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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The California State Assembly [official website] passed a bill [text] on Thursday with the bare minimum 41 out of 80 votes [vote count] that, if passed by the Senate, will prohibit state and local authorities from assisting federal agencies in the enforcement of marijuana laws without a court order. Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer [official website], who authored and introduced the bill, says [LA Times report] the law is necessary because "[p]rohibiting [California's] state and local law enforcement agencies from expending resources...
The California Supreme Court [official website], in an opinion overturning three Kern County attempted murder convictions for alleged jury tampering, unanimously ruled [opinion, PDF] on Thursday that judges must thoroughly examine prosecutor decisions to exclude potential jurors to ensure there is no racial bias. In so ruling, the Court concluded that the trial judge erred in rejecting the three Hispanic defendants, Rene Gutierrez Jr., Ramiro Enriquez, and Gabriel Ramos's, claims that a potential juror was dismissed because she was also...
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein [official profile] called on the Government of Bahrain [press release] on Friday to investigate the deaths of five protesters that occurred during a security operation last week. The protesters were killed and 286 individuals were arrested when Bahraini security forces were conducting an operation concerning a sit-in held by supporters of Sheikh Isa Qassem, the highest Shia authority in Bahrain, in the Al-Diraz Area. Those who died were buried...
[JURIST] Eric Schneiderman [official website], New York's top prosecutor, accused ExxonMobil [corporate website] in a court filing [text, PDF] Friday of misleading investors about climate change risks and demanded the corporation turn over internal documents. Schneiderman, Attorney General for New York, said in the filing that he had evidence of "potential materially false and misleading statements by Exxon" that could have led investors to believe that the oil company had accurately assessed environmental impact when it had ignored its internal...
[JURIST] Family members of human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong [advocacy profile] said Friday that police have informed them of his formal arrest and his decision to dismiss all legal counsel. The legal activist disappeared [Guardian report] in November after publicizing the plight of families of human rights lawyers and activists that have been detained in an effort to stifle opposition to the Communist Party [official website]. Jiang was disbarred in 2009 after publicizing the crackdown on lawyers but continued his...
The Kansas legislature [official website] approved SB 235 [text, PDF] on Thursday exempting state mental hospitals, community mental health centers and the University of Kansas Health System's [official website] hospitals from a previously passed law allowing people to carry concealed firearms in such facilities. The bill was written in response to a National Rifle Association (NRA) [advocacy website] backed law passed [NYT report] in 2013. Under the 2013 law, hospitals would have been forced to permit concealed weapons on their...
[JURIST] Japan's lower house of parliament passed a bill Friday allowing Emperor Akihito [BBC profile] to step down and calling for a debate on women emperors in the male-dominated monarchy. Emperor Akihito, who has been on the throne for nearly 30 years, would be the first abdication [Reuters report] in almost two centuries. Akihito, 83, who has had heart surgery and treatment for prostate cancer [BBC report], said last year that he feared age would make it challenging for him...
Texas Governor Greg Abbott [official website] signed a law Thursday night that significantly loosens voter identification requirements. Senate Bill 5 [materials, text] is intended to salvage portions of a 2011 law that was found to be discriminatory against minority voters [JURIST report] by a federal judge in April. The bill allows voters who lack a photo ID to produce other documents [Statesmen report] showing their name and address, such as a voter registration certificate, utility bill, government check or bank...
[JURIST] Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro [Reuters profile] pledged Thursday to hold a referendum on a new controversial constitution that he has proposed. Maduro's pledge [Reuters report] to rewrite the national charter [text, PDF] has led to two months of protests [NPR report] in which at least 62 people have been killed. Maduro's pledge came after criticism from opponents that his plan to rewrite the charter was anti-democratic. In response to criticism, Maduro said on state television, "I shall propose it...
The Trump administration filed a petition [text, PDF] Thursday asking the Supreme Court [official website] to temporarily lift injunctions that block the president's executive order suspending visa issuance to individuals traveling to the US from six Muslim-majority countries. The move is appealing an injunction the Fourth Circuit [official website] upheld [JURIST report] last month. The administration is also seeking to place on hold a second injunction held by the Ninth Circuit [official website] concerning the ban. The administration is arguing...
