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Court sides with Argentina, speeding along bond settlements
Legal Business | 2016/04/17 22:52
A federal appeals court cleared the way Wednesday for Argentina to settle its debts and strengthen its ability to maneuver in worldwide markets.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals turned away creditors who wanted to keep in place court-ordered protections, though Circuit Judge Christopher Droney said a lower-court judge should take steps to determine whether Argentina has met conditions he required be fulfilled before court orders against the republic are permanently lifted. The conditions include completing settlement payments.

A three-judge panel announced its decision after hearing oral arguments for more than an hour. It found a judge was within his rights to conclude that circumstances surrounding the decadelong court battle changed dramatically when Argentina's new president, Mauricio Macri, decided to let the nation negotiate deals with bondholders after he took office Dec. 10.

Since January, Argentina has reached agreements to pay more than $8 billion to creditors, mainly U.S. hedge funds.

Argentine Economy Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay, who is in New York ahead of Argentina's first international bond sale in more than a decade, said, "This is a step toward achieving normality and the kind of development that Argentina deserves."

His country is expected to sell up to $15 billion in bonds, and he said the holdout funds will be paid on April 22.

The creditors went to court in New York after Argentina in 2001 defaulted on $100 billion in bonds. Argentina invited all its bondholders to swap their bonds at steep discounts for new bonds in 2005 and 2010.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa had issued orders banning Argentina from paying interest through U.S. banks to 93 percent of its bondholders, who agreed to exchange their bonds for new bonds worth 25 percent to 29 percent of their original value.


Cosby asks court to reseal testimony about affairs, drugs
Legal Business | 2016/04/15 22:52
Bill Cosby's lawyers urged an appeals court Wednesday to reseal the comedian's lurid, decade-old testimony about his womanizing, but the panel of judges seemed to think the request was pointless, since the deposition has already made headlines around the world.

Members of the three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit of Appeals reeled off a list of "the toothpaste's out of the tube"-type metaphors to suggest that any damage to Cosby's reputation from the release of the testimony has already been done.

Cosby's attorneys hope a ruling in their favor could help them keep the documents from being used in the criminal case against him in Pennsylvania and in the many lawsuits filed around the country by women who accuse him of sexual assault or defamation.

But the judges questioned that strategy, too.

The other courts "don't have to necessarily follow us. We can't control them," Circuit Judge Thomas L. Ambro said.

Cosby gave the testimony in 2005 as part of a lawsuit brought against him by Andrea Constand, a Temple University employee who said he drugged and molested her at his home. She later settled for an undisclosed sum, and sensitive documents in the file remained sealed.

In the nearly 1,000-page deposition, the comic known as "America's Dad" admitted to several extramarital affairs and said he obtained quaaludes to give to women he hoped to seduce.

The documents were released last year on a request by The Associated Press. U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno found the public had a right to Cosby's testimony because of his role as a self-appointed "public moralist" and because he had denied accusations he drugged and molested women.



Despite court ruling, China gay rights movement makes gains
Legal Business | 2016/04/14 22:52
For years, Chen Tiantian could only read about the gay rights movement in faraway places. She knew that there were activists in Beijing and a vibrant community in Shanghai, and that in San Francisco, a distant mecca, gay pride parades took up entire streets.
 
But on Wednesday, the 20-year-old English major sat on the steps of a courthouse and spoke fervently about how the struggle for equality had arrived in her central Chinese hometown ? and how she planned to take part.

"It's hard to believe, but we're right in the middle of this," said Chen, who is lesbian and came with several friends to support a local couple who had challenged the city's civil affairs bureau after they were denied a marriage certificate. "It's like I'm finally entering the struggle myself."

Though it was dismissed by the court in Changsha, China's first legal challenge to a law limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples has galvanized many of the hundreds of young Chinese gay rights supporters who gathered at the courthouse, some of them waving small rainbow flags. The hearing's sizable public turnout and coverage by usually conservative Chinese media appeared to reflect early signs of shifting social attitudes in China on the topic of sexual orientation.

The lawsuit that was dismissed was brought by 26-year-old Sun Wenlin against the civil affairs bureau for refusing to issue him and his partner, Hu Mingliang, a marriage registration certificate. The judge's ruling against the couple came down after a three-hour hearing ? but that didn't dampen the mood of many of the hundreds of young Chinese who gathered outside the courthouse hoping for a chance to "witness history," in the words of one supporter.



Court papers: Woman to plead guilty to terrorism charge
Legal Business | 2016/03/28 10:12
A young Mississippi woman plans to plead guilty to a terrorism charge Tuesday, months after authorities say she and her fiance tried to go to Syria to join the Islamic State group.

Court papers show 20-year-old Jaelyn Young, originally from Vicksburg, will plead guilty in Aberdeen federal court to conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

Young faces up to 20 years in prison, $250,000 in fines and lifetime probation.

Lawyers for Young did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Monday.

Her fiance, Muhammad Dakhlalla, pleaded guilty March 11 to a similar charge and awaits sentencing. The pair at one point planned to claim they were going on their honeymoon while traveling to Syria.

The couple was arrested Aug. 8 before boarding a flight from Columbus, Mississippi, with tickets for Istanbul. Authorities say they contacted undercover federal agents last year, seeking online help in traveling to Syria. Both are jailed in Oxford.

Young, a sophomore chemistry major at Mississippi State University at the time of her arrest, is the daughter of a school administrator and a police officer who served in the Navy reserve. She was a former honor student, cheerleader and homecoming maid at Vicksburg's Warren Central High School.

Dakhlalla grew up as the youngest of three sons of a prominent figure in Starkville's Muslim community. He is a 2011 psychology graduate of Mississippi State who and was preparing to start graduate school at the university.

Prosecutors have portrayed Young as the leader of the plot. They said that by the time Young began dating Dakhlalla in November 2014, she was already interested in converting to Islam. She announced her conversion in March and began wearing a burqa, a garment worn by some Muslim women to cover their face and body.


Judge begins to deliver verdict in Ukrainian pilot trial
Legal Business | 2016/03/22 00:41
A Russian court has begun reading a verdict for Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko, who is charged with complicity to murder two Russian journalists in war-torn eastern Ukraine.
 
The judge began reading the verdict Monday morning. He quoted arguments by prosecutors who said Savchenko, who served in a volunteer Ukrainian battalion at the time, called in the coordinates for shelling that killed the two journalists and several civilians in July 2014. He also quoted them as saying she was driven by "political hatred" toward residents of Ukraine's Luhansk region.
   
The judge in the trial quoted the prosecution saying that Savchenko was part of a "criminal group" and aimed to kill an "unlimited number of people."

Prosecutors have asked for a 23-year prison sentence for Savchenko. Sentencing is expected on Tuesday.

This story has been corrected to show that Savchenko has not been found guilty. The judge, quoting prosecutors, said Savchenko was complicit in the killing, but stopped short of pronouncing her guilty. A verdict will come at the end of the verdict-reading process, which is expected to take two days.



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