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Legal news from Thursday, August 17, 2006
by Tom Henry

The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on Thursday sided with several states and the federal government when it found that energy company Cinergy Corp. should have gone through a federal permit process prior to increasing their pollutant output after modernizing their facilities. The case was originally filed under the Clinton …

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by Tom Henry

US Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled Thursday that the confessions of three Rwandan rebels charged with killing two American tourists in Uganda were achieved through torture and coercion and ruled that the confessions are inadmissible in court. The rebels, who according to experts displayed …

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by Joshua Pantesco

A federal judge ruled Thursday that the tobacco industry is liable for civil racketeering charges filed against the industry by the DOJ in 1999. Federal prosecutors filed suit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), claiming that tobacco companies conspired to mislead the public about the dangers of smoking. During the …

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by Joshua Pantesco

A New Jersey state court on Thursday vacated a November verdict finding Merck not liable for the heart attack of Frederick Humeston, who suffered a heart attack in September 2001 after taking Merck's painkiller Vioxx for less than 18 months. The New Jersey Superior Court judge who presided over …

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by Joshua Pantesco

The New Hampshire Supreme Court on Thursday struck down as unconstitutional a state voting law that lists the election candidate of the winning party in the preceding state general election first on the ballot. The New Hampshire voting statute [RSA656:5 text] provides: "he first column shall contain the names of the …

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by Joshua Pantesco

President Bush on Thursday signed into law the Pension Protection Act of 2006, which he called the "most sweeping reform" of US pension law since the enactment of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in 1974. The bill, passed by the Senate in August and by the House of Representatives …

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by Jaime Jansen

A federal jury sitting in Raleigh, North Carolina on Thursday found David Passaro guilty of abusing a detainee in Afghanistan. The jury convicted Passaro on three misdemeanor counts of simple assault and one felony count of assault resulting in bodily injury, after prosecutors charged him with two counts of assault with …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Delaware must make their public documents available to residents of other states, according to a ruling handed down Wednesday by the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Delaware's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as written prevents non-residents from accessing Delaware public records, but the federal appeals court ruled that the statute violates the Privileges …

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by Jaime Jansen

A Moscow court on Thursday sentenced former Yukos security chief Alexei Pichugin to 24 years in prison for organizing a series of contract killings, including the 1998 murder of Vladimir Petukhov, the mayor of Nefteyugansk. Prosecutors filed the murder charges against Pichugin and others in April 2005. Puchugin's defense team …

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by Jeannie Shawl

AP is reporting that US District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor has ruled that the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive; US DOJ Q/A, PDF] is unconstitutional and has ordered the National Security Agency to immediately cease using warrantless wiretaps to intercept communications of suspected terrorists when one party to the communication is outside the US. …

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by Jaime Jansen

A federal jury in New Orleans on Thursday found Merck negligent for failing to warn doctors about the risks associated with taking the painkiller Vioxx and found that Merck knowingly misrepresented the risks involved. The verdict comes in the case of retired FBI agent Gerald Barnett who blamed Vioxx …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon on Wednesday filed a notice of appeal with the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, and told reporters that he intends to appeal a federal court ruling granting summary judgment to a class action lawsuit against Missouri that requires the state to provide inmates …

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by Jaime Jansen

The United Nations has opened an investigation into a suspected child prostitution ring in the Democratic Republic of Congo facilitated by UN peacekeepers and Congo soldiers, the UN Mission in DR Congo (MONUC) said Thursday. There have been claims that UN peacekeepers have aided the alleged prostitution ring by luring young girls to work …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Peruvian prosecutors have filed informal charges against Ollanta Humala, the opposition leader who narrowly lost the recent presidential election to Alan Garcia, for murder, torture and kidnapping stemming from his position as an army captain in Peru's San Martin province during the 1990s. A judge must decide whether to formally indict Humala on …

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by Jaime Jansen

British authorities investigating a foiled terror plot to bomb airplanes crossing the Atlantic Ocean last week released a suspect without charge on Thursday. The suspect was arrested Tuesday. London's Metropolitan Police Service (Met) did not explain details of the suspect's release. Authorities also released another suspect last Friday, …

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by Joshua Pantesco

A US Marine has been charged with three counts of assault and one count of making a false statement in connection with an incident occurring on April 10 near the village of Hamdania in Iraq, according to a Marine spokesman speaking Wednesday. Lt. Nathan Phan allegedly beat and choked three Iraqi civilians, putting his unloaded pistol in the mouth …

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by Jaime Jansen

Indonesian authorities on Thursday shortened prison sentences for 10 people convicted in connection with the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed over 200 people. Nine prisoners with sentences between five and 16 years had their sentences cut by four months for good behavior. A tenth had his sentence shortened by 3 months, allowing him to leave the …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Australian Prime Minister John Howard agreed Wednesday to hold a conscience vote on a stem cell research bill allowing therapeutic cloning if a private bill is offered to parliament. A conscience vote is a free parliamentary vote in which members are not bound by party policy. In 2002, following the results of an initial conscience …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Mexico's Federal Electoral Tribunal on Wednesday rejected a number of complaints concerning congressional races in the July 2 Mexican general election that paralleled the presidential poll currently subject to a court-ordered partial recount. Under the newly-approved seat distribution, 52 of the 128 seats in the Senate [official website, …

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by Jaime Jansen

A federal jury in Raleigh, North Carolina reached a partial verdict Wednesday in the trial of David Passaro, a CIA contractor accused of abusing a detainee in Afghanistan, but US District Judge Terrence Boyle sealed the decision and ordered the jury to continue deliberations on other charges …

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by Jaime Jansen

US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Wednesday praised new British anti-terrorism laws that helped thwart a terror plot to explode jetliners traveling over the Atlantic Ocean, saying that the provision that allows British authorities to detain terror suspects for up to 28-days without charge is a useful tool. The …

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