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Wednesday, April 14

International law brief ~ UN committee drafts "launching state" resolution  
Jeannie Shawl at 4/14/2004 11:39:27 PM

In international law news Wednesday, the legal subcommittee of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space has concluded its forty-third session, during which it agreed on a draft General Assembly resolution on the concept of the "launching state." The committee also discussed a preliminary draft protocol registering property interests in space assets, the definition and delimitation of outer space, and the status and application of the UN treaties on outer space. The UN Information Service has more.... Indonesia has renewed its commitment to fully implement the Chemical Weapons Convention. Although it ratified the CWC more than five years ago, Indonesia has encountered problems implementing the terms of the treaty due to a lack of a permanent national authority and appropriate legislation to govern all aspects of the use of chemical substances. China's Xinhua news service has more.... In an interview which aired on Nigerian television, former Liberian president Charles Taylor denied that his National Patriotic Front of Liberia acted outside of international law during Liberia's civil war. Taylor also said that he has not committed the crimes for which he has been indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone and called on UN to provide proof that his actions encouraged genocide in Sierra Leone. Read Taylor's indictment and other case materials made available by the Special Court. Nigeria's Daily Champion has more.
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    Federal courts brief ~ Convictions upheld for exporting encryption devices  
    Matthew Shames at 4/14/2004 11:17:10 PM

    In Wednesday's federal courts roundup, the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of two men who conspired to illegally export encryption devices to China. Attorneys for the two men argued that the jury should have been given an entrapment instruction. AP has the full story. Read the opinion here [PDF].... The US Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated the life sentence of convicted killer Clay Anthony Ford. A lower federal court had previously reduced the sentence because of controversial statements uttered by the prosecutor during the sentencing phase of Ford's murder trial. AP has the full story. Read the opinion here [PDF].... The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled late yesterday that a California movie theater may have violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by refusing to guarantee seats for the companions of disabled patrons. In June 2000, Robin Fortyune, a quadriplegic, and his wife attended a sold out movie. Two people were occupying the seats reserved for companions of customers in wheelchairs, and theater managers refused to require the patrons to move. AP has the full story.... Also yesterday, the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Pennsylvania needs a plan for moving mentally ill patients from state psychiatric hospitals to less restrictive settings once they are well enough to be treated in community settings. AP has more on this story. Read the opinion here [PDF].



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    DOJ brief ~ DOJ taking no antitrust action on steel merger  
    Justine Stefanelli at 4/14/2004 10:22:27 PM

    Here's Wednesday's legal news from the US Department of Justice. The Justice Department has conducted an antitrust review of International Steel Group's (ISG) plan to purchase Weirton Steel Corp. and finished without taking legal action, which indicates that no evidence was found to support contentions that the merger would create a monopoly. Antitrust experts say that the government's choice not to sue is very significant in terms of what is required of ISG before the merger. AP has more.... As previously reported on JURIST's Paper Chase, FBI Director Robert Mueller's prepared statement to the 9/11 commission is available online, along with the FBI's report [PDF] on its counterterrorism program.
  • click for previous Department of Justice news



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    BREAKING NEWS ~ Italian hostage executed by Iraqi abductors  
    Bernard Hibbitts at 4/14/2004 06:51:58 PM

    AP is reporting that one of four Italians taken hostage Monday by militants in Iraq has been executed, according to the Italian foreign ministry. This is the first confirmed hostage execution in the current wave of Iraqi kidnappings of foreign nationals. The execution of the Italian was reportedly recorded on a video delivered earlier today to Aljazeera-TV, which declined to air in. Aljazeera has more.



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    NOW ONLINE ~ FBI Director Mueller's statement to 9/11 commission  
    Amit Patel at 4/14/2004 03:44:07 PM

    Prepared testimony by FBI Director Robert Mueller to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States is now available online here.

    Highlights of Director Mueller's testimony include:

  • a description of asymmetical and diverse threats to the U.S. that use criminal networks to advance terrorist plans.
  • the need for fused intelligence and law enforcement capabilities to predict and prevent terrorist attacks.
  • the need for an integrated law enforcement/intelligence "task force" network, at home and abroad and on the
  • community level, to detect and defeat terrorist plans.
  • an overview of the FBI's 7-point plan to protect the homeland against attack.
  • the importance of protecting Americans against attack in strict compliance with the Constitution and the rule of law.

