Legal news from Tuesday, January 31, 2006
22:01 EDT

[JURIST] President Bush Tuesday evening used the occasion of his 2006 State of the Union address [White House materials] to insist again on the legality of his domestic surveillance program and to celebrate the recent confirmations of two of his nominees to the US Supreme Court. On surveillance, he declared:It [read more]

20:01 EDT

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Tuesday ordered a stay on the execution of Florida inmate and convicted murderer Arthur Rutherford [NCADP advocacy letter], who claims that the Florida execution procedure violates Eighth Amendment guarantees against cruel and unusual punishment. The Court will not lift the order until [read more]

20:01 EDT

[JURIST] The US Second Circuit and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals ruled [2nd opinion, PDF; 9th opinion, PDF] in two separate decisions Tuesday that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act [text, PDF] is unconstitutional because it does not provide an exception for the health of the mother. The Ninth Circuit struck [read more]

19:01 EDT

[JURIST] The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) [official website] said in a report disclosed Tuesday that a set of documents now possessed by Iran is unequivocally intended for use in manufacturing nuclear weapons. The documents, which allegedly explain how "enriched, natural and depleted uranium" is processed "into hemispherical forms," were [read more]

19:01 EDT

[JURIST] A judge gave final approval Tuesday to a class action settlement jointly proposed by the Diocese of Covington, KY [official website; Diocese press release] and 361 plaintiffs who alleged they were molested by priests across 75 counties in Kentucky over a 50-year period. The final settlement amount of $85 [read more]

18:01 EDT

[JURIST] Digital free speech group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) [advocacy website] has initiated a class-action lawsuit [press release] against AT&T [corporate website] on behalf of California plaintiffs alleging that the company violated their right to privacy as well as several federal statutes when it allowed the National Security Agency (NSA) [read more]

16:01 EDT

[JURIST] Former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori [personal website; JURIST news archive] was interrogated for four hours Tuesday as part of Chilean Supreme Court judge Orlando Alvarez's process to determine whether he will recommend his extradition to Peru. Fujimori, who fled to Japan in 2000 following allegations of human rights violations [read more]

16:01 EDT

[JURIST] Members of the UK House of Commons [official website] Tuesday narrowly backed amendments [official text; JURIST report] to the government's controversial Racial and Religious Hatred Bill [text; BBC Q/A] approved by the UK House of Lords [official website] last year meant to ensure freedom of speech and exclude simple [read more]

15:01 EDT

[JURIST] Tuesday's confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito [JURIST news archive] as the 110th justice of the Supreme Court of the United States has predictably prompted mixed reactions. President Bush congratulated Alito [text] in a statement, once again calling him "a brilliant and fair-minded judge who strictly interprets the Constitution and [read more]

14:01 EDT

[JURIST] Washington Governor Christine Gregoire [official website] on Tuesday signed into law the landmark gay civil rights act [HB 2661 text, PDF] which expands the Washington Civil Rights Act to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in housing, lending and employment. Advocates of the bill, which was approved by the [read more]

13:01 EDT

[JURIST] An former vice chair of Wal-Mart [corporate website; JURIST news archive] pleaded guilty Tuesday to fraud and tax charges for stealing money, merchandise and gift cards from the store and filing a false tax report. Tom Coughlin was referred to federal prosecutors [JURIST report] by Wal-Mart lawyers after they [read more]

13:01 EDT

[JURIST] AP is reporting that Samuel Alito [JURIST news archive] has been sworn in as the 110th US Supreme Court justice. The private ceremony at the Supreme Court building took place shortly after the US Senate voted to confirm [JURIST report] his nomination Tuesday morning. [read more]

13:01 EDT

[JURIST] As many as 10 percent of prisoners executed in the US over the past 30 years suffered from some form of mental illness, according to a report [text] issued Tuesday by Amnesty International [advocacy website]. In a call for legal changes in the US that would prevent executions of [read more]

