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Philippine court urged to order Marcos' remains exhumed
Legal Business | 2016/11/22 22:52
Human rights victims who suffered during the rule of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos filed petitions Monday asking the Supreme Court to order the exhumation of his remains that were buried last week at the country's Heroes' Cemetery.

They also want the court to hold officials and his heirs in contempt for carrying out the burial before the court heard final appeals against it.

Former President Fidel Ramos, who played a key role in the peaceful army-backed revolt that ousted Marcos in 1986, called the former leader's burial at the military-run cemetery "an insult" to the sacrifices of soldiers and veterans.

Left-wing former lawmaker Saturnino Ocampo and other activists urged the court to hold Marcos' widow Imelda, their three children, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and two military officials in contempt for "the hasty, shady and tricky" burial on Friday of the long-dead president at the Heroes' Cemetery.

The petition said they should be fined and detained for mocking the legal process that gave petitioners 15 days to appeal the court's Nov. 8 ruling allowing the burial.

Opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman, who represents another group of petitioners, sought a court order to have the remains exhumed "because the hasty and surreptitious interment was premature, void and irregular."

He asked that the remains be examined to determine if they are not a wax replica. The secrecy-shrouded burial at the cemetery reserved for presidents, soldiers and national artists shocked democracy advocates and human rights victims, prompting street protests in Manila and other cities.

Marcos's rule was marked by massive rights violations and plunder. After being ousted in 1986, he flew to Hawaii, where he lived with his wife and children until he died in 1989.


Nevada high court considering email public records question
Legal Business | 2016/11/15 22:51
Neighbors' efforts to block the reopening of a mine in a historic Nevada mining town have unearthed a legal question about whether emails kept by elected officials on their personal devices are public records.

The Comstock Residents Association wants the Nevada Supreme Court to order Lyon County to release communications between county commissioners and Comstock Mining Inc. ahead of a January 2014 decision to allow mining again at Silver City.

The question focuses on whether the public has a right to government information contained on personal electronic devices and in personal email accounts.

Senior Washoe County District Court Judge Steven Kosach rejected the request earlier this year, ruling records on personal devices and accounts are outside the public agency's control and aren't covered under the Nevada Public Records Act.

The judge also found the communications were not official actions. But he acknowledged his ruling "may cause public employees to skirt the provision of the (public records law) by conducting business on their personal devices," the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Barry Smith, director of the Nevada Press Association, said the lower court ruling allows the "electronic version of the old backroom deal."

"Officials could avoid the open-records law by conducting public business through their private phones and email accounts," Smith said.

In a brief filed Nov. 7 with the state high court, association attorney Luke Busby said the court's decision would provide "critical guidance" to public officials about access to public records.

In court filings, Busby noted that then-Commissioner Vida Keller said at the January 2014 commission meeting that she had contacted her colleagues outside the public meeting regarding the land-use change.

"As it turned out, Commissioner Keller and other members of the Lyon County Commissioners used their personal devices or email accounts to conduct official business," Busby said. "An otherwise public record does not lose public status simply because it was created, received or stored on a personal device or personal account."

A three-member panel of justices heard oral arguments in the case Sept. 14. It could be several months before a ruling is made.


Violence in southern India as top court orders water sharing
Legal Business | 2016/09/12 09:08
India's top court on Monday ordered the southern state of Karnataka to release water from a disputed river to neighboring Tamil Nadu after violence erupted in both states over water sharing.

The Supreme Court ordered Karnataka to release 12,000 cusecs (cubic feet per second) per day to Tamil Nadu until Sept. 20. Farmers in both states, who depend on river water to irrigate their crops, have complained of severe water shortages.

The Cauvery River, which originates in Karnataka and flows into Tamil Nadu, has been the source of a bitter water dispute for decades. Karnataka officials told the court that the state did not have enough water reserves to share.

Earlier Monday, protesters in Tamil Nadu vandalized a hotel in the city of Chennai owned by people from Karnataka, triggering violent protests in both states.

Last week, the Supreme Court had ordered Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of water for 10 days to Tamil Nadu, a move that led to protests by Karnataka farmers, who say they have no water for their fields.

The Karnataka government then appealed the ruling to the top court, which reduced the daily supply to Tamil Nadu.



Sotomayor calls job on high court blessing and curse
Legal Business | 2016/09/11 09:08
Serving on the U.S. Supreme Court has been both a blessing and a curse and reaching decisions is harder than she ever expected, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Thursday during a visit to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The court's first Hispanic justice told a packed campus theater that said she still marvels that she holds her position, noting she sits so close to the president at State of the Union addresses she can almost touch him. But the job comes with a heavy burden because every decision the court makes affects so many people and each ruling creates losers, she said, recalling moments in court where losing litigants have wept.

"I never forget that in every case, someone wins, and there's an opposite. Someone loses. And that burden feels very heavy to me," Sotomayor said. "I have not anticipated how hard decision-making is on the court. Because of that big win and lose on the court and we are affecting lives across the country and sometimes across the world, I'm conscious that what I do will always affect someone."

Sotomayor spoke for about an hour and a half, wandering up and down the theater's aisles and shaking hands with people as she answered questions from a pair of her former law clerks sitting on stage. She warned the audience that she couldn't talk about pending cases and the clerks never asked her about the Senate refusing to hold a hearing or vote on Judge Merrick Garland's nomination to replace the late Antonin Scalia as the court's ninth justice. The clerks instead gave her general questions about her experiences and thought processes. She kept her answers just as general.



Planned Parenthood shooting defendant returning to court
Legal Business | 2016/05/11 13:08
A man who admitted killing three people at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic is returning to court for the continuation of a hearing on whether he's mentally competent to stand trial.

A psychologist who examined 57-year-old Robert Dear is scheduled to testify Tuesday.

Dear is charged with 179 counts including murder, attempted murder and assault in the Nov. 27 shootings at the Colorado Springs clinic. Nine people were injured in the attack.

In court, he has declared himself a "warrior for the babies" and said he was guilty.

The hearing started last month, when two psychologists testified that Dear isn't competent to stand trial.

If the judge agrees, Dear's case would be put on hold while he undergoes treatment at a state psychiatric hospital intended to restore him to competency.



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