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Appeals court sides with Trump in transgender military case
Court Line | 2019/01/04 07:36

A federal appeals court is siding with the Trump administration in a case about the Pentagon's policy of restricting military service by transgender people.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled Friday that a lower-court judge was wrong to block the Pentagon from implementing its preferred policy. The unsigned ruling will not allow the Pentagon to put in place its desired policy, however, because three other judges have entered orders blocking the administration in similar cases.

Military policy until a few years ago had barred service by transgender people. That changed under President Barack Obama, but President Donald Trump said he would reverse course, leading to lawsuits by transgender people.

The administration already has asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue. The high court has not said whether it will.



New justice to be sworn in on North Carolina Supreme Court
Legal PR | 2019/01/03 07:36

A civil rights attorney elected to North Carolina's highest court is taking office.

Anita Earls is being sworn into office as a state Supreme Court associate justice on Thursday. The Democrat defeated Republican incumbent Justice Barbara Jackson in November.

Earls founded and led the Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice. She was a deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Justice Department during the Clinton administration.

Earls also served the state elections board and taught at Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Maryland. She earned her law degree from Yale.



Missouri death row inmate asks US Supreme Court to intervene
Court Line | 2019/01/01 08:19

A Missouri death row inmate who lost substantial brain tissue during a surgery plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review his case, saying his planned execution by lethal injection could subject him to severe pain.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reported Thursday that Ernest Lee Johnson plans to argue that the loss of brain tissue could mean he has seizures and severe pain in reaction to Missouri’s execution drug.

Johnson was sentenced to death for killing three convenience store workers during a Columbia robbery in 1994.

Johnson’s appeal is moving through lower courts. But Johnson’s attorneys plan to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene because the high court is currently considering a similar case of another Missouri death row inmate with a rare medical condition that causes blood-filled tumors.

Both argue complications with their conditions and the execution drug could lead to cruel and unusual punishment.


The Latest: Shutdown affects court cases that involve Trump
Attorney News | 2018/12/29 08:19

The partial government shutdown has prompted the chief judge of Manhattan federal courts to suspend work on civil cases involving U.S. government lawyers. The order suspends action in several civil lawsuits in which President Donald Trump is a defendant.

Judge Colleen McMahon said in a written order that the suspension will remain in effect until the business day after the president signs a budget appropriation law restoring Justice Department funding.

The Manhattan courts, with several dozen judges, are among the nation’s busiest courts.

In one case involving Trump, a judge last week ruled that a group of people suing Trump and his three eldest children can remain anonymous because they fear retaliation by the president or his followers.

Back from a 29-hour trip to visit U.S. troops in Iraq, President Donald Trump is returning his attention to the ongoing partial U.S. government shutdown, which is in its sixth day.

In a morning tweet, Trump says “we desperately need” a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, funding for which has been a flashpoint between the White House and Congress ever since Trump took office.

The president is calling on Democrats in Congress to fund his wall, saying the shutdown affects their supporters. He says: “Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?”

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers are on unpaid furlough and even more are required to work without pay after Trump and Congress could not reach consensus on a short-term funding bill last week.


Prominent Chinese rights lawyer tried in closed proceedings
Court Line | 2018/12/27 09:19

The trial of a prominent human rights lawyer began in northern China on Wednesday with about two dozen plainclothes officers stationed outside a courthouse and at least one supporter taken away by police.

Reporters, foreign diplomats and supporters were prevented from approaching the municipal court in Tianjin city where lawyer Wang Quanzhang was being tried. Wang's wife, Li Wenzu, was kept from attending the proceedings by security agents who had blocked the exit of her apartment complex since Tuesday.

Li told The Associated Press by phone Wednesday that Liu Weiguo, Wang's government-appointed lawyer, confirmed the trial had started. But he did not tell her whether it was now over or whether a verdict had been reached.

The court said in a statement on its website that it "lawfully decided not to make public" the trial hearings because the case involved state secrets. A decision will be announced at a future date, the court said.

Wang is among more than 200 lawyers and legal activists who were detained in a sweeping 2015 crackdown. A member of the Fengrui law firm, among the most recognized in the field broadly known in China as "rights defending," he was charged with subversion of state power in 2016. He has been held without access to his lawyers or family for more than three years.

Fengrui has pursued numerous sensitive cases and represented outspoken critics of the ruling Communist Party. Wang represented members of the Falun Gong meditation sect that the government has relentlessly suppressed since banning it as an "evil cult" in 1999. Group leaders have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms and ordinary followers locked up as alleged threats.


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