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•  Notable Attorneys - Legal News


Prominent activist and publisher Jimmy Lai on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to three charges of sedition and collusion with foreign countries in a landmark national security trial in Hong Kong.

Lai was arrested during a crackdown on dissidents following huge pro-democracy protests in 2019. He faces possible life imprisonment if convicted under a sweeping national security law imposed by Beijing. The trial is expected to last about 80 days without a jury.

The 76-year-old media tycoon who founded the now-defunct Apple Daily newspaper faces one count of conspiring to print seditious publications to incite hatred against the Chinese and Hong Kong governments, as well as two counts of collusion with foreign countries to call for sanctions and other hostile actions against China and Hong Kong.

Flanked by three prison officers, Lai formally pleaded not guilty to the charges read to him, shortly after the court rejected a last-ditch attempt by his counsel to throw out a sedition charge.

Prosecutor Anthony Chau in his opening statements described Lai as a “radical political figure” and the “mastermind” behind a conspiracy. Chau also said that Lai had used his media platform to advance his political agenda.

Clips of interviews that Lai gave to foreign media as well as speeches at events between 2019 and 2020 were also played in court. In the video, Lai called for support from foreign governments and urged U.S. officials as well as then-President Donald Trump to impose “draconian” measures on China and Chinese officials in retaliation for imposing the national security law and restricting freedoms in Hong Kong.

His prosecution has drawn criticism from the United States and the United Kingdom. Beijing has called those comments irresponsible, saying they went against international law and the basic norms of international relations.

The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, or IPAC, an international political group that’s critical of China’s human rights record and foreign policy, said Lai’s trial “fabricated” evidence that the media mogul was involved in its work.



For holding a sign outside a courthouse reminding jurors of their right to acquit defendants, a retiree faces up to two years in prison. For hanging a banner reading “Just Stop Oil” off a bridge, an engineer got a three-year prison sentence. Just for walking slowly down the street, scores of people have been arrested.

They are among hundreds of environmental activists arrested for peaceful demonstrations in the U.K., where tough new laws restrict the right to protest.

The Conservative government says the laws prevent extremist activists from hurting the economy and disrupting daily life. Critics say civil rights are being eroded without enough scrutiny from lawmakers or protection by the courts. They say the sweeping arrests of peaceful demonstrators, along with government officials labeling environmental activists extremists, mark a worrying departure for a liberal democracy.

“Legitimate protest is part of what makes any country a safe and civilized place to live,” said Jonathon Porritt, an ecologist and former director of Friends of the Earth, who joined a vigil outside London’s Central Criminal Court to protest the treatment of demonstrators.

“The government has made its intent very clear, which is basically to suppress what is legitimate, lawful protest and to use every conceivable mechanism at their disposal to do that.”

Britain is one of the world’s oldest democracies, home of the Magna Carta, a centuries-old Parliament and an independent judiciary. That democratic system is underpinned by an “unwritten constitution” — a set of laws, rules, conventions and judicial decisions accumulated over hundreds of years.

The effect of that patchwork is “we rely on self-restraint by governments,” said Andrew Blick, author of “Democratic Turbulence in the United Kingdom” and a political scientist at King’s College London. “You hope the people in power are going to behave themselves.”

But what if they don’t? During three turbulent and scandal-tarnished years in office, Boris Johnson pushed prime ministerial power to the limits. More recently, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has asked Parliament to overrule the U.K. Supreme Court, which blocked a plan to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda.

Such actions have piled pressure on Britain’s democratic foundations. Critics say cracks have appeared.

As former Conservative justice minister David Lidington put it: “The ‘good chap’ theory of checks and balances has now been tested to destruction.”



Donald Trump said Sunday he has decided against testifying for a second time at his New York civil fraud trial, posting on social media a day before his scheduled appearance that he “very successfully & conclusively” testified last month and saw no need to do so again.

The former president, the leading contender for the 2024 Republican nomination, had been expected to return to the witness stand Monday as a coda to his defense against New York Attorney General Letitia James ' lawsuit.

James, a Democrat, alleges Trump inflated his wealth on financial statements used in securing loans and making deals. The case threatens Trump’s real estate empire and cuts to the heart of his image as a successful businessman.

“I will not be testifying on Monday,” Trump wrote in an all-capital-letters, multipart statement on his Truth Social platform less than 20 hours before he was to take the witness stand.

