Punjab.

Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalini said in a newspaper interview that the movie wrongly depicts 70 percent of people of the state consuming drugs and defaming them. He told reporters that the censor board has approved the movie for screening in theaters with the cuts ordered.

He accused producer Anurag Kashyap of whipping up a controversy to create interest in his film. Compared to Hollywood, movie norms in India are extremely strict. Censorship authorities often order filmmakers ? both Indian and foreign ? to chop scenes deemed offensive. Films with graphic content can be barred completely.

Last year, India's censor authorities ordered that kissing scenes in the James Bond movie, "Spectre," be shortened before it was released in the country.

Kashyap asked the Mumbai High Court to overrule the cuts ordered by the censor board. The court is expected to take up the petition later Wednesday. It could reject the matter or order reconsideration.

Kashyap said the censor board chief Nihalini demanded 89 cuts to the film and even asked him to drop the name of the state from the title, "Udta Punjab," or "Flying Punjab."

Bollywood producers and directors rallied behind Kashyap in his fight with the censor board. "The job of the censor board is to certify films and not suggest cuts."

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Clerk in gay marriage case to appear in federal court

Legal Interview 2015/09/03 14:16   Bookmark and Share
A county clerk in Kentucky who has repeatedly defied court orders by refusing to issue marriage licenses will appear before a federal judge who could hold her in contempt of court.

Rowan County clerk Kim Davis has been summoned to the hearing at 11 a.m. Thursday before U.S. District Judge David Bunning. He's also ordered all Davis' deputy clerks to appear. Bunning could hold Davis in contempt, which can carry hefty fines or jail time.

Davis stopped issuing licenses to all couples in June after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. Despite rulings against her, she's turned away couples again and again, citing her Christian beliefs and "God's authority."

The couples who originally sued in the case have asked Bunning to punish Davis with fines but not jail time.



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Intel chair says NSA court order is renewal

Legal Interview 2013/06/10 10:13   Bookmark and Share
The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence committee says the top secret court order for telephone records of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon is a three-month renewal of an ongoing practice.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California spoke to reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference on Thursday after the Obama administration defended the National Security Agency's need to collect the records.

Other lawmakers have said previously that the practice is legal under the Patriot Act although civil libertarians have complained about U.S. snooping on American citizens.
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