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•  Law School News - Legal News


A French court has postponed until Nov. 7 a decision on whether to uphold preliminary charges against French cement manufacturer Lafarge, including "complicity in crimes against humanity."

The decision comes as the Paris appeal court on Thursday ruled in favor of Lafarge's request that some NGOs that had filed legal complaints could no longer be plaintiffs in the case.

Lafarge has acknowledged funneling money to Syrian armed organizations in 2013 and 2014 ?allegedly including the Islamic State group? to guarantee safe passage for employees and supply its plant in the war-torn country.

The company appealed the charges, which also include financing a terrorist enterprise, violation of an embargo and endangering others.

The wrongdoing preceded Lafarge's merger with Swiss company Holcim in 2015 to create LafargeHolcim, the world's largest cement maker.



Myanmar’s Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the final appeal of two Reuters journalists and upheld seven-year prison sentences for their reporting on the military’s brutal crackdown on Rohingya Muslims.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo earlier this month shared with their colleagues the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting, one of journalism’s highest honors. The reporters were arrested in December 2017 and sentenced last September after being accused of illegally possessing official documents, a violation of a colonial-era law.

The court did not given a reason for its decision, which was quickly decried by rights advocates.

“Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo should never have been arrested, much less prosecuted, for doing their jobs as investigative journalists,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for New York-based Human Rights Watch. “Sadly, when it comes to media freedom, both Myanmar’s military and the civilian government seem equally determined to extinguish any ability to question their misrule and rights violations.”

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are being held in a prison in Yangon, were not present for the ruling, but their wives were. Kyaw Soe Oo’s wife, Chit Su, broke down in tears when the ruling was read.

“Both he and I hoped for the best,” Chit Su told reporters. “I am terribly sad for this decision.”

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, had denied the charges against them and contended they were framed by police. International rights groups, media freedom organizations, U.N experts and several governments condemned their conviction as an injustice and an attack on freedom of the press.

“Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo did not commit any crime, nor was there any proof that they did,” Gail Gove, Reuters chief counsel, said in a statement after the ruling. “Instead, they were victims of a police setup to silence their truthful reporting. We will continue to do all we can to free them as soon as possible.”

Khin Maung Zaw, a lawyer for the two, said the pair could still seek their freedom by petitioning the president’s office or the legislature.

President Win Myint could reduce the sentence, order a retrial or have them released. Legislative action for a retrial would be a lengthier, more complicated process.

Supreme Court won't stop bump stock ban

•  Law School News     updated  2019/03/26 16:56


The Supreme Court won't stop the Trump administration from enforcing its ban on bump stock devices, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire like machine guns.

The ban took effect Tuesday. Gun rights groups asked the court on Monday to stop the government from enforcing the ban for now. Chief Justice John Roberts declined one request for the court to get involved on Tuesday and a second request was declined by the court on Thursday. That was the only remaining request.

The administration's ban puts it in the unusual position of arguing against gun rights groups.

President Donald Trump said last year that the government would move to ban bump stocks. The action followed a 2017 Las Vegas shooting where bump stocks were used. Fifty-eight people were killed.



North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper added a sixth Democrat to the seven-member state Supreme Court on Monday, elevating a current Court of Appeals judge to a vacancy created when Cooper recently named Cheri Beasley the chief justice.

Cooper, also a Democrat, announced he's appointing Judge Mark Davis as an associate justice. Davis will begin serving next month at least through 2020, and says he will campaign for a full term. Davis fills Beasley's old seat, which she held for over six years until she succeeded Chief Justice Mark Martin on March 1.

Davis will "continue to serve the people of North Carolina with great distinction, and I appreciate his willingness to take on this crucial role," Cooper said while presenting Davis at an Executive Mansion news conference.

Martin's surprise resignation to become dean of the Regent University law school in Virginia set in motion some chair shuffling within North Carolina's two appeals courts, which Cooper is empowered by state law to orchestrate. Cooper now also gets to pick Davis' successor on the 15-member Court of Appeals, which usually meets in three-judge panels to hear cases.

Davis' appointment emphasizes the recent dramatic change in the partisan composition of the Supreme Court, which has ruled this decade in politically charged decisions involving redistricting and Republican laws that eroded Cooper's powers. In some states, judicial races are nonpartisan. North Carolina candidates for nearly all judicial offices now run in partisan races, identified by political party.

Registered Republicans held a majority on North Carolina's high court for nearly 20 years before Democrats took a 4-3 seat advantage with the November 2016 election. Democrats picked up another seat last November, leaving Martin and Associate Justice Paul Newby as the only Republicans. Now Davis' appointment gives Democrats a 6-1 seat advantage.

While Cooper had no obligation to keep two Republicans on the court, GOP Senate leader Phil Berger still criticized the governor for picking another Democrat. Berger said in a release Cooper's that previous calls for a nonpartisan judiciary and balanced state government were just "empty rhetoric. Gov. Cooper is the hyper-partisan he has long condemned." Cooper's office didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment.



A federal court judge will hear motions in a lawsuit over a North Carolina law that mandates the revocation of drivers' licenses for unpaid traffic tickets even if the driver can't afford to pay.

Advocacy groups sued in May, seeking to declare the law unconstitutional. A hearing will be held Wednesday in Winston-Salem on motions for a preliminary injunction and class certification.

The judge also will consider a motion by the defendant, the commissioner of the Division of Motor Vehicles, for a judgment in his favor.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups sued on behalf of indigent residents facing license revocation or whose licenses have been revoked.

They're asking that a judge declare the law unconstitutional, saying it violates due process rights under the 14th Amendment.



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