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Legal news from Thursday, December 14, 2006
by Leslie Schulman

The New Jersey Legislature passed a bill Thursday allowing same-sex civil unions in response to a New Jersey Supreme Court ruling in October that said the state legislature had 180 days to decide whether the state would recognize same-sex marriage or another form of civil partnership. …

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by Gabriel Haboubi

Lawyers for Saddam Hussein accused Iraqi officials of interfering with judicial independence Thursday, after a number of public statements from officials that Iraq's Cassation Court, currently considering Hussein's appeal, would ultimately affirm the former Iraqi president's death sentence. Hussein's lawyers also criticized comments from prosecutors that the life sentence of …

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by Gabriel Haboubi

One day after Florida death row inmate Angel Diaz endured a 34-minute-long - and apparently painful - execution, death penalty critics filed papers with the Florida Supreme Court seeking to once again halt the death penalty in the state. Petitioners, including numerous people currently on Florida’s death row roster, filed …

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by Jeannie Shawl

The Serbian Supreme Court ordered a retrial Thursday in the case of 14 former members of Serb militias who were convicted of war crimes for killing some 200 Croatian POWs at a pig farm near Vukovar in 1991 at the end of a three-month siege there. The 14 defendants were sentenced to a total of …

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by Leslie Schulman

The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has upheld a lower court ruling that defendants of slaves have no standing to sue companies that allegedly profited from slavery before the practice was abolished. In an opinion by Judge Richard Posner Wednesday, the court ruled:we think that the district court was correct, …

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by Jeannie Shawl

The UK High Court on Thursday rejected an appeal brought by the family of a Brazilian man who was shot and killed by London police two weeks after the July 2005 London transit bombings when police mistook him for alleged terrorist Hussain Osman. The appeal was brought …

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by Jeannie Shawl

The UN General Assembly held a ceremony Thursday to administer the oath of office to new UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Ban, appointed to the position in October, will succeed Kofi Annan when the two-term secretary-general steps down on December 31. The General Assembly also paid tribute to Annan's 10 …

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by Jeannie Shawl

The Argentinean Senate has unanimously approved a bill that refers to the mass killings of Armenians [BBC Q/A] in Turkey around the time of World War I as genocide and establishes a day of annual commemoration on April 24. The bill has already passed in the lower house of parliament and must still be signed by the …

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by Jeannie Shawl

The US Defense Department Thursday announced the release of 16 Saudi Arabian detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Saudi Arabian Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul said that the detainees would now be "subject to the Saudi system." Over 40 Saudi detainees have now been released from the US detention facility since May. A total of …

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by Jeannie Shawl

Chinese human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng has been convicted by a court in Beijing of inciting subversion of state power, his lawyers said Thursday. Gao was convicted after entering a guilty plea, but his lawyers - who were not permitted to attend court proceedings - said they doubted the credibility of his "spontaneous" admission of …

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by Jeannie Shawl

A federal jury in New Orleans returned a verdict in favor of pharmaceutical giant Merck Wednesday, concluding that the company did not fail to adequately warn a Tennessee man's doctors about risks associated with the painkiller Vioxx. Anthony Dedrick suffered a heart attack after taking Vioxx, …

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by Jeannie Shawl

The Israeli Supreme Court ruled Thursday that not all targeted killings of Palestinian militants are prohibited by international law. Two Israeli human rights groups filed a petition in 2002 seeking a ban on the Israeli policy, which government officials defend as the most effective method of stopping Palestinian terrorists from bombing …

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by Jeannie Shawl

US District Judge Richard J. Leon said Wednesday that systems set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to manage housing payments for victims of Hurricane Katrina had created a "legal disaster" and ordered several FEMA officials to appear in court Monday to testify about the housing program. Leon ruled last …

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by Jeannie Shawl

The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled Wednesday that a 1982 ban on corporate farming [I-300 text] in Nebraska is unconstitutional because it violates the dormant commerce clause. The federal appeals court upheld a lower court decision, which was appealed by the state attorney general. As described by the appeals …

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