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  Court Watch - Legal News


Lawyers for a Maryland man whose murder conviction was chronicled in the hit podcast "Serial" are asking the Supreme Court to step into the case.

Lawyers for defendant Adnan Syed say in court papers Monday that the justices should order a new trial for Syed and reverse a Maryland court ruling against him. Syed claims his trial lawyer violated his constitutional right to competent representation because she failed to investigate an alibi witness.

Syed is serving a life sentence after he was convicted in 2000 of strangling 17-year-old Hae Min Lee and burying her body in a Baltimore park. Syed and Lee were high-school classmates who had dated.

In its debut 2014 season, the "Serial" podcast shined a spotlight on the case that led to renewed court proceedings.


Court proceedings against a 19 year-old British woman who faces a public nuisance charge for falsely accusing 12 Israelis of rape have been adjourned until Aug. 27 in order to give her new legal team time to prepare their defense.

A defense lawyer told a Paralimni court judge Monday that the defense team is waiting for a reply from Cyprus' attorney general to a written request seeking authorization for U.K. lawyer Lewis Power Q.C. to also represent the British woman along with Cypriot lawyer Nicoletta Charalambidou.

The British woman's former lawyer resigned because of a "serious disagreement" with his client. His resignation followed U.K. media reports that the woman claimed she was forced by Cypriot investigators to retract her original rape report. Cypriot police denied the allegation.



Raising the stakes in a standoff over women’s health, Planned Parenthood said Wednesday it will leave the federal family planning program within days unless a court puts a hold on Trump administration rules that bar clinics from referring patients for abortions.

Spokeswoman Erica Sackin told The Associated Press that Planned Parenthood clinics “will be formally out of the Title X program” by Monday unless the full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco halts the new rules. The appeals court is weighing a lawsuit by Planned Parenthood and others to overturn the rules; a panel of judges in effect had earlier allowed the administration to go ahead with enforcement.

Monday also is the deadline set by the federal Department of Health and Human Services for participants in the family planning program to submit plans on how they would comply with the rules, which are set to take effect Sept. 18.

In a notice to the court Wednesday, Planned Parenthood said it “will be forced to withdraw” from program by close of business on Monday unless the full court intervenes.

It’s unclear what the immediate impact would be for patients next week because Planned Parenthood has also pledged to keep its doors open as it contests the administration’s policy change.


A court in Thailand on Wednesday dismissed terrorism and other charges against 24 leaders of an extended street protest in 2010 that saw key areas of central Bangkok closed off and random violence that was ended by military force.

The Bangkok Criminal Court ruled that the two-month protest by the "Red Shirt" supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, during which 91 people were killed and thousands hurt, was "a political fight, not terrorism."

Thaksin was ousted by a military coup in 2006 after being accused of corruption and abuse of power. His allies won a 2007 election, but parliamentary maneuvering installed the rival Democrat Party in power in 2008, inspiring the 2010 protest that called for Democrat Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to step down.

Thaksin's ouster set off years of sometimes violent conflict between his supporters and opponents, both of which engaged in aggressive street protests against governments led by the other's faction. During three months of street protests in 2008, Thaksin's foes - known as the Yellow Shirts - occupied the prime minister's offices, as well as Bangkok's international airport for about a week.

The casualties in 2010 included soldiers as well as protesters. Unidentified armed men in black whose weapons included grenade launchers acted as a mysterious armed auxiliary to the protesters, but it appeared that most of the dead were unarmed civilians.

The case decided Wednesday was brought by state prosecutors and more than 40 business owners affected by the Red Shirts' seizure of Bangkok's central shopping and business district, and involved charges of terrorism, criminal association, using force to damage government property, inciting unrest, possession of arms, obstruction of officials through intimidation and gathering more than 10 people to cause chaos. The defendants were acquitted of all charges.


A Pennsylvania appeals court on Monday questioned why actor Bill Cosby never got a supposed non-prosecution agreement in writing as his lawyers asked the panel to overturn his sexual assault conviction.