13:01 EDT

[JURIST] The Australian government said Tuesday that it is planning to review the country's Federal Privacy Act [text] to assess current policies and also technological changes since the act was passed in 1988 that may impact the law's application. Australian Attorney General Philip Ruddock [official profile] announced the review [press [read more]

12:01 EDT

[JURIST] Two of six men convicted in October 2004 [JURIST report] for committing sex offenses on the small Pacific island of Pitcairn appeared in court Tuesday to appeal their sentences at the Pitcairn Court of Appeal [Wikipedia backgrounder] in Auckland, New Zealand. Lawyers for the two men say they were [read more]

11:01 EDT

[JURIST] The ruling military junta in Myanmar [CIA backgrounder] has closed constitutional talks [JURIST report] until late 2006, delegates said Tuesday. The convention to draft a constitution has been held intermittently since 1993, and is the first step on a seven-stage road map aimed at unification, democracy, and free elections [read more]

11:01 EDT

[JURIST] The California Senate [official website] has approved legislation banning state agencies' production of news releases designed to look like objective reports. Senators approved SB 740 [bill summary] by a 21-11 vote. The legislation mirrors a court ruling made last month in which a Superior Court judge ruled that the [read more]

11:01 EDT

[JURIST] Afghan Judge Abul Basit Bakhitari has postponed the trial of Assadullah Sarwari [TrialWatch profile] for twenty days so that he may hire a lawyer. Sarwari, the former director of Afghanistan's intelligence service, faces charges stemming from his operation under the country's Soviet-supported communist regime [Wikipedia backgrounder] in 1979, where [read more]

11:01 EDT

[JURIST] The US Senate has approved the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito [JURIST news archive] to serve as an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court by a vote of 58-42 [roll call vote]. Alito will replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who announced her retirement [JURIST report] last July.12:08 PM [read more]

10:01 EDT

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] criticized Uzbek officials for blocking access to the trial of rights activist Mutabar Tojiboeva [RFE/RL report], in a statement [HRW news release] issued Tuesday. Uzbek police have blocked off the court building and set up checkpoints on the roads leading into the town where [read more]

10:01 EDT

[JURIST] Australian anti-terror laws force courts to close off too much information to the public and prevent fair trials, a group of media organizations argued Tuesday before the New South Wales Supreme Court [official website] in the first constitutional challenge to the federal government's anti-terrorism laws. According to a lawyer [read more]

10:01 EDT

[JURIST] Defense lawyers for Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive] have vowed to continue a boycott [JURIST report] of the former Iraqi leader's trial [JURIST news archive] unless the judge presiding over the trial is removed, one of the defense lawyers said Tuesday. Saleh al-Armuti, one of four defense lawyers representing [read more]

10:01 EDT

[JURIST] State officials and politicians in Georgia have indicated that there are no immediate plans to add death penalty [JURIST news archive] reform to the legislative agenda, despite the highly critical Georgia Death Penalty Assessment Report [DOC text; additional materials] released Monday by the American Bar Association (ABA) [association website]. [read more]

10:01 EDT

[JURIST] A suspected mastermind of the 2004 Madrid bombings [JURIST news archive] appeared in an Italian court Tuesday for an initial hearing as his trial on terror charges begins. Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed [CBC profile], along with an alleged accomplice, faces charges of subversive association aimed at international terrorism, a [read more]

08:01 EDT

[JURIST] Gholamreza Aghazadeh, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran [official website], said Tuesday that there is no legal basis for efforts to refer Iran [JURIST report] to the UN Security Council [official website]. In an interview with the semi-official ISNA [media website], Aghazadeh said that the five permanent [read more]

07:01 EDT

[JURIST] Wire services are reporting that Coretta Scott King [King Center profile], wife of the late US civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and a key figure in the civil rights movement herself, has died. She was 78, and had been hospitalized since August after suffering a stroke. After [read more]

04:01 EDT

[JURIST] Leading Tuesday's international brief, the foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council [official website] have agreed to present the issue of Iran's nuclear enrichment program to the Council following a report by International Atomic Energy Agency [official website; materials on Iran] due to be [read more]

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