    Director Mueller and Intelligence Executive Maureen Baginski also released a report on the FBI's counterterrorism program which can be read here[PDF].



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    Bush endorses plan to keep some Israeli settlements in West Bank  
    Amit Patel at 4/14/2004 03:40:02 PM

    In what is being seen as a slight to Arab leaders, President Bush Wednesday endorsed Israel's retention of part of the West Bank in any final peace settlement with the Palestinians. Bush also called for Palestinian refugees to be settled in the new Palestinian state and not in Israel. Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia responded by saying Bush is "the first president who has legitimized the (Israeli) settlements in Palestinian territories." Past administrations had anticipated only small changes to the borders but Bush's statement was a clear sign of approval for keeping West Bank settlements as part of the Israel proper. Yasser Arafat, apparently anticipating what Bush would say, called for the complete end of the peace process. Palestinian leaders had been assured by the Bush administration that they would be consulted before any Bush endorsement of Sharon's plan. Sharon is hoping Bush's blessing will convince key members of his Likud party to back the plan. Read Bush's statement here. Read the transcript from the news conference here. Learn more about Sharon's disengagement plan here. Read more about the roadmap to peace here. AP has more.



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    Corporate brief ~ Quattrone judge orders juror names be kept confidential  
    Amit Patel at 4/14/2004 03:18:24 PM

    In Wednesday's corporations and securities law news, to avoid a Tyco-type mistrial, US District Court Judge Richard Owen has ordered reporters to not publish the names of jurors in the retrial of investment banker Frank Quattrone. Read the indictment against Quattrone here[PDF]. AP has more.... Darleen Druyun, a former Boeing Co. executive, who was under investigation for possible corruption and conflicts of interest has agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy. The Washington Post has more.... Indian lenders of Enron Corp.'s $2.9 billion Dabhol Power Co. will challenge an equity transfer to Bechtel Corp. and GE Capital Corp. on the grounds that the asset is under receivership. The Houston Business Journal has more.... Van der Moolen Holding NV announced it has suspended four traders a month after settling allegations by SEC and the NYSE that it violated trading rules. Read the Van der Moolen press release regarding the settlement with the SEC and NYSE here[PDF]. Bloomberg.com has more.... Video-game company Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. announced CEO Jeffrey C. Lapin has resigned. The company is the target of an investigation by the SEC. Read the Take-Two press release here. AP has more.... Telstra, an Australian telecommunications company, announced that company chairman Bob Mansfield has resigned. The Financial Times has more.... Google President and co-founder Sergey Brin is considering changes to its Gmail e-mail service amid criticism over privacy concerns related to advertising in private e-mails. Reuters has more.
  • click for previous corporations and securities law news



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    Cyberspace law brief ~ Lawmakers say Google e-mail is "invasion of privacy"  
    Matt Jacobs at 4/14/2004 03:14:06 PM

    In cyberspace law news Wednesday, Google's plans to offer free web-based e-mail have come under scrutiny by legislators and privacy advocates. The proposed GMail system would record key words in users' messages, and use that information to send them specific advertisements. California senator Liz Figueroa, one of the architects of the Do Not Call list, called Gmail "an invasion of privacy," and plans to introduce a law that could block the scheme. Michael Allison, of the private Internet Crimes Group, said, "Google could create a potential monster - people with wicked ways could use it for everything from extortion to harassment."...In other news, WhenU.com, an advertising company that distributes pop-up software, has filed a lawsuit against the state of Utah, claiming that Utah's new anti-spyware law is unconstitutional. WhenU.com claims that the law violates its constitutionally protected right to advertise, by making spyware illegal, and curbing the use of pop-up ads. WhenU.com was enjoined in December, by a federal court in New York, from using pop-up ads in relation to the 1800Contacts.com website, in one of the first cases restricting the use of pop-up ads...The company formerly known as Lindows announced Wednesday that it is changing its name to Linspire. Last month, a court in Amsterdam ruled that the use of the term "Lindows" was confusingly similar to Microsoft's "Windows" so as to constitute trademark infringement. According to a statement from Lindows, it still plans to use the term Lindows in "certain instances" in the US. After losing an early decision, Microsoft has appealed to the Ninth Circuit regarding the trademark issues within the US. A summary of the litigation history between Lindows and Microsoft can be found here.



