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 Wisconsin Supreme Court [official website] on Wednesday agreed to hear arguments in two separate cases concerning Act 23, the state's voter ID law [text]. One case will review a decision by the Madison-based District Four Court of Appeals while the other will be heard by the supreme court [AP report] prior to being ruled on by the appeals court, reversing its past stance against taking such action. Prior to Act 23, a Wisconsin voter was not required to...
[JURIST] China's Supreme People's Court [official wesbite, Chinese] issued a ruling on Thursday banning the use of forced confessions extracted through torture. The court reportedly claimed [Reuters report] that "illegal methods" of confession extraction, including food and sleep deprivation and temperature manipulation are unacceptable and amount to torture. Judges have been instructed to rule out confessions obtained through these methods in order to increase judicial transparency and to reduce the number of unfair convictions. This ruling is part of a...
[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] on Thursday urged [statement] member states to ratify or accede to the Rome Statute [UN backgrounder], the treaty that established the International Criminal Court [official website; JURIST backgrounder]. The Rome Statute was signed by 139 States [JURIST backgrounders], but 43 States have neither signed nor acceded to it. Ban said that the Rome Statute must be universally accepted before the ICC can be fully effective. Ban said that the ICC faces additional challenges...
[JURIST] Illinois on Wednesday became the sixteenth US state to legalize same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] when Governor Pat Quinn [official website] signed the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act (Act) [text, PDF]. Although the Act allows same-sex couples to marry, it allows religious organizations to refuse to celebrate or solemnize marriages if they so choose. The Act guarantees equal access to status, benefits, protections, rights and responsibilities for all married couples and their families. The bill passed the Illinois House...
[JURIST] Voters of Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Tuesday rejected a proposed ordinance [text, PDF] that would have banned all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. In a 55 to 45 percent vote, the citizens voted against [unofficial results] allowing the proposed ordinance to become law. This referendum marked the first time [Reuters report] a city had ever been asked to vote on a proposed abortion ban. The vote was initiated by pro-life advocates who supported the ordinance. It was drafted...
[JURIST] The Regional Court of Berlin [official website, in German] on Tuesday held that 25 of Google's [corporate website] privacy policies and terms of service violate Bundesdatenschutzgesetz (BDSG) [PDF, in German], Germany's data protection law. The case against Google was filed by the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV) [advocacy website], which challenged 13 privacy policies and 12 terms of service that it claimed were either overly broad or too restrictive [VZBV report] of consumers' rights. The clauses that were...
[JURIST] The Kenyan human rights group Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) [official website] and the Open Society Justice Initiative [advocacy website] issued a report [report, PDF] on Tuesday, calling on the US and the UK to suspend financial support to Kenya's Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU). The document, entitled "We're Tired of Taking You to the Court," alleges that the ATPU has committed severe human rights violations in Kenya throughout its 10-year history, including mistreatment and harassment of prisoners, disappearances of...
[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Wednesday released a statement [press release] calling on Yemen's National Dialogue Conference (NDC) [official website] to endorse proposed legislation that would strike down a 2012 law providing blanket immunity [JURIST report] to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The current law grants Saleh immunity from prosecution for any actions taken during his 32-year rule and also protects his aides from all political crimes, excluding acts of terrorism. The...
[JURIST] Thailand's Constitutional Court on Wednesday ruled that a proposal by the ruling Puea Thai party to amend the constitution to make the nation's senate fully elected is illegal. The court held [AP report] that Thailand's parliament did not follow proper procedures for amending the constitution, saying that several lawmakers had engaged in fraud during the voting process and opposition members were not given enough time to speak during debates. Members of the Puea Thai argued [BBC report] that the...
[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Tuesday ruled 5-4 [decision, PDF] to allow Texas's new abortion law [HB 2] to remain in effect while it is being reviewed by the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website]. The provision in question requires doctors who perform abortions at clinics to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Pro-choice groups contend [JURIST report] that the admitting privileges requirement imposes an unconstitutional undue burden on women seeking abortions....
