JURIST Legal News

JURIST's legal news service, powered by a team of over 40 law student reporters and editors led by Professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
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[JURIST] The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] reported [report, PDF] Friday that at least 191,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict —almost double the number from last year's report. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] stated that the number, based on information from the Syrian Center for Statistics and Research, the Syrian Network for Human Rights, the Violations Documentation Center, the Syrian government and the Syrian Observatory for Human...
[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Thursday that Florida's ban on same-sax marriage is unconstitutional and the state must recognize same-sex couples that were lawfully married in other states. The combined cases of Brenner v. Scott and Grimsley v. Scott involve 22 plaintiffs that currently reside in Florida, including nine same-sex couples who were lawfully married in other states, the surviving spouse of a same-sex couple married...
[JURIST] Indonesia's highest court, the Indonesian Constitutional Court, ruled on Thursday that results from last month's democratic presidential election naming Joko Widodo as the country's president elect will stand. The court ruled unanimously to uphold Widodo's victory by a 6 percent margin over Prabowo Subianto, who claimed widespread cheating and voter irregularities occurred in the election. Wikodo, age 53, currently serves as the governor of Jakarta, and it is believed his victory marks the beginning of a shift toward a...
[JURIST] A North Carolina judge ruled [video] Thursday that North Carolina's school voucher program, known as Opportunity Scholarships [official website] is unconstitutional. Judge Robert Hobgood of the Wake County Superior Court specifically ruled that the program violates article 1 section 15 and article 9 section 2(1) of the North Carolina constitution [text], ordering a permanent injunction against the Opportunity Scholarships program. Hobgood said:The plaintiffs—public schools grades K through 12 and the taxpayers of North Carolina—will suffer irreparable harm if the...
[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] on Thursday announced a $16.65 billion settlement [press release] with Bank of America (BOA) [corporate website] to settle claims that it sold precarious mortgage-backed securities to investors. Of the $16.65 billion, $9.65 billion will be split among federal and state entities while the remaining $7 billion will be paid to consumers harmed by BOA and Countrywide Financial's contribution to the 2008 financial crisis. Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] said that...
[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] on Wednesday ordered a deadline of October 1 [press release] for the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] to provide a list of documents to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform [official websites] relating to the failed law enforcement program Operation Fast and Furious [materials]. The deadline follows US District Court Judge John D. Bates's ruling [opinion, PDF] that the DOJ must turn...
[JURIST] Australian citizen David Hicks [JURIST news archive] filed a motion [text, PDF] to dismiss his conviction in the US Court of Military Commission Review [official website] on Wednesday after pleading guilty in 2007 for war crimes that took place before 2001 in exchange for his release. Hicks was captured in Afghanistan shortly after September 11, 2011, and brought to the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] the day that it opened. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) [advocacy...
[JURIST] Texas Governor Rick Perry [official website] on Wednesday pleaded not guilty [waiver of arraignment, PDF] to two felony charges for abuse of power [indictment, PDF]. The jury charged Perry with abusing his power [JURIST report] to intimidate former District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to step down from her position in response to her pleading guilty to a drinking and driving charge. Perry threatened to veto $7.4 million in state funding to the Travis County Public Integrity Unit, an initiative that...
[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy websites] released separate statements Wednesday condemning the execution of US journalist James Foley by the Islamic State (IS) [BBC backgrounder], formerly known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, as a war crime. Foley was a freelance journalist conducting war correspondence on the situation in Syria when he was abducted by IS [CNN report] in November 2012. IS released a video on...
[JURIST] The president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) [BBC backgrounder] endorsed a new law to better combat evolving terrorist [JURIST news archive] threats, state media reported Wednesday. The law, a revision of the country's nearly 10-year-old counter-terrorism law, would introduce new security measures to counter such crimes as attacks on the royal family, the joining of a terrorist force and money laundering. In addition, a person could be charged as a terrorist for simply threatening, planning or inciting a...
