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Court gives fertilizer dealers a reprieve from policy change
Court Watch | 2016/09/27 22:19
A court ruling has given farm fertilizer dealers a reprieve from a federal policy change that some say would unfairly burden the industry.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration policy change announced last year would regulate retail dealers of farm fertilizer such as anhydrous ammonia under the same standards as manufacturers. It came after a deadly explosion at a Texas plant in 2013.

The Agricultural Retailers Association and The Fertilizer Institute say the change would affect 3,800 fertilizer retailers nationwide, costing them more than $100 million. The two organizations sued a year ago.

The change was to take effect this coming Saturday. But a federal appeals court has ruled that OSHA can't implement it without going through a formal rule-making process.


Court asks judges to respond to Louisiana sheriff's claims
Breaking Legal News | 2016/09/26 22:19
A federal appeals court on Monday asked two judges to respond to a petition by a Louisiana sheriff who claims another judge was improperly removed from his criminal case without explanation.

A letter from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says Chief Judge Dee Drell of the Western District of Louisiana and U.S. District Judge Donald Walter in Shreveport are "invited" to file written responses by Oct. 6. The appeals court also asked two federal prosecutors to respond to Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal's arguments.

Ackal's attorney, John McLindon, argued in a court filing Friday that U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi's mysterious removal from the sheriff's case violated court rules and apparently was done without her consent earlier this year.

McLindon also is challenging Walter's decision to hold the trial in Shreveport instead of Lafayette, where the case originated.

The letter from the 5th Circuit doesn't specify what issues the judges and prosecutors should address in their responses to Ackal's petition. The letter indicated that they discussed the matter by telephone on Monday morning.

Ackal awaits trial next month on charges over the alleged beatings of jail inmates. Nine former employees of the sheriff's office already have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with the Justice Department's civil rights investigation.

Minaldi originally was assigned to preside over the high-profile cases against the sheriff and 11 of his subordinates. But Drell abruptly reassigned the cases to Walter in March, two days after Ackal's indictment. Drell didn't give a reason for the switch in his one-sentence orders.

Four days before Minaldi's removal from the cases, she was in the middle of accepting guilty pleas by two former sheriff's deputies when a prosecutor cut her off mid-sentence and asked to speak to a defense attorney. Then, after a short break and private discussion with the attorneys, Minaldi adjourned the March 7 hearing in Lake Charles without giving a reason on the record.



Court cites racial profiling in tossing gun charge
Court Watch | 2016/09/24 22:19
The highest court in Massachusetts on Tuesday threw out a gun conviction against a Boston man in a ruling that says black men who flee when approached by police may be reacting to racial profiling rather than trying to hide criminal activity.

In its ruling, the Supreme Judicial Court found that Boston police had "far too little information" to stop Jimmy Warren after seeing him and another black man walking in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood about 30 minutes after they received a report of a home break-in in 2011.

Police had received only a vague description of three black males wearing dark clothing and hooded sweatshirts seen leaving the home. Warren ran when police approached him. After a foot chase, an officer arrested him in a backyard. He was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm after a handgun was found on the front lawn.

The SJC found that police did not have a reasonable suspicion to stop Warren and his friend, noting that an officer's hunch is not enough. The court cited a report by the Boston Police Department that found black men were disproportionately stopped and frisked by Boston police between 2007 and 2010. The court said black men in Boston who flee when approached by police does not necessarily indicate that they are guilty of a crime.



California Supreme Court to consider suit over Yelp review
Business | 2016/09/23 22:20
The California Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to consider a lawsuit that Yelp.com warns could lead to the removal of negative reviews on the popular website.

The seven-member court voted unanimously Wednesday to take up an appeal by Yelp of a lower court ruling upholding an order requiring Yelp to remove posts against a San Francisco law firm.

Yelp wants the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling, saying that if it's allowed to stand, it will open the door for businesses to force the company to remove critical reviews.

Dawn Hassell, the law firm's managing attorney, says the business review website is exaggerating the stakes of her legal effort. She says it aims only to remove from Yelp lies by a former client that a judge determined were defamatory, not just negative.

Hassell referred comment Wednesday to her attorney, Monique Olivier, who said in a statement she was not surprised the Supreme Court has taken up the case given the "amount of attention" it has received.

"This case is not one of a 'bad review' " she said. "It is a case where a court adjudicated statements to be defamatory after receiving and reviewing evidence about the falsity of those statements."

Aaron Schur, Yelp's senior director of litigation, said the company looked forward to explaining to the court "how the lower court's decision is ripe for abuse, contradicts longstanding legal principles, and restricts the ability of websites to provide a balanced spectrum of views online."



