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Cemetery case puts property rights issue before high court
Class Action | 2018/10/04 22:44
Rose Mary Knick makes no bones about it. She doesn't buy that there are bodies buried on her eastern Pennsylvania farmland, and she doesn't want people strolling onto her property to visit what her town says is a small cemetery.

Six years ago, however, Knick's town passed an ordinance that requires anyone with a cemetery on their land to open it to the public during the day. The town ordered Knick to comply, threatening a daily fine of $300 to $600 if she didn't. Knick's response has been to fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard arguments in her case Wednesday.

"Would you want somebody roaming around in your backyard?" Knick asked during a recent interview on her Lackawanna County property, which is posted with signs warning against trespassing.

Her neighbors in Scott Township, the Vail family, say they just want to visit their ancestors' graves.

The Supreme Court isn't going to weigh in on whether there's a cemetery on Knick's land. Instead, it's considering whether people with property rights cases like Knick's can bring their cases to federal court or must go to state court, an issue groups nationwide are interested in.

Knick, 69, says her town's ordinance wouldn't protect her if people injure themselves on her land and sue. And she says if the town is going to take her private property and open it up to the public, they should pay her. She says she believes that the town was trying to make an example out of her for questioning lawmakers' decisions.



Stand-ins to decide who sits on West Virginia Supreme Court
Class Action | 2018/09/24 20:20
A group of judicial stand-ins representing West Virginia's Supreme Court was hearing challenges Monday to GOP Gov. Jim Justice's appointments of two Republican politicians to replace two departed justices.

Democrats have called the impeachments that imploded the state's highest court an unprecedented power grab by the West Virginia GOP. One of the petitions being heard on Monday says the choice of U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins and ex-House speaker Tim Armstead violates "the clear will of the voters" who elected Democrats to their spots on the bench.

Justice appointed Jenkins and Armstead — who resigned as speaker of the House of Delegates in anticipation of his move to the court — to serve until a Nov. 6 special election in which both men are candidates.

Also on the November ballot is attorney William Schwartz, whose petition seeks to stop Jenkins and Armstead from temporarily serving on the court. His petition also accuses Jenkins of being ineligible because he hasn't actively practiced law recently. The state constitution requires justices to be admitted to practice law for at least 10 years prior to their election.

Jenkins and Schwartz are seeking to serve the remainder of retired Justice Robin Davis' term through 2024, while Armstead hopes to finish the term of retired Justice Menis Ketchum through 2020. Both Davis and Ketchum were elected as Democrats.

Ketchum resigned before the Republican-led House voted to impeach the remaining four justices. Davis then resigned in time to trigger an election for the remainder of her term. The others await Senate impeachment trials next month, including Allen Loughry, who is suspended, and Margaret Workman and Beth Walker, who recused themselves from hearing these petitions. Temporary Chief Justice Paul T. Farrell then appointed four circuit judges to hear the challenges.

According to Schwartz's petition, Jenkins voluntarily placed his West Virginia law license on inactive status in 2014 after he was elected to the U.S. House. But Jenkins said he's been admitted to practice law in the state for more than three decades. According to the bylaws of the State Bar, an inactive status means members are admitted to practice law but aren't taking clients or providing legal counseling.


Egypt court returns ex-president Mubarak's 2 sons to prison
Class Action | 2018/09/17 14:17
Acting on a judge's order, Egyptian police detained the sons of former president Hosni Mubarak on Saturday along with three others in connection with insider trading charges for which the five are on trial, security officials said.

They said the arrests were ordered by judge Ahmed Aboul-Fetouh before he adjourned the case's hearings until Oct. 20. The Mubarak sons - wealthy businessman Alaa and Mubarak's one-time heir apparent Gamal - were taken to a prison south of Cairo after the hearing, according to the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media.

The detention of the two brothers came as something of a surprise given that the trial has been proceeding without incident. It was not immediately clear if their detention has anything to do with a recent warning to Gamal Mubarak by a newspaper editor close to the government to abandon any political ambitions.