[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] on Tuesday announced [press release] that a $13 billion civil settlement with JPMorgan & Co. [corporate website; JURIST news archive] has been finalized, resolving federal and state claims arising from the bank's risky mortgage practices which helped lead to the 2008 financial crisis. It is the largest settlement paid by a single company in American history. Included in the settlement is a statement of facts [text, PDF], in which JPMorgan admitted...
[JURIST] The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) [official website] on Monday declassified [press release] intelligence documents regarding data collection under Section 501 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) [backgrounder] order permitting the National Security Agency (NSA) [official website] to collect Americans' e-mail and Internet data was published [text, PDF] for the first time on Monday, along with several other documents [materials] concerning NSA's data collection program. The order is...
[JURIST] New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg [official website] signed a piece of legislation [text] on Tuesday that makes it illegal to sell cigarettes to individuals under the age of 21. The legislation, passed by the New York City Council [official website], is intended to decrease smoking rates in New York City. Bloomberg claimed [statement] this measure "[w]ill prevent young people from experimenting with tobacco when they are most likely to become addicted." This law also applies to e-cigarettes as...
[JURIST] The Israeli Supreme Court [official website] on Tuesday upheld the detention of Samer al-Baraq without trial. Al-Baraq, a Palestinian citizen suspected of being an al Qaeda [JURIST news archive] biological weapons expert, has been detained for over three years. Al-Baraq obtained military training in Afghanistan and was recruited by al Qaeda's alleged current leader, Ayman al-Zawahri [BBC profile]. Prosecutors allege that al-Baraq was planning attacks against Israelis and emphasized the threat to Israel that he represented if freed. The...
[JURIST] The Spanish National Court issued arrest orders for former Chinese president Jiang Zemin and four other Chinese officials on Tuesday, including former prime minister Li Peng, former security and police chief Qiao Shi [Britannica profiles], Chen Kuiyan, a former Communist Party official in Tibet, and Pen Pelyun, ex-family planning minister. The arrest orders [AP report] come as part of an investigation into alleged genocide by China against Tibet, but none of the officials has been formally charged. In October...
[JURIST] The Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) state war crimes court [official website] on Tuesday released 10 prisoners connected to war crimes committed during the Bosnian Civil War [JURIST news archive] following a ruling [press relase, PDF] by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website]. Six of these individuals were convicted of genocide for their roles in the Srebrenica massacre [BBC timeline; JURIST news archive]. Two others were high-ranking Serbian officials convicted of establishing and training paramilitary squads. The...
[JURIST] US Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) [official websites] on Monday introduced a bill [press release] aimed at limiting frivolous patent lawsuits. The proposed legislation, known as the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act of 2013 [S 1720, PDF], is designed to increase transparency in the US patent process and improve resources for small businesses that are targeted in patent infringement lawsuits. The bill targets Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs) [white paper, PDF] commonly known as "patent trolls." In...
[JURIST] The Primorsky Court in St. Petersburg granted bail on Tuesday to seven Greenpeace International [advocacy website] activists awaiting trial on charges of hooliganism [AP report]. The activists, who may be released on bail [ABC report], are from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Italy, New Zealand and Poland. Bail was set at 2 million rubles (approximately USD $61,500) and must be paid within four days if release is to be granted. Judges have not yet said whether the activists will be permitted...
[JURIST] Washington, DC, Mayor Vincent Gray [official website], signed [press release] into law the DC Drivers Safety Amendment Act of 2013 [text, PDF] on Monday, which will allow the District Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) [official website] to issue "limited purpose" driver's licenses to undocumented DC residents. Gray introduced [press release] the bill in May, saying, "the legislation is the right thing to do for our undocumented residents and our entire community." If individuals cannot prove citizenship, the identification cards...
[JURIST] The UN Security Council [official website] adopted a resolution [text] Monday restating its call for member states to take steps against piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia and the Horn of Africa. The resolution [UN News Center report] urges UN member states to cooperate with "relevant international organizations to adopt legislation to facilitate prosecution of suspected pirates, as well as to cooperate on the issue of hostage-taking." The council cited a report [text] by the UN...

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