Bosnian Serbs vote in referendum banned by top court
Legal Business | 2016/09/22 22:20
Bosnian Serbs on Sunday voted in a referendum banned by the country's constitutional court, risking Western sanctions against their autonomous region and criminal charges against their leaders.

The vote was whether to keep Jan. 9 as a holiday in Republika Srpska, commemorating the day in 1992 that Bosnian Serbs declared the creation of their own state, igniting the ruinous 1992-95 war. It comes despite the top court's ruling that the date, which falls on a Serb Christian Orthodox religious holiday, discriminates against Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats in Bosnia.

Authorities said turnout was between 56 and 60 percent. Preliminary results after 30.76 percent of the ballots were counted say 99.8 percent of the voters were in favor of the holiday.

The vote has raised tensions and fears of renewed fighting as Bosniaks and Croats see the referendum as an attempt to elevate the Serb region above the country's constitutional court. It is also a test for a more serious referendum that Bosnian Serb leaders have announced for 2018 — one on independence from Bosnia.


DC gun law gets hearing before Washington appeals court
Breaking Legal News | 2016/09/21 22:20
An appeals court will hear challenges to a District of Columbia law that places tough requirements for gun owners to get concealed carry permits.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is hearing arguments Tuesday in two cases involving the law, which requires people who want to carry a gun in public to show a "good reason to fear injury" or another "proper reason" to carry the weapon. Reasons might include a personal threat, or a job that requires a person to carry or protect cash or valuables. Lower court judges have disagreed on whether the law is constitutional.

The hearing is the latest in a long-running tussle over the city's gun laws. Eight years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the city's ban on handguns, leading the city to rewrite its gun laws. City law now requires residents to register guns kept at their homes or businesses; more than 16,500 guns have been registered, according to police.

Anyone who wants to carry a weapon outside the home needs a separate concealed carry license. The police department said last week that 89 people have been granted concealed carry permits and 374 have been denied.

In March, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly sided with the city and declined to issue a preliminary injunction halting the enforcement of the law requiring a "good reason" or "proper reason" for anyone who wants to carry a gun in public. Kollar-Kotelly said opponents had not shown that their lawsuit was likely to be successful. She noted that appeals courts in other parts of the country had approved of laws in New York, New Jersey and Maryland that are similar to the District of Columbia's.



Court halts construction of another section of pipeline
Breaking Legal News | 2016/09/18 15:23
A federal appeals court has ordered a halt to construction of another section of the Dakota Access oil pipeline in North Dakota.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said in a ruling late Friday that it needs more time to consider the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's request for an emergency injunction. It said it will issue another order setting a date for oral arguments on the motion.  

The order "should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits of that motion," the panel said. The ruling stops construction within 20 miles on either side of Lake Oahe. The federal government on Sept. 9 ordered a halt to construction on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land under and around the lake after a U.S. District Judge James Boasberg rejected the tribe's request for a preliminary injunction to halt construction of the $3.8 billion four-state pipeline. That led the tribe to ask for an emergency injunction.

Vicki Granado, spokeswoman for Dakota Access LLC, said the company does not comment on pending litigation. Craig Stevens, spokesman for the MAIN Coalition, Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now, called the ruling disappointing but said his group respects the panel's decision.

"Judge Boasberg, in his thoughtful and thorough opinion last week, confirmed that the Army Corps of Engineers did their jobs expertly and in accordance with the law," Stevens said in a statement. "We are confident that another fair review of the corps' work will render the same decision."

The corps also issued a ruling on Friday granting the tribes a temporary permit that allows demonstrators to legally protest on federal lands managed by the agency. In turn, the tribe assumes responsibility for maintenance, damage and restoration costs, the security and safety of protesters, and liability insurance.



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Class action or a representative action is a form of lawsuit in which a large group of people collectively bring a claim to court and/or in which a class of defendants is being sued. This form of collective lawsuit originated in the United States and is still predominantly a U.S. phenomenon, at least the U.S. variant of it. In the United States federal courts, class actions are governed by Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule. Since 1938, many states have adopted rules similar to the FRCP. However, some states like California have civil procedure systems which deviate significantly from the federal rules; the California Codes provide for four separate types of class actions. As a result, there are two separate treatises devoted solely to the complex topic of California class actions. Some states, such as Virginia, do not provide for any class actions, while others, such as New York, limit the types of claims that may be brought as class actions. Medicare fraud advanced prosthetic devices
 
 
 
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