[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Wednesday put a hold [order, PDF] on same-sex marriage in Virginia as it takes time to decide whether same-sex couples should be allowed to wed nationwide. The hold, which is the result of the court granting a stay application filed on behalf of opponents of same-sex marriage, means that the July 28 ruling [opinion, PDF] by the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] that declared Virginia's voter-approved same-sex...
[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Tuesday that Indiana must recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state. The lawsuit was filed by one same-sex couple and one woman who sought a protective order against her wife; all plaintiffs were married outside of Indiana. The court considered the question of whether Indiana Code Section 31-11-1-1(b) [text] violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment [text]. Chief Judge...
[JURIST] California Governor Jerry Brown was a presented with a bill [SB 1135, text] on Tuesday to ban sterilization of female inmates in California after the California Senate [official websites] unanimously voted to pass the law. The bill bans any form of sterilization in a correctional facility for the purposes of birth control unless there is a medical necessity and there is no other alternate procedure available. Specifically, the bill protects inmates against tubal ligation following a June audit [text,...
[JURIST] The Mexican Attorney General for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) [official website] on Monday filed a criminal complaint [text, press release, in Spanish] against copper mining companies Buena Vista del Cobre, SA de CV and Minera Mexico following a massive acid spill on August 6 near the US border with Mexico. The spill has affected drinking water for thousands of people in the region, forcing schools to shut down. The complaint alleges that the companies violated Article 414 of the Federal...
[JURIST] The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] expressed concern [press release] Tuesday that the prosecution and sentencing of lese-majeste cases by Thailand's ruling military junta threaten citizens' rights of free expression. According to the press release, 13 new cases have been opened for investigation under lese-majeste laws, which prohibit speech that is defamatory to the monarchy, since the May 22 coup [JURIST report] that ousted the previous government. Defendants in these cases have included...
[JURIST] The lawyer representing Anwar Ibrahim [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], the leader of Malaysia's strongest governmental opposition group [party website, in Malay], was charged [Malaysia Star report, in English] with sedition on Tuesday because of a written statement he issued acting as Anwar's legal counsel. N Suredran, was released on bail after being charged with violating Malaysia's Sedition Act [text, pdf]. Suredran, currently representing Anwar in his appeal against sodomy charges, submitted a written statement suggesting that the sodomy...
[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Minnesota [official website] on Monday approved a settlement for $62.5 million between Wells Fargo & Co [corporate website] and large institutional clients who lost money in an investment program known as securities lending. US District Judge Donovan Frank also awarded attorneys fees to the plaintiffs. The final settlement follows a preliminary settlement and the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit's [official website] rejection in...
[JURIST] A Somali police official on Monday reported that security forces arrested Somali pirate [JURIST news archive] Mohamed Garfanji. Garfanji, second-in-command of Somalia's pirate industry, was arrested [AP report] on Sunday for possessing illegal arms and other charges related to piracy. The Somali government implemented an ongoing disarmament campaign in Mogadishu, where Garfanji was arrested. The UN Security Council has also imposed [JURIST report] an arms embargo against the country. A number of countries around the world have taken actions...
[JURIST] Groups supporting same-sex marriage on Monday urged the US Supreme Court [official website] not to put a hold on a lower court ruling [opinion, PDF] that would allow same-sex couples in Virginia to marry. After the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] declined to stay its decision declaring Virginia's voter-approved same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional last week, Prince William County clerk of court Michele McQuigg filed an emergency stay [JURIST reports] application at the...
[JURIST] A Florida coalition on Monday asked a judge to reject a newly proposed map of the state's congressional districts. The coalition, which includes the League of Women Voters of Florida [advocacy website], is suing [AP report] to change the districts and called the new map "brazenly partisan." The map was passed by the Florida Legislature last week after Judge Terry Lewis ruled [JURIST report] that the state's congressional redistricting plan from 2012 illegally favored Republicans. The coalition believes that...

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