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Hulk Hogan, Gawker back in court in Florida

•  Legal Exams     updated  2016/05/25 16:39


A court hearing involving the Hulk Hogan sex tape case is underway in Florida, with Gawker Media asking for a new trial.
 
Gawker and Hogan faced off Wednesday morning in a St. Petersburg courtroom. It's the latest chapter in a years-long legal fight.

Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, won a $140 million verdict against Gawker in March.

Hogan sued Gawker after it posted a video of him having sex with his then-best friend's wife. The three-week trial was a lurid inside look at the business of celebrity gossip and a debate over newsworthiness versus celebrity privacy.

Earlier this month, Hogan sued Gawker again, saying the gossip website leaked sealed court documents with a transcript that quoted him making racist remarks.




A Swedish court on Wednesday rejected a request to overturn the arrest warrant of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange because there were no new circumstances to consider.

The Stockholm District Court said it made the decision because Assange is still wanted for questioning in a case of suspected rape and that "there is still a risk that he will depart or in some other way evade prosecution or penalty."

The court said it saw no reason to hold another detention hearing saying he would remain "detained in absentia."

Thomas Olsson, Assange's lawyer in Sweden, says he would appeal the decision because "the passivity of the prosecutor had delayed the investigation in an unacceptable" way.

"The prosecutor ought to have arranged for an interview with Mr. Assange at a far earlier stage and she hasn't presented any reasons for not arranging an interview," he told The Associated Press.

Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012, is wanted for questioning by Swedish police over rape allegations stemming from his visit to the country in 2010. He denies all the accusations against him made by two women.

He has refused to go back to Sweden for fear of being extradited to the United States because of an investigation into WikiLeaks' dissemination of hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents. Last year, a U.S. federal court confirmed there are "active and ongoing" attempts to prosecute him and WikiLeaks in an investigation involving espionage, conspiracy, and computer fraud.



US appeals court revisits Texas voter ID law

•  Recent Cases     updated  2016/05/24 16:40


A federal appeals court is set to take a second look at a strict Texas voter ID law that was found to be unconstitutional last year.

Texas' law requires residents to show one of seven forms of approved identification. The state and other supporters say it prevents fraud. Opponents, including the U.S. Justice Department, say it discriminates by requiring forms of ID that are more difficult to obtain for low-income, African-American and Latino voters.

Arguments before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are set for Tuesday morning. The full court agreed to rehear the issue after a three-judge panel ruled last year that the law violates the Voting Rights Act.

Lawyers for Texas argue that the state makes free IDs easy to obtain, that any inconveniences or costs involved in getting one do not substantially burden the right to vote, and that the Justice Department and other plaintiffs have failed to prove that the law has resulted in denying anyone the right to vote.

Opponents counter in briefs that trial testimony indicated various bureaucratic and economic burdens associated with the law — for instance, the difficulty in finding and purchasing a proper birth certificate to obtain an ID. A brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union cites testimony in other voter ID states indicating numerous difficulties faced by people, including burdensome travel and expenses to get required documentation to obtain IDs.



Justice Stephen Breyer said Monday that the Supreme Court has not been diminished by having only eight members since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February.

Breyer suggested in response to questions at an awards ceremony at the Library of Congress that Scalia would have made a difference in only four or five cases out of more than 70 the court will decide this term.

"We may divide 4-4 in four or five cases, we may not," Breyer said of the term than will end in June.

That could include some of the term's biggest cases involving abortion and immigration. A tie vote would leave the lower court ruling in place and prevent the court from setting a legal precedent that applies to the entire country.

The court has already deadlocked in three cases, including a high-profile dispute over public-sector labor unions. And last week, the justices returned a dispute over access to birth control to lower courts, suggesting they could not form a majority that would have settled a major conflict over the scope of the nation's health care law.

Breyer stressed that the court in recent years has ruled unanimously about half the time and divided 5-4 in only a small percentage of cases. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Elena Kagan also have said in recent public comments that the court would find its way until a ninth justice is confirmed.

Breyer did not address the partisan debate over whether the Senate should confirm Judge Merrick Garland, nominated by Obama to take Scalia's seat. Senate Republicans have refused to hold a hearing on Garland's confirmation or schedule a vote, saying the choice should be left to Obama's successor.

Breyer was at the ceremony, the Burton Awards for Legal Achievement, to receive an award for his latest book about the use of foreign law in American courts.



Attorneys for an Indiana woman found guilty of killing the premature infant she delivered after ingesting abortion-inducing drugs will ask an appeals court Monday to throw out the convictions that led to her 20-year prison sentence.

At issue is Indiana's feticide statute, which the defense says was "passed to protect pregnant women from violence" that could harm their developing fetus, not to prosecute women for their own abortions. The state says that law "is not limited to third-party actors" and can apply to pregnant women.

Attorneys for 35-year-old Purvi Patel will urge the Indiana Court of Appeals to reverse her 2015 convictions on charges of feticide and neglect of a dependent resulting in death. The state's attorney general's office will defend the northern Indiana jury's decision.

Patel, of Granger, was arrested in July 2013 after she sought treatment at a local hospital for profuse bleeding after delivering a 1½-pound infant boy and putting his body in a trash bin behind her family's restaurant. Court records show Patel purchased abortion-inducing drugs online through a pharmacy in Hong Kong, took those drugs and delivered a premature baby in her home bathroom.




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