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Court: Germany must press US over Yemen drone strikes
Law Firm Business | 2019/03/17 02:17
A court in Germany ruled Tuesday that the government has partial responsibility to ensure U.S. drone strikes controlled with the help of an American base on German territory are in line with international law, but judges stopped short of ordering the ban that human rights activists had called for.

The case was brought by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights on behalf of three Yemeni plaintiffs, who allege their relatives were killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2012. A lower court had dismissed their case in 2015, concluding at the time that the government had fulfilled its legal duties and was within its rights to balance them with “foreign and defense policy interests.”

The Muenster administrative court said in a statement that available evidence suggests the Ramstein U.S. air base in southern Germany plays “a central role” for the relay of flight control data used for armed drone strikes in Yemen.

Judges ordered the German government to take “appropriate measures” to determine whether the use of armed drones controlled via Ramstein is in line with international law and, if necessary, to press Washington to comply with it.

“The judgment from the court in Muenster is an important step toward placing limits on the drone program as carried out via Ramstein,” said Andreas Schueller, a lawyer with the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights. “Germany must now face up to its responsibility for these strikes.”

The German Foreign Ministry said it would study the ruling.

“The German government is in regular and confidential contact with the United States about the role the U.S. air base Ramstein plays in the U.S.’s international deployment of unmanned aircrafts,” the ministry said in a statement.

A spokesman for U.S. Air Force Europe said the Ramstein base is used to “conduct operational level planning, monitoring and assessment of assigned airpower missions throughout Europe and Africa.”

“The U.S. Air Force does not launch or operate remotely piloted aircraft from Germany as part of our counter terrorism activities,” Lt. Col. Dustin M. Hart said in an emailed comment.


Ohio Republicans defending state congressional map in court
Law Firm Business | 2019/03/11 19:42
Attorneys for Ohio Republican officials will call witnesses this week to defend the state's congressional map.

A federal trial enters its second week Monday in a lawsuit by voter rights groups that say the current seats resulted from "an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander." Their witnesses have included Democratic activists and voters who have expressed frustration and confusion with districts that have stayed at 12 Republicans, four Democrats, since they were drawn ahead of the 2012 elections.

Attorneys for the Republican officials being sued say the map resulted from bipartisan compromise, with each party losing one seat after population shifts in the 2010 U.S. Census caused Ohio to lose two congressional seats.

Among potential GOP witnesses is former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (BAY'-nur) of West Chester, Ohio.


Court: $700M judgment against North Carolina still unpaid
Law Firm Business | 2019/03/07 19:42
A North Carolina judge has affirmed that a court judgment issued more than 10 years ago stating school districts are owed over $700 million in civil penalties from several state agencies is still nearly all unpaid.

The order signed Wednesday by Wake Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier ends a lawsuit filed last summer by the North Carolina School Boards Association and many local boards.

But Rozier's ruling makes clear he can't direct how and when the General Assembly should pay because of constitutional limitations. The school districts hope the new litigation will revive efforts to get lawmakers to repay the $730 million.

At issue were fees collected by agencies for late tax payments, overweight vehicles and other items that never got forwarded to schools, as the state constitution required.


Man accused of kidnapping Wisconsin girl to appear in court
Law Firm Business | 2019/02/06 19:15
A man accused of kidnapping a 13-year-old Wisconsin girl and killing her parents is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing.

Jake Patterson, 21, is accused of killing James and Denise Closs on Oct. 15 and kidnapping their daughter , Jayme Closs, from their Barron home. Jayme escaped on Jan. 10, after 88 days.

Patterson is expected to be in the courtroom Wednesday, according to Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald. The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to determine whether there's grounds for a trial. Both sides can present evidence.

According to the criminal complaint, Patterson told investigators he knew Jayme "was the girl he was going to take" after he saw her getting on a school bus near her home. He made two aborted trips to the family's home before carrying out the attack in which he killed Jayme's mother in front of her.

