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Wednesday, August 11

Appeals court hears steelworkers complaint  
Russell Adkins at 8/11/2004 11:55:37 PM

The union representing the employees of closed steel bar manufacturer Republic Technologies Inc. [PDF] asked a three-judge panel of the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals to require the government to pay "shutdown pensions", AP reports. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. denies that it is required to pay out the pensions, arguing that RTI never paid the premiums on the benefits. The 6th Circuit did not indicate when it will issue its ruling. AP has more.



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Federal agencies support appeal of Financial Privacy law  
Russell Adkins at 8/11/2004 11:19:39 PM

The Bush administration sided with banks Wednesday as it urged a California judge to overturn the state's financial privacy law, a landmark statute that requires financial institutions to obtain customer permission before sharing such as bank balances or spending habits to nonaffiliated companies, AP reports. Six federal agencies filed amicus briefs arguing that California has overstepped its regulatory bounds in enacting statute Senate Bill 1 in August 2003. Read the full story from AP. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has more on the legal battle over SB1.



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Freed death row inmate sues prosecutors over incarceration  
Russell Adkins at 8/11/2004 10:45:16 PM

Nicholas Yarris, a Pennsylvania man who spent 22 years on death row before DNA evidence exonerated him from a rape and murder conviction, filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging that detectives and prosecutors withheld evidence from his trial that could have set him free, AP reports. The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, alleges that detectives encouraged witnesses to change their stories to fit a police theory of the crime, and that prosecutors hid crucial evidence from Yarris' defense lawyer. AP has more. A website has been set up to detail Yarris' legal battle. Deathpenaltyinfo.org features its press release after Yarris' conviction was overturned in 2003 [PDF].



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New immigration policy introduced, subjects more illegal aliens to "expedited removal"  
Jeannie Shawl at 8/11/2004 04:22:52 PM

The Department of Homeland Security has announced a new immigration policy that will subject more illegal immigrants to "expedited removal." According to a DHS statement:
When a person is apprehended and placed in expedited removal proceedings by a [Customs and Border Protection] Border Patrol agent, he or she generally will be detained and removed to his or her country of origin as soon as circumstances allow. They will not be released into the U.S. in most cases, and is not provided a hearing before an Immigration Judge unless he or she is determined to have a credible fear of return to his or her country.

Any person who expresses an intention to apply for asylum, or a fear of persecution or torture, or a fear of return to his or her home country will be referred to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) asylum officer for a "credible fear" interview. If the person is found to have a credible fear, he or she will be removed from the expedited removal process and may seek protection in a removal hearing before an Immigration Judge.
Read the full DHS press release. Expedited removal, currently only used for people trying to enter the country illegally at airports and border checkpoints, will now apply to illegal aliens caught anywhere within 100 miles of the border who have been in the US for 14 days or less. The new policy officially takes effect Wednesday, but will not be implemented immediately. Wednesday's San Francisco Chronicle has more. Under Secretary Asa Hutchinson hosted a media roundtable on the immigration policy changes. Read the transcript. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services has background on immigration laws and regulations.



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Amnesty calls for Indian review of its security law for "disturbed areas"  
Jeannie Shawl at 8/11/2004 03:36:26 PM

Amnesty International Wednesday called on India to repeal or review the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which operates in certain "disturbed areas" of India, saying that serious human rights abuses have occurred under AFSPA. According to the Amnesty report, AFSPA:
  • facilitates grave human rights violations,
  • empowers the security forces to arrest and enter property without warrant,
  • gives the security forces powers to use excessive force, including to shoot to kill without members of the security force lives being at imminent risk,
  • facilitates impunity because no person can start legal action against any member of the armed forces for anything done under the Act without permission of the Central Government,
  • by certain of its provisions violates articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), including Articles 6, 9 and 14. These articles include, but are not limited to, article 6(1) which states "every human being has the inherent right to life", and article 9(1) which states "no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention".
  • Read Amnesty's full press release. India's Home Minister Shivraj Patil has said that there is currently not unanimity on the question of withdrawal of the AFSPA. Wednesday's Times of India has more. The South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre has background on AFSPA.



