The Law Firm Bulletin

Courtroom News


Attorney News

Pakistan's opposition calls on court to oust prime minister - 2017/07/7

Opposition parties in Pakistan on Monday called on the Supreme Court to remove Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office after an investigation found that he and his family possess wealth exceeding their known sources of income. The investigation is linked to the mass leak of documents from a Panama-based law firm in 2016, which revealed that Sharif and his family have offshore accounts. Naeem Bukhari, a lawyer for opposition leader Imran Khan, submitted the request to the court. The court has the constitutional power to disqualify someone from serving as prime minister, and is expected to rule in the coming weeks. The Sharifs have denied any wrongdoing. Their attorney, Khawaja Haris, argued Monday that the probe was flawed. The court will resume hearing the case Tuesday.

Hearing In San Diego Unified Suit Against The College Board - 2017/07/1

Judge Michael M. Anello will hear San Diego Unified's motion for a temporary restraining order in federal court 4 p.m. Friday, according to court records. The district filed a lawsuit Friday against the College Board and Educational Testing Services, the company that administers Advanced Placement tests, seeking to have the results of 844 voided Scripps Ranch High School AP exams released. The district, along with 23 students, is alleging that withholding the scores is a breach of contract. The students say they would face thousands of dollars in damages if they miss out on college credits because of the decision. An attorney for the San Diego Unified School District was in court Monday seeking a temporary restraining order on a College Board ruling to invalidate several hundred Advanced Placement exams taken at Scripps Ranch High School in May. The testing nonprofit voided the tests after learning the school did not follow proper seating protocols.

Egyptian lawyer, journalist released after prison sentence - 2016/07/11

Egyptian authorities have released two prominent human rights activists who had been jailed for over a year for demonstrating against police brutality. Lawyer Mahienour el-Masry and journalist Youssef Shabaan were freed Saturday after serving 15 months in jail having been convicted of "storming a police station" at a demonstration in the coastal city of Alexandria in 2013. El-Masry had been incarcerated before for her activism, and in 2014 received the Ludovic Trarieux Human Rights Award while on hunger strike in prison. Hunger striking is often used in Egypt to protest ill treatment and lack of due process. Egypt has undergone an unprecedented crackdown on free speech, political opposition and any dissent under general-turned-President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who has promised stability and the revival of a still-faltering economy in need of reform.

Court again says New Jersey can't legalize sports betting - 2016/08/11

A federal appeals court on Tuesday dealt another defeat to New Jersey's yearslong attempt to legalize sports betting, setting aside the state's challenge to a federal betting ban. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling invalidated a law passed by New Jersey in 2014 that would have allowed sports betting at casinos and racetracks. The court found New Jersey's law repealing prohibitions against sports gambling violated the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which forbids state-authorized sports gambling. "Because PASPA, by its terms, prohibits states from authorizing by law sports gambling, and because the 2014 law does exactly that, the 2014 law violates federal law," the court wrote. Currently, only Nevada offers legal sports betting on individual games. Delaware offers multigame parlay betting in which players must pick several games correctly to win. Both were given exemptions when PASPA was passed. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and supporters in the state Legislature have sought to legalize sports gambling to help prop up the struggling casino and horse racing industries. It's estimated up to hundreds of billions of dollars are bet illegally on sports every year in the U.S.

Egyptian lawyer, journalist released after prison sentence - 2016/07/11

Egyptian authorities have released two prominent human rights activists who had been jailed for over a year for demonstrating against police brutality. Lawyer Mahienour el-Masry and journalist Youssef Shabaan were freed Saturday after serving 15 months in jail having been convicted of "storming a police station" at a demonstration in the coastal city of Alexandria in 2013. El-Masry had been incarcerated before for her activism, and in 2014 received the Ludovic Trarieux Human Rights Award while on hunger strike in prison. Hunger striking is often used in Egypt to protest ill treatment and lack of due process. Egypt has undergone an unprecedented crackdown on free speech, political opposition and any dissent under general-turned-President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who has promised stability and the revival of a still-faltering economy in need of reform.