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    Low turnout in Macedonian presidential election will require run-off  
    Adam Henry at 4/14/2004 01:41:38 PM

    Macedonians will have to wait a couple of weeks to know the identity of their new president. In Wednesday's special election to replace former president Boris Trajkovski, who perished in a plane crash in February, fewer than 50% of registered voters turned out, requiring a run-off vote under Macedonian electoral law. Macedonia, carved from the former Yugoslavia, formally applied for European Union membership on March 22, and all four candidates for the presidency favor European integration. The European Commission's Delegation to Macedonia offers the EU's agreements with Macedonia here. AFP has more on the presidential vote here.



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    FEC hears comments on crackdown against soft-money "527 groups"  
    Adam Henry at 4/14/2004 01:07:57 PM

    The Federal Election Commission launched a two-day public hearing Wednesday on proposed rules [PDF] that would limit election expenditures by soft-money political organizations called "527 groups" (the Brookings Institution offers a backgrounder). The rules would classify such groups as political committees, whose members face individual contribution caps under current law. In advance of the hearings, the FEC has posted the comments of parties testifying at the hearing, which include the AFL-CIO, the ACLU, Moveon.org, National Right to Life, the Media Fund, and the Sierra Club. Arguments against the rules include a lack of FEC authority to adopt them and potential chilling efffects on legitimate issue advocacy. AP has more.



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    Wisconsin student charged for staging own abduction  
    Adam Henry at 4/14/2004 12:20:27 PM

    Audrey Seiler, the University of Wisconsin student alleged to have staged her own abduction last month, has been charged by a county district attorney with two counts of obstructing officers. The search warrant in her case initially sought evidence of obstructing justice, a felony. Each misdemeanor charge carries a maximum fine of $10,000, which if recovered would make only a small dent in the estimated $96,000 spent by Madison police on her case. AP has more. The University of Wisconsin's Dean of Students issued this statement on the Seiler case some 10 days ago after allegations about the fabrication of her disappearance were first made. The original missing person's report from the Madison Police Department is here.



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    Norwegian county says local smoking ban violates EU human rights convention  
    Jeannie Shawl at 4/14/2004 11:45:38 AM

    A Norwegian county has declared a local township's rule banning smoking to be invalid because it violates the European Convention on Human Rights. Levanger, a central Norwegian township, implemented a rule at the beginning of the year which banned all smoking by municipal employees during working hours on or off city property. The county's governor, citing the Convention's protection of citizens' private lives, said the city can ban smoking on its property, but "a total ban on smoking during working hours is a measure that is not reasonable in relation to the goal of the ban." AP has more. Troender-Avisa provides local coverage (in Norwegian).



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    Canadian recording industry appeals file-sharing decision  
    Jeannie Shawl at 4/14/2004 11:24:18 AM

    The Canadian Recording Industry Association has appealed a Federal Court of Canada ruling that CRIA may not pursue lawsuits against individuals who make music available online. In its appeal, the CRIA argues that current Canadian copyright law prevents people from freely copying or downloading songs from the Internet and says it has grounds for appeal because the "judge made serious and reviewable errors of law, made overriding and palpable errors in his assessment of the factual record before him, and, in the end, purported to exercise his discretion on improper and irrelevant bases, and in a manner of excess of his jurisdiction." Read more from the Canadian Press and CRIA's press release. JURIST's Paper Chase has this previous report on the March Federal Court ruling.



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    Patriot Act at issue in Idaho Islamic student webmaster's trial  
    Bernard Hibbitts at 4/14/2004 09:30:03 AM

    Opening statements are scheduled Wednesday in the case of Sami Omar Al-Hussayen, an Idaho graduate student from Saudi Arabia accused under the Patriot Act of providing "expert advice and assistance" to terrorist groups by running a number of Islamic websites that encouraged contributions to Hamas and various organizations advocating attacks on the United States. The provisions at issue have already been ruled overbroad by a federal judge in California, making this a test case. Observers suggest that the law may be problematic insofar as it may catch people with special skills who may inadvertently end up providing assistance to suspect groups without realizing they are doing so, and without having any intention of supporting terror. If convicted, Al-Hussayen will face deportation. Read the indictment against Al-Hussayen here [PDF]. Supporters of Al-Hussayen have set up an elaborate defense website here. AP has more.