“I have already testified to everything & have nothing more to say,” Trump added, leaving the final word among defense witnesses to an accounting expert hired by his legal team who testified last week that he found “no evidence, whatsoever, for any accounting fraud” in Trump’s financial statements.

A Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions about his decision.

The decision was an abrupt change from Trump’s posture in recent days, when his lawyers said he was insistent on testifying again despite their concerns about a gag order that has cost him $15,000 in fines for disparaging the judge’s law clerk.

“President Trump has already testified. There is really nothing more to say to a judge who has imposed an unconstitutional gag order and thus far appears to have ignored President Trump’s testimony and that of everyone else involved in the complex financial transactions at issue in the case,” Trump lawyer Christopher Kise said Sunday.

Trump’s decision came days after his son, Eric Trump, ditched his return appearance on the witness stand. Trump said on social media that he’d told Eric to cancel. It also follows Trump’s first trip back to court since he testified in the case on Nov. 6. Last Thursday, he watched from the defense table as the accounting professor, New York University professor Eli Bartov, blasted the state’s case and said Trump’s financial statements “were not materially misstated.”

Trump’s cancellation caught court officials by surprise. Without Trump on the witness stand, the trial will be on hold until Tuesday, when Bartov will finish his testimony. State lawyers say they’ll then call at least one rebuttal witness.



Opening statements began Monday in the criminal trial of actor Jonathan Majors, who was charged last spring for allegedly assaulting his then-girlfriend during an argument.

Majors did not speak as he strode into a Manhattan courthouse seeking to clear his name following an arrest in March that has effectively stalled his fast-rising career.

The six-person jury is expected to hear opposing narratives from 34-year-old Majors and his accuser, Grace Jabbari, a British dancer, about their confrontation in the back of a car.

Prosecutors said Jabbari was riding in a car with Majors in late March when she grabbed the actor’s phone out of his hand after seeing a text message, presumably sent by another woman, that said: “Wish I was kissing you right now.”

When Majors tried to snatch the phone back, he allegedly pulled her finger, twisted her arm behind her back and hit her in the face. After the pair got out out of the vehicle, he threw her back inside, Jabbari said.

Attorneys for Majors have maintained that Jabbari was the aggressor in the confrontation. They have suggested that prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office are targeting Majors because he is Black.

The arrest came weeks after the release of “Creed III,” a break-out role for Majors. He has also starred in the Marvel TV series “Loki” and the film “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania,” and was awaiting the release of another star vehicle, “Magazine Dreams,” which is now in limbo.

He could be sentenced to up to a year in jail if convicted.



With days to spare before a potential first-ever government default, President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Sunday were finalizing a deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling while trying to wrangle enough Republican and Democratic votes to pass the measure in the coming week.

The compromise announced late Saturday includes spending cuts but risks angering some lawmakers as they take a closer look at the concessions. McCarthy and Biden were expected to put the finishing touches on the agreement in a midafternoon call once the final legislative text was drafted.

The compromise announced late Saturday includes spending cuts but risks angering some lawmakers as they take a closer look at the concessions. McCarthy and Biden were expected to put the finishing touches on the agreement in a midafternoon call once the final legislative text was drafted.

Anxious retirees and others were already making contingency plans for missed checks, with the next Social Security payments due soon. Winning enough support to pass the deal, even with buy-in from the McCarthy, R-Calif., and the White House, remained a work in progress.

McCarthy and his negotiators tried to portray the deal as delivering for Republicans though it fell well short of the sweeping spending cuts they sought. Top White House officials were phoning Democratic lawmakers to try and shore up support.

Senior administration officials, including budget director Shalanda Young, National Economic Council Deputy Director Aviva Aron-Dine and John Podesta, the White House’s senior adviser on climate, planned a virtual briefing with House Democrats in the afternoon, according to a House Democratic aide. One of Biden’s chief negotiators, presidential counselor Steve Ricchetti, was making one-on-one calls to Democrats as the administration ramped up efforts to sell the deal.

McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol on Sunday that the agreement “doesn’t get everything everybody wanted,” but that was to be expected in a divided government. A White House statement issued after announcement of the agreement in principle, reached after Biden and McCarthy spoke by phone Saturday evening, said it “prevents what could have been a catastrophic default and would have led to an economic recession, retirement accounts devastated, and millions of jobs lost.”



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