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Australia's High Court to consider fate of 7 lawmakers
Headline Legal News | 2017/10/23 09:06
Australia's prime minister said Monday that he was confident that government lawmakers would win a court challenge this week that threatens his administration's slender majority.

Seven High Court judges will decide whether seven lawmakers should be disqualified from Parliament because of a constitutional ban on dual citizens being elected. The three-day hearing begins Tuesday.

The fate of Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is most crucial to the government in an unprecedented political crisis.

If the court rules that he was illegally elected in July last year due to New Zealand citizenship he unknowingly inherited from his father, the ruling conservative coalition could lose its single-seat majority in the House of Representatives, where governments are formed.

Joyce could stand in a by-election, having renounced his Kiwi citizenship. But with the government unpopular in opinion polls, voters in his rural electoral division could take the opportunity to throw both the deputy prime minister and his administration out of office.

Two of the six senators under a cloud are government ministers. Fiona Nash inherited British citizenship from her father and Matt Canavan became an Italian through an Australian-born mother with Italian parents. Disqualified senators can be replaced by members of the same party without need for an election.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has given no indication of what his government would do if the court rules against any of the three ministers.



Pakistan ex-PM criticizes judiciary for his disqualification
Headline Legal News | 2017/10/01 09:03
Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday criticized the country's judiciary for rejecting his appeal over his disqualification from office and vowed again to fight a legal battle to clear his name.

In July, the Supreme Court barred him from office for concealing financial assets. Sharif has since been replaced by a member of his ruling party but has vowed to fight and prove he never indulged in corruption. Earlier this month, the top court rejected Sharif's request for a review of its July 28 ruling.

Tuesday's remarks by Sharif came just after he made his first appearance before an anti-corruption court to face corruption charges earlier in the day. He has returned home from London, where he travelled to see his ailing wife who is undergoing medical treatment in Britain.

"I know for what reasons I am being punished," Sharif told a news conference, without elaborating.

Sharif is likely to be indicted on Oct. 2 in connection with three corruption cases that were filed against him by the country's anti-corruption body earlier this month. Sharif resigned after the Supreme Court disqualified him, but afterward said he was being punished over a trivial charge.

As he appeared before the corruption court earlier on Tuesday, a group of Sharif's followers gathered outside the court and later some chanted slogans in his support inside the courtroom.



Abortion clinic seeks to sue Ohio over budget restrictions
Headline Legal News | 2017/09/29 09:02
A Cleveland abortion clinic asked Ohio's high court on Tuesday to grant it legal standing to sue over abortion-related restrictions tucked into the state's 2013 budget bill.

Preterm of Cleveland argued that the provisions impose added administrative and caseload burdens that clearly qualify the clinic to proceed with its constitutional challenge to the manner in which the bill was put together.

The clinic's attorney, B. Jessie Hill, told justices significant new hurdles are not required to meet the legal burden for standing.

"We have to do something we didn't have to do before: We have to enter into a new contract every two years," she said. "That's all we need to demonstrate."

The clinic disputes budget provisions that required more frequent renewal of a clinic's emergency transfer agreement with a local hospital after prohibiting public hospitals from participating and required testing for a fetal heartbeat before an abortion can be performed.

The state's attorney, Ryan Richardson, argued the clinic has not demonstrated true or threatened harm and so can't legally sue.

"As this court has said, really the essence of standing is having a plaintiff that has a direct and concrete stake in the issues, so that the plaintiff is able to properly sharpen the issues for the court's resolution," she said. "Bringing a plaintiff who is not directly affected impacts the ability to properly present the facts and legal issues that the court needs to properly adjudicate the case."

The lawsuit comes amid abortion clinic closures across Ohio that have coincided with falling abortion rates.


Court asked to dismiss cases tied to ex-drug lab chemist
Headline Legal News | 2017/09/22 03:05
A petition is asking the highest court in Massachusetts to dismiss every case connected to a former state chemist who authorities say was high almost every day she went to work at a state drug lab for eight years.

The state's public defender agency is a party to the petition filed Wednesday before the Supreme Judicial Court by two women whose drug possession convictions are tied to evidence handled by chemist Sonja Farak.

Farak pleaded guilty in 2014 to stealing cocaine from the state crime lab at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She worked at the lab between 2005 and 2013.

The women say the state failed to notify them of Farak's misconduct even after her conviction, depriving them of the opportunity to challenge their convictions.


Indian court sentences 2 men to death in 1993 Mumbai blasts
Headline Legal News | 2017/09/15 03:04
An Indian court on Thursday sentenced two men to death and two others to life in prison for a series of bombings that killed 257 people in Mumbai in 1993. A fifth man was given 10 years in prison.

The five men were convicted earlier of criminal conspiracy and murder in the planting of 12 powerful bombs in cars, scooters and suitcases around India's financial capital.

The sentencing ended a second trial related to the bombings. An initial trial ended in 2007 with more than 100 people convicted, of whom 11 were sentenced to death and the rest to various terms in prison.

Ujjwal Nikam, the main prosecutor, said he could not ask for a death sentence for Abu Salem, a prime suspect, because he was extradited from Portugal to India in 2005 after the Indian government pledged he would not be given the death penalty, a key requirement in extradition proceedings in Europe.

He fled India after the bombings and was later arrested by police in Portugal.

The Mumbai court sentenced Salem to life in prison after finding him guilty of transporting weapons from Gujarat state to Mumbai ahead of the blasts. These included AK-56 assault rifles, ammunition and hand grenades.

Prosecutors said the bombings were an act of revenge for the 1992 demolition of a 16th century mosque by Hindu nationalists in northern India. That triggered religious riots in parts of India, leaving more than 800 dead, both Hindus and Muslims.

The blasts targeted a number of prominent sites in Mumbai, including the stock exchange, Air India building, hotels, a cinema and shopping bazaars.

Prosecutors said the attack was masterminded by underworld kingpin Dawood Ibrahim. India accuses Pakistan of sheltering Ibrahim, a charge Islamabad denies. India says he has been living in Karachi, Pakistan's financial hub, after fleeing from Mumbai, and has asked Pakistan to hand him over to face trial in India.


Trump nominates White House lawyer to important court seat
Headline Legal News | 2017/09/09 03:03
President Donald Trump has tapped one of his own White House attorneys for a judgeship on one of the most important federal appeals courts, opening the door for confirmation hearing questions about the legal controversies that dominated the first seven months of Trump's presidency.

Gregory Katsas was nominated Thursday to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Katsas, the deputy White House counsel, was a former Justice Department official under President George W. Bush. A biography on the White House's website says he has argued more than 75 appeals, including the constitutional challenge to President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court.

He would replace the libertarian-leaning Judge Janice Rogers Brown, who retired this summer. The court is influential, in part because of its role in adjudicating many of the orders and laws put forth by the administration. It is sometimes called America's second highest court because it can be a stepping stone to the Supreme Court just a few blocks away.

Katsas, once a law clerk to Justice Thomas, has served in high-ranking Justice Department roles, including as head of the civil division that has responsibility for defending the administration's policies against court challenges. He is part of the steady stream of Jones Day law firm partners who have flowed into the Trump administration, including White House counsel Don McGahn.

So many Jones Day attorneys work in the White House that the counsel's office issued a blanket ethics waiver for them so that they can maintain contact with their former colleagues without running afoul of ethics provisions. The firm's lawyers continue to represent members of the Trump campaign outside the White House.



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