Court says Bank of America must disclose communications - 2016/06/11

New York's highest court ruled Thursday that Bank of America must disclose to an insurer communications it had with Countrywide Financial six months before the bank bought the mortgage lending company in 2008. The insurer, Ambac Assurance Corp., claims in a lawsuit that Countrywide illegally misrepresented its mortgage-backed securities. The Court of Appeals ruled attorney-client privilege doesn't shield hundreds of communications between the two institutions and their lawyers from Ambac as it collects evidence for its fraud lawsuit. The court reinstated the order of a judge in Manhattan, where the fraud case is pending. Ambac guaranteed payments on securities issued by Countrywide subsidiaries between 2004 and 2006.

Man pleads guilty to charge over noose on Ole Miss statue - 2016/06/09

A federal prosecutor said in court Thursday that Graeme Phillip Harris hatched a plan, after a night of drinking at a University of Mississippi fraternity house, to hang a noose on a campus statue of James Meredith, the first black student at Ole Miss. Harris, who is white, pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor charge of threatening force to intimidate African-American students and employees at the university. Prosecutors agreed to drop a stiffer felony charge in exchange for the plea arising from the incident last year. The 20-year-old Harris faces up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $100,000. U.S. District Judge Michael Mills said sentencing will be within 60 to 90 days, and he allowed Harris to remain free on a $10,000 bond. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Norman told Mills that Harris, who had a history of using racist language and saying African Americans were inferior to whites, proposed the plan to two fellow freshmen while at the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house on the night of Feb 15, 2014. That led to the plan to hang the noose and a former Georgia state flag that features the Confederate battle flag on the statue of Meredith, in a jab at Ole Miss' thorny racial history. When a federal court ordered the university to admit Meredith in 1962, the African-American student had to be escorted onto campus by armed federal agents. The agents were attacked during an all-night riot that claimed two lives and was ultimately quelled by federal troops. After the noose and flag were placed on the statue, Norman said Harris and one of the other freshmen returned at sunrise on Feb. 16 to observe and were filmed by a video camera at the Ole Miss student union. .

Iowa court allows remote dispensing of abortion pill - 2016/06/09

The Iowa Supreme Court has struck down a restriction that would have prevented doctors from administering abortion-inducing pills remotely via video teleconferencing, saying it would have placed an undue burden on a woman's right to get an abortion. Iowa is one of only two states that offers so-called telemedicine abortions ? Minnesota offers them on a smaller scale and doctors at Iowa's urban clinics that perform abortions had been allowed to continue offering the remotely-administered abortions while the ruling was pending. Planned Parenthood's local affiliate, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, had sued the Iowa Board of Medicine over its 2013 decision that would have required a doctor to be in the room with a patient when dispensing abortion-inducing medication. The board cited safety concerns when it passed the rule requiring a physical examination, but Planned Parenthood and other critics said it was just another attempt by abortion rights opponents to make it harder for women to get abortions. They said the Iowa board's restriction particularly would have made it harder for women in more rural areas who don't live near the few urban clinics where doctors who perform abortions are based.

Texas turns away from criminal truancy courts for students - 2016/06/09

A long-standing Texas law that has sent about 100,000 students a year to criminal court and some to jail for missing school is off the books, though a Justice Department investigation into one county's truancy courts continues. Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law a measure to decriminalize unexcused absences and require school districts to implement preventive measures. It will take effect Sept. 1. Reform advocates say the threat of a heavy fine ? up to $500 plus court costs ? and a criminal record wasn't keeping children in school and was sending those who couldn't pay into a criminal justice system spiral. Under the old law, students as young as 12 could be ordered to court for three unexcused absences in four weeks. Schools were required to file a misdemeanor failure to attend school charge against students with more than 10 unexcused absences in six months. And unpaid fines landed some students behind bars when they turned 17. "Most of the truancy issues involve hardships," state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, said. "To criminalize the hardships just doesn't solve anything. It costs largely low-income families. It doesn't address the root causes."

