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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has categorically ruled out any role for the military organization in setting up and policing a no-fly zone over Ukraine to protect against Russian airstrikes.

Stoltenberg says “NATO should not deploy forces on the ground or in the air space over Ukraine because we have a responsibility to ensure that this conflict, this war, doesn’t escalate beyond Ukraine.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly appealed for NATO to set up a no-fly zone given Russia’s air superiority, as civilian casualties mount three weeks into the war.

Speaking Wednesday after chairing a meeting of NATO defense ministers, Stoltenberg conceded that “we see human suffering in Ukraine, but this can become even worse if NATO (takes) actions that actually turned this into a full-fledged war between NATO and Russia.”

He says the decision not to send air or ground forces into Ukraine is “the united position from NATO allies.” Earlier Wednesday, Estonia urged its 29 NATO partners to consider setting up a no-fly zone.



The Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles and court officials have scrambled to close a gap in tracking and sharing information about criminal convictions that should result in license suspensions.

The problem surfaced when a man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter following a fatal crash during a police pursuit was arrested for causing another crash while being chased by police. Two others were injured, one of them critically, in the crash on March 4 in Paris, Maine.

The man being chased by police shouldn’t have had a license after pleading guilty last summer to the earlier crash that killed a 70-year-old driver.

A one-page document that would have allowed the BMV to process his suspension was never sent by court staff despite the BMV’s requests, and court officials suggested it was not their duty to send the paperwork because the conviction was not technically considered a driving offense under state law, the Portland Press Herald reported.

The state court’s response hinged on a technicality — he was convicted not of a driving offense but manslaughter. In Maine, there’s no separate conviction for “vehicular manslaughter.”

On Friday, officials including Secretary of State Shenna Bellows and Valerie Stanfill, chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, came to an agreement on correcting the problem, the newspaper reported.

But the Portland Press Herald reported that representatives of the courts and secretary of state declined to discuss specifics.

The agreement with the courts will encompass convictions connected to use of a vehicle but not specifically included in the driving statute, said Emily Cook, spokesperson for Bellows.



Attorney General Derek Schmidt is asking a Wyandotte County judge to dismiss two lawsuits filed over new Kansas congressional district lines enacted by Republican lawmakers.

Schmidt’s request Monday came three days after the Kansas Supreme Court refused to dismiss the lawsuits and another in Douglas County at the Republican attorney general’s request.

Democrats and the voting-rights group Loud Light argue that the congressional redistricting law enacted over Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto represents partisan and racial gerrymandering. They say it violates the Kansas Constitution. They’re suing Secretary of State Scott Schwab and county election officials because they would administer the new law.

The map makes it harder for the only Kansas Democrat in Congress, Rep. Sharice Davids, to get reelected in her Kansas City-area district.

Schmidt and fellow Republicans argue that the new map isn’t gerrymandering and even if it were, state courts have no power under the Kansas Constitution to rule on congressional districts.



A defendant accused of fatally shooting a man because he didn’t want to pay him for a drug deal pleaded not guilty in Brown County Circuit Court Monday.

Pedro Santiago-Marquez is charged with first-degree intentional homicide and being party to mutilating a corpse in connection with the Sept. 27 murder of Jason Mendez-Ramos.

Prosecutors say Mendez-Ramos was angry that he had not been paid $80,000 for a cocaine deal. A criminal complaint says rather than pay for the cocaine, Santiago-Marquez shot him in the head with a pistol. The victim’s burned body was found at the edge of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay campus, WLUK-TV reported.

Security videos, cell phone tracking information, and DNA tie Rodriguez-Garcia to that scene, according to the criminal complaint.

Another man, 47-year-old Alexander Burgos-Mojica, is charged with harboring or aiding a felon in connection with the case. He returns to court March 18 for a balance of initial appearance. Rodriguez-Garcia returns to court March 21 for a status conference on the charge of mutilating a corpse.



Israel’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that a group of families slated for eviction from a flashpoint east Jerusalem neighborhood can remain in their homes for the time being.

The ruling could work to ease tensions in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, which helped ignite the 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza last year.

The court ruled that the families can stay in their homes for now until Israel carries out a land arrangement, a process that could take years or may not be carried out at all, according to Ir Amim, an advocacy group that was not involved in the court case.

For the time being, the four families residing in the homes will be recognized as protected tenants. Each will deposit a largely symbolic rent amounting to $62 a month to a trust, until the property’s ownership is settled.

Sami Arsheid, a lawyer representing the families’ case before the court, said the decision was “something huge” that ran counter to the previous 63 rulings by Israeli courts on the issue of Palestinian properties in Sheikh Jarrah.



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