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Hong Kong court to rule later on 3 activists' prison terms
Headline Court News | 2018/01/16 22:48
Three Hong Kong activists will have to wait to learn the outcome of their final appeal Tuesday to overturn prison sentences for their roles in sparking 2014's massive pro-democracy protests in the semiautonomous Chinese city.

Judges at Hong Kong's top court said they would issue their decision at a later, unspecified date following the appeal hearing for Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow against the sentences of up to eight months. Bail for the three was extended.

The three were initially let off with suspended or community service sentences after they were convicted of taking part in or inciting an unlawful assembly by storming a courtyard at government headquarters to kick-off the protests.

But the case sparked controversy when the justice secretary requested a sentencing review that resulted in stiffer sentences, raising concerns about rule of law and fears that the city's Beijing-backed government is tightening up on dissent.

The trio's lawyers said the lower court overstepped its boundaries and put too much emphasis on the need for deterrence in handing down the revised harsher sentence.

"Laying down a heavy sentence will have a deterrent effect, but a balance has to be held between a deterrent and stifling young idealistic people," Law's lawyer, Robert Pang, told the judges.


Court: Colorado county wrongly OK’d asphalt plant near homes
Headline Court News | 2017/11/25 14:06
A Colorado court has overturned Weld County’s approval of a $20 million concrete and asphalt plant currently under construction, saying the county had evidence the plant would violate noise standards.

The Greeley Tribune reports the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday the county commissioners improperly approved the Martin Marietta Materials plant near a residential neighborhood.

The site is also near an organic farm and a planned wedding venue along U.S. 34 between Greeley and Loveland.

Officials for Martin Marietta and Weld County said they were reviewing the decision before deciding their next steps. County commissioners approved the plant in August 2015 and neighbors filed suit a month later.

Construction began in October of 2015, and Martin Marietta regional vice president David Hagerman says the plant is nearly complete.



Indiana courts see changes with new e-filing system
Headline Court News | 2017/10/18 11:44
Electronic filing is transforming the way Indiana's judicial system works.

Fifty-five of the state's 92 counties have adopted mandatory electronic filing for most new criminal and civil lawsuits over the past 15 months, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported. The state's appellate division has also adopted the electronic system.

The Supreme Court's Office of Court Technology says more than 2.1 million documents have been electronically filed in the state since July 1, 2016.

E-filing makes judges and lawyers more efficient and improves court services for Indiana residents, said Justice Steven David. Non-confidential court documents are also available online.

E-filing has been adopted quickly through the state because may counties are using the same case management system called Odyssey, said Justice Mark Massa.

The system is paid for by a $20 automated record keeping fee that's attached to every case filed in Indiana court.

"It's the best deal for counties," Massa said. "It carries with it state funding of that technology and that support, and we're getting closer and closer to that complete statewide coverage with each passing year."

The system also allows the judicial branch to generate comprehensive data about crimes, courts, dispositions, children in need of services, protection orders and other information that the legislative and executive branches need when enacting new laws, David said.

"In the old days, you might get data from one court and try to extrapolate, or determine if that court is representative of the rest of the state or not, and that's no longer the case," David said.



Trump nominates White House lawyer to important court seat
Headline Court News | 2017/09/03 22:50
President Donald Trump has tapped one of his own White House attorneys for a judgeship on one of the most important federal appeals courts, opening the door for confirmation hearing questions about the legal controversies that dominated the first seven months of Trump's presidency.

Gregory Katsas was nominated Thursday to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Katsas, the deputy White House counsel, was a former Justice Department official under President George W. Bush. A biography on the White House's website says he has argued more than 75 appeals, including the constitutional challenge to President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court.

He would replace the libertarian-leaning Judge Janice Rogers Brown, who retired this summer. The court is influential, in part because of its role in adjudicating many of the orders and laws put forth by the administration. It is sometimes called America's second highest court because it can be a stepping stone to the Supreme Court just a few blocks away.

Katsas, once a law clerk to Justice Thomas, has served in high-ranking Justice Department roles, including as head of the civil division that has responsibility for defending the administration's policies against court challenges. He is part of the steady stream of Jones Day law firm partners who have flowed into the Trump administration, including White House counsel Don McGahn.

So many Jones Day attorneys work in the White House that the counsel's office issued a blanket ethics waiver for them so that they can maintain contact with their former colleagues without running afoul of ethics provisions. The firm's lawyers continue to represent members of the Trump campaign outside the White House.



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