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Florida man back at Supreme Court with 1st Amendment case
Court News | 2017/11/08 13:15
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a First Amendment case brought by a Florida man who previously won a landmark ruling from the justices on whether his floating home was a house, not a boat subject to easier government seizure under laws that govern ships and boats.

This time, the justices agreed to hear a case in which Fane Lozman sued after being charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest at a public meeting.

Lozman, 56, was never brought to trial on the charges — prosecutors dropped them after concluding there was no possibility of a conviction. Lozman then sued Riviera Beach, claiming his arrest at a 2006 city council meeting violated the First Amendment's free speech guarantee because it was in retaliation for opposing a marina redevelopment plan and accusing council members of corruption.

A jury sided with the city after a trial and an appeals court upheld that verdict. Lozman, however, took the case to the Supreme Court, arguing in part that U.S. appeals courts across the country are split on the issue of retaliatory arrest versus free speech.




Indiana high court hearing appeal in children's fire deaths
Court News | 2017/09/01 09:01
The Indiana Supreme Court will hear arguments in the appeal of a man sentenced to death for setting a fire that killed his fiancee's two children.

A Clark County jury convicted 41-year-old Jeffrey Weisheit on murder and arson charges in 2013 for the 2010 deaths of 5-year-old Caleb Lynch and 8-year-old Alyssa Lynch at the family's home near Evansville.

The Supreme Court is to take up his appeal on Sept. 7. Weisheit is arguing he wasn't adequately represented by his defense attorneys during his trial.

Weisheit admitted during the trial that he stuffed a dish towel into Caleb's mouth and used duct tape to pin back the boy's arms before leaving the children alone about 1 a.m. while their mother was at work, but he denied setting the fire.


Court file: Michigan girl who killed toddler heard voices
Court News | 2017/08/21 23:42
Court documents say an 8-year-old girl accused of killing a toddler at a home daycare in western Michigan earlier this year suffers from "serious mental health" issues, including hearing a demon's voice.

The Department of Health and Human Services filed a petition in Muskegon County Family Court saying the girl, who was also cared for at the home daycare, killed 14-month-old Korey Landon Brown on April 14.

The petition filed last month asks the court to make the girl a temporary ward of the state and to make a decision regarding the girl's placement that protects her brother and other children. The petition says the best placement is Hawthorn Center, a state-run residential psychiatric facility in Northville for children and adolescents.

Chief Assistant Prosecutor Timothy Maat tells MLive the petition was the result of an investigation conducted by multiple agencies.

Korey's mother said that when she went to the daycare to take her children home, she found the boy unresponsive in a playpen and covered with bite marks. His death was ruled a homicide due to multiple injuries, including trauma to his head, other blunt force trauma and possible asphyxiation, according to the petition.



Nevada pot regulators back in court as supplies dwindle
Court News | 2017/08/17 08:38
Nevada's marijuana regulators are headed back to court in a turf battle with liquor wholesalers over exclusive rights to distribute pot products to the state's new recreational retailers.

Nevada's Taxation Department says the protracted legal fight has created a delivery bottleneck that's undermining an otherwise robust marijuana industry and the state revenue that comes with it.

Legal sales started with a bang July 1. But Tax Director Deonne Contine (kahn-TEEN') says the tiny distribution network's inability to keep pace with demand is forcing up prices and sending buyers back to the black market.

She says it's also jeopardizing worker safety at dispensaries forced to stockpile supplies and huge amounts of cash to accommodate erratic deliveries.

A Carson City judge plans to hear her request Thursday to lift the latest injunction blocking licenses for anyone other than alcohol distributors.



Challenge filed in court to Australian gay marriage ballot
Court News | 2017/08/06 23:58
Gay-rights advocates filed a court challenge Thursday to the government's unusual plan to canvass Australians' opinion on gay marriage next month, while a retired judge said he would boycott the survey as unacceptable.

The mail ballot is not binding, but the conservative government won't legislate the issue without it. If most Australians say "no," the government won't allow Parliament to consider lifting the nation's ban on same-sex marriage.

Lawyers for independent lawmaker Andrew Wilkie and marriage equality advocates Shelley Argent and Felicity Marlowe, applied to the High Court for an injunction that would prevent the so-called postal plebiscite from going ahead.

"We will be arguing that by going ahead without the authorization of Parliament, the government is acting beyond its power," lawyer Jonathon Hunyor said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the government had legal advice that the postal ballot would withstand a court challenge.

"I encourage every Australian to exercise their right to vote on this matter. It's an important question," Turnbull said.

Gay-rights advocates and many lawmakers want Parliament to legislate marriage equality now without an opinion poll, which they see as an unjustifiable hurdle to reform.

Retired High Court judge Michael Kirby, a gay man who supports marriage equality, dismissed the ballot as "irregular and unscientific polling."

"It's just something we've never done in our constitutional arrangements of Australia, and it really is unacceptable," Kirby told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Kirby would not comment on the legality of the government proceeding with the 122 million Australian dollar ($96 million) ballot without Parliament's approval, but said: "I'm not going to take any part in it whatsoever."

Plebiscites in Australia are referendums that don't deal with questions that change the constitution. Voting at referendums is compulsory to ensure a high voter turnout and that the legally-binding result reflects the wishes of a majority of Australians.






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