Court hands New Jersey governor a win in public pension case - 2016/06/08

The state Supreme Court delivered a victory Thursday to Republican Gov. Chris Christie and ruled the state does not owe public pensioners cost-of-living payments suspended under a 2011 law. The ruling effectively keeps the state from having its unfunded liability, which is about $80 billion under new accounting rules, increased by about $17.5 billion. It's the second significant victory for Christie over public unions on the pension issue. Moody's credit rating agency said the ruling eliminated a major fiscal threat to the state. Christie called the ruling a win for taxpayers. "State taxpayers have won another huge victory, one that spares them from the burden of unaffordable benefit increases for public employee unions," he said in a statement. Justice Jaynee LaVecchia, writing for the majority in the 6-1 ruling, reversed an appellate court's ruling and said there isn't enough proof lawmakers intended to create a non-forfeitable right to cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs. "We conclude that the Legislature retained its inherent sovereign right to act in its best judgment of the public interest and to pass legislation suspending further COLAs," the justice wrote. The decision sparked outrage from labor groups that were among the court case's plaintiffs and had sought to have the COLAs reinstated. The head of the state's largest teachers' union called the ruling "despicable" and said teachers counted on the increases as part of their compensation. "This is theft, plain and simple," New Jersey Education Association President Wendell Steinhauer said. "For 20 years, New Jersey's politicians have failed New Jersey's public servants. Now, for the second time in two years, the Supreme Court has done the same thing." Pat Provnick, 71, of Hammonton, retired in 2000 after 33 years as a teacher and said the suspension of adjustments has led her to little changes, such as buying generic instead of name brand items at the grocery store. But it could mean having to move out of her home, which she said is more difficult to afford because of the suspension.

Appeals court denies Hope Solo's bid to avoid trial - 2016/06/10

A state appeals court has rejected U.S. women's soccer team goalkeeper Hope Solo's request to avoid trial on misdemeanor domestic violence charges. Seattlepi.com reports the 34-year-old's appeal related to a 2014 incident at her sister's home in suburban Seattle was denied in a Tuesday ruling. Solo was accused of being intoxicated and assaulting her sister and 17-year-old nephew in the incident. Her lawyer has said Solo was a victim in the altercation. The case has bounced between the city of Kirkland and King County courts and is currently back in city court, where Solo had asked for a review. The appeals court denied the review, essentially upholding the county court's ruling. It's unclear whether Solo will ask the state Supreme Court to review the appeals court decision.

Court says Bank of America must disclose communications - 2016/06/07

New York's highest court ruled Thursday that Bank of America must disclose to an insurer communications it had with Countrywide Financial six months before the bank bought the mortgage lending company in 2008. The insurer, Ambac Assurance Corp., claims in a lawsuit that Countrywide illegally misrepresented its mortgage-backed securities. The Court of Appeals ruled attorney-client privilege doesn't shield hundreds of communications between the two institutions and their lawyers from Ambac as it collects evidence for its fraud lawsuit. The court reinstated the order of a judge in Manhattan, where the fraud case is pending. Ambac guaranteed payments on securities issued by Countrywide subsidiaries between 2004 and 2006.

Israel court frees wanted Australian woman from house arrest - 2016/06/05

An Israeli court has set free from house arrest an Australian woman wanted by her country for multiple sexual abuses. Tuesday's ruling says former principal Malka Leifer is mentally unfit to stand trial. She'll get psychiatric care instead. Leifer, who ran a school for ultra-Orthodox Jewish girls in Melbourne, fled to Israel in 2008. Australia accuses her of abusing the children in her care and has sought her extradition. She was arrested by Israeli police in 2014 at the request of Australian authorities. Australia's deputy ambassador to Israel, James McGarry, says his country still "retains a strong interest" in her extradition. Child welfare advocate Shana Aaronson called the ruling "devastating," saying many victims now live in Israel and fear bumping into their former abuser on the street.

