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Ethics measure backers ask high court to let them join case
Attorney News | 2017/01/20 23:45
Supporters of a voter-approved government ethics overhaul are asking the state Supreme Court to allow them to join a lawsuit challenging the initiative filed by Republican lawmakers.

South Dakotans for Integrity, a political committee that supported the initiative, is arguing that a lower court judge was wrong in denying their push to intervene in the case.

The judge in December issued an order blocking the entire law from taking effect while the court challenge moves forward.

The group can't appeal that order because they aren't intervenors. South Dakotans for Integrity says the majority of voters who enacted the measure have the right to be represented by advocates whose allegiance is "unquestionable."

Those bringing the lawsuit contend that provisions in the law are unconstitutional. The attorney general's office is defending it.



Supreme Court to hear case about party in vacant DC house
Attorney News | 2017/01/17 23:45
The Supreme Court will hear a case in which people arrested for having a party in a vacant house sued police for violating their constitutional rights and won.

The justices said Thursday they will review lower court rulings in favor of 16 people who gathered in a house in Washington about three miles east of the nation's Capitol for a party.

Police arrested the group after no one could identify whose house it was, some said it was a birthday party and others said it was a bachelor party. No one could identify the guest of honor. Several women were scantily clad, with money hanging out of their garter belts. The officers said that the scene resembled a strip club, according to court papers.

Several of the partygoers said someone named "Peaches" gave them permission to have the party.

But when an officer later contacted the purported owner of the home, he denied having given anyone permission to have a party.

The group was arrested for trespassing, a charge later changed to disorderly conduct and then dropped altogether. But the 16 people sued for false arrest and were awarded $680,000.

The issue for the court is whether the officers had sufficient reason to arrest the group for trespassing. The court also will determine whether the officers should be shielded from liability even if their actions are found to violate the law.

A panel of the federal appeals court in Washington upheld the judgment, but four other judges on the court said that the officers should have been protected, citing a string of Supreme Court decisions.



Aaron Hernandez expected in court as murder trial nears
Attorney News | 2017/01/16 23:45
Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez is expected in a Boston courtroom for a pretrial hearing in his upcoming double murder trial.

Hernandez is accused of killing two men he encountered at a Boston nightclub in 2012. Prosecutors say the former New England Patriots tight end followed the men and opened fire on their car at a stop light after one of them accidentally bumped into Hernandez and spilled his drink.

Hernandez is due in Suffolk Superior Court Thursday, when a judge is expected to hear arguments on defense motions. Hernandez's trial is scheduled to begin next month.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty. He's already serving a life sentence in the 2013 killing of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd.



Court ponders mass murderer Breivik's prison conditions
Legal Business | 2017/01/15 23:45
An appeals court in Norway is considering whether the prison conditions under which mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik is being held amount to a violation of his human rights.

The six-day trial ended Wednesday in a makeshift courtroom inside Skien prison in southern Norway where Breivik, 37, is serving a 21-year sentence for killing 77 people in a 2011 bomb-and-shooting rampage.

Breivik's lawyer, Oystein Storrvik, spent most of the last day seeking to show that restrictions on his client's visitors and the strict control over Breivik's mail and phone calls have led to a lack of human interaction and privacy, which amounts to a violation of his rights.

The case is "really about a person that is sitting very, very alone in a small prison within a prison" since 2012, explained Storrvik.

He dismissed the benefits of the weekly visits by a state-appointed prison confidante for Breivik, saying "it's a paid job."

Addressing the court last week, Breivik said his solitary confinement had deeply damaged him and made him even more radical in his neo-Nazi beliefs.

The Norwegian state rejected the criticism and said efforts to find a prison confidante show the authorities have "gone out of their way" to remedy the situation.

In a surprise verdict last year, the Oslo District Court sided with Breivik, finding that his isolation was "inhuman (and) degrading" and breached the European Convention on Human Rights. It ordered the government to pay his legal costs.



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