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Trump choosing white men as judges, highest rate in decades
Attorney News | 2017/11/09 13:07
President Donald Trump is nominating white men to America's federal courts at a rate not seen in nearly 30 years, threatening to reverse a slow transformation toward a judiciary that reflects the nation's diversity.

So far, 91 percent of Trump's nominees are white, and 81 percent are male, an Associated Press analysis has found. Three of every four are white men, with few African-Americans and Hispanics in the mix. The last president to nominate a similarly homogenous group was George H.W. Bush.

The shift could prove to be one of Trump's most enduring legacies. These are lifetime appointments, and Trump has inherited both an unusually high number of vacancies and an aging population of judges. That puts him in position to significantly reshape the courts that decide thousands of civil rights, environmental, criminal justice and other disputes across the country. The White House has been upfront about its plans to quickly fill the seats with conservatives, and has made clear that judicial philosophy tops any concerns about shrinking racial or gender diversity.



Human rights group accuses Guatemalan courts of delays
Attorney News | 2017/11/06 13:14
An international human rights group says Guatemalan courts are foot- dragging on high-profile cases and threatening the work of the country's prosecutors and a U.N. anti-corruption commission.

Human Rights Watch analyzed eight major cases that have bogged down and concluded the courts are undermining the anticorruption work by taking too long to process appeals and pretrial motions. In a report released Sunday, the group accuses the courts of trying to run out the clock on prosecutions by keeping defendants from ever making it to trial.

Among the cases is a customs fraud scandal that allegedly sent kickbacks to then President Otto Perez Molina and Vice President Roxana Baldetti. They resigned and were jailed to await trial, but more than 100 defense filings have delayed the trial.

Perez Molina and Baldetti, who resigned in 2015, both deny the charges against them.

Daniel Wilkinson, managing director of the Americas division at Human Rights Watch, said Guatemala has made progress on holding officials accountable for abuses of power, but still needs to "move forward and close those circles with trials." "The strategic defense (of those accused) was always to delay the cases," Wilkinson said.

The report notes a pattern in which pretrial proceedings drag on as defense lawyers appeal court decisions and file petitions seeking the recusal of judges.

"The repeated filing of such petitions has brought many key prosecutions to a standstill, and lawyers are not effectively sanctioned even when filing petitions that are manifestly frivolous," Wilkinson said.




Court: Cherokee Freedmen have right to tribal citizenship
Attorney News | 2017/08/29 09:01
Descendants of black slaves, known as freedmen, who were once owned by members of the Cherokee Nation have a right to tribal citizenship under a ruling handed down by a federal court in Washington, D.C.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan ruled Wednesday in a long-standing dispute between the Cherokee Freedmen and the second largest tribe in the United States.

Freedmen have long argued that the Treaty of 1866, signed between the U.S. government and the Tahlequah, Oklahoma-based Cherokees, gave them and their descendants "all the rights of native Cherokees." There are around 3,000 freedmen descendants today.

But Cherokee leaders have argued the tribe has the fundamental right to determine its citizens, and in 2007 more than three-fourths of Cherokee voters approved an amendment to remove the Freedmen from tribal rolls.




Spanish court backs extradition of Russian programmer to US
Attorney News | 2017/08/01 16:35
Spain's National Court has recommended the extradition to the United States of a Russian computer programmer accused by U.S. prosecutors of developing malicious software that stole information from financial institutions and caused losses of $855,000.

Stanislav Lisov, 31, was arrested Jan. 13 in the Barcelona Airport while on honeymoon in Europe. Prosecutors accuse him of developing the NeverQuest software that targeted banking clients in the United States between June 2012 and January 2015.

The Spanish court said Tuesday that Lisov could face up to 25 years in prison for conspiracy to commit electronic and computer fraud. The extradition hearing took place July 20.

The court said its ruling can be appealed by Lisov. The extradition, if finally decided upon, must be approved by the government.


Court: FAA must reconsider regulating airline seat size
Attorney News | 2017/07/30 16:36
An appeals court panel said Friday that federal officials must reconsider their decision not to regulate the size of airline seats as a safety issue.

One of the judges called it “the Case of the Incredible Shrinking Airline Seat.”

The Flyers Rights passenger group challenged the Federal Aviation Administration in court after the agency rejected its request to write rules governing seat size and the distance between rows of seats.

On Friday, a three-judge panel for the federal appeals court in Washington said the FAA had relied on outdated or irrelevant tests and studies before deciding that seat spacing was a matter of comfort, not safety.

The judges sent the issue back to the FAA. They said the agency must come up with a better-reasoned response to the group’s safety concerns.

“We applaud the court’s decision, and the path to larger seats has suddenly become a bit wider,” said Kendall Creighton, a spokeswoman for Flyers Rights.

The passenger group says small seats that are bunched too close together slow down emergency evacuations and raise the danger of travelers developing vein clots.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said the agency was considering the ruling and its next steps. He said the FAA considers the spacing between seat rows when testing to make sure that airliners can be evacuated safely.

The airline industry has long opposed the regulation of seat size. Its main U.S. trade group, Airlines for America, declined to comment on the ruling.


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