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•  Legal Marketing - Legal News


The Republican-dominated Legislature's tense relationship with the state Supreme Court is hanging over this year's legislative session as lawmakers take up two bills to deal with the aftermath of court rulings that Republicans don't like.

One of them is a fix to the state's death penalty rules and the other a revision of the "stand your ground" law to better protect defendants claiming self-defense.

It's no surprise that two other bills are seen as a shot back at the court - a proposal to limit justices' terms to 12 years and a bill that would require them to file reports to the governor and Legislature on the timeliness of their decisions.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran says one of his highest priorities is to "reign in" the Supreme Court.

Former Supreme Court Justice James Perry said the Legislature is at "open war" with the judiciary, but he said the Legislature can't control the court.



Some Republicans are set on returning all North Carolina state judicial elections to being officially partisan races again.

A law quickly approved in December during a special election directed statewide races for Supreme Court and Court of Appeals to become partisan starting in 2018. Now the state House scheduled floor debate Wednesday on legislation extending that to local Superior Court and District Court seats next year, too.

Having partisan races means candidates run in party primaries to reach the general election. Unaffiliated candidates could still run but would have to collect signatures to qualify.

Judicial races shifted to nonpartisan elections starting in the mid-1990s in part as an effort to distance judicial candidates from politics. But Republicans today say party labels help give voters some information about the candidates.




The highest court in Massachusetts on Tuesday threw out a gun conviction against a Boston man in a ruling that says black men who flee when approached by police may be reacting to racial profiling rather than trying to hide criminal activity.

In its ruling, the Supreme Judicial Court found that Boston police had "far too little information" to stop Jimmy Warren after seeing him and another black man walking in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood about 30 minutes after they received a report of a home break-in in 2011.

Police had received only a vague description of three black males wearing dark clothing and hooded sweatshirts seen leaving the home. Warren ran when police approached him. After a foot chase, an officer arrested him in a backyard. He was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm after a handgun was found on the front lawn.

The SJC found that police did not have a reasonable suspicion to stop Warren and his friend, noting that an officer's hunch is not enough. The court cited a report by the Boston Police Department that found black men were disproportionately stopped and frisked by Boston police between 2007 and 2010. The court said black men in Boston who flee when approached by police does not necessarily indicate that they are guilty of a crime.




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.




Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane's law license will remain suspended after the state's highest court on Friday denied her request to have it reinstated while she fights criminal charges of leaking secret grand jury material and lying about it.

The court's unanimous rejection could pave the way to an unprecedented vote in the state Senate on whether to remove her from office.

A Kane spokesman said the first-term Democrat was disappointed, but not surprised.

A Senate vote could happen in the coming weeks after a special committee spent about three months exploring the question of whether Kane could run the 800-employee law enforcement office without a law license. Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, said senators will discuss the matter when they reconvene in the Capitol next week.

"It's an important issue," Corman said. "It's really unprecedented, so I think it deserves to be addressed."

In seeking to have her license reinstated, Kane argued that Justice Michael Eakin should not have participated in the suspension vote because of his involvement in a salacious email scandal.

In its one-page order, the Democrat-controlled court said Kane did not seek the recusal of Eakin "at the earliest possible time." As a result, the justices said, Kane gave up her ability to object on that basis to the court's unanimous decision in September to suspend her license.

Kane has released hundreds of emails, including some that Eakin sent and received through a private email account in the name of John Smith. Eakin, a Republican, has been suspended with pay by his fellow justices while he awaits trial before an ethics court that could result in his being kicked off the bench.




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