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Court grants Texas man a stay of execution just before his scheduled lethal injection
Biotech | 2024/07/17 12:40
The U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay of execution for a Texas man 20 minutes before he was to receive a lethal injection Tuesday evening. The inmate has long maintained DNA testing would help prove he wasn’t responsible for the fatal stabbing of an 85-year-old woman during a home robbery decades ago.

The nation’s high court issued the indefinite stay shortly before inmate Ruben Gutierrez was to have been taken to the death chamber of a Huntsville prison.

Gutierrez was condemned for the 1998 killing of Escolastica Harrison at her home in Brownsville in Texas’ southern tip. Prosecutors said the killing of the mobile home park manager and retired teacher was part of an attempt to steal more than $600,000 she had hidden in her home because of her mistrust of banks.

Gutierrez has sought DNA testing that he claims would help prove he had no role in her death. His attorneys have said there’s no physical or forensic evidence connecting him to the killing. Two others also were charged in the case.

The high court’s brief order, released about 5:40 p.m. CDT, said its stay of execution would remain in effect until the justices decide whether they should review his appeal request. If the court denies the request, the execution reprieve would automatically be lifted.

Gutierrez, who had been set to die after 6 p.m. CDT, was in a holding cell near the death chamber when prison warden Kelly Strong advised him of the court’s intervention.

“He was visibly emotional,” prison spokeswoman Amanda Hernandez said, adding he was not expecting the court stay. “We asked him if he wanted to make a statement but he needed a minute.”

“He turned around to the back of the cell, covered his mouth. He was tearing up, speechless. He was shocked.”

She said Gutierrez then prayed with a prison chaplain and added: “God is great!”

Gutierrez has had several previous execution dates in recent years that have been delayed, including over issues related to having a spiritual adviser in the death chamber. In June 2020, Gutierrez was about an hour away from execution when he got a stay from the Supreme Court.

In the most recent appeal, Gutierrez’s attorneys had asked the Supreme Court to intervene, arguing Texas has denied his right under state law to post-conviction DNA testing that would show he would not have been eligible for the death penalty.


NYC Sperm Donor Parental Rights - Over 35 Years Experience
Legal Business | 2024/07/11 12:56
Compassionate Surrogacy Agreements
These are agreements where there is no compensation provided to the Surrogate. These are sometimes referred to as altruistic surrogacy arrangements. It is often a family member or friend being a surrogate for the Intended Parents. Again, we represent one side or the other of those arrangements for the drafting/review and negotiation of the agreement.

Sperm Donation Agreements
The majority of these agreements are known sperm donation agreements, where the Donor and the Intended Parents have chosen to work with one another. Again, we represent one side or the other of those arrangements for the drafting/review and negotiation of the agreement. We will also assist in securing a pre and/or post-birth Judgment of Parentage.

Ovum/Egg Donation Agreements
These agreements can be either known or anonymous. Again, we represent one side or the other of those arrangements for the drafting/review and negotiation of the agreement. We will also assist in securing a pre and/or post-birth Judgment of Parentage.

Embryo Donation Agreements
These agreements can be either known or anonymous. Again, we represent one side or the other of those arrangements for the drafting/review and negotiation of the agreement. We will also assist in secure a pre and/or post-birth Judgment of Parentage.

Embryo Disposition Agreements
New York permits parties to enter into a binding agreement deciding what to do with embryos upon the separation or divorce of Intended Parents. For example, will the embryos be destroyed, donated to research, or will one Intended Parent be allowed to use them while the other Intended Parent has no parental rights or responsibilities to any child born from the embryos. Again, we represent one side or the other of those arrangements for the drafting/review and negotiation of the agreement.



A US appeals court will review its prior order keeping banned books
Breaking Legal News | 2024/07/08 15:22
A federal appeals court in New Orleans is taking another look at its own order requiring a Texas county to keep eight books on public library shelves that deal with subjects including sex, gender identity and racism.

Llano County officials had removed 17 books from its shelves amid complaints about the subject matter. Seven library patrons claimed the books were illegally removed in a lawsuit against county officials. U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman ruled last year that the books must be returned. Attorneys for Llano County say the books were returned while they appeal Pittman’s order.

While the library patrons say removing the books constitutes an illegal government squelching of viewpoints, county officials have argued that they have broad authority to decide which books belong on library shelves and that those decisions are a form of constitutionally protected government speech.

On June 6, a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals split three ways on the case, resulting in an order that eight of the books had to be kept on the shelves, while nine others could be kept off.

That order was vacated Wednesday evening after a majority of the 17-member court granted Llano County officials a new hearing before the full court. The order did not state reasons and the hearing hasn’t yet been scheduled.

