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Facebook has lost a legal fight against a New York City prosecutor who sought search warrants for hundreds of user accounts.

The New York state Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that while the case raised important questions about privacy it was "constrained" by the law relating to who can challenge search warrants.

Prosecutors in Manhattan sought search warrants in 2013 for the accounts of 381 people in connection with a disability benefits fraud case against New York City police and fire retirees.

Menlo Park, California-based Facebook challenged the warrants, which it said were overbroad. In a statement, a spokesperson said the company was disappointed by the ruling and is continuing to evaluate its legal options.

The case has been closely watched by social media companies, civil libertarians and prosecutors.


An Oklahoma-based Native American tribe filed a lawsuit in its own tribal court system Friday accusing several oil companies of triggering the state's largest earthquake that caused extensive damage to some near-century-old tribal buildings.

The Pawnee Nation alleges in the suit that wastewater injected into wells operated by the defendants caused the 5.8-magnitude quake in September and is seeking physical damages to real and personal property, market value losses, as well as punitive damages.

The case will be heard in the tribe's district court with a jury composed of Pawnee Nation members.
"We are a sovereign nation and we have the rule of law here," said Andrew Knife Chief, the Pawnee Nation's executive director. "We're using our tribal laws, our tribal processes to hold these guys accountable."

Attorneys representing the 3,200-member tribe in north-central Oklahoma say the lawsuit is the first earthquake-related litigation filed in a tribal court. If an appeal were filed in a jury decision, it could be heard by a five-member tribal Supreme Court, and that decision would be final.

"Usually tribes have their own appellate process, and then, and this surprises a lot of people, there is no appeal from a tribal supreme court," said Lindsay Robertson, a University of Oklahoma law professor who specializes in Federal Indian Law.



Facebook is heading to New York state's highest court to challenge search warrants seeking information from user accounts.

Prosecutors in Manhattan sought search warrants in 2013 for the accounts of 381 individuals in connection with a disability benefits fraud case against New York City police and fire retirees.

Facebook challenged the warrants but lower courts sided with prosecutors, ruling it was up to individual users to challenge the warrants seeking their information.

The social media site provided the information but continues to argue that it has the right to challenge warrants for information it possesses about its users.

Both sides will make oral arguments before the Court of Appeals Tuesday. The case has been closely watched by social media companies, civil libertarians and prosecutors.



Some lawmakers are taking aim at a recent Washington Supreme Court decision that put the onus on counties to determine whether water is legally available in certain rural areas before they issue building permits.
 
One bill sponsored by Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, amends parts of the state law at the heart of the ruling, known as the Hirst decision. County officials, builders, business and farm groups are among supporting the measure, while environmental groups and tribes oppose it.

A competing bill sponsored by Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, supports the court decision and sets up a program to help counties find ways to meet the requirements.

In October, the high court ruled that Whatcom County failed to protect water resources by allowing new wells to reduce flow in streams for fish and other uses. The court said counties must ensure, independently of the state, that water is physically and legally available before they issue building permits in certain areas.

In the wake of the ruling, some counties have temporarily halted certain rural development, while others changed criteria for obtaining a building permit.

At issue is a struggle to balance competing needs of people and wildlife for limited water, a challenge that has played out across the state for years.



The Supreme Court said Monday it won't hear an appeal from the family on TV's "Sister Wives" challenging Utah's law banning polygamy.

The justices left in place a lower court ruling that said Kody Brown and his four wives can't sue over the law because they weren't charged under it.

A federal judge sided with the Browns and overturned key parts of the state's bigamy law in 2013, but an appeals court overturned that decision last year.

The Browns claim the law infringes on their right to freedom of speech and religion. The family said they should be able to challenge the law because the threat of prosecution forced them to flee to Nevada and still looms over them when they return to Utah.

Police investigated the family after their show premiered in 2010, but closed the case without filing any charges. The family argued in legal briefs that the state should not be able to thwart a constitutional challenge to the law "by changing its enforcement policy during the pendency of litigation."

Utah's law forbids married people from living with a second purported "spouse," making it stricter than anti-bigamy laws in other states and creating a threat of arrest for plural families. But state officials have followed a long tradition of not prosecuting polygamists unless they commit some other crime, such as child or spousal abuse, domestic violence or fraud.



Ahmer Abbasi speaks softly as he describes the strip searches, the extra shoves, the curses that he endured in a federal jail in Brooklyn following the Sept. 11 attacks.

"I don't think I deserved it," Abbasi said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press from his home in Karachi, Pakistan.

Abbasi's quiet, matter-of-fact tone belies his determination, even after 15 years, to seek justice in American courts — provided the Supreme Court will let him.

The justices on Wednesday are hearing an appeal from former Attorney General John Ashcroft, former FBI Director Robert Mueller and other former U.S. officials that seeks to shut down the lawsuit that human rights lawyers have filed on behalf of Abbasi and others over their harsh treatment and prolonged detention.

"Somebody has to be accountable, somebody has to be responsible," said Abbasi, 42, who works in real estate in Pakistan.

The former officials, including the top immigration enforcement officer and the warden and deputy warden at the New York City jail, say it should not be them.

"Senior government officials should not be regularly second-guessed by lawsuits seeking money damages from them in their personal capacity," said Richard Samp, chief counsel at the Washington Legal Foundation and author of a brief from four former attorneys general.

Abbasi was among more than 80 men who were picked up in the days and weeks following Sept. 11 on immigration violations. Until then, he said he had been "living the American dream" since coming from Pakistan in 1993. He was living in Jersey City, New Jersey, across the river from Manhattan and driving a taxi in New York.

He acknowledges he remained in the United States after he should have left and that he entered into a fraudulent marriage so he could get a coveted "green card" that would allow him to stay in the U.S. legally. He might never have been caught except for the terrorist attacks and the aggressive response of officials who wanted to be sure there would be no follow-on strikes.



The Supreme Court is upholding the broad reach of a federal law prohibiting bank fraud.

The unanimous ruling on Monday came in the case of a California man who illegally siphoned about $307,000 out of a Taiwanese businessman's Bank of America bank account.

Justice Stephen Breyer rejected Lawrence Shaw's claim that the law applies only when a defendant intends to cheat the bank itself — not a bank customer. Breyer said the bank has property interests in the customer's account and that Shaw misled the bank to steal the customer's money.

The justices sent the case back to a lower court to decide whether the jury instructions in Shaw's case were correct.

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