JURIST Legal News

JURIST's legal news service, powered by a team of over 40 law student reporters and editors led by Professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
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[JURIST] Judge Raymond Jackson of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website] on Friday tossed out [Reuters report] the life sentences imposed by Virginia courts for Lee Boyd Malvo [BBC profile], ruling [opinon, PDF] that Malvo must be re-sentenced in light of a 2012 US Supreme Court [official webite] decision banning life sentences for juveniles. In Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs [SCOTUSblog backgrounders], the US Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that mandatory life...
[JURIST] The government of France, under its newly elected president Emmanuel Macron [official website], announced its intention on Friday to introduce [Inquirer.Net report] a law ending prison terms for marijuana usage by the end of the year, although marijuana consumption will remain a criminal offense. Macron had promised during his campaign to reform cannabis laws upon becoming president. Under current law [PDF, in French], offenders face up to a year in jail and fines of up to €3,750 (US $4,200)....
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper [official website] filed a new suit [AP report] against Republican state legislators on Friday challenging laws, which allegedly unconstitutionally limit his power to appoint appeals court judges and members of board and commissions. Cooper argues that these laws prevent him from successfully performing his duties. The laws in question reduce the number of court of appeals judges to 12, effectively preventing the governor from filling vacancies, and set the memberships of the commissions. The defendants...
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan [official website] vetoed [WP report] a bill on Friday that would have barred colleges from inquiring about applicants criminal history. Senate Bill 543 [text, PDF], also called the Maryland Fair Access to Education Act, prohibited colleges from using applicant's criminal history to automatically restricting their admission or limit certain collegiate activities. In his veto letter [text, PDF], Hogan stated that the bill limits the ability of colleges to provide a safe campus environment for its students...
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein [OHC profile], on Friday urged [UN report] warring parties in Syria to take any steps necessary in protecting the civilian population during armed conflict. Many innocent civilians have already been second-hand victims. Earlier in May airstrikes hit a rural farming area killing 23 farm workers. Airstrikes in residential areas have taken the lives of 59 civilians, including 16 children and 12 women, and injured another 70 bystanders. During an...
The International Center for Transitional Justice [advocacy website] released a 50-page report [text, PDF] Thursday addressing the reluctance of politicians and security forces to bring justice to tens of thousands of families who were gravely affected by the country's decade-long civil war. During the conflict [Reuters report] more than 17,000 people were killed and more than 1,300 went missing. Although the war ended over 10 years ago, families of the victims are still waiting for answers and for those who...
A class action lawsuit [complaint, PDF] was filed against General Motors Company (GM) [corporate website] on Thursday that alleges the company rigged hundreds of thousands of diesel trucks with devices to ensure the vehicles pass emissions tests. The complaint, filed by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro law firm [firm website] in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan [official website], will cover people who owned or leased more than [Reuters report] 705,000 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pick-up...
The Supreme Court of Kosovo [official website] rejected an appeal on Thursday against the acquittal of 10 Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) members, including former commander and politician Fatmir Limaj, who were charged with war crimes in the so-called "Klecka case." The former KLA members were accused [Balkan Insight report] of abusing Albanian and Serbian civilians and prisoners at the Klecka detention center during the conflict in Kosovo in 1999. In March 2012 five of the defendants were acquitted [Balkan Insight...
Two unions, Kentucky State AFL-CIO and Teamsters Local 89 [union websites] filed a class action lawsuit [complaint, PDF] on Thursday against the state of Kentucky and the governor, claiming that Kentucky's "right-to-work" bill [text] violates the state constitution. The plaintiffs claim [press release] that the bill, which allows workers to receive union benefits without paying dues, amounts to "a clear and unfair taking of union resources and dues money without any sort of compensation, which we [Teamsters Local 89] strongly...
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein [official profile] voiced concern [UN press release] on Wednesday over the treatment of hunger striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. The health of hundreds of prisoners has been declining, according to the commissioner's statement, released on the thirty-eighth day of the strike. Israeli Prison Service has transported more than 60 prisoners to hospitals due to the strike, and 592 more prisoners are under medical supervision within the prisons. The strike...
