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Supreme Court sides with Chicago museum in terror case
Court News | 2018/02/17 22:54
The Supreme Court is preventing survivors of a 1997 terrorist attack from seizing Persian artifacts at a Chicago museum to help pay a $71.5 million default judgment against Iran.

The court ruled 8-0 Wednesday against U.S. victims of a Jerusalem suicide bombing. They want to lay claim to artifacts that were loaned by Iran to the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute more than 80 years ago.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote for the court that a provision of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act does not support the victims' case. That federal law generally protects foreign countries' property in the U.S. but makes exceptions when countries provide support to extremist groups.

The victims, who were wounded in the attack or are close relatives of the wounded, argued that Iran provided training and support to Hamas, which carried out the attack. Iran has refused to pay the court judgment.

The federal appeals court in Chicago had earlier ruled against the victims. The Supreme Court affirmed that ruling Wednesday.

The artifacts in question are 30,000 clay tablets and fragments containing ancient writings known as the Persepolis Collection. University archeologists uncovered the artifacts during excavation of the old city of Persepolis in the 1930s. The collection has been on loan to the university's Oriental Institute since 1937 for research, translation and cataloging.




Supreme Court asked to review 'Making a Murderer' confession
Headline Legal News | 2018/02/16 22:55
Lawyers for a Wisconsin inmate featured in the "Making a Murderer" series on Netflix asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to review a federal appeals court decision that held his confession was voluntary.

Brendan Dassey's legal team told the high court in their petition that the case raises crucial issues that extend far beyond Dassey's case alone and that long have divided state and federal courts.

Dassey's lawyers claim investigators took advantage of his youth and intellectual and social disabilities to coerce him into falsely confessing that he helped his uncle, Steven Avery, rape and kill photographer Teresa Halbach in 2005 in the Avery family's junk yard in Manitowoc County. Dassey was 16 at the time. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2007.

"Too many courts around the country, for many years, have been misapplying or even ignoring the Supreme Court's instructions that confessions from mentally impaired kids like Brendan Dassey must be examined with the greatest care — and that interrogation tactics which may not be coercive when applied to an adult can overwhelm children and the mentally impaired," his attorney, Steven Drizin, said in a statement.

A federal court in Wisconsin overturned Dassey's conviction in 2016, and a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that decision last June. While the full 7th Circuit voted 4-3 to reverse the panel's decision to grant him a new trial, one dissenting judge called the case "a profound miscarriage of justice."

The legal odds remain high against Dassey. The U.S. Supreme Court grants only a tiny fraction of the petitions for review that it receives.


Supreme Court: Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Protection Is Narrow
Videos for Legal Insight | 2018/02/15 22:55
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that whistleblower protections passed by Congress after the 2008 financial crisis only apply to people who report problems to the government, not more broadly.

The justices said that a part of the Dodd-Frank Act that protects whistleblowers from being fired, demoted or harassed only applies to people who report legal violations to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. They said employees who report problems to their company's management but not the commission don't qualify.

People who report issues to their company's management are still protected against retaliation but under an older law, the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act. But the two laws differ in a number of ways, including how long people have to bring a lawsuit and how much money they can get in compensation.

The justices were unanimous in agreeing that the whistleblower protection in the Dodd-Frank Act only covers people who report to the SEC. Writing for the court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said "Dodd-Frank's text and purpose leave no doubt" about who the term "whistleblower" applies to.

"The definition section of the statute supplies an unequivocal answer: A 'whistleblower' is 'any individual who provides ... information relating to a violation of the securities laws to the Commission,'" she wrote.

The SEC had interpreted the whistleblower protection in the Dodd-Frank Act more broadly, an interpretation the Supreme Court rejected.


Catalan politicians in Spanish court in secession probe
Legal Business | 2018/02/13 22:55
Two prominent Catalan politicians are testifying before a Supreme Court judge for their roles in holding a banned independence referendum and making an illegal declaration of independence based on its results.

Judicial police have identified left-republican ERC party's secretary-general, Marta Rovira, and conservative PDeCAT's president, Marta Pascal, as key players in the secession bid in October.

The Spanish government responded by disbanding the regional government and calling a new Catalan election. Separatist parties have since been entangled in endless negotiations on how to form a new government.

Judge Pablo Llarena could decide after Monday's hearing whether to send the two politicians to jail while the investigation continues.

Other separatist leaders have been jailed and five former Catalan Cabinet members, including ex-president Carles Puigdemont, have fled to Belgium.





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