The two sons and their father were sentenced to three years in prison following their conviction of embezzling funds set aside for the restoration and maintenance of presidential palaces, using the money to upgrade their private residences. The sons were released in 2015 for time served, while Mubarak walked free last year. The trio paid back to the state the money they embezzled.

The three were first detained in April 2011, two months after a popular uprising forced Mubarak to step down after nearly 30 years in power. After a long trial, Mubarak was acquitted of killing protesters during the 18-day uprising against his autocratic rule.

The ongoing insider trading trial centers on the buying by the two brothers of a large number of shares in a local Egyptian bank that they allegedly knew was to become the target of a takeover by an Arab Gulf investor, a move that was virtually certain to dramatically drive up share prices.




No decision about jailing Chicago officer over interviews
Class Action | 2018/09/01 23:15
A judge has declined to immediately decide whether a Chicago police officer charged with murder in the 2014 shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald should have his bail revoked or increased because he talked to the media .

Judge Vincent Gaughan held a hearing Saturday and told both sides to return to court Thursday.

Jason Van Dyke gave interviews just days before jury selection is set to begin Wednesday. Prosecutors accused Van Dyke of violating the judge's longstanding order prohibiting all parties from talking about the case outside of court.

Defense attorney Daniel Herbert says Van Dyke has free-speech rights. He says Van Dyke feels threatened and is "scared to death" that the public won't know his "personal feelings" about being charged with murder.

Van Dyke spent six nights in custody before being released on $1.5 million bond in November 2015.


Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor out with 2 new books
Class Action | 2018/08/31 23:14
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor got some unsolicited health advice the last time she wrote a book.

The justice was diagnosed with diabetes as a child and discussed it as part of her 2013 autobiography, "My Beloved World."

Sotomayor said Saturday in an interview with The Associated Press that prompted a diabetic grandmother to write her. She said she was using newer technology to manage her diabetes. She told Sotomayor: "If I can do it you can do it too."

Sotomayor said that pushed her to explore using the technology she does now, a continuous glucose monitor.

The justice was speaking ahead of the publication next week of two new books she's written: an autobiography for elementary school readers and an abridged version of her memoir for middle school readers.


Trump enjoys 'suspense' ahead of Supreme Court announcement
Class Action | 2018/07/10 10:20
President Donald Trump is going down to the wire as he makes his choice on a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, but he says with his final four options "you can't go wrong."

Trump spoke to reporters Sunday afternoon before returning to Washington from a weekend at his private golf club in New Jersey, where he deliberated his decision amid furious lobbying and frenzied speculation. Relishing the suspense, Trump insisted he still hadn't locked down his decision, which he wants to keep under wraps until a 9 p.m. Monday announcement from the White House.

"I'm very close to making a final decision. And I believe this person will do a great job," Trump said. Asked by reporters how many people were being considered, the president said: "Let's say it's the four people ... they're excellent, every one."

While Trump didn't name the four, top contenders for the role have included federal appeals judges Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett and Thomas Hardiman. The White House has been preparing information materials on all four, who were part of a longer list of 25 names vetted by conservative groups.

Trump tweeted later Sunday that he was looking forward to the announcement and said an "exceptional person will be chosen!" He is hoping to replicate his successful announcement of Justice Neil Gorsuch last year.

The president has spent the days leading up to the decision mulling the pros and cons of the various options with aides and allies. He expressed renewed interest in Hardiman — the runner-up when Trump nominated Gorsuch, said two people with knowledge of his thinking who were not authorized to speak publicly. But the situation appeared to remain fluid.

Hardiman has a personal connection to the president, having served with Trump's sister on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. He also has a compelling personal story: He went to the University of Notre Dame as the first person in his family to go to college. He financed his law degree at the Georgetown University Law Center by driving a taxi.

Some conservatives have expressed concerns about Kavanaugh — a longtