Legal news from Wednesday, October 12, 2005
20:10 EDT

[JURIST] The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) [official website] said Wednesday that it was reconsidering a ban on firearms for people living at emergency housing parks [FEMA news release] in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive] after being pressured by gun-rights groups. FEMA spokesman Butch Kinerney said attorneys were [read more]

19:10 EDT

[JURIST] New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer [official profile; JURIST news archive] Wednesday dropped criminal charges against Theodore Sihpol, a former Bank of America broker accused of aiding illegal trades by a hedge fund, after Sihpol settled related charges with Securites and Exchange Commission [official website]. Under the settlement with [read more]

19:10 EDT

[JURIST] Indonesia [JURIST news archive] has agreed to work on strengthening its anti-terrorism laws with help from Australia, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer [official profile] said Wednesday. Downer made the announcement after meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda in Jakarta. Australia [JURIST news archive] had originally hoped to convince [read more]

19:10 EDT

[JURIST] The White House Wednesday cited the religious views of US Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers [official profile; JURIST news archive], acknowledging the relevance of those to religious conservatives while denying that they should play any role in the rulings of a judge. Spokesman Scott McClellan confirmed that on October [read more]

16:10 EDT

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] Wednesday heard arguments on how far First Amendment protection should stretch for government whistleblowers who claim retaliation for their speech. In Garcetti v. Ceballos [Duke Law backgrounder], an employee in the Los Angeles District Attorney's office claimed he was retaliated [read more]

16:10 EDT

[JURIST] A Kosovo Albanian rebel indicted on war crimes charges was put on trial Wednesday before a special Serbian court, but the trial adjourned immediately after opening. Anton Lekaj, a former member of the Kosovo Liberation Army [BBC backgrounder], is the first ethnic Albanian to go on trial before the [read more]

16:10 EDT

[JURIST] Hundreds of demonstrators Wednesday gathered again outside the prison where several men convicted in the 2002 Bali bombings [BBC backgrounder] had been held, calling for the execution of the bombers on the third anniversary of the attacks [Jakarta Post report]. The surging crowd eventually broke down gates at the [read more]

15:10 EDT

[JURIST] Northwest Airlines [corporate website] asked a federal bankruptcy judge Wednesday to void labor contracts if its employee unions do not agree to concessions worth $1.4 billion a year [NWA press release]. The attempted savings are part of the airline's larger plan to reduce costs by $2.5 billion after the [read more]

15:10 EDT

[JURIST] The EU on Wednesday approved new rules [news release] requiring telecommunications companies to retain records of phone and e-mail communications for up to a year to aid in anti-terror efforts [EU anti-terror backgrounder] in Europe. EU justice ministers approved the requirement over privacy and cost concerns after several years [read more]

15:10 EDT

[JURIST] A federal judge on Wednesday blocked New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer [official website] from investigating national banks' lending practices, which Spitzer believed to be charging minorities higher interest rates on home mortgage loans. US District Judge Sydney H. Stein ruled [PDF opinion; companion opinion] in favor of the [read more]

15:10 EDT

[JURIST] The US Department of Justice [official website] has issued an apology for thefts by US soldiers of valuables belonging to Hungarian Jews found on a Nazi train captured at the close of World War II. The DOJ apologized for the "improper conduct" of some soldiers, who reportedly stole a [read more]

15:10 EDT

[JURIST] The former CEO of Refco [corporate website], one of the largest commodities brokerage firms in the world, was charged [criminal complaint, PDF] with securities fraud Wednesday for an alleged $430 million debt to the company that he hid from investors. Phillip R. Bennett, who was forced out of his [read more]

14:10 EDT

[JURIST] The trial of 45 Italian police and medical staff accused of unlawful violence against protesters at the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa [official website, BBC backgrounder] opened Wednesday. The charges stem from violent clashes between protestors and police outside the summit, resulting in injuries to more than 100 people [read more]

14:10 EDT

[JURIST] AP is reporting that Iraq's parliament speaker has said that the National Assembly has approved a compromise deal on the Iraqi constitution [JURIST news archive]. Under the deal [JURIST report], a commission will be established to consider future amendments to the charter, which would then be voted on by [read more]

