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Pennsylvania GOP take gerrymandering case to US high court
Headline Legal News | 2018/01/25 10:12
Pennsylvania's top Republican lawmakers asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to stop an order by the state's highest court in a gerrymandering case brought by Democrats that threw out the boundaries of its 18 congressional districts and ordered them redrawn within three weeks.

Republicans who control Pennsylvania's Legislature wrote that state Supreme Court justices unconstitutionally usurped the authority of lawmakers to create congressional districts and they asked the nation's high court to put the decision on hold while it considers their claims.

The 22-page argument acknowledged that "judicial activism" by a state supreme court is ordinarily beyond the U.S. Supreme Court's purview. But, it said, "the question of what does and does not constitute a 'legislative function' under the Elections Clause is a question of federal, not state, law, and this Court is the arbiter of that distinction."

Justice Samuel Alito, who handles emergency appeals from Pennsylvania, could ask the registered Democratic voters on the other side of the case to respond. Alito could act on his own, though the full court generally gets involved in cases involving elections. An order could come in a matter of days, although there is no deadline for the justices to act.

Pennsylvania's congressional districts are criticized as among the nation's most gerrymandered. Its case is happening amid a national tide of gerrymandering cases from various states, including some already under consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Election law scholars call the Republicans' request for the U.S. Supreme Court's intervention a long shot.

They say they know of no other state court decision throwing out a congressional map because of partisan gerrymandering, and the nation's high court has never struck down an electoral map as a partisan gerrymander.


Top Pakistani court orders arrest of escaped police officer
Court Line News | 2018/01/23 10:10
Pakistan's Supreme Court gave police three days to arrest an absconding officer who is involved in killing an aspiring model in a 'fake shootout', a lawyer said Saturday.

Attorney Nazeer Mehsud says suspended police officer Rao Anwar did not appear at a hearing Saturday. Chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar ordered his arrest and asked the Sindh police chief to summon him before him.

Anwar is accused killing of an aspiring social media model, Naqeebullah Mehsud, in a controversial shootout earlier this month. Anwar had maintained that Mehsud was a militant belonging to the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan group, without providing evidence to support the claim. He went into hiding when an investigation found Mehsud to be innocent and said the shootout was staged.

Sanaullah Abbasi, a senior police officer, earlier told The Associated Press that Naqeebullah Mehsud was not linked to militants as claimed by Anwar.

Anwar gained prominence in recent years for several shootouts with alleged terrorists in which neither him nor any of his team members were hurt. Mehsud, from Waziristan and a father of three, was the latest victim of Anwar's last shootout.

Mehsud's death triggered violent protests in his eastern Karachi and a protest sit-in by Mehsud tribe's is still ongoing. "My son Naqeeb was innocent, he was righteous. Rao Anwar is a tyrant who killed my son," said Muhammad Ahmed Mehsud, Mehsud's father, adding that he was overwhelmed by the support he received for his son.



Thai court drops royal insult charges against academic
Court Line News | 2018/01/20 10:04
A Thai military court on Wednesday dropped royal insult charges against an 84-year old historian who questioned whether a Thai king had actually defeated a Burmese adversary in combat on elephant-back over 500 years ago.

Sulak Sivaraksa was charged in October under the draconian lese majeste law that protects the monarchy from libel and defamation. The Bangkok military court had agreed to hear views from historians and experts before it decided to drop the charges for lack of evidence.

Sulak, a veteran academic and proclaimed royalist, said he had petitioned Thailand's new king, Vajiralongkorn, for help in dropping the charges against him.

"I contacted many people for help but no one dared to. So I petitioned the king. If it weren't for His Majesty's grace, this case would not have been dropped," he said.

His case stems from a 2014 university lecture when he told the audience to "not fall prey to propaganda" and questioned whether King Naraesuan had really won the 1593 battle by defeating a Burmese prince in solo combat mounted on a war elephant. The story is one of Thailand's most celebrated historical feats and the date of the combat is marked each year with a military parade on Jan. 18.

Insulting the monarchy is punishable by three to 15 years in prison. The law in writing appears to only protect the king, queen, and heir apparent but in practice the rules are more widely interpreted.



Russia court cancels journalist's deportation to Uzbekistan
Lawyer Media News | 2018/01/20 10:04
Russia's highest court has annulled an order to deport a reporter to his native Uzbekistan. The Supreme Court has overturned the Moscow City Court's decision to send Khudoberdy Nurmatov to the Central Asian nation, which has shown little tolerance to dissent. In a ruling released Wednesday, the Supreme Court said the order to deport the journalist was unsubstantiated and sent the case back to the Moscow court.

Nurmatov fled Uzbekistan in 2008 after he was allegedly tortured and coerced into collaborating with security agencies. He has been repeatedly denied asylum in Russia.

In August, the Moscow City Court suspended an earlier ruling to deport him after the European Court of Human Rights had obliged Russia to halt the move amid fears that Nurmatov may face torture in Uzbekistan.



Pennsylvania court throws out congressional boundaries
Lawyer Media News | 2018/01/18 10:03
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the state's widely criticized congressional map Monday, granting a major victory to Democrats who alleged the 18 districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit Republicans and setting off a scramble to draw a new map.

In the Democratic-controlled court's decision, the majority said the boundaries "clearly, plainly and palpably" violate the state's constitution and blocked the boundaries from remaining in effect for the 2018 elections with just weeks until dozens of people file paperwork to run for Congress.

The justices gave the Republican-controlled Legislature until Feb. 9 to pass a replacement and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf until Feb. 15 to submit it to the court. Otherwise, the justices said they will adopt a plan in an effort to keep the May 15 primary election on track.

The decision comes amid a national tide of gerrymandering cases, including some that have reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

Democrats cheered the decision to toss out a Republican-drawn map used in three general elections going back to 2012. The map, they say, gave Republicans crucial help in securing 13 of 18 seats in a state where registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans 5 to 4.

"We won the whole thing," said David Gersch of the Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer law firm in Washington, D.C., which is helping represent the group of registered Democrats who filed the lawsuit last June.

The defendants — top Republican lawmakers — said they would ask the U.S. Supreme Court this week to step in and put the decision on hold. The state court's decision lacks clarity, precedent and respect for the constitution and would introduce chaos into the state's congressional races, they said.

The Senate's top Republican lawyer, Drew Crompton, called the timeline to draw new districts "borderline unworkable," but said Republicans will do everything they can to comply.


Court: Yes, there is doctor-patient confidentiality
Headline Legal News | 2018/01/15 10:05
Connecticut's highest court has ruled on an issue that most people may think is already settled, saying doctors have a duty to keep patients' medical records confidential and can be sued if they don't.

The Supreme Court's 6-0 decision Thursday overturned a lower court judge who said Connecticut had yet to recognize doctor-patient confidentiality.

The high court's ruling reinstated a lawsuit by former New Canaan resident Emily Byrne against the Avery Center for Obstetrics & Gynecology in Westport.

Byrne, who now lives in Montpelier, Vermont, alleged the doctor's office sent her medical file to a court without her permission — allowing the father of her child to look at it and use the information to harass her.

The Avery Center argued there is no duty for doctors to keep patients' information confidential.


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