The New Hampshire House of Representatives [official website] voted without debate Thursday to remove criminal penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The purpose of the legislation is to reduce time spent on small possession drug cases, allow police and courts to spend more time on serious crime and to reduce penalties for those possessing less than five grams of marijuana. All of the money collected from the fines will go into a fund aimed at alcohol and...
[JURIST] The UN Working Group on business and human rights [official website] on Thursday urged [statement] Canada to address human rights abuses resulting from business activities, both domestic and international. The experts, after a 10-day trip to Canada, specifically referred to [press release] human rights abuses taking place in countries where Canadian corporations practice business and the usage of indigenous people's lands by Canadian businesses. The experts recommended following the guidelines set forth in the UN Declaration of the Rights...
John Knox, the UN Special Rapporteur [official website] on human rights and the environment, urged [statement] all governments Thursday to fulfill their existent obligations to protect the world's biological diversity from extinction. Knox warned:The extinction of species and the loss of microbial diversity undermines our rights to life and health by destroying potential sources for new medicines and weakening human immunity. Reduced variety, yield and security of fisheries and agriculture endangers our right to food. Nature's weakened ability to filter,...
[JURIST] Christina Strickland, represented by Lambda Legal Counsel [advocacy website], filed an appeal [brief, PDF] on Thursday to the Mississippi Supreme Court [official website] to challenge a lower court's ruling that she is not a legal parent of her ex-wife's sons. The children were conceived with sperm from a donor while the couple was together [WP report], although their marriage was not recognized [press release] by Mississippi at that time. The lower court ruled [opinion] that parental rights go to...
[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein [official profile] said [press briefing] Thursday that Egypt's new NGO law [JURIST report] will further restrict human rights advocacy. Law 70, which was passed on May 24, 2017, requires NGO's to be approved by a government agency, for civil society groups to report all information on their funding and activities to the authorities, and to be in compliance with the government's developmental plans. NGO noncompliance with the new measures...
US President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that the US will no longer be part of the Paris climate accord [text, PDF]. 195 nations have signed on to the deal making it a world-wide effort to curb global warming. Foreign leaders, business executive and Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump [official website], campaigned against [CNN report] withdrawal. Trump contested the climate agreement during his presidential campaign in the fall saying it was bad for the US economy. "The agreement doesn't eliminate coal...
[JURIST] Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine [official website] filed suit [complaint, PDF] Wednesday against five major drug manufacturers for misleading marketing practices that led to a painkiller epidemic. DeWine filed suit in the Ross County Court of Common Pleas [official website] against the manufacturers of drugs such as OxyContin, Percocet, Dilaudid and Percoda, alleging that the companies spent $168 million on sales representatives who downplayed the risks of the drugs while highlighting the benefits. DeWine stated [press release]:These drug manufacturers...
Governor Kate Brown [official website] signed a bill [materials] on Wednesday that allows for transgender Oregonians to make updates to their birth certificates without publicly doing so through the court system. Before the legislation, amendments to document concerning people's names and genders were required to be publicly posted by the courts. The new bill also allows for changed records to be sealed so potential future employers and landlords are unable to discriminate based on gender identity changes. A 2015 survey...
The State Assembly of California [official website] approved the Immigrant Worker Protection Act on Wednesday in an effort to protect against workplace raids from ICE. The bill, AB 450 [text], would prohibit California employers from allowing immigration agents to enter a workplace or to view their employees' files without a subpoena or a warrant. Furthermore, the bill aims to prevent employers from retaliating against employees who report unfair labor conditions. The bill, co-authored by State Senator Scott Weiner [official website]...
California senators approved a bill [text] in a 26-12 vote on Wednesday that will add a third gender option to state IDs for people who identify as non-binary. The bill will next pass to the Assembly and, if approved, will need to be signed by Governor Jerry Brown [official website]. Should Brown sign the bill, California will be the first state to add a third gender option. Driver's licenses, identity cards, birth certificates and gender change court orders will be...

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