In his 2023 ruling, Pitman, nominated to the federal bench by former President Barack Obama, ruled that the library plaintiffs had shown Llano officials were “driven by their antipathy to the ideas in the banned books.” The works ranged from children’s books to award-winning nonfiction, including “They Called Themselves the K.K.K: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group,” by Susan Campbell Bartoletti; and “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health,” by Robie Harris.

Pitman was largely upheld by the 5th Circuit panel that ruled June 6. The main opinion was by Judge Jacques Wiener, nominated to the court by former President George H. W. Bush. Wiener said the books were clearly removed at the behest of county officials who disagreed with the books’ messages.


The Supreme Court strips the SEC of a critical enforcement tool in fraud cases
Corporate Governance | 2024/07/02 10:56
The Supreme Court on Thursday stripped the Securities and Exchange Commission of a major tool in fighting securities fraud in a decision that also could have far-reaching effects on other regulatory agencies.

The justices ruled in a 6-3 vote that people accused of fraud by the SEC, which regulates securities markets, have the right to a jury trial in federal court. The in-house proceedings the SEC has used in some civil fraud complaints, including against Houston hedge fund manager George Jarkesy, violate the Constitution, the court said.

“A defendant facing a fraud suit has the right to be tried by a jury of his peers before a neutral adjudicator,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court’s conservative majority.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who read from her dissent in the courtroom, said that “litigants who seek to dismantle the administrative state” would rejoice in the decision.

Federal agencies that oversee safety in mines and other workplaces are among many that can only impose civil penalties in in-house, administrative proceedings, Sotomayor wrote, joined by Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson and Elena Kagan.

“For those and countless other agencies, all the majority can say is tough luck; get a new statute from Congress,” she wrote.

The case is among several this term in which conservative and business interests are urging the nine-member court to constrict federal regulators. The court’s six conservatives already have done so, including in a decision last year that sharply limited environmental regulators’ ability to police water pollution in wetlands.

Still awaiting decision are cases calling on the court to overturn the 40-year-old ruling colloquially known as Chevron, which has made it easier to sustain regulation of the environment, public, health, worker safety and consumer protection. Some of the same parties that supported Jarkesy at the Supreme Court are calling for Chevron to be overturned.

The SEC was awarded more than $5 billion in civil penalties in the 2023 government spending year that ended Sept. 30, the agency said in a news release. It was unclear how much of that money came through in-house proceedings or lawsuits in federal court.

The agency had already reduced the number of cases it brings in administrative proceedings pending the Supreme Court’s resolution of the case.

The high court rejected arguments advanced by President Joe Biden’s Democratic administration that relied on a 50-year-old decision in which the court ruled that in-house proceedings did not violate the Constitution’s right to a jury trial in civil lawsuits.

The justices ruled in favor of Jarkesy after the SEC appealed a decision in which the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out stiff financial penalties against Jarkesy and his Patriot28 investment adviser.

The appeals court found that the SEC’s case against Jarkesy, resulting in a $300,000 civil fine and the repayment of $680,000 in allegedly ill-gotten gains, should have been heard in a federal court instead of before one of the SEC’s administrative law judges.


Israel’s high court orders the army to draft ultra-Orthodox men
Bankruptcy | 2024/06/27 16:06
Israel’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled unanimously that the military must begin drafting ultra-Orthodox men for compulsory service, a landmark decision that could lead to the collapse of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition as Israel continues to wage war in Gaza.

The historic ruling effectively puts an end to a decades-old system that granted ultra-Orthodox men broad exemptions from military service while maintaining mandatory enlistment for the country’s secular Jewish majority. The arrangement, deemed discriminatory by critics, has created a deep chasm in Israel’s Jewish majority over who should shoulder the burden of protecting the country.

The court struck down a law that codified exemptions in 2017, but repeated court extensions and government delaying tactics over a replacement dragged out a resolution for years. The court ruled that in the absence of a law, Israel’s compulsory military service applies to the ultra-Orthodox like any other citizen.

Under longstanding arrangements, ultra-Orthodox men have been exempt from the draft, which is compulsory for most Jewish men and women, who serve three and two years respectively as well as reserve duty until around age 40.

These exemptions have long been a source of anger among the secular public, a divide that has widened during the eight-month-old war, as the military has called up tens of thousands of soldiers and says it needs all the manpower it can get. Over 600 soldiers have been killed since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.

Politically powerful ultra-Orthodox parties, key partners in Netanyahu’s governing coalition, oppose any change to the current system. If the exemptions are ended, they could bolt the coalition, causing the government to collapse and likely leading to new elections at a time when its popularity has dropped.

In the current environment, Netanyahu could have a hard time delaying the matter any further or passing laws to restore the exemptions. During arguments, government lawyers told the court that forcing ultra-Orthodox men to enlist would “tear Israeli society apart.”

