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Saying the president had exceeded his authority, a panel of three federal judges on Thursday blocked an order from President Donald Trump that tried to exclude people in the country illegally from being counted when congressional districts are redrawn.

The federal judges in New York, in granting an injunction, said the presidential order issued in late July was unlawful. The judges prohibited Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose agency oversees the U.S. Census Bureau, from excluding people in the country illegally when handing in 2020 census figures used to calculate how many congressional seats each state gets.

According to the judges, the presidential order violated laws governing the execution of the once-a-decade census and also the process for redrawing congressional districts known as apportionment by requiring that two sets of numbers be presented ? one with the total count and the other minus people living in the country illegally.

The judges said that those in the country illegally qualify as people to be counted in the states they reside. They declined to say whether the order violated the Constitution.

“Throughout the Nation’s history, the figures used to determine the apportionment of Congress ? in the language of the current statutes, the ‘total population’ and the ‘whole number of persons’ in each State ? have included every person residing in the United States at the time of the census, whether citizen or non-citizen and whether living here with legal status or without,” the judges wrote.

Opponents of the order said it was an effort to suppress the growing political power of Latinos in the U.S. and to discriminate against immigrant communities of color. They also said undocumented residents use the nation’s roads, parks and other public amenities and should be taken into account for any distribution of federal resources.

The lawsuits challenging the presidential order in New York were brought by a coalition of cities, civil rights groups and states led by New York. Because the lawsuits dealt with questions about apportionment, it was heard by a three-judge panel that allows the decision to be appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The judges agreed with the coalition that the order created confusion among undocumented residents over whether they should participate in the 2020 census, deterring participation and jeopardizing the quality of the census data. That harm to the census was a sufficient basis for their ruling and they didn’t need to rely on the speculation that a state would be hurt by possibly losing a congressional seat if people in the country illegally were excluded from apportionment, the judges said.


Hoping to replicate a strategy long seen as key to his appeal among conservative voters, President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced he is adding 20 names to a list of Supreme Court candidates he's pledged to choose from if he has future vacancies to fill.

The list includes a trio of conservative Republican senators: Ted Cruz of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri — all buzzed-about potential 2024 Republican presidential candidates — as well as Christopher Landau, the current ambassador to Mexico, and Noel Francisco, who argued 17 cases as the Trump administration’s top Supreme Court lawyer.

“Every one of these individuals will ensure equal justice, equal treatment and equal rights for citizens of every race, color, religion and creed," Trump said as he made his announcement at the White House.

Trump tried to cast the list in contrast with judges who could be nominated if his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, wins in November, warning Biden would select “radical justices” who would “fundamentally transform America without a single vote of Congress," even though Biden has never outlined his list of potential picks and the Senate must confirm any nominee.

The release, less than two months before the election, is aimed at repeating the strategy that Trump employed during his 2016 campaign, when he released a similar list of could-be judges in a bid to win over conservative and evangelical voters who had doubts about his conservative bonafides.

The list includes a number of people who have worked for Trump's administration, including Gregory Katsas, whom Trump nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Before that, Katsas served as a legal adviser on some of the president’s most contentious policies, including his executive orders restricting travel for citizens of predominantly Muslim countries and his decision to end a program protecting some young immigrants from deportation.

Francisco, the former solicitor general of the United States, also defended Trump’s travel ban, his unsuccessful push to add a citizenship question to the U.S. census and the decision to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects hundreds of thousands of young people from deportation. He also argued that a landmark civil rights law didn’t protect gay, lesbian and transgender people from employment discrimination, a position the court ruled against 6-3 earlier this year.

Also on the list is Daniel Cameron, the Kentucky Attorney General who is currently deciding whether to criminally charge three Louisville police officers in the March shooting death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical technician who was killed when officers entered her apartment with a no-knock warrant during a drug investigation.


The Alaska Court of Appeals has ruled law enforcement officers cannot use cameras and drones for aerial searches of property without a warrant.

The court acknowledged police have a legal right to fly over property, but the use of observational technology violates the right to privacy guaranteed in the Alaska Constitution, KTVF-TV reported  Monday.

“An officer’s use of vision-enhancing technology should be deemed a ’search’ if the technology allows the officer to make observations that are significantly more detailed than what an unaided human eye would be able to see at the same distance,” the ruling said.

Maria Bahr, a spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Law, said in an email the state is deciding whether to seek a review by the Alaska Supreme Court. She noted the Supreme Court is not obligated to accept any possible petition for review of the case.

