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Thai court drops murder case against ex-PM

  International  -   POSTED: 2014/08/29 08:31

A Thai court on Thursday dismissed a murder case against ex-premier Abhisit Vejjajiva and his former deputy, who were both indicted for their role in ordering a deadly crackdown on anti-government protesters in 2010.

The judges ruled the Criminal Court has no authority to handle the case because the two accused were holders of political office at the time they gave the orders.

The ruling came three months after Thailand's army chief overthrew the country's elected government in a bloodless coup.

Abhisit and former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban had opposed the ousted government.

Dozens of people were killed in the 2010 crackdown when the army and police violently dispersed demonstrators who occupied downtown Bangkok for nine weeks.



A federal court has ruled that FedEx Corp. improperly classified about 2,300 drivers in California as independent contractors instead of employees.

The decision by a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday covered drivers who worked for FedEx between 2000 and 2007. Similar lawsuits were filed in about 40 states before 2009.

A lawyer for the drivers estimated that they could receive at least $250 million in back pay and damages if the ruling stands up.

The judges said that under California law, the drivers were employees because FedEx controlled how they did their work. They had to wear company uniforms, drive approved trucks, and follow other company procedures.

FedEx said it will appeal to the full appeals court in San Francisco. FedEx general counsel Cary Blancett said that other courts had upheld contract language with "thousands" of independent contractors.

The Memphis, Tennessee-based company said that since 2011, it has only contracted with incorporated businesses that treat drivers as their employees. It also said it will shift to new service agreements in California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada.

In their lawsuit, the drivers sought back pay for overtime, expenses, punitive damages and attorney costs. That would total more than $75,000 for each of the drivers in the original lawsuit, according to filings.


California Gov. Jerry Brown's nominee to fill a vacancy on the state Supreme Court has received strong support during the run-up to his confirmation hearing.

The three-member Commission on Judicial Appointments is widely expected to confirm Stanford University law professor Mariano-Florentino "Tino" Cuellar after a two-hour hearing Thursday in San Francisco.

If approved, the registered Democrat would fill a vacancy created by the retirement in January of conservative Justice Marvin Baxter. The Mexican-born Cuellar will also be placed on the November ballot for voter approval if confirmed Thursday.

The three witnesses scheduled to testify say they are supporters. In addition, the commission received seven written endorsements, including one from former FBI chief Robert Mueller. The commission hasn't received any written opposition.

"I believe Tino to be of the highest caliber and a man of character," Mueller wrote. "He is reasonable, even-tempered and moderate in his approach to the law."

Cuellar was born in Matamoros, Mexico, and walked across the border to attend school in Brownsville, Texas, according to the governor's office. He earned his law degree from Yale Law School and a doctoral degree in political science from Stanford University. He has been a law professor at Stanford since 2001.



Circular saws squealed and construction workers hammered away on buildings, part of this Appalachian area's painstaking recovery from a deadly 2012 tornado.

About 60 miles away, inside in a federal courtroom Tuesday in Lexington, the elected official who led the reconstruction in Morgan County sobbed as he pleaded guilty to a fraud charge stemming from a kickback scheme.

Judge-Executive Tim Conley, the county's top official, received $120,000 to $200,000 to steer work to a contractor in a scheme that started three years before the tornado and continued while the town struggled to rebuild, prosecutors said. Conley could spend years in prison.

His supporters had a hard time believing the three-term Republican had gone astray.

"Everybody respected Tim Conley," said Morgan County resident Steve Gullett. "I just didn't think that he'd be caught up in something like this. It's heartbreaking."

The recovery has been slow in West Liberty, the county seat ravaged by a tornado on March 2, 2012. The new judicial center has opened, and a few businesses have sprung up downtown. A bank that anchored downtown is being rebuilt, but construction is in its early phases, leaving a massive gap in the tiny downtown.


Guilty plea in California meat recall case

  Court Watch  -   POSTED: 2014/08/27 08:18

A co-owner of a Northern California slaughterhouse accused of processing cows with cancer has pleaded guilty to a criminal charge.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that 77-year-old Robert Singleton, co-owner of Petaluma-based Rancho Feeding Corp., entered the plea on Friday to aiding and abetting in the distribution of adulterated, misbranded and uninspected meat. He has agreed to work with prosecutors who have filed charges against the company's other owner, Jesse Amaral Jr., and two employees, Eugene Corda and Felix Cabrera.

They have pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors say the company slaughtered dozens of cows with skin cancer of the eye, and plant workers swapped the heads of diseased cattle with those of healthy cows.

Operations were halted in February after a series of recalls, including one for 8.7 million pounds of beef.


A federal appeals panel in Denver on Monday suggested that a partisan stalemate in Congress may mean that Republicans in Kansas and Arizona will be unable to force federal election officials to impose proof-of-citizenship requirements on voter registration forms.

Those two states sued the Elections Assistance Commission after the agency refused to adjust the federal voting registration forms it distributed in Kansas and Arizona to reflect those states' requirements that voters present documentation that proves they are citizens.

A lower court found the commission needed to include the more stringent state language. But on Monday, a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals noted that Congress has not approved a single commissioner to sit on the commission in three years.

The judges were skeptical the agency could decide whether to change the federal form, one way or the other, without any commissioners.




India's Supreme Court says all government allocations of coal reserves to private companies from 1993 to 2009 were conducted illegally, and it will hold a hearing to decide whether to cancel them.

More than 200 coal blocks, or areas of unmined reserves, were allocated during that period to companies for their use in power plants or steel or cement factories.Companies were allowed to sell excess coal on the open market, but the court said Monday that commercial sales of coal from the reserves must be suspended until it makes its decision.

The court's ruling extends beyond an initial case in which the previous federal government was accused of costing the treasury hundreds of billions of dollars by allocating about 155 coal blocks without competitive bidding in 2004-09.

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