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    New judge confirmed for Milosevic bench  
    Bernard Hibbitts at 4/14/2004 09:00:07 AM

    A spokesman for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia confirmed Wednesday in a news conference that UK law lord Iain Bonomy (biodata from Burke's Peerage here) has been confirmed by the UN to replace outgoing British jurist Richard May, due to resign on may 31 on grounds of ill health. As previously reported in JURIST's Paper Chase, the appointment had been previously mooted in the British press, although it had not been formally announced. The ICTY spokesman said Bonomy was already at The Hague preparing for his new duties, which will start June 1. It is expected he will take over responsibility for presiding over the war crimes trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, which started over two years ago and is about the enter its defense phase. From Belgrade, Radio B-92 has more.



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    LIVE WEBCAST ~ Tenet, Mueller testify before 9/11 Commission  
    Bernard Hibbitts at 4/14/2004 08:48:54 AM

    CIA head George Tenet and FBI Director Robert Mueller testify today before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. Tenet's testimony is scheduled to begin at 9:30 AM ET, and Mueller's at 2:30. Other federal law enforcement and counterterrorism officials are also slated to appear. Watch the hearing live here via C-SPAN beginning at 9 AM ET.



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    Marines face court-martial for Iraqi prisoner death  
    Bernard Hibbitts at 4/14/2004 08:47:11 AM

    Military authorities at Camp Pendleton California have announced that two marines will face court-martial on charges on assault and dereliction of duty in connection with the death of an Iraqi prisoner in custody last year in Iraq. 52-year-Nagem Sadoon Hatab died when he was grabbed by the throat after being captured carrying a rifle belonging to the same Texas Army troop that had included Private Jessica Lynch. Marine officials that the cause of death was the breaking of a small bone in Hatab's throat; Hatab was left lying naked in a Nasiriyah detention facility for hours before it was discovered that he was dead. AP has more; AP also provides background on the initial charges arising from the incident brought against eight marines in October 2003.



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    US law and business press review ~ Wednesday, April 14  
    Maryam Shad at 4/14/2004 06:37:16 AM

    In Wednesday's US law and business press, the Legal Times reports on the legal class of 2004's difficulties in finding jobs in the face of economic uncertainty.... The Legal Intelligencer reports on a Philadelphia attorney's argument to the PA Supreme Court that the purpose of the city's domestic partnership ordinances is to protect same-sex couples from discrimination and provide benefits to city employees' "life partners".... The Miami Daily Business Review reports that a FL jury has awarded almost $525,000 to a dedicated coupon clipper who was acquitted of charges that she falsely received steep discounts at a J.C. Penney store.... The ABA Journal reports on a Federal Judicial Center study's conclusion that sealed civil settlements are rare in federal court, but they occur most often in cases involving death or serious disability.... The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that former Boeing official Darleen Druyun, fired for ethics violations, plans to plead guilty to conspiracy charges.... FindLaw's Writ features Columbia law professor Michael C. Dorf's column on an experiment to eliminate ethnic hatred in Rwanda, as well as Boalt law student Will Trachman's guest column on Section 5 of the 14th Amendment and the need to limit congressional power.
  • click for the previous US law and business press review



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    Law in the foreign press ~ Wednesday April 14  
    Cynthia Yializis at 4/14/2004 12:05:00 AM

    In Wednesday's foreign press, The Australian reports that the Family Court has delivered a judgment allowing a 13-year old girl to begin a sex-change process that will involve a three-step process including reversible hormone treatment, psychiatric care, and surgery when the child reaches 18 years of age. The decision is the first time an Australian child has been given legal approval to change his or her biological sex because of purely psychiatric issues.... In Israel, Haaretz reports that the committee for the selection of judges has posted a list of 15 candidates, from which it will select four on May 6 to serve as justices on the High Court. It is expected that internal politics will control the decision making process, but the committee did announce that members of the public are invited to send their comments and complaints about the candidates to be considered before the deadline.... In the Philippines, the Manila Bulletin reports that the Commission on Elections junked a disqualification case filed against President Gloria Arroyo. The petition, filed by disqualified senatorial bet Mel Chavez, alleged technicalities in Arroyo's Certificate of Candidacy and was thrown out by the commission for lack of merit.
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    April 14: This day at law - First American anti-slavery society organized  
    Bernard Hibbitts at 4/14/2004 12:01:35 AM

    On April 14, 1775, Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia helped organize the first American society for the abolition of slavery. Learn more about the Pennsylvania Abolition Society.



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