The Fairbanks Police Department uses drones, but it said the ruling is unlikely to affect their work.

“Our policy has always been, if you think you need a search warrant we should probably get one, especially if we are already going to be somewhere with the intent of looking into private property,” said Officer Jason Pace, who flies the department’s drones.

The ruling stems from a 2012 case in which Alaska State Troopers received a tip about marijuana being grown on a property near Fairbanks.

Troopers could not confirm the report because of thick trees obscuring the view. But then they used a helicopter to take photos with a telephoto camera lens.

Troopers used the images to apply for a search warrant and arrest John William McKelvey.

McKelvey’s attorney, Robert John, filed a motion to suppress evidence, claiming that taking photos from the air to obtain a warrant invaded his client’s right to privacy.

The trial court rejected the argument, and McKelvey was found guilty on two charges. The case was heard by the Alaska Court of Appeals in 2018.

John said the appeal ruling confirmed police in the air “can only investigate with their naked eye. They cannot employ technology. They cannot employ drones.”



WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is set to fight for his freedom in a British court after a decade of legal drama, as he challenges American authorities’ attempt to extradite him on spying charges over the site’s publication of secret U.S. military documents. Lawyers for Assange and the U.S. government are scheduled to face off in London Monday at an extradition hearing that was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

American prosecutors have indicted the 49-year-old Australian on 18 espionage and computer misuse charges adding up to a maximum sentence of 175 years. His lawyers say the prosecution is a politically motivated abuse of power that will stifle press freedom and put journalists at risk.

Assange attorney Jennifer Robinson said the case “is fundamentally about basic human rights and freedom of speech.” “Journalists and whistle-blowers who reveal illegal activity by companies or governments and war crimes – such as the publications Julian has been charged for – should be protected from prosecution,” she said.

American prosecutors say Assange is a criminal, not a free-speech hero. They allege that Assange conspired with U.S. army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack into a Pentagon computer and release hundreds of thousands of secret diplomatic cables and military files on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They also say he conspired with members of hacking organizations and sought to recruit hackers to provide WikiLeaks with classified information.

“By disseminating the materials in an unredacted form, he likely put people -- human rights activists, journalists, advocates, religious leaders, dissidents and their families -- at risk of serious harm, torture or even death,” James Lewis, a British lawyer acting for the U.S. government, told a hearing in February.

Assange argues he is a journalist entitled to First Amendment protection, and says the leaked documents exposed U.S. military wrongdoing. Among the files released by WikiLeaks was video of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack by American forces in Baghdad that killed 11 people, including two Reuters journalists.

His lawyers argue the prosecution is an abuse of process by a Trump administration that wants to make an example of Assange. They say he would be held in inhuman conditions and would not get a fair trial in the United States.

Journalism organizations and human rights groups have called on Britain to refuse the extradition request. Amnesty International said Assange was “the target of a negative public campaign by U.S. officials at the highest levels.”

“If Julian Assange is prosecuted it could have a chilling effect on media freedom, leading publishers and journalists to self-censor in fear of retaliation,” said Amnesty’s Europe Director, Nils Muižnieks.

The four-week extradition hearing is part of a twisting saga rife with competing claims of hacking, spying and subterfuge. Assange’s lawyers claim the U.S. intelligence services directed a private security firm to spy on him while he was living in Ecuador’s London embassy -- a case currently being heard in a Spanish court.

Assange also alleges he was offered a pardon by the Trump administration if he agreed to say Russia wasn’t involved in leaking Democratic National Committee emails that were published by WikiLeaks during the 2016 U.S. election campaign. The White House denies that claim.

Assange’s legal troubles began in 2010, when he was arrested in London at the request of Sweden, which wanted to question him about allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two women. He refused to go to Stockholm, saying he feared extradition or illegal rendition to the United States or the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


A Saudi court issued final verdicts on Monday in the case of slain Washington Post columnist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi after his son, who still resides in the kingdom, announced pardons that spared five of the convicted individuals from execution.

While the trial draws to its conclusion in Saudi Arabia, the case continues to cast a shadow over the international standing of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose associates have been sanctioned by the U.S. and the U.K. for their alleged involvement in the brutal killing, which took place inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

The Riyadh Criminal Court’s final verdicts were announced by Saudi Arabia’s state television, which aired few details about the eight Saudi nationals and did not name them. The court ordered a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the five. Another individual received a 10-year sentence, and two others were ordered to serve seven years in prison.

