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A California appeals court justice accused of sexually harassing staff and attorneys will be removed from office after the state Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal Wednesday.

Jeffrey Johnson will become the highest-ranking California judge ever removed for misconduct, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Johnson, 60, serves on the Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles. Eleven women accused him of making unwanted sexual advances to them or groping them, including another justice on the court and a lawyer who alleged that Johnson put his hand under her dress at a dinner.

In June, the state Commission on Judicial Performance ordered him removed from the bench, where he had served since being appointed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He previously served as a federal prosecutor and a federal judge.

Johnson's conduct “severely tarnished the esteem of the judiciary in the eyes of the public,” the commission said. Johnson and his lawyers appealed, saying he never had committed any “willful misconduct” and didn't have any previous record of discipline, the Chronicle reported.

But on Wednesday, the state Supreme Court declined to review the decision.

“This decision deprives the public of a diverse jurist who is universally acknowledged to be a brilliant and exceptionally fair judicial officer,” said Paul S. Meyer, an attorney for Johnson.


GameStop’s stock is back to the races Friday, and the overall U.S. market is down again, as the saga that’s captivated and confused Wall Street ramps up the drama.

GameStop shot up more than 70% in midday trading, clawing back most of its steep loss from the day before, after Robinhood said it will allow customers to start buying some of the stock again. GameStop has been on a stupefying 1,900% run over the last three weeks and has become the battleground where swarms of smaller investors see themselves making an epic stand against the 1%.

The assault is directed squarely at hedge funds and other Wall Street titans that had bet the struggling video game retailer’s stock would fall. A couple have already essentially admitted defeat, with one saying Friday it would stop publishing reports on stocks it expects to fall. The army of smaller and novice investors, meanwhile, is pledging to keep up the momentum for GameStop’s stock in hopes of inflicting more pain on the financial elite.

The moves are reverberating across Wall Street, as concerns rise about how much damage the frenzy could do as its effects spill out into the broader market. The big professional investors who had been banking on a drop for GameStop’s stock are taking sharp losses. Investors say that’s pushing them to sell other stocks they own to raise cash, and that is helping to pull down parts of the market completely unrelated to the revolt by Main Street investors.



In a victory for environmentalists and Nigerians whose land was polluted by oil leaks, a Dutch appeals court ordered energy giant Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary Friday to compensate farmers in two villages for damage to their land caused by leaks in 2004 and 2005.

Friends of the Earth Netherlands director Donald Pols hailed the ruling as a victory for small communities hurt by huge companies.

“Up until this morning, Dutch multinationals could act with impunity in developing countries ... and this has changed now,” Pols said. “From this moment onwards, Dutch multinationals will be held accountable for their activities and their actions in developing countries. And that’s an enormous victory for the rights of law globally.”

The amount of compensation paid to three farmers in the villages will be established at a later date.

The Hague Court of Appeal held Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary liable for two leaks that spewed oil over an area of a total of about 60 football pitches (soccer fields) in two villages, saying that it could not be established “beyond a reasonable doubt” that saboteurs were to blame. Under Nigerian law, which was applied in the Dutch civil case, the company is not liable if the leaks were the result of sabotage.

One of the farmers involved in the case, Eric Dooh, called the decision a victory “for the entire Niger Delta region. The victory is for the Ogoni people. Victory for all that stood by our side, both Blacks and whites.”

The Hague appeals court ruled that sabotage was to blame for an oil leak in another village; however, it said that the issue of whether Shell can be held liable “remains open” and the case will be continued as the court wants clarification about the extent of the pollution and whether it still has to be cleaned up.

The court also ruled that Dutch-based mother company Royal Dutch Shell and its Nigerian subsidiary must fit a leak-detection system to a pipeline that caused one of the spills.

The decision, which can be appealed to the Dutch Supreme Court, is the latest stage in a case that is breaking new legal ground in how far multinationals in the Netherlands can be held responsible for actions of their overseas subsidiaries.




Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered on Thursday the release of a Pakistani-British man convicted and later acquitted in the beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.

The court also dismissed an appeal of Ahmad Saeed Omar Sheikh’s acquittal filed by Pearl’s family and the Pakistani government.

A minister in the Sindh province where Sheikh is being held said the government had exhausted all options to keep him locked up — an indication that Sheikh could be free within days. The “Supreme Court is the court of last resort,” Murtaza Wahab, Sindh’s law minister, told The Associated Press.

“The Pearl family is in complete shock by the majority decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to acquit and release Ahmed Omer Sheikh and the other accused persons who kidnapped and killed Daniel Pearl,” the Pearl family said in a statement released by their lawyer, Faisal Siddiqi.

The brutality of Pearl’s killing shocked many in 2002, years before the Islamic State group began releasing videos of their militants beheading journalists. An autopsy report told of the gruesome details of the Wall Street Journal reporter’s killing and dismemberment.

Sheikh was convicted of helping lure Pearl to a meeting in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi, during which he was kidnapped. Pearl had been investigating the link between Pakistani militants and Richard C. Reid, dubbed the “shoe bomber” after his attempt to blow up a flight from Paris to Miami with explosives hidden in his shoes.

Pearl’s body was discovered in a shallow grave soon after a video of his beheading was delivered to the U.S. Consulate in Karachi.

The Pentagon in 2007 released a transcript in which Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks on the United States, said he had killed Pearl.

“I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew Daniel Pearl,” the transcript quoted Mohammed as saying. Mohammad first disclosed his role while he was held in CIA custody and subjected to waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other forms of torture. He remains in the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay and has never been charged with the journalist’s death.


