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Court calls on jailer to resign; cites poor conditions
Lawyer News | 2018/01/04 22:44
A court in Kentucky has called for a county jailer to resign, citing several recent incidents at the jail that include what the court viewed as substandard living conditions, along with multiple escapes and overdoses.

Judge-Executive Steve Towler and county commissioners approved a resolution requesting that Boyd County Jailer Joe Burchett step down, the Independent reported Wednesday. Burchett was not present at the meeting. He is an elected official, so he can't be fired.

"The jailer shall have the custody, rule and charge of the jail in his county and must keep the jail comfortably warm, clean and free from nauseous odors," the resolution states. "There have been numerous incidents over the past several months evidencing the current Boyd County jailer's failure to adhere" to those requirements.

The incidents have created a threat to personal safety and security for county residents, Towler said.

Commissioner John Greer said he hoped that Burchett would "see the light and retire," but he noted that it is "totally his decision."

Four maximum-security prisoners escaped from the jail on Dec. 28. Two of the four inmates have been captured.

Last month, Boyd Commonwealth's Attorney Rhonda Copley announced the existence of an investigation into possible malfeasance by Burchett. Malfeasance is a misdemeanor charge. Under state law, if any elected county official is convicted of the charge, that person's office would be declared vacant.


Western powers warn Kosovo on changing war crimes court law
Industry News | 2018/01/02 22:44
Five western nations have warned Kosovo against repealing or amending a law on a war crimes court, saying it would suffer negative consequences "in international and Euro-Atlantic integration."

A statement Thursday from the nations — the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Italy — said they were "deeply concerned by ongoing efforts to undermine the work of the Specialist Chambers." It called on Kosovo politicians and lawmakers "to abandon any thought of repealing or re-negotiating any aspect of the law ... (because that) calls into question Kosovo's commitment to the rule of law."

In December, a group of Kosovo lawmakers tried to amend the law, seeking to extend its jurisdiction over Serbs, their former adversaries in the 1998-1999 war for independence. The court now has jurisdiction only over potential war crimes suspects who were Kosovo citizens.

"(This move) puts the interests of certain individuals above the interests of Kosovo society. We condemn such a move," the nations said.

Kosovo detached from Yugoslavia following a three-month NATO air war in 1999 to stop a bloody Serbian crackdown against ethnic Albanian separatists. It then declared unilateral independence from Serbia in 2008, a move recognized by 114 states but not by Serbia.

The court law was passed in 2015 as a result of U.S. and European pressure on Kosovo's government to confront alleged war crimes that the Kosovo Liberation Army committed against ethnic Serbs.



Russian court: ex-minister guilty of taking $2 million bribe
Network News | 2017/12/29 02:18
Russia's former economics minister was handed an eight-year prison sentence Friday after being convicted of accepting a $2 million bribe from one of President Vladimir Putin's top associates. The high-profile trial of Alexei Ulyukayev has been widely seen as part of infighting between Kremlin clans. Ulyukayev was a key member of a group of liberal-minded technocrats in the Cabinet, while his accuser, Igor Sechin is the most prominent representative of the hard-line flank of the Russian elite.

Sechin heads Russia's largest oil producer, Rosneft, and his clout seconds only that of Putin. The 61-year-old Ulyukayev is the highest-ranking Russian official to be arrested in more than two decades. The case was viewed by many as Sechin's personal vendetta against Ulyukayev, who had been critical of a Rosneft privatization plan proposed by Sechin.

Ulyukayev was detained a year ago at Rosneft's headquarters following a sting operation by the Federal Security Service (FSB), the main KGB successor agency.

Sechin claimed in written testimony that Ulyukayev was extorting a bribe from him in exchange for issuing a positive assessment of Rosneft's bid to take over another oil company, Bashneft.

Ulyukayev denied the charges, calling them a provocation set up by Sechin. The minister argued that a person would have to be insane to try to extort a bride from the powerful Sechin.

Sechin has flaunted repeated court orders to testify as a witness at Ulyukayev's trial, citing urgent business. Asked Thursday about Sechin's failure to show up, Putin said at his marathon news conference that he saw no violation of legal procedures by his lieutenant.

A Moscow court on Friday also ordered Ulyukayev to pay a $2.2 million fine.


Indiana Supreme Court considers eavesdropping case
Lawyer News | 2017/12/28 02:18
The Indiana Supreme Court has taken up an eavesdropping case that could result in a new state standard to determine when prosecutorial misconduct is so egregious that a criminal suspect can no longer be made to stand trial.

The court heard arguments last week in a case involving a Long Beach murder suspect, John Larkin, whose supposedly private conversation with his attorney in a police interrogation room was recorded. The video was then viewed by LaPorte Chief Deputy Prosecutor Robert Neary, who ordered a transcript of the conversation and gave it to a special prosecutor handling the murder case.

Last month, the Supreme Court suspended Neary's law license for four years.

Court records show that police or prosecutors likely tampered with evidence before providing it to the defendant's examiner as well, the (Northwest Indiana) Times reported .

Deputy Attorney General Eric Babbs asked the high court to overturn the LaPorte Circuit Court decision that tossed the voluntary manslaughter case against Larkin. The case was affirmed in June by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Babbs requested that prosecutors be given the opportunity to prove that not all evidence in their case is tainted. Babbs also argued for the ability to proceed to trial with whatever evidence a judge finds was properly obtained.

Larkin's attorney Stacy Uliana said Babbs' requests are "too little, too late."

The justices didn't indicate when they will issue a ruling. There isn't a statutory timeline for a decision by the high court.

The Indiana Supreme Court has taken up an eavesdropping case that could result in a new state standard to determine when prosecutorial misconduct is so egregious that a criminal suspect can no longer be made to stand trial.



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