Legal news from Wednesday, February 16, 2005
22:02 EDT

[JURIST] Senator Arlen Specter [official website], the chair of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee charged with vetting judicial nominees, including Supreme Court candidates, announced Wednesday that he has been diagnosed with a form of cancer known as Hodgkin's Disease [American Cancer Society backgrounder] and will undergo chemotherapy treatment. Specter, 75, [read more]

22:02 EDT

[JURIST] The Department of Justice announced Wednesday that it would appeal a US District Court opinion [PDF text; additional case materials] that would prevent pursuit of $280 billion in damages from tobacco companies for charges of civil racketeering. The 3-judge panel decided the damages would be “disgorgement” and not sufficiently [read more]

21:02 EDT

[JURIST] The UN upheld its ban on its officials testifying in front of US Congress in a letter from Mark Malloch Brown, chief of staff for Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to Senate investigating subcommittee chair Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) [official website] that was released Wednesday. The letter is in response Coleman's [read more]

21:02 EDT

[JURIST] Newly appointed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced Wednesday the reinstatement of a federal obscenity case against a California pornography company. Charges against the company were dismissed [ruling text, PDF] by US District Judge Gary Lancaster because prosecutors overstepped their bounds while trying to block the hard-core pornography from minors [read more]

21:02 EDT

[JURIST] The US Senate voted Wednesday to continue the declassification of files that may reveal CIA agents who were hired despite their prior affiliation with the German Nazi party. The CIA reversed its objections last month concerning the disclosure of what former Nazis and Nazi SS officers did for the [read more]

21:02 EDT

[JURIST] The Israeli Knesset [official website] Wednesday narrowly approved a measure to compensate Jewish settlers evacuating from the Gaza Strip. The bill passed 59-40, reflecting Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's "unity" coalition and amid protests from Sharon’s own Likud party [political party website in Hebrew] and nationalist interests. This is seen [read more]

17:02 EDT

[JURIST] Lawyers for Deutsche Bank [corporate website] told US Bankruptcy Judge Letitia Clark Wednesday that Russian oil company Yukos' [corporate website; JURIST Hot Topic news archive] request for bankruptcy protection should be thrown out for lack of jurisdiction [JURIST report]. Yukos filed for US bankruptcy protection in December [JURIST report] [read more]

16:02 EDT

[JURIST] The corruption trial of former Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz began Wednesday, making Yilmaz the first head of government to be tried by Turkey's Supreme Court. Yilmaz and former Economics Minister Gunes Taner are accused of pre-determining the winner [JURIST report] of the planned privatization of Turkey's state bank [read more]

16:02 EDT

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives [official website] is set to vote Thursday on the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 [bill summary], which will require multistate class action lawsuits to be brought in federal court. The measure, passed last week by the Senate [JURIST report], is expected to pass [read more]

16:02 EDT

[JURIST] National Hockey League [official website] Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Wednesday [NHL statement] that the 2004-2005 hockey season has been cancelled because the league and the NHL Players' Association [union website] could not reach a new collective bargaining agreement [text of expired agreement; additional background]. The lockout over the salary [read more]

15:02 EDT

[JURIST] The federal Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation [official website] Wednesday assigned all pending Vioxx product liability lawsuits [JPML transfer order, PDF] to Judge Eldon Fallon of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana [official website] in New Orleans. Judge Fallon will coordinate discovery and other pretrial [read more]

14:02 EDT

[JURIST] FBI Director Robert Mueller told the US Senate Committee on Intelligence [official website] Wednesday that the FBI remains concerned about attacks by al-Qaida and related terrorist groups, particularly the threat of attack from covert operatives already inside the US, al-Qaida's intention to use chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-energy [read more]

14:02 EDT

[JURIST] Leading Wednesday's corporations and securities law news, a former senior executive at Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. [corporate website] and two executives from American International Group Inc. (AIG) [corporate website] have pleaded guilty to fraud charges. The charges were brought as part of New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's [read more]

14:02 EDT

[JURIST] AP is reporting that the US House has approved a dramatic increase in fines for indecent broadcast programming.3:38 PM ET - The House passed the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2005 [bill summary] by a vote of 389-38 [vote results]. The bill raises the maximum fine for indecent programming [read more]

13:02 EDT

[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] has asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] to appoint a special counsel to investigate allegations of abuse of detainees held at Abu Ghraib prison [JURIST Hot Topic archive], Guantanamo Bay [JURIST Hot Topic archive] and those transferred to foreign countries that [read more]

13:02 EDT

[JURIST] Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov [MosNews profile] said Wednesday that he will ask the Russian Constitutional Court [official website] to overturn portions of the country's controversial law canceling many welfare benefits [AP report] and replacing them with cash payments. The reform, which affects medical, housing and transportation benefits, has been [read more]

12:02 EDT

[JURIST] EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana [official website] said Wednesday that the European Union [official website] should recognize that the US will never accept the International Criminal Court [official website] and should seek a practical solution to the problem. Saying, "I don't think we're going to make any progress. [read more]

10:02 EDT

[JURIST] US Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Patrick Kennedy [official profile] told a Senate committee Tuesday that US officials knew of problems in the Iraq Oil-for-Food Program [official website] but chose to remain silent. Kennedy said the officials were more concerned with maintaining some form of sanctions on Iraq [read more]

09:02 EDT

[JURIST] New rules on passenger rights taking effect Thursday in the European Union [official website] will require airlines to compensate travellers for cancellations, delays, and denial of seats, even when the cause is an event normally considered outside the control of the airline, like bad weather conditions. The new legislation [read more]

09:02 EDT

[JURIST] The Court of Appeal in London Wednesday rejected a legal challenge from the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance arguing that the Hunting Act 2004 [official text] was invalid because the Parliament Act 1949 used to force it through the House of Lords last year was invalid. The ban on fox hunting [read more]

09:02 EDT

[JURIST] Togolese Army General Seyi Memene has agreed to "return the country to constitutional order" following talks held Tuesday [JURIST report] between Togo [government website in French] and ECOWAS [official website] representatives. Nigerian Foreign Minister Aichatou Mindaoudou said the talks yielded a good response and were very encouraging. No official [read more]

08:02 EDT

[JURIST] In a speech [prepared remarks] delivered to the National Press Club Tuesday, Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson [official website; profile] accused the federal judiciary of usurping legislative and executive power, called for the Senate leadership to force votes on President Bush's judicial nominations [JURIST report], and suggested that Democrats [read more]

08:02 EDT

[JURIST] US officials have announced that six more Guantanamo Bay [JURIST Hot Topic archive] detainees will be released after military Combatant Status Review Tribunals [DOD backgrounder] determined that they are not "enemy combatants". The review panels, set up in response to last year's Supreme Court ruling that Gitmo prisoners had [read more]

07:02 EDT

[JURIST] The Kyoto Protocol [official website; BBC News Q&A] takes legal effect Wednesday, 90 days after Russia ratified the treaty [JURIST report], providing the necessary number of ratifications for the treaty to come into force. Before becoming effective, the protocol, which aims to slow global warming by cutting greenhouse gas [read more]

00:02 EDT

[JURIST] Here's a run-down of law-related events, expected developments and live webcasts on JURIST's docket for Wednesday, Feb. 16.The US Senate [official website] convenes at 9:30 AM ET today, and it will consider S. 384, the Nazi War Crimes Working Group Extension Act. Watch a live webcast of proceedings. The [read more]

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