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Maldives court overturns prison term for ex-president
Court Issues | 2018/10/20 21:04
A high court in the Maldives on Thursday overturned a prison sentence for the country's former strongman, who had been jailed for not cooperating with a police investigation into allegations he was trying to overthrow the government.

The court set aside the jail term of one year, seven months and six days imposed by the Criminal Court on ex-President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Maumoon was jailed in June for not handing over his cellphone to investigators after being accused of being part of a plan to overthrow his half-brother, outgoing President Yameen Abdul Gayoom. Maumoon was among dozens of political opponents and officials jailed by Yameen during his five-year rule after trials criticized for alleged lack of due process.

Yameen lost last month's presidential election to joint opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. The court ruled Thursday that the lower court did not follow correct trial procedures.


Sessions criticizes court order on deposition in census case
Court Issues | 2018/10/16 23:47
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday criticized a court order that allows for the questioning of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on how a citizenship question came to be added to the 2020 census.

The court's actions, the attorney general said in a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation, represent an improper attempt "to hold a trial over the inner-workings of a Cabinet secretary's mind."

With his remarks, Sessions waded into a simmering legal dispute that may ultimately be resolved by the Supreme Court, which solidified its conservative majority with the recent addition of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

The conflict centers on a judge's order that Ross may be deposed by lawyers challenging whether a question on citizenship legally can be included on the census. Plaintiffs in two lawsuits, including more than a dozen states and big cities, have sued, saying the question will discourage immigrants from participating in the census.

The judge, Jesse M. Furman, has said Ross can be questioned about how the citizenship inquiry was added to the census because he was "personally and directly involved in the decision, and the unusual process leading to it, to an unusual degree." A New York-based federal appeals court backed Furman's ruling last week, but Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a temporary stay.



Manhattan DA drops part of Weinstein case
Court Issues | 2018/10/11 17:33
Manhattan’s district attorney dropped part of the criminal sexual assault case against Harvey Weinstein on Thursday after evidence emerged that cast doubt on the account one of his three accusers provided to the grand jury.

The development was announced in court Thursday with Weinstein looking on.

The tossed charge involves allegations made by one of the three accusers in the case, Lucia Evans, who was among the first women to publicly accuse Weinstein of sexual assault.

In an expose published in The New Yorker one year ago Wednesday, Evans accused Weinstein of forcing her to perform oral sex when they met alone in his office in 2004 to discuss her fledgling acting career. At the time, Evans was a 21-year-old college student.

Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon told the judge that prosecutors wouldn’t oppose dismissal of the count in the case involving Evans. She insisted the rest of the case, involving two other accusers, was strong.

“In short, your honor, we are moving full steam ahead,” she said.

Weinstein’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, told the judge he believed Evans had lied both to the grand jury and to The New Yorker about her encounter with Weinstein. He also said he believed a police detective had corruptly attempted to influence the case by keeping a witness from testifying about her misstatements.


Kavanaugh to attend White House event, as elections loom
Court Issues | 2018/10/09 00:26
New Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is returning to the White House for a televised appearance Monday with President Donald Trump less than a month before pivotal congressional elections.

Kavanaugh will take part in an entirely ceremonial swearing-in two days after he officially became a member of the high court and following a bitter partisan fight over his nomination. The event is unusual for new justices. Only Samuel Alito and Stephen Breyer participated in a White House event after they had been sworn-in and begun work as a justice, according to the court's records on oath-taking by the current crop of justices.

Kavanaugh, along with his law clerks, already has been at the Supreme Court preparing for his first day on the bench Tuesday when the justices will hear arguments in two cases about longer prison terms for repeat offenders. The new justice's four clerks all are women, the first time that has happened.

The clerks are Kim Jackson, who previously worked for Kavanaugh on the federal appeals court in Washington, Shannon Grammel, Megan Lacy and Sara Nommensen. The latter three all worked for other Republican-nominated judges. Lacy had been working at the White House in support of Kavanaugh's nomination.

In his Senate testimony last month in which he denied allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman in high school, accusing Democrats of orchestrating a partisan campaign against him, Kavanaugh had promised that, if he was confirmed, the four clerks working for him would be women. "I'll be the first justice in the history of the Supreme Court to have a group of all-women law clerks. That is who I am."

On Monday, Trump kept up attacks on Democrats for opposing Kavanaugh, pressing on an issue that Republicans have used to energize their voters.


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