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Legal news from Wednesday, November 8, 2006
by Robert DeVries

The French parliament may soon consider a draft bill proposing the addition of class action lawsuits to France's legal system after French Minister of Economy, Finance, and Industry Thierry Breton introduced the legislation at a weekly cabinet meeting Wednesday. Currently, an association can collectively represent French consumers, but each claimant must be …

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by Alexis Unkovic

The genocide trial of Saddam Hussein for allegedly killing 100,000 Kurds in the "Anfal" campaigns in the late 1980s was adjourned Wednesday just one day after it had resumed. The trial of Saddam and six co-defendants, including Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known in the Western media as …

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by Michael Sung

An unnamed registered sex offender filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday seeking to block California Proposition 83, a measure approved Tuesday by 70 percent of state voters that would prohibit registered sex offenders from residing "within 2,000 feet of any public or private school or park …

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by Melissa Bancroft

Michigan voters Tuesday approved a constitutional amendment banning affirmative action in public employment, public education and state contracting. The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative pushed Proposal 2 which prohibits preferential treatment based on “race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin.” Michigan follows California and Washington as the third state to restrict affirmative action practices. The …

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by Leslie Schulman

Arizona voters Tuesday overwhelmingly passed four measures directed against illegal immigration, approving each one by about a three-to-one margin across the state. If not overruled by the courts, Proposition 100 will deny bail for illegal immigrants under certain conditions; Proposition 102 will prohibit illegals from receiving punitive damages in civil suits; and Proposition 300 [text, …

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by James M Yoch Jr

Former US Army soldier Steven Green pleaded not guilty Wednesday in a Kentucky federal court to charges related to his role in the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and her family in the Mahmudiya (also "Mahmoudiya") area in March. Green, who allegedly tried to burn the bodies of the victims …

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by James M Yoch Jr

Former US Army soldier Steven Green pleaded not guilty Wednesday in a Kentucky federal court to charges related to his role in the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the murder of her family in the Mahmudiya (also "Mahmoudiya") area in March. Green, who allegedly tried to burn the bodies …

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by Brett Murphy

The parliament of Kyrgyzstan voted Wednesday to adopt a new constitution that will restrict presidential authority based on a compromise reached Tuesday. The new constitution creates a presidential-parliamentary government, enlarging the parliament to 90 deputies and enhancing its power. Additionally, the president will no longer have the power …

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by James M Yoch Jr

The Montgomery County Circuit Court in Maryland on Wednesday imposed a life imprisonment sentence on Lee Boyd Malvo, who pleaded guilty last month to six Maryland murders that occurred during a three-week shooting spree in the Washington, DC area in 2002. Malvo has already been sentenced to life imprisonment in Virginia …

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by Brett Murphy

A panel of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) ordered prosecutors Wednesday to drop five of the 14 charges against Vojislav Seselj, ruling that the dropped "crimes against humanity" charges were duplicates of "war crimes" charges also in the indictment. ICTY judges also ruled that the prosecution …

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by Joe Shaulis

Ballot measures approved in three US states Tuesday will ban smoking in many public places. In Arizona, Nevada and Ohio voters chose more comprehensive measures over less restrictive versions generally favored by the food and beverage industry. Ohio's Issue 5 [text via smartvoter.org], for example, prohibits smoking in workplaces and other public areas, with tobacco stores …

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by Brett Murphy

Mexican legislators in the Cámara de Diputados, the lower house of parliament, voted Tuesday to prohibit Mexican President Vicente Fox from traveling to Australia and Vietnam later this month, citing domestic concerns, including the ongoing conflict in Oaxaca, a state in southern Mexico, and small explosions in the nation's capital allegedly planted by …

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by James M Yoch Jr

The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in the consolidated cases of Gonzales v. Carhart, 05-380, and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood, 05-1382, which challenge the constitutionality of the federal prohibition of partial-birth abortions. …

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by Jaime Jansen

Voters in nine US states approved ballot initiatives restricting the use of eminent domain in mid-term elections Tuesday, reacting strongly against the 2005 US Supreme Court Kelo v. New London decision, which held that private redevelopment conferring economic benefits on a community qualifies as a "public use" allowing local governments to expropriate …

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by Joe Shaulis

Ballot measures limiting political campaign contributions and spending failed in two states Tuesday, while measures temporarily barring some former public officials from lobbying succeeded in two other states. Voters in California soundly rejected Proposition 89, which would have provided public campaign funding for qualified …