14:10 EDT

[JURIST] Haiti's Supreme Court has ruled that a Haitian-born US citizen can run in the upcoming presidential elections [JURIST report]. The country's provisional Electoral Council had decided that US businessman Dumarsais Simeus could not run in the election, but the high court ruled Tuesday that Simeus could run because the [read more]

14:10 EDT

[JURIST] Senior Israeli Defense Forces [official website] officers, under instruction from Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz [official profile], asked the Israeli Supreme Court [official website] Tuesday to reconsider last week's ruling [JURIST report] banning the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields [JURIST report]. Mofaz stated that the current ruling will [read more]

14:10 EDT

[JURIST] US District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee watched a videotaped confession Tuesday where Ahmed Omar Abu Ali [PDF indictment], accused of plotting to assassinate President Bush, said that he was motivated by hatred of American support for Israel. Lee is currently considering a defense motion to throw out the confession; [read more]

13:10 EDT

[JURIST] The British government introduced a tough new anti-terror bill in the House of Commons Wednesday, bringing forward measures [UK Home Office backgrounder] anticipated since soon after the July 7 London bombings [JURIST news archive] that killed 52 commuters. Among other things, the Terrorism Bill [official text; government explanatory notes] [read more]

13:10 EDT

[JURIST] The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles [official website] has released information from 126 clergy personnel files that shows that the archdiocese moved priests accused of sexual abuse between therapy and new assignments for over 75 years. The documents, released late Tuesday as part of a settlement in a [read more]

13:10 EDT

[JURIST] California's Fourth District Court of Appeals heard arguments Tuesday to determine whether physicians can refuse to provide fertility treatments to a homosexual women based upon their religious beliefs. In a case expected to eventually be heard by the Supreme Court, Drs. Christine Brody and Douglas Fenton contend they refused [read more]

13:10 EDT

[JURIST] US officials outlined procedures for the upcoming trial of ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] in a special background briefing at the State Department Tuesday. The officials, speaking "on background" because the trial is an Iraqi process [State Department press advisory], said Hussein would appear before three [read more]

12:10 EDT

[JURIST] Human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch Wednesday called on US federal and state lawmakers to change mandatory sentencing schemes under which thousands of juvenile prisoners face the prospect of life sentences without parole. A new joint report entitled The Rest of Their Lives says that some [read more]

11:10 EDT

[JURIST] In his first media briefing, incoming UK lord chief justice Lord Phillips [official profile] has warned the British government to back off pressuring the judiciary to enforce its own views of the law in terror-related or other cases. Speaking Tuesday at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, he [read more]

10:10 EDT

[JURIST] A Russian military court in the North Caucasus region has found two Russian soldiers not guilty of murdering three civilians during operations in the war-torn region of Chechnya [Wikipedia profile]. Interior Force officers Yevgeny Khudyakov and Sergei Arakcheyev were charged with killing three Chechen construction workers in January 2003 [read more]

09:10 EDT

[JURIST] A US congressional panel said Tuesday that China [JURIST news archive] had made no significant progress in human rights or law reform over the past year despite announced efforts in those areas. The 2005 Annual Report [full text] of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China [official website] noted ongoing abuses [read more]

08:10 EDT

[JURIST] Lawyers for Republican members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee said Tuesday that President Bush's nomination of White House counsel Harriet Miers [JURIST news archive] for the Supreme Court was uniformly unpopular among committee staffers, and that some questioning her qualifications and conservative pedigree were actively researching ways to [read more]

08:10 EDT

[JURIST] Former French UN ambassador Jean-Bernard Merimee is expected to appear before a French judge Wednesday after having been detained by authorities investigating allegations of fraud and corruption in the UN Oil-for-Food program [official website; JURIST news archive]. Merimee was France's representative to the UN from 1991-95 and worked as [read more]

07:10 EDT

[JURIST] New York Times reporter Judith Miller [JURIST news archive] is set Wednesday to go back for a second round of testimony before a federal grand jury probing the 2003 leak of the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame [JURIST news archive] by White House sources after her husband, US [read more]

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