In the days that followed, thousands of people volunteered to search for Jayme. Investigators believe Patterson hid Jayme in a remote cabin in Gordon, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) north of Barron, before she escaped and got help from a woman walking her dog.

Jayme told police that on the night she was abducted, she awoke to her dog's barking, then woke her parents as a car came up the driveway. Her father went to the front door as Jayme and her mother hid in a bathtub, according to the complaint. Jayme told police she heard a gunshot and knew her dad had been killed.


Lambert to be sworn in as Supreme Court justice
Law Firm Business | 2019/02/02 03:24
A new Kentucky Supreme Court justice will be sworn in to office next week.

A statement from the Administrative Office of the Courts says Debra Hembree Lambert will be formally sworn in as a justice on Feb. 4 at the state Capitol in Frankfort. She was elected to the court in November and will serve the 3rd Supreme Court District, which includes 27 counties in southern and south-central Kentucky.

Before her election to the Supreme Court, Lambert served as an appellate judge for four years and before that was a circuit judge for Lincoln, Pulaski and Rockcastle counties.

Lambert succeeds retired Justice Daniel Venters.



Indian court rejects probe into Rafale fighter jet deal
Law Firm Business | 2018/12/17 03:06
India's top court on Friday rejected petitions by activists seeking a probe into the government purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France. Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said there was no reason to doubt the government's decision-making process in the multibillion dollar deal.

The purchase has become a major political issue in India with the main opposition Indian National Congress party accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government of buying the aircraft at nearly three times the price being negotiated when it was the ruling party before Modi came to power in 2014.

The government has denied the claim but says a secrecy clause governs the deal's pricing. Gogoi said it was not the job of the court to deal with the comparative details of the pricing. Activist Prashant Bhushan, a petitioner, said he believes that the court verdict was against the country's interests.

"The aircraft deal needed a proper investigation in view of allegations about its pricing" and the choice of Indian partners, Bhushan said.

Congress party President Rahul Gandhi has accused Modi's government of favoring a company owned by industrialist Anil Ambani, Reliance Group, when choosing an Indian partner for Dassault, the aircraft manufacturer.

Randeep Surjewala, a party spokesman, demanded a probe by a joint parliamentary committee. The government has denied any wrongdoing. The Supreme Court said "there was no substantial evidence of commercial favoritism to any private entity" and there was no reason to interfere with the issues of procurement, pricing and partner.

The controversy has intensified following comments in October by former French President Francois Hollande — who was in charge when the deal was signed in 2016 + suggesting France had no say in selecting the Indian company.



Trump visit stirs debate; massacre defendant in court
Law Firm Business | 2018/10/30 06:12
The man charged in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre was brought into court in a wheelchair Monday, as some members of the Jewish community and others objected to President Donald Trump’s plans to visit, accusing him of contributing to a toxic political climate in the U.S. that might have led to the bloodshed.

With the first funerals set for Tuesday, the White House announced that Trump and first lady Melania Trump will visit the same day to “express the support of the American people and to grieve with the Pittsburgh community” over the 11 congregants killed Saturday in the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.

Some Pittsburghers urged Trump to stay away. “His language has encouraged hatred and fear of immigrants, which is part of the reason why these people were killed,” said Marianne Novy, 73, a retired college English professor who lives in the city’s Squirrel Hill section, the historic Jewish neighborhood where the attack at the Tree of Life synagogue took place.

Meanwhile, the alleged gunman, 46-year-old truck driver Robert Gregory Bowers, was released from the hospital where he was treated for wounds suffered in a gun battle with police. Hours later he was wheeled into a downtown federal courtroom in handcuffs to face charges.

A judge ordered him held without bail for a preliminary hearing on Thursday, when prosecutors will outline their case. He did not enter a plea.

During the brief proceeding, Bowers talked with two court-appointed lawyers and said little more than “Yes” in a soft voice a few times in response to routine questions from the judge. Courtroom deputies freed one of his cuffed hands so he could sign paperwork.


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