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by Holly Manges Jones

US proponents of marijuana legalization took stock Wednesday after voters in Colorado, Nevada and South Dakota rejected mid-term ballot measures that would have decriminalized use of the drug in certain circumstances. In Colorado, voters on Tuesday rejected Amendment 44 that would have legalized the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana for adults over age 21 …

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by Lisl Brunner

Turkey's bid for EU membership still faces significant obstacles, including the slowing of reforms and laws inhibiting freedom of speech, according to report released by the European Commission Wednesday. EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn highlighted Article 301 of Turkey's Penal Code, which makes insulting "Turkishness" a crime, and hostile trade relations …

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by Jeannie Shawl

President George W. Bush announced Wednesday in the wake of Democratic Party successes in the US mid-term elections that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is resigning from his position at the Defense Department. Bush said he plans to nominate Robert Gates former Director of Central Intelligence for the CIA and current president of Texas …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Missouri voters Tuesday narrowly approved Constitutional Amendment #2, a stem cell initiative that would prevent Missouri from criminalizing the use of stem cells in certain techniques such as therapeutic cloning. With 3572 of 3734 precincts reporting early Wednesday afternoon, the unofficial count provided by the Missouri Secretary of State's office …

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by Gabriel Haboubi

Arizona became the first US state to reject an amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman after voters Tuesday narrowly rejected Proposition 107, which would have amended the Arizona Constitution to effectively ban gay marriage as well as civil unions and domestic partnerships. The measure was sponsored by Protect Marriage …

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by Lisl Brunner

A Chilean appeals court Wednesday again stripped former dictator Augusto Pinochet of immunity, this time in a case involving the 1974 disappearance of a Spanish priest. The priest, Antonio Llido, was arrested by the Chilean DINA after expressing opposition to Pinochet. The court will determine whether Pinochet is eligible for bail this …

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by Joshua Pantesco

South Dakota voters roundly rejected the so-called Jail 4 Judges ballot initiative Tuesday, meaning the state will not establish a 13-person oversight committee with the power to sanction judges, prosecutors, and other decision makers who make judicial decisions that break certain rules to be established by the panel at a later …

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by Lisl Brunner

The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has upheld a lower court order vacating the criminal conviction of the former Enron CEO Kenneth Lay. Lay died of a heart attack in July, six weeks after being convicted on multiple counts of fraud and conspiracy [indictment, …

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by Holly Manges Jones

A British immigration judge Wednesday adjourned a hearing after a lawyer in his courtroom refused to remove her Muslim niqab despite being ordered to by the judge because he claimed he could not hear her speak. Shabnam Mughal refused to take off the black veil covering all but her eyes, telling the judge it would be a …

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by Kate Heneroty

South Dakota voters Tuesday rejected a controversial law banning most abortions passed by the state legislature earlier this year. With 818 out of 818 precincts reporting Wednesday, the final unofficial results for Referred Law 6 were:NO 185948 56% YES 148666 44% The abortion ban, seen as a direct challenge to …

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by Holly Manges Jones

Five senior judges from Shenzhen, China have been arrested and 20 other judges implicated in a crackdown on corruption during the months of June to October, the China Daily reported Wednesday. The raids begun after prosecutors arrested retired judge Liao Zhaohui and the head of a Shenzhen auction house, accusing Liao of accepting bribes from the …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Rhode Island on Tuesday granted some convicted felons the right to vote, according to the latest unofficial count of ballots on the state's Question 2. Question 2 would amend the Rhode Island constitution to grant the voting franchise to those felons who are currently serving parole or a probation sentence. Here are the latest Wednesday morning …

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by Holly Manges Jones

The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that it would review a lower court decision allowing a class action lawsuit filed against the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program to proceed to trial. The lawsuit, brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, alleges …

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by Joshua Pantesco

New UK legislation pardoning 306 World War I soldiers who were executed for various offenses, including cowardice, sleeping while on duty, striking a superior officer, disobedience and desertion, received final approval Wednesday after the Armed Forces Act received royal assent. Royal assent came a day after Britain's House of Lords approved an …

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by Joshua Pantesco

India will try the 19 suspects in the July Mumbai train bombings case using special courts to speed up the legal process, the leader of the Mumbai Police anti-terrorism squad told Reuters Wednesday. India's legal system is notoriously slow, and special courts are often used in high-profile cases to focus efforts on ending these …

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by Joshua Pantesco

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told the BBC Wednesday that he expects Saddam Hussein to be executed before the end of the year, pending the conclusion of the appeal process. Al-Maliki seemed undeterred by the predictions of chief prosecutor Jaafar Moussawai, who indicated Monday that he expects that an appeals panel would likely …

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