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•  Continuing Education - Legal News


Bangladesh's High Court on Sunday confirmed the death penalty for two people tied to a banned Islamist militant group for the killing of an atheist blogger critical of radical Islam.

The court also upheld jail sentences for six others after appeals were filed challenging the verdicts handed down by a trial court in 2015.

Sunday's decision involves the killing of Ahmed Rajib Haider, who was hacked to death in 2013. Haider had campaigned for banning the Jamaat-e-Islami party, which opposed Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan in 1971.

One of the defendants was Mufti Jasimuddin Rahmani, the leader of the Ansarullah Bangla Team, and the rest were university students inspired by his sermons.

During the trial, the students said that Rahmani incited them to kill Haider in sermons in which he said all atheist bloggers should be killed to protect Islam.

The two North South University students who received the death sentences included Faisal bin Nayeem, who the court said hacked Haider with meat cleavers in front of his house in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital. Another was tried in absentia. The others received prison sentences ranging from three years to life. Rahmani was sentenced to five years.



A woman accused of holding her 4-year-old stepson in a scalding bath, covering his burns and not getting him medical care before he died was sentenced to at least 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to murder and other charges on Thursday.

A Warren County judge sentenced Anna Ritchie to 18 years to life in prison after she changed her plea from not guilty.

Ritchie was arrested after the March death of Austin Cooper. A detective said Ritchie told police that she put Austin's legs in extra-hot water as punishment because he didn't like baths and that she tried to hide his burns.

Her attorneys had tried unsuccessfully to have evidence from her interview with Franklin police detectives excluded from the case.

County Prosecutor David Fornshell alleged that Ritchie held Austin in extra-hot water for 20 to 25 minutes as he struggled, then put him to bed wearing pajamas and socks to cover his bleeding feet and burned skin, his arms cut where her fingernails had grasped him. His father found him dead in his crib more than 16 hours later, Fornshell said.




Presidential candidate Scott Walker won a major legal victory Thursday when Wisconsin's Supreme Court ended a secret investigation into whether the Republican's gubernatorial campaign illegally coordinated with conservative groups during the 2012 recall election.
 
No one has been charged in the so-called John Doe probe, Wisconsin's version of a grand jury investigation in which information is tightly controlled, but questions about the investigation have dogged Walker for months.

Barring an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the ruling makes Walker's campaign that much smoother as he courts voters in early primary states.

"Today's ruling confirmed no laws were broken, a ruling that was previously stated by both a state and federal judge," said Walker's spokeswoman Ashlee Strong. "It is time to move past this unwarranted investigation that has cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars."

The case centers on political activity conducted by Wisconsin Club for Growth and other conservative organizations during the 2012 recall, which was spurred by Democrats' anger over a Walker-authored law that effectively ending collective bargaining for most public workers.

The justices cited free speech in effectively tossing out the case, ruling state election law is overbroad and vague in defining what amounts to "political purposes."

Justice Michael Gableman, part of the court's conservative majority, praised the groups for challenging the investigation.

"It is fortunate, indeed, for every other citizen of this great State who is interested in the protection of fundamental liberties that the special prosecutor chose as his targets innocent citizens who had both the will and the means to fight the unlimited resources of an unjust prosecution," Gableman wrote in the majority opinion.



A state appellate court has ruled that California water officials cannot go onto private property for soil testing and other studies related to construction of two massive tunnels that would siphon water from the Sacramento River.

Nancy Vogel of the state's Department of Water Resources said Friday that officials anticipated the ruling and work won't be delayed.

The decision handed down Thursday by the state's 3rd District Court of Appeal says an intrusion on private property without permission violates the California Constitution.

If built, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan — estimated to cost billions of dollars — would send fresh water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to Central and Southern California.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed against the state by more than 150 property owners in Sacramento, San Joaquin, Yolo, Solano and Contra Costa counties.

The three-judge panel ruled 2-1 in a 44-page decision with the majority opinion saying the state must adhere to eminent domain laws, which give property owners the right to a jury trial to determine a fair payment for taking away their land.

Acts such as testing soil, observing or trapping animals either by driving onto property, using boats or going on foot amount to "taking" and trigger the need for eminent domain proceedings, the majority opinion said.



A federal appeals court on Friday upheld former Giants slugger Barry Bonds' obstruction-of-justice conviction stemming from rambling testimony he gave during a 2003 appearance before a grand jury investigating elite athletes' use of performance-enhancing drugs.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Bonds' testimony was ''evasive'' and capable of misleading investigators and hindering their probe into a performance-enhancing-drug ring centered at the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, better known as BALCO.

In a statement Friday night, Bonds said he was disappointed but he has instructed his attorneys to ask that he be allowed to immediately begin serving his sentence of 30 days of house arrest and two years of probation.

''Meanwhile, I also intend to seek further judicial review of the important legal issues presented by the appeal that was decided today,'' Bonds said. ''This has been a long and difficult chapter in my life and I look forward to moving beyond it once I have fulfilled the penalties ordered by the court.''

Like several other prominent athletes who testified before the grand jury, Bonds was granted immunity from criminal prosecution as long as he testified truthfully.

But after Bonds repeatedly denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs - he testified he thought he was taking flax seed oil and other legal supplements - prosecutors charged him with obstruction and with making false statements.

A jury convicted Bonds of a single felony count of obstruction, stemming from when he was called before the grand jury in San Francisco in December 2003. Bonds was asked whether his trainer, Greg Anderson, had ever injected him with a substance, and he replied by discussing the difficulties of being the son of a famous father. Bonds' father is former major leaguer Bobby Bonds.



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