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Legal news from Thursday, July 26, 2007
by Leslie Schulman

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will not reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, according to a letter released Thursday to Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. The Fairness Doctrine, under which broadcast licenses could be revoked if the broadcaster failed to give airtime to opposing sides of controversial issues, was …

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by Leslie Schulman

City and town clerks in Massachusetts may issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples from New Mexico, according to recent instructions from the Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records. A July 18 internal notice to municipal employees said that because the New Mexico government has not explicitly banned same-sex marriage, Massachusetts may issue marriage licenses to …

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by Leslie Schulman

A Zimbabwean judge has released 13 opposition activists held by the government because police faked evidence against them, defense lawyers said Thursday. All 13 belong to the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change, and had been held since March when the government arrested at least 100 people - including opposition presidential hopeful Morgan Tsvangirai [BBC …

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by Michael Sung

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled Thursday that Russian authorities were responsible for the shooting death of 11 unarmed civilians in Chechnya and ordered Russia to pay damages and court expenses totaling 163,864 euro (approximately $224,500) to five Chechen plaintiffs. The court ruled that Russia was responsible for the February 2000 incidents, in …

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by Michael Sung

Former Saddam Hussein-era Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz is threatening to go on a hunger strike, his son Ziad Aziz told AFP Thursday. Ziad says that Aziz and 14 other detainees are threatening to initiate a hunger strike next week if Iraqi authorities do not allow Aziz's preferred lawyer, Badih Aref Izzat, to …

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by Michael Sung

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) issued subpoenas for White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and Deputy Director of Political Affairs J. Scott Jennings Thursday in the ongoing probe of the US Attorney firings scandal, ordering Rove and Jennings to provide documents and testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee no …

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by Michael Sung

US District Judge James Munley ruled Thursday that two anti-illegal immigration laws passed by the city of Hazleton, Pennsylvania are unconstitutional, issuing a permanent injunction prohibiting the enforcement of the Illegal Immigration Relief Act and the Landlord Tenant Ordinance, which were intended to make it …

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by Brett Murphy

A federal judge Thursday ordered the federal government to pay Peter Limone, Joseph Salvati, and the families of two other men who died while in jail over $101 million after finding the government liable for malicious prosecution. The men were convicted of a 1965 murder after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) withheld …

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by Michael Sung

Four Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Solicitor General Paul Clement Thursday asking Clement to appoint a special counsel to investigate whether US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales "may have misled Congress or perjured himself in testimony before Congress." The letter follows reports that a 2006 memorandum from the Office of …

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by Michael Sung

Bulgarian Prosecutor General Boris Velchev Thursday defended Bulgaria's pardon of six medics [BBC Q&A; JURIST news archive] against Libyan criticism, saying that Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov properly exercised his discretionary power to pardon the six defendants, who were within the legal jurisdiction of Bulgaria. On Wednesday, the Libyan Foreign Ministry issued a formal complaint [Reuters …

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by Brett Murphy

Federal authorities have arrested and charged a former school teacher for accepting kickbacks from contractors attempting to obtain military contracts in Iraq, the US Justice Department announced Thursday. Carolyn Blake is alleged to have been involved in a scheme with her brother, Major John L. Cockerham, and his wife, Melissa Cockerham, in which she received $3.1 …

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by Michael Sung

US Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) Wednesday urged members of Congress to adopt legislation suspending the United States' annual $3 million contribution to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Coleman said that the UNHRC's focus on Israel and failure to address alleged human rights abuses in countries like North Korea, Myanmar, and Zimbabwe …

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by Michael Sung

The Kansas Supreme Court delayed a bid by Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison to test the constitutionality of an anti-funeral picketing law Wednesday, saying it wasn't sure whether Gov. Kathleen Sebelius was correctly named as the defendant. The court sought clarification from Morrison before August 24. The court, …

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by Brett Murphy

Former Bangladeshi Telecommunications Minister Aminul Huq was sentenced to 31 years imprisonment Thursday for aiding Islamic extremists executed in March for the murder of two judges in 2005. The militants acted as part of a terror campaign to bring traditional Islamic rule to the country to replace the current secular, Muslim system. Nearly 30 people were killed …

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by Michael Sung

Nigerian Judge Anwuri Shekere Wednesday suspended court proceedings in the criminal case against pharmaceutical giant Pfizer until October 29, granting a request by prosecutors for more time to prepare. Pfizer is accused of conducting an illegal clinical trial in 1996 on approximately 200 Nigerian children, 100 of which were administered the then-experimental anti-biotic Trovan without …

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by Brett Murphy

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra failed to attend a meeting Thursday with the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) which is probing possible tax evasion allegedly committed by Thaksin during his tenure in office. According to the DSI, Thaksin, who now resides in London, may have hid assets owned by his family …

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by Brett Murphy

The Supreme Court of Ohio ruled Wednesday that unmarried couples are subject to domestic violence statutes, despite the fact that the law refers to those "living as a spouse." The case arose when a man charged under the domestic violence statute for alleged abuse of his live-in girlfriend attempted to argue that the state's constitutional …

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by Michael Sung

The US Military Academy at West Point's Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) said Wednesday that US military panels reviewing the status of detainees at Guantanamo Bay determined that most detainees represented a threat to US national security. The CTC report was based on an analysis of unclassified Combatant Status Review Tribunal summaries. …

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