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Belgian court pushes back extradition hearing for 5 Catalans
Labor & Employment | 2017/11/23 05:20
A court in Belgium on Friday pushed back the extradition arguments of ex-Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and four allies until at least Dec. 4, likely keeping the secessionist rebels in Belgium right through Catalonia's regional election campaign.

The court hearing in Brussels for the five Catalans is the latest step in their flight from Spain to Brussels and their refusal to return to face rebellion and sedition charges that could land them in jail for 25 years.

Before the court session, the prime ministers of Spain and Belgium discussed their bilateral relations, which have been strained over the case of the Catalan officials who are wanted on a Spanish arrest warrant.

Puigdemont lawyer Paul Bekaert said after the first court session Friday that "we will argue the case on Dec. 4." Whatever decision is made at that stage, two appeals will be possible and a final ruling could well only come only after the Dec. 21 election day in Catalonia.

Bekaert said even though the prosecutor asked for the execution of the extradition request from Spain for the five, the defense lawyers could still give written arguments until early next month.


FBI Searched Ex-Oklahoma Senator's Office for Porn
Labor & Employment | 2017/09/15 23:57
Court records show the FBI searched the Capitol office of a former Oklahoma senator in March because a campaign aide allegedly saw child pornography on his computer.

Republican Sen. Ralph Shortey resigned in March after being arrested when police in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore found him in a motel room with a 17-year-old boy he had allegedly hired for sex.

The Oklahoman reports that the FBI seized a CD-ROM and an SD card from Shortey's office the day after his resignation. The newly released court records show that someone contacted Moore police about the alleged pornography after seeing news about Shortey's arrest.

Shortey faces three child pornography counts and one child sex trafficking count. He's pleaded not guilty.


Supreme Court gives new chance to 5 Arizona inmates
Labor & Employment | 2016/11/01 22:03
The Supreme Court is ordering Arizona judges to reconsider life sentences with no chance of parole for five inmates who were convicted of murder for crimes they committed before they turned 18.

The court on Monday said the state judges did not pay sufficient attention to high court rulings that held that life sentences for young killers should be imposed only rarely.

The state courts ruled in all five Arizona cases before the Supreme Court's most recent ruling on juvenile sentences in January.

Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented from Monday's order.



Court rules man treated for mental illness can have a gun
Labor & Employment | 2016/09/21 23:51
A Michigan man who can't buy a gun because he was briefly treated for mental health problems in the 1980s has won a key decision from a federal appeals court, which says the burden is on the government to justify a lifetime ban against him.

The Second Amendment case was significant enough for 16 judges on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to participate. Cases usually are heard only by three-judge panels.

Clifford Tyler, 74, of Hillsdale said his constitutional right to bear arms is violated by a federal law that prohibits gun ownership if someone has been admitted to a mental hospital.

In 1985, Tyler's wife ran away with another man, depleted his finances and filed for divorce. He was deeply upset, and his daughters feared he was a danger to himself.

Tyler was ordered to a hospital for at least two weeks. He subsequently recovered, continued working for another two decades and remarried in 1999.

"There is no indication of the continued risk presented by people who were involuntarily committed many years ago and who have no history of intervening mental illness, criminal activity or substance abuse," Judge Julia Smith Gibbons wrote in the lead opinion.

The court on Thursday sent the case back to the federal court in Grand Rapids where the government must argue the merits of a lifetime ban or the risks of Tyler having a gun.

Gibbons suggests Tyler should prevail, based on his years of good mental health.



Appeals court orders judge to expunge woman's convictions
Labor & Employment | 2016/09/14 22:02
A state appeals court has overruled a western Indiana judge and ordered him to expunge a woman's convictions despite his disgust for her crimes.

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 last week that Jay Circuit Judge Brian Hutchison must expunge the convictions of 35-year-old Mindy M. McCowan of Dunkirk for forgery in 2003 and for dealing methamphetamine in 2004.

The ruling said McCowan was released from prison in 2007 and completed probation in 2010. She has since maintained employment and earned an associate's degree and professional certifications.

The Star Press reports Hutchison declined to expunge the convictions last November, saying he has drug cases before him every day and he wasn't "doing favors for people who are causing these problems in Jay County."



Court rejects challenge to Michigan's emergency manager law
Labor & Employment | 2016/09/13 22:03
An appeals court on Monday rejected a challenge to Michigan's emergency manager law, saying Gov. Rick Snyder's remedy for distressed communities doesn't violate the constitutional rights of residents.

Emergency managers have exceptional power to run city halls and school districts, while elected officials typically are pushed aside for 18 months or more while finances are fixed. The most significant use of emergency management occurred in Detroit, where Snyder appointed bankruptcy expert Kevyn Orr in 2013. Orr seved for two years.

Critics who sued argued that the law violated a variety of rights — free speech, voting, even protections against slavery — especially in cities with large black populations.

The law might not be the "perfect remedy" but it's "rationally related" to turning around local governments, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in a 3-0 decision.

"The emergency manager's powers may be vast, but so are the problems in financially distressed localities, and the elected officials of those localities are most often the ones who ... led the localities into their difficult situations," the court said in upholding a decision by U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh.



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