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    Hamdi may be released from federal custody  
    Jeannie Shawl at 8/11/2004 02:51:22 PM

    Lawyers in Yaser Hamdi's case have asked US District Judge Robert Doumar to stay all proceedings for three weeks in order to allow both sides more time to reach an agreement that would release Hamdi from federal custody. The Supreme Court ruled in June that the government cannot indefinitely detain Hamdi, a US citizen who was captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan, as an enemy combatant without offering him access to the courts. Hamdi's attorney has said that an agreement to release Hamdi from custody is close. AP has more. Read the Supreme Court's decision in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld and coverage of the decision on JURIST's Paper Chase.



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    US Supreme Court vacates stay of execution for VA inmate  
    Jeannie Shawl at 8/11/2004 02:06:04 PM

    The US Supreme Court Wednesday vacated a stay of execution for a Virginia man who argued that execution by lethal injection constituted cruel and unusual punishment and was therefore unconstitutional. The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals had granted a stay of execution to James Edward Reid, who received the death penalty for strangling and stabbing an 80-year-old woman. The stay had been issued pending the Supreme Court's decision in Nelson v. Campbell, where the Court ruled that an Alabama death row inmate can pursue a claim that the state's use of a "cut-down" technique as part of the lethal injection procedure is cruel and unusual punishment. Read Wednesday's Supreme Court Order [PDF]. AP has more.



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    Ahmad Chalabi returns to Iraq to face charges  
    Jeannie Shawl at 8/11/2004 01:22:20 PM

    Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi returned to Iraq Wednesday to face an arrest warrant on charges of counterfeiting money. A second arrest warrant has been issued for his nephew, Salem Chalabi, on an unrelated murder charge. Salem, who heads the Iraqi Special Tribunal set up to try Saddam Hussein for war crimes, has not yet returned to Iraq to face the charges, saying he wants assurances about his safety before returning. Reuters has more.



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    Iranian reporters arrested in Baghdad  
    Jeannie Shawl at 8/11/2004 12:42:51 PM

    Three reporters working for Iran's IRNA news agency have been arrested by Baghdad police, according to an IRNA report. The three men, an Iranian journalist and two Iraqis working for IRNA, were originally reported kidnapped after the news agency lost contact with them Monday afternoon. Reuters has more.



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    Japanese appeals court approves bank merger negotiations  
    Jeannie Shawl at 8/11/2004 12:09:53 PM

    The Tokyo High Court ruled Wednesday that UFJ Holdings and Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group can hold merger talks to form what would become the world's biggest bank, with $1.7 trillion in total assets. A third bank, Sumitomo Trust, has appealed to Japan's Supreme Court, seeking to halt the merger negotiations because, the bank says, the merger talks violate its agreement with UFJ to by UFJ's trust banking operations. AP has more. Read Sumitomo Trust's press release [PDF] Wednesday's decision.



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    British agency gives license for therapeutic human cloning  
    Jeannie Shawl at 8/11/2004 10:20:12 AM

    Britain's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) Wednesday gave permission to a group of UK-based scientists to perform therapeutic cloning using human embryos. Therapeutic cloning became legal in the UK in 2002, but this is the first time that the HFEA has granted a license to perform the technique. According to the HFEA chair Suzi Leather, an initial one year research license has been granted after "careful consideration of all the scientific, ethical, legal and medical aspects of the project." Pro-life groups are considering whether to mount a legal challenge against the HFEA decision. BBC News has more. JURIST's Paper Chase has background on the scientists' request for a therapeutic cloning license. HFEA has this press release.



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    German 9/11 suspect didn't know of terror plot, according to US evidence  
    Jeannie Shawl at 8/11/2004 09:56:26 AM

    According to summaries of interrogations of captured al Qaeda leaders, Mounir El Motassadeq, the Moroccan 9/11 suspect who is being retried in Germany, had no knowledge of the attack plans. According to information provided by the US Justice Department, Motassadeq transferred money on behalf of one of the 9/11 plotters, but he did not know how the money would be used. As previously reported on JURIST's Paper Chase, the US agreed to provide summaries of its interrogations of al Qaeda prisoners, but refused to allow the terror suspects to testify in Motassadeq's retrial. Reuters has more. Deutsche Welle has local coverage (in English).