A far-right extremist in Germany was convicted Thursday and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a regional politician who had advocated helping refugees — a brazen killing that shocked the country.

In its verdict against 47-year-old Stephan Ernst, the Frankfurt state court noted the “particular severity” of the crime, meaning that he will likely not be eligible for release after 15 years as is typical under German law, the dpa news agency reported.

During his trial, Ernst admitted to the June 1, 2019 shooting of Walter Luebcke, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party who led the regional administration in the Kassel area of central Germany — though he gave three different versions of events.

Luebcke was targeted because he had been outspoken in favor of helping refugees. Prosecutors said Ernst had attended a 2015 town hall event where the politician had defended the German government’s decision to allow hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers into the country.

The court found that Ernst “projected xenophobia onto Dr. Luebcke.”

Ernst shot Luebcke on the politician’s porch and he died hours later.

The German government warned after the Luebcke killing and other attacks — including one on a synagogue on Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day, in October 2019 — that far-right extremism posed a significant security threat in the country.

An accomplice who prosecutors alleged was with Ernst at the scene of the crime, identified only as Markus H. due to German privacy laws, was convicted of weapons violations and sentenced to 18 months probation.

H. had been charged with being an accessory to murder, but his attorney argued he wasn’t involved and he was only found guilty of the lesser charge.

Ernst was cleared of separate charges of stabbing and seriously wounding an Iraqi refugee in 2016. Presiding Judge Thomas Sagebiel said there are circumstances that point to him as the perpetrator, “but no sustainable evidence.”

“Today’s verdict encourages me and at the same time is a reminder to us all — we will not let our country be destroyed by right-wing terrorists and their intellectual instigators,” said Armin Laschet, the leader of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party.

Laschet said that “the slaying of Walter Luebcke was not just an abhorrent, inhuman crime against an individual, but an attack on us all.” He added that it’s important to stand behind other local politicians who are exposed to “personal hostility.”


A federal judge on Tuesday barred the U.S. government from enforcing a 100-day deportation moratorium that is a key immigration priority of President Joe Biden.

U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton issued a temporary restraining order sought by Texas, which sued on Friday  against a Department of Homeland Security memo that instructed immigration agencies to pause most deportations. Tipton said the Biden administration had failed “to provide any concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause on deportations.”

Tipton’s order is an early blow to the Biden administration, which has proposed far-reaching changes sought by immigration advocates, including a plan to legalize an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. Biden promised during his campaign to issue the moratorium.

The order represents a victory for Texas’ Republican leaders, who often sued to stop programs enacted by Biden’s Democratic predecessor, President Barack Obama. It also showed that just as Democratic-led states and immigration groups fought former President Donald Trump over immigration in court, often successfully, so too will Republicans with Biden in office.

While Tipton’s order bars enforcement of a moratorium for 14 days, it does not require deportations to resume at their previous pace. Immigration agencies typically have latitude in processing cases and scheduling removal flights.

The Department of Homeland Security referred a request for comment to the White House, which issued a statement saying the moratorium was “wholly appropriate.”

“President Biden remains committed to taking immediate action to reform our immigration system to ensure it’s upholding American values while keeping our communities safe,” the White House said.

David Pekoske, the acting Homeland Security secretary, signed a memo on Biden’s first day directing immigration authorities to focus on national security and public safety threats as well as anyone apprehended entering the U.S. illegally after Nov. 1. That was a reversal from Trump administration policy that made anyone in the U.S. illegally a priority for deportation.

The 100-day moratorium went into effect Friday and applied to almost anyone who entered the U.S. without authorization before November.


One of six men charged in an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy, admitting that the group discussed an incredible scheme to snatch her at her lakeside vacation home and destroy a bridge to slow down police.

Ty Garbin’s guilty plea is a major catch for prosecutors, only about four months after arrests were made. His testimony could strengthen the government’s case against the others and back up evidence collected by informants and undercover agents.

Garbin appeared in federal court in Grand Rapids a few hours after a plea agreement loaded with details about the operation was filed, including his pledge to fully cooperate with investigators. There was no agreement on a sentencing range, but his assistance could help him when he returns July 8.

The FBI in October said it broke up a plot to kidnap Whitmer, a Democrat, by anti-government extremists upset over coronavirus restrictions she had imposed in Michigan. Six people were charged in federal court while eight others were charged in state court with aiding them.

U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker went through a series of questions about Garbin’s rights and his willingness to plead guilty.

When the judge asked if he had second thoughts, Garbin replied: “I do not, your honor.”

In the plea agreement, Garbin, 25, of Hartland, acknowledged more than six pages of stunning allegations. He said he and others trained with weapons in Munith, Michigan, and Cambria, Wisconsin, last summer and “discussed the plan to storm the Capitol and kidnap the governor.”

The plot, he said, eventually switched to Whitmer’s second home in Antrim County.

Garbin said he “advocated waiting until after the national election, when the conspirators expected widespread civil unrest to make it easier for them to operate.”

In September, the six men trained at Garbin’s property near Luther, Michigan, constructing a “shoot house” to resemble Whitmer’s vacation home and “assaulting it with firearms,” the plea deal states.

The men also made trips to Antrim County to study the home and the area, Garbin said.

Garbin said he sent a text message to someone who turned out to be a government informant, indicating that “if the bridge goes down it will stop the wave,” a suggestion that police would be delayed in responding to a kidnapping if a nearby bridge was blown up.


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