Cosby, 82, is serving a three- to 10-year prison term for drugging and molesting a woman at his home in what became the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era.

The three-judge panel asked why Cosby’s top-shelf lawyers didn’t follow the norm and get an immunity agreement in writing, and approved by a judge, when accuser Andrea Constand first came forward in 2005.

“This is not a low-budget operation. ... They had an unlimited budget,” said Superior Court Judge John T. Bender. “Could it be they knew this was something the trial court would never have allowed?”

Cosby’s lawyers have long argued that he relied on the promise before giving testimony in Constand’s 2005 lawsuit that proved incriminating when it was unsealed a decade later.

Judge Carolyn Nichols echoed Bender’s point, asking, “how can the elected district attorney bind that office in perpetuity?”

Cosby’s lawyers also attacked Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill’s decision to let five other accusers testify when Cosby went on trial last year, after more than 60 accusers came forward and his deposition was unsealed. Prosecutors said they chose women whose accounts showed that Cosby had a “signature” crime pattern. Bender seemed to agree, interrupting defense arguments that their stories had significant differences.


The Alabama Supreme Court refused Friday to intervene on behalf of a Huntsville police officer charged with murder in a 2018 shooting, sending the case back to circuit court for a potential trial.

The justices turned away an appeal by officer William “Ben” Darby in a brief ruling without explanation.

Darby was on duty when he shot and killed Jeffrey Parker, 49, on April 3, 2018. Darby contended he was acting in self-defense and shouldn’t be prosecuted, but the court refused to overturn a lower court’s refusal.

The decision means the case against Darby can continue in Madison County.

Parker called authorities threatening to kill himself with a gun, police said. Darby was one of three officers who responded and shot Parker when the man wouldn’t drop his weapon, authorities said.

An internal police review board cleared Darby of wrongdoing, but grand jurors later indicted him.

During a hearing on Darby’s claim of immunity, Darby testified he fired his weapon after Parker refused his commands to lower a gun from his own head. The defense argued Darby’s actions were to protect a fellow officer, Genisha Pegues, who was talking to Parker.

He dismissed the accusations as an "absurd" attempt by his ex-protege, current President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, to silence a critical voice. Shortly before his arrest, Atambayev urged his supporters to push for Jeenbekov's ouster.

Atambayev's supporters foiled the first attempt by police to arrest him Wednesday, but police managed to overcome their resistance the following day with water cannons, stun grenades and tear gas.

Police also dispersed over 1,000 Atambayev supporters who rallied in the capital late Thursday and attempted to break into the parliament building, arresting about 40 people.

Puerto Ricans get their 3rd governor in 6 days

  Court Watch  -   POSTED: 2019/08/07 22:47

Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez became Puerto Rico’s new governor Wednesday, just the second woman to hold the office, after weeks of political turmoil and hours after the island’s Supreme Court declared Pedro Pierluisi’s swearing-in a week ago unconstitutional.

Accompanied by her husband, Judge Jorge Díaz, and one of her daughters, Vázquez took the oath of office in the early evening at the Supreme Court before leaving without making any public comment. She then issued a brief televised statement late Wednesday, saying she feels the pain that Puerto Ricans have experienced in recent weeks.

“We have all felt the anxiety provoked by the instability and uncertainty,” Vázquez said, adding that she would meet with legislators and government officials in the coming days. “Faced with this enormous challenge and with God ahead, I take a step forward with no interest other than serving the people ... It is necessary to give the island stability, certainty to the markets and secure (hurricane) reconstruction funds.”

The high court’s unanimous decision, which could not be appealed, settled the dispute over who will lead the U.S. territory after its political establishment was knocked off balance by big street protests spawned by anger over corruption, mismanagement of funds and a leaked obscenity-laced chat that forced the previous governor and several top aides to resign.

But it was also expected to unleash a new wave of demonstrations because many Puerto Ricans have said they don’t want Vázquez as governor.

“It is concluded that the swearing in as governor by Hon. Pedro R. Pierluisi Urrutia, named secretary of state in recess, is unconstitutional,” the court said in a brief statement.


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