A team of 15 Saudi agents had flown to Turkey to meet Khashoggi inside the consulate for his appointment on Oct. 2, 2018 to pick up documents that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiance, who waited outside. The team included a forensic doctor, intelligence and security officers, and individuals who worked directly for the crown prince’s office, according to Agnes Callamard, who investigated the killing for the United Nations.

Turkish officials allege Khashoggi was killed and then dismembered with a bone saw inside the consulate. His body has not been found. Turkey apparently had the consulate bugged and shared audio of the killing with the C.I.A., among others.

Western intelligence agencies, as well as the U.S. Congress, have said the crown prince bears ultimate responsibility for the killing and that an operation of this magnitude could not have happened without his knowledge.

The 35-year-old prince denies any knowledge of the operation and has condemned the killing. He continues to have the support of his father, King Salman, and remains popular among Saudi youth at home. He also maintains the support of President Donald Trump, who has defended U.S.-Saudi ties in the face of the international outcry over the slaying.


The U.S. Census Bureau for now must stop following a plan that would have it winding down operations in order to finish the 2020 census at the end of September, according to a federal judge's order.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, issued a temporary restraining order late Saturday against the Census Bureau and the Commerce Department, which oversees the agency. The order stops the Census Bureau from winding down operations until a court hearing is held on Sept. 17.

The once-a-decade head count of every U.S. resident helps determine how $1.5 trillion in federal funding is distributed and how many congressional seats each state gets in a process known as apportionment.

The temporary restraining order was requested by a coalition of cities, counties and civil rights groups that had sued the Census Bureau, demanding it restore its previous plan for finishing the census at the end of October, instead of using a revised plan to end operations at the end of September. The coalition had argued the earlier deadline would cause the Census Bureau to overlook minority communities in the census, leading to an inaccurate count.

Because of the pandemic, the Census Bureau pushed back ending the count from the end of July to the end of October and asked Congress to extend the deadline for turning in the apportionment numbers from December, as required by law, into next spring. When the Republican-controlled Senate failed to take up the request, the bureau was forced to create a revised schedule that had the census ending in September, according to the statistical agency.

The lawsuit contends the Census Bureau changed the schedule to accommodate a directive from President Donald Trump to exclude people in the country illegally from the numbers used in redrawing congressional districts. The revised plan would have the Census Bureau handing in the apportionment numbers at the end of December, under the control of the Trump administration, no matter who wins the election in November.

More than a half dozen other lawsuits have been filed in tandem across the country, challenging Trump’s memorandum as unconstitutional and an attempt to limit the power of Latinos and immigrants of color during apportionment.

“The court rightfully recognized the Trump administration’s attempted short-circuiting of our nation’s census as an imminent threat to the completion of a fair and accurate process,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, one of the groups that brought the San Jose lawsuit.


The Alaska Supreme Court on Friday rejected as unconstitutional former Gov. Bill Walker’s proposal to use bonding to pay Alaska’s oil and gas tax credit obligations. The court, in a written ruling, said the plan, which was approved by the Legislature in 2018, is “unconstitutional in its entirety.”

The bill passed by lawmakers approved the creation of a state corporation that would be empowered to sell up to $1 billion in bonds to pay off remaining tax credit obligations. The Legislature previously voted to end the tax credit program geared toward small producers and developers, saying that the program had become unaffordable.

The state constitution limits the power to incur state debt. But a 2018 legal opinion by then-Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth said the proposed bonds would not be considered state debt subject to the constitutional restraints because they would be “subject-to-appropriation” bonds and contingent upon annual legislative appropriation decisions.

Superior Court Judge Jude Pate dismissed the lawsuit brought by resident Eric Forrer, who had challenged the bonding plan. Forrer appealed.

The Alaska Supreme Court, in its decision, said subject-to-appropriation bonds are “contrary to the plain text of the Alaska Constitution and the framers' intent.”

“If the State intends to utilize financing schemes similar to HB 331 in the future, it must first seek approval from the people — if not through a bond referendum then through a constitutional amendment,” the opinion states. HB 331 refers to the bonding bill.

Joe Geldhof, an attorney for Forrer, said “the real winner here" is Alaska's constitution and the citizens of the state who won't incur “needless debt based on a scheme.”

Gov. Mike Dunleavy's office, in a statement, said the departments of Revenue and Law are reviewing the decision to understand its impacts.


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