The Maine Supreme Court [official website] ruled on Tuesday that the state's newly enacted legislation providing for a ranked-choice voting system conflicted with the state's constitution [opinion, PDF]. The issue came before the court when the State Senate submitted a request for guidance from the court: "The crux of the Senate's inquiry is whether this statutorily enacted system of ranked-choice voting violates the provisions of the Maine Constitution by which successful candidates for office are identified 'by a plurality' of...
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed a civil complaint [text, PDF] on Tuesday against Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles NV alleging that the company illegally used computer software to bypass emissions tests in nearly 104,000 of the company's diesel cars. The complaint alleges that vehicles contain defeat devices and that the devices were not disclosed to regulators during the certification application process. The suit goes on to claim that the undisclosed software functions cause the vehicles' emission control systems to...
The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] on Thursday upheld an injunction [opinion, PDF] against President Donald Trump's travel ban that targets six Muslim-majority countries. The ban, announced in March [CNN report], was the second version of a travel prohibition preventing people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days. The first order included Iraq. Both orders ban all refugees for 120 days. The second order clarified that only...
Iraq's Interior Ministry [official website, in Arabic] has launched an investigation into human rights violations carried out against civilians by special forces while fighting the Islamic State (IS) [BBC profile] in Mosul. The allegations were initially reported [AP report] by Ali Arkady, an Iraqi photographer with Der Spiegel Magazine [official website, in German] who accompanied the Interior Ministry's special forces team, the Emergency Response Division (ERD), a unit closely backed by a US coalition. While carrying out operations against IS,...
[JURIST] Vermont Governor Phil Scott [official website] vetoed a bill [text] on Wednesday that would have made Vermont the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana and the first to do so via a legislative body [materials]. Scott sent the bill back to lawmakers with suggestions for more aggressive penalties for using marijuana while driving or in the presence of children. Despite the veto, Scott has indicated that he is willing to work with the legislature [official website] on a compromise...
Three UN experts on cultural rights, extreme poverty and adequate housing urged [UN news] the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to stop the demolition of a 400-year-old neighborhood in Awamia on Wednesday. According to Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain [report] the historic quarter of Awamia, al-Masora, has a significant cultural history. The walled city holds mosques, markets and businesses and is home to about 2,000 to 3,000 people. The Saudi government is planning to demolish the historic architecture...
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte [BBC profile] declared martial law on the island of Mindanao on Tuesday when heavily armed militants linked to the Islamic State [BBC profile] took over large parts of Marawi City, a provincial capital in the predominantly Roman Catholic country. Violence erupted after the government attempted to capture [WP report] Isnilon Hapilon, the leader of the Muate, a militant group that aligns with the Islamic State. The militants have been [Reuters report] capturing Christians, setting prisoners free,...
A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District Court of California [official website] agreed Tuesday to reconsider his ruling [opinion, PDF] blocking President Donald Trump's executive order that cuts funding from so-called "sanctuary cities." In his opinion, San Fransisco-based Judge William Orrick [official website] stated, "Federal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration-enforcement strategy of which the president disapproves." Orrick accepted a request from the...
The Texas Senate [official website] revived a full "bathroom bill" early Wednesday morning. In 1AM vote [AP report], the Senate voted 21-10 to attach restroom regulations to an otherwise unrelated proposal concerning county governments. The piggy-backing rules will require transgender Texans to use public restrooms that correspond to the sex identified on their birth certificates. The original bill was written by a democrat who will not accept the changes. On Sunday the House approved a similar bill [WP report] that...
Taiwan's constitutional court, the Judicial Yuan [official website], declared on Wednesday that same-sex marriages will be legally recognized. The court has given two years for the legislature to make amendments allowing same-sex marriage, and a draft of the bill [AI news] is currently being considered. Under the new legislation, same-sex couples will have the same rights as opposite-sex couples. The ruling is a first in Asia [Reuters report], a mostly socially conservative area, but Taiwan has a reputation of being...

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