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High court limits seizure of assets from drug conspiracies
Attorney News | 2017/06/05 23:38
The Supreme Court is limiting the government's ability to seize assets from people who are convicted of drug crimes but receive little of the illegal proceeds.

The justices ruled Monday that a Tennessee man convicted for his role selling iodine water purification filters to methamphetamine makers does not have to forfeit nearly $70,000 in profits.

Terry Honeycutt helped sell more than 20,000 filters at his brother's hardware store. Prosecutors said the brothers knew the iodine was used by local meth cooks.

Honeycutt's brother pleaded guilty and forfeited $200,000 of the $270,000 in profits. But Honeycutt argued he wasn't responsible for the rest since he didn't personally see any profits.

A federal appeals court ruled against Honeycutt, saying everyone who joins a drug conspiracy can be required to give up profits.



In one state, abused animals get a legal voice in court
Attorney News | 2017/06/02 23:39
Many states have victim's advocates or child advocates, people in the judicial system who represent those affected by crime or abuse. Now, one state has created legal advocates for abused animals, an experiment being watched across the nation for signs of success.

There are eight approved volunteer advocates across Connecticut — seven lawyers and a UConn law professor, working with her students. It's up to a judge to decide whether to appoint one, but they can be requested by prosecutors or defense attorneys. In the first six months of the law, advocates have been appointed in five cases.

"Every state has the problem of overburdened courts that understandably prioritize human cases over animal cases in allocating resources," said University of Connecticut professor Jessica Rubin, a specialist in animal law. "Here's a way to help."

The American Kennel Club, though, opposed the legislation, saying it could result in confusion over who is responsible for an animal and limit the rights of animal owners, including in cases in which someone else is charged with the abuse.


Finnish court releases Iraqi twins in IS-related killings
Attorney News | 2017/05/25 09:01
A Finnish court has thrown out charges against Iraqi twin brothers of taking part in Islamic State-related killings of at least 11 unarmed soldiers.

The Pirkanmaa District Court says the two who were not identified, were set free on Wednesday.

The court in Tampere, southern Finland, said the evidence against them was too weak. It included testimonies from other asylum-seekers, a video footage of the massacre by IS militants and information from an Iraqi investigative commission.

State prosecutors had demanded life sentences and claimed the brothers took part in atrocities committed by IS militants at a military base outside Tikrit in June 2014 when some 1,700 Iraqi army soldiers were slain.

The brothers arrived in Finland in September 2015 and were arrested three months later.



Playboy model who shot nude of unwitting woman due in court
Attorney News | 2017/05/24 09:01
A Playboy centerfold who ignited a backlash of criticism when she secretly snapped a photo of a naked 71-year-old woman in a locker room and posted it online mocking the woman's body is expected to appear in court Wednesday to resolve a criminal charge.

Dani Mathers is planning to show up at a hearing in Los Angeles County Superior Court on a misdemeanor charge of invasion of privacy, her lawyer said.

Mathers, 30, has apologized for taking the photo at an LA Fitness club in July and posting it on Snapchat with the caption: "If I can't unsee this then you can't either."

The posting was accompanied by a selfie of Mathers in a tank top with her hand over her mouth as if she's gasping in horror.

The 2015 Playmate of the Year was roundly criticized for the so-called body shaming incident. Mathers said she intended to send the photo privately to a friend and accidentally posted it publicly.

Defense lawyer Dana Cole argued unsuccessfully that the charge should be dismissed because the woman in the photo can't easily be identified.

The victim, who has not been named, is expected to testify if the case goes to trial, said Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the Los Angeles city attorney.

Cole said he's hoping to work out a settlement Wednesday. He said prosecutors want a guilty plea and community service on a highway crew. Wilcox said no plea deal has been offered.

Deputy City Attorney Chadd Kim did not return phone and email messages seeking comment, but in court papers said Mathers had shown no remorse and needed to face consequences for her "cruel and criminal act."

The defense has argued for a more lenient outcome, saying in court papers that Mathers has already lost modeling work and a job as a radio host. They have recommended she use her notoriety to bring attention to the issue of body shaming.


U.S. high court ruling deals blow to patent trolls
Attorney News | 2017/05/23 09:01
The Supreme Court is making it easier for companies to defend themselves against patent infringement lawsuits.

The justices ruled unanimously on Monday that such lawsuits can be filed only in states where defendants are incorporated. The issue is important to many companies that complained about patent owners choosing more favorable courts in other parts of the country to file lawsuits.

The case involved an appeal from TC Heartland, an Indiana-based food sweetener company sued by Kraft Foods in Delaware. Lower courts refused to transfer the case to Indiana.

But the Supreme Court’s ruling will have the biggest impact on federal courts in eastern Texas, where more than 40 percent of patent lawsuits are now filed. Local rules there favor quick trials and juries tend to be more sympathetic to plaintiffs.

The ruling will have a major effect on lawsuits from so-called patent trolls — companies that buy up patents and force businesses to pay license fees or face expensive litigation. Many of those cases now may have a tougher time getting to trial or result in jury verdicts that are less generous.

Companies including eBay, Kickstarter and online crafts site Etsy had urged the high court to restrict where such cases can be filed, saying they have been sued repeatedly in courts hundreds or thousands of miles away from corporate headquarters. Even Texas Attorney General Scott Keller led a coalition of 17 states calling for an end to so-called “forum shopping” in patent cases.

Groups representing inventors and patent owners said new restrictions would place burdens on patent holders and encourage infringing behavior and piracy.


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