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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Civil rights groups on Monday filed two separate lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of President Donald Trump's ban on transgender people serving in the US military. Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN [press release] filed a complaint [text] in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington on behalf of a current army Staff Sergeant, two transgender individuals who wish to serve in the military, Human Rights Campaign and the Gender Justice League. The Lambda Legal complaint asserts causes of action...
Guatemala's Constitutional Court issued an order Sunday blocking the expulsion of the lead UN anti-corruption official only hours after President Jimmy Morales ordered his expulsion. Morales argued that Ivan Velasquez, head of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) [official website] misused his authoritative position by pressuring the legislative process and publicly accusing Guatemalans of violations without respecting their due process rights. The same day of his announcement, Morales fired the foreign minister for failure to execute the order...
Here's the international legal news we covered this week: [JURIST] A South Korean court sentenced billionaire head of Samsung [corporate website] Lee Jae-yong [Forbes backgrounder] to five years in jail for bribery on Friday. [more] Former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra [BBC profile] failed to appear in court to hear the verdict in her trial Friday, amid reports that she had fled the country to Dubai [CNN report]. Yingluck was facing corruption charges involving mismanagement of a rice-subsidy program, estimated...
Here's the domestic legal news we covered this week: US President Donald Trump [official website] on Friday pardoned former Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio [JURIST archive]. [more] A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas [official website] on Wednesday blocked [order, PDF] Texas from enforcing a revised voter identification law [SB 5 materials]. Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos had previously found that a 2011 law [SB 14 materials], which required voters to present a form...
US President Donald Trump [official website] on Friday directed [Presidential Memorandum] the Secretaries of the Departments of Defense (DoD) and Homeland Security (DHS) [official websites] to continue prior policies banning transgender individuals from military service. The ban had been lifted [JURIST report] by the Obama administration last July, reversing a long-standing policy that prevented transgender persons from serving in the military and made a transgender identity grounds for discharge. In rescinding this change of policy, Trump said that he was...
US President Donald Trump [official website] on Friday pardoned former Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio [JURIST archive]. In a brief announcement [NPR report] issued Friday night, the White House said that Arpaio's military service and law enforcement tenure warranted the pardon.Arpaio's life and career, which began at the age of 18 when he enlisted in the military after the outbreak of the Korean War, exemplify selfless public service. After serving in the Army, Arpaio became a police officer in...
[JURIST] A South Korean court sentenced billionaire head of Samsung [corporate website] Lee Jae-yong [Forbes backgrounder] to five years in jail for bribery on Friday. The Seoul Central District Court [official website, in Korean] found that Lee paid former president Park Geun-hye [BBC profile] in hopes of favors from Park. Lee was also convicted [Yonhap report] for embezzlement, hiding assets overseas, concealment of criminal proceeds, and perjury leading prosecutors to originally ask for a 12-year sentence. There were four other...
Former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra [BBC profile] failed to appear in court to hear the verdict in her trial Friday, amid reports that she had fled the country to Dubai [CNN report]. Yingluck was facing corruption charges involving mismanagement of a rice-subsidy program, estimated to have cost the government billions of dollars. She pleaded not guilty to the charges in 2015 and went on trial [JURIST reports] last year. A warrant was issued for her arrest after she failed...
[JURIST] A nine-judge panel of the Supreme Court of India [official website] ruled [judgment, PDF] Thursday that privacy is a "constitutionally protected value." The ruling could have drastic consequences for the government—particularly the country's biometric identification program, Aadhaar [official website]. The judgment outlined the history of privacy and fundamental rights, not only in India but other countries as well. The court overruled two previous court rulings on privacy and stated that privacy is a "constitutional core of human dignity." Privacy...
A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas [official website] on Wednesday blocked [order, PDF] Texas from enforcing a revised voter identification law [SB 5 materials]. Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos had previously found that a 2011 law [SB 14 materials], which required voters to present a form of government-issued ID, discriminated [JURIST report] against blacks and Hispanics. The revised law [JURIST report], which had been set to take effect in January, would permit voters to...
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) [official website] requested [Press release] that the US government, high-level politicians and public officials "unequivocally and unconditionally reject and condemn racist hate speech and crimes in Charlottesville and throughout the country." Although the committee did not call out President Donald Trump by name, it specified that the response to Charlottesville was a "failure at the highest political level." The committee also requested that the US ensure the constitutional rights to...
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens [official website] issued [order, PDF] a stay of execution for Marcellus Williams who was scheduled to be executed on Tuesday. Williams was sentenced [press release] to death in 2001 after being convicted of the first-degree murder of Felicia Gayle. Greitens decided to grant the stay of execution due to newly discovered DNA evidence, which Williams claims proves his innocence. The executive order will establish a Board of Inquiry, which will be made of five people appointed...
[JURIST] The Los Angeles Superior Court [official website] issued a verdict on Monday in favor of a consumer who allegedly developed ovarian cancer after using a drug manufacturer's talc-based products. Defendant Johnson and Johnson [corporate website] currently faces [Reuters report] about 4,800 claims regarding the company's failure to warn consumers of cancer risks linked to such products. In the current case, the plaintiff was awarded $417 million in damages, which is the largest verdict awarded in the matter thus far....
[JURIST] The UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) [official website] published a report [text, PDF] on Tuesday urging the Iraqi government to ensure the rights of those individuals sexually victimized by Islamic State (IS) forces. According to the report, thousands of women and girls have been subjected to physical and mental abuses as result of sexual assault, abduction, slavery, displacement, forced religion changes, and other forms of inhumane treatment. While the Iraqi government has taken some positive steps to address...
Chinese human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong confessed at a trial on Tuesday to attempting to overthrow the Chinese government. Jiang has been in custody since November of last year. At the trial, he stated [NYT report] that Western laws led him to attempt to overthrow the country's Communist government and that he helped fabricate tales of torture for another human rights lawyer, Xie Yang, who had a trial in May. Jiang has represented human rights issues in China for over...
The Supreme Court of India [official website] ruled [judgment, PDF] Tuesday that Islam's instant divorce law, which allowed Muslim men to divorce their wives by saying the word "talaq" three times, was unconstitutional. The case was heard by five judges of the court and resulted in a vote of 3-2. The court found that the practice was gender discriminatory and noted that several countries with sizable Muslim populations do not allow the talaq instant divorce. The court has given a...
[JURIST] The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) [official website] released a special report [text] on Sunday detailing the human rights violations committed during attacks on the Mirza Olang village earlier this month. During the three-day event, Taliban and local Islamic State (IS) fighters reportedly killed [press release] at least 36 people in the predominantly Shi'ite Muslim village. Those killed included both civilians and members of a pro-government militia who were unarmed prior to execution. While UNAMA verified the killings...
[JURIST] A Dhaka court on Sunday sentenced 10 individuals to death for plotting to bomb a rally held by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2000. According to prosecutors, members of the Harkatul Jihad-al-Islami group planted [Al Jazeera report] two bombs at the rally's college campus location just one day before Hasina was scheduled to arrive. The group's former leader, Mufti Abdul Hannan, was allegedly involved in the plot, though Hannan was already hung in April for a separate criminal matter....
Chile's Constitutional Court [official website, in Spanish] on Monday approved legislation that would legalize abortion in certain circumstances. The bill, approved [JURIST report] by the Chilean Congress [official website, in Spanish] earlier this month, would allow pre-viability abortions, abortions in instances when the pregnancy resulted from a rape, and when the pregnancy poses a threat to the mother's health. President Michelle Bachelet had pledged to sign the bill into law, but conservative lawmakers challenged its constitutionality. Before Monday's ruling, Chile...
Myanmar's parliament amended the 2013 Telecommunications Law [text, PDF] on Friday amidst growing concerns regarding the freedom of expression. The new law permits [Reuters report] judges to release people on bail, allows only those directly affected, or with permission from those directly affected, by the offense to press charges, and reduces the maximum prison sentence to two years. However, many in opposition of the law say that the amendments do little to reduce the restrictions on speech. Clause 66(d) of...

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