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    Law in the major papers ~ Wednesday, August 11  
    Rebecca Wolford at 8/11/2004 09:26:01 AM

    Today's New York Times includes articles about deportation powers granted to border patrol agents by the Department of Homeland Security, a terrorism investigation into an illegal immigrant from Pakistan found with videotapes of downtown buildings and transit systems in four Southern states and of a dam in Texas, Vermont's governor announcing that Vermont will become the first state to sue the federal FDA for rejecting a plan to import prescription drugs from Canada, lawyers for Texas school districts went to trial this week to oppose the property tax cap that they believe is unconstitutional, and updates on the Peterson and Kobe Bryant trials.

    The Washington Post notes that a high school senior's proposal to ban circus animals within Denver city limits was defeated, federal prosecutors canceled today's hearing for former Boeing executive Michael M. Sears, and lawyers for Westar Energy executives David C. Wittig and Douglas T. Lake, accused by federal prosecutors of looting Kansas' largest electric utility, are seeking dismissal of the case.

    USA Today
    features reports of a suspected serial killer who faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison after a jury convicted him of second-degree murder in the beating and stabbing death of a 21-year-old woman, and Pakistan protesting the FBI sting operation in which two leaders of an Albany mosque were accused of participating in a plot to assassinate the country's ambassador to the United Nations.



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    UK court backs indefinite detention of foreign terrorism suspects  
    Jeannie Shawl at 8/11/2004 09:25:34 AM

    London's High Court Wednesday upheld a decision made by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission to detain ten foreign terrorism suspects without trial. The ten men have been detained for over two years under Britain's Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act, which allows foreigners to be jailed indefinitely without charge or trial if they are suspected of involvement in international terrorism and they opt not to leave the country. AFP has more. Wednesday's court decision follows last week's parliamentary committee report calling on the government to scrap the terrorism law. JURIST's Paper Chase has more.



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    Law in the foreign press ~ Wednesday, August 11  
    Zak Shusterman at 8/11/2004 09:18:13 AM

    Some of the legal stories featured in Wednesday's foreign press.... In China, People's Daily covers proposed legislation to counter official discrimination against hepatitis B carriers. The new standards will ensure that job applicants who are only carriers, in whom the disease has not manifested itself, qualify for government jobs.... Israel's Haaretz reports a High Court injunction preventing the dismantling of a West Bank outpost. This is the second such order from the High Court since the Prime Minister decided the illegal outpost must be evacuated.
  • click for the previous foreign press report



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    US law and business press review ~ Wednesday, August 11  
    Maryam Shad at 8/11/2004 08:01:27 AM

    In Wednesday's US law and business press, the Cincinnati Business Courier reports that Procter & Gamble Co.'s trial to defend itself against claims by Vidal Sassoon arising from P&G's decision to stop selling Sassoon products in the US and Europe will begin in October.... The Connecticut Law Tribune reports that a CT attorney has been suspended from practicing law for one year for threatening to expose a client to the FBI as a terrorist sympathizer after he hired another lawyer.... The New York Law Journal reports on the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals's displeasure over a NY judge's decision to release settlement information in a sex discrimination case.... The Recorder reports that the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals has denied class status to video poker players who claimed their electronic cards were marked by computer programmers.... The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports that technology provider InterCept Inc. has received final court approval of its settlement of consolidated securities class action litigation filed against the company and several of its officers.... FindLaw's Writ carries Rutgers law professor Sherry F. Colb's commentary on the TX trial of a woman accused of "delivering" cocaine to her unborn child.
  • click for the previous US law and business press review



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    August 11: This day at law ~ US Supreme Court delivered first reported decision  
    Bernard Hibbitts at 8/11/2004 12:01:42 AM

    On August 11, 1792, the US Supreme Court delivered its first reported decision, Georgia v. Brailsford. Learn more about Justice Thomas Johnson, who wrote the Court's Opinion in the case.



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