High court will hear Microsoft appeal over Xbox lawsuit - 2016/01/19

The Supreme Court will decide whether Microsoft Corp. must face a class action lawsuit by disgruntled owners of the Xbox 360 video-game system who say the console has a design defect that scratches game disks. The justices agreed Friday to hear an appeal from Microsoft arguing that individual claims by the plaintiffs had previously been thrown out. Microsoft has sold more than 80 million Xbox 360 consoles and says only 0.4 percent of owners report disk scratching. The company says any damage is the result of consumer misuse and not a product defect. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2012, ruling there were not enough complaints to justify a class action. But a federal appeals court reversed, saying it could go forward.

Court overturns tobacco company victory over FDA on menthols - 2016/01/19

A federal appeals court has ruled that tobacco companies had no basis to challenge a Food and Drug Administration report on menthol cigarettes, which the industry alleged was written by experts with conflicts of interest.The decision by a three-judge panel overturns a lower court ruling that barred the FDA from using the report and ordered the agency to reform its committee of tobacco advisers. The 2011 report from the agency's Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee concluded that menthol flavoring leads to increased smoking rates, particularly among teens, African Americans and those with low incomes. The report said removing the flavoring would make it easier for some smokers to quit. Cigarette makers Lorillard Inc. and Reynolds American Inc. sued the agency, alleging conflicts of interest by several members who had previously testified against tobacco companies in court. But Judge Stephen Williams, writing for the court, states that the companies had no legal basis to challenge the makeup of the committee. Williams rejected company arguments that they could be damaged by the apparent conflicts as "too remote and uncertain." The opinion was issued Friday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Despite the victory for the federal government, the ruling may have limited impact on the FDA or its panel. Last year the FDA announced that four members of its tobacco products advisory panel had either resigned or were removed, following the previous court ruling against the agency. In 2013, the FDA conducted its own review of menthol cigarettes, concluding they pose a greater public health risk than regular cigarettes. But it did not make a recommendation on whether to limit or ban them.

Court overturns tobacco company victory over FDA on menthols - 2016/01/11

A federal appeals court has ruled that tobacco companies had no basis to challenge a Food and Drug Administration report on menthol cigarettes, which the industry alleged was written by experts with conflicts of interest.The decision by a three-judge panel overturns a lower court ruling that barred the FDA from using the report and ordered the agency to reform its committee of tobacco advisers. The 2011 report from the agency's Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee concluded that menthol flavoring leads to increased smoking rates, particularly among teens, African Americans and those with low incomes. The report said removing the flavoring would make it easier for some smokers to quit. Cigarette makers Lorillard Inc. and Reynolds American Inc. sued the agency, alleging conflicts of interest by several members who had previously testified against tobacco companies in court. But Judge Stephen Williams, writing for the court, states that the companies had no legal basis to challenge the makeup of the committee. Williams rejected company arguments that they could be damaged by the apparent conflicts as "too remote and uncertain." The opinion was issued Friday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Despite the victory for the federal government, the ruling may have limited impact on the FDA or its panel. Last year the FDA announced that four members of its tobacco products advisory panel had either resigned or were removed, following the previous court ruling against the agency. In 2013, the FDA conducted its own review of menthol cigarettes, concluding they pose a greater public health risk than regular cigarettes. But it did not make a recommendation on whether to limit or ban them.

Man who killed wife, baby loses appeal in Mass. - 2015/11/11

The highest court in Massachusetts rejected the appeal of a British man convicted of killing his wife and baby daughter in their rented home, saying in its decision released Tuesday that warrantless searches of the home were justified because those inside might have been in danger. In arguing for a new trial, lawyers for Neil Entwistle said evidence obtained during the warrantless searches of the Hopkinton home while police were looking for the missing family should have been dismissed at trial. They also argued he was denied a fair trial, claiming that "saturating and inflammatory" media coverage tainted the jury pool and the judge refused to question prospective jurors more deeply about how publicity may have biased them. The court rejected the arguments, concluding that Entwistle "received a fair trial that was ably tried and judged." Entwistle was convicted of the 2006 shootings of his wife, Rachel, and their daughter, 9-month-old Lillian. He is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for their murders.