A statement from Netanyahu’s Likud party criticized the ruling, saying a bill in parliament backed by the Israeli leader would address the draft issue. Critics say it falls short of Israel’s wartime needs.

“The real solution to the draft problem is not a Supreme Court ruling,” the statement said.

In its ruling, the court found that the state was carrying out “invalid selective enforcement, which represents a serious violation of the rule of law, and the principle according to which all individuals are equal before the law.”

It did not say how many ultra-Orthodox should be drafted, but the military has said it is capable of enlisting 3,000 this year.

Some 66,000 ultra-Orthodox men are now eligible for enlistment, according to Shuki Friedman, an expert on religion and state affairs and the vice-president of the Jewish People Policy Institute, a Jerusalem think tank.

The ruling of Israel’s highest court must be followed, and the military is expected to begin doing so once it forms a plan for how to draft thousands of members of a population that’s deeply opposed to service, and which follows a cloistered and modest lifestyle the military may not be immediately prepared to accommodate. The army had no immediate comment.


Court rejects settlement in water dispute between New Mexico and Texas
Breaking Legal News | 2024/06/21 12:16
The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a settlement between Western states over the management of one of North America’s longest rivers.

The 5-4 decision rebuffs an agreement that had come recommended by a federal judge overseeing the case over how New Mexico, Texas and Colorado must share water from the Rio Grande. The high court found that the federal government still had claims about New Mexico’s water use that the settlement would not resolve.

U.S. Circuit Judge Michael Melloy had called the proposal a fair and reasonable way to resolve the conflict between Texas and New Mexico that would be consistent with a decadeslong water-sharing agreement between the two states as well as Colorado.

The federal government, though, lodged several objections, including that the proposal did not mandate specific water capture or use limitations within New Mexico.

New Mexico officials have said implementing the settlement would require reducing the use of Rio Grande water through a combination of efforts that range from paying farmers to leave their fields barren to making infrastructure improvements. Some New Mexico lawmakers have voiced concerns, but the attorney general who led the state’s negotiations had called the agreement a victory.

Farmers in southern New Mexico have had to rely more heavily on groundwater wells over the last two decades as drought and climate change resulted in reduced flows and less water in reservoirs along the Rio Grande. Texas sued over the groundwater pumping, claiming the practice was cutting into the amount of water that was ultimately delivered as part of the interstate compact.

The proposed settlement would recognize several measurements to ensure New Mexico delivers what’s owed to Texas. New Mexico, meanwhile, agreed to drop its challenges against Texas in exchange for clarifying how water will be accounted for as it flows downstream. The agreement also outlined transfers if not enough or too much water ended up in Texas.


US soldier sentenced to nearly 4 years in Russian penal colony for theft
Biotech | 2024/06/19 12:12
A court in Russia’s far eastern city of Vladivostok on Wednesday convicted a visiting American soldier of stealing and making threats of murder, and it sentenced him to three years and nine months in prison.

Staff Sgt. Gordon Black, 34, flew to the Pacific port city to see his girlfriend and was arrested last month after she accused him of stealing from her, according to U.S. officials and Russian authorities.

Russia’s state news agencies Tass and RIA Novosti reported that the judge in Pervomaisky District Court in Vladivostok also ordered Black to pay 10,000 rubles ($115) in damages. Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of four years and eight months in prison.

Black’s case occurs amid tensions over Russia’s arrests of American journalists and other U.S. nationals as the fighting in Ukraine continues.

Russia has jailed a number of Americans, including corporate security executive Paul Whelan and Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. The U.S. government has designated both men as wrongfully detained and has been trying to negotiate their release.

Others detained include Travis Leake, a musician who has been living in Russia for years and was arrested last year on drug-related charges; Marc Fogel, a teacher in Moscow who was sentenced to 14 years in prison, also on drug charges; and dual nationals Alsu Kurmasheva and Ksenia Khavana.

The U.S. State Department strongly advises American citizens not to go to Russia.

Black was on leave and in the process of returning to his home base at Fort Cavazos, Texas, from South Korea, where he had been stationed at Camp Humphreys with the Eighth Army.

Cynthia Smith, an Army spokesperson, said Black signed out for his move back home and, “instead of returning to the continental United States, Black flew from Incheon, Republic of Korea, through China to Vladivostok, Russia, for personal reasons.”

Under Pentagon policy, service members must get clearance for any international travel from a security manager or commander.

The U.S. Army said last month that Black hadn’t sought such travel clearance and it wasn’t authorized by the Defense Department. Given the hostilities in Ukraine and threats to the U.S. and its military, it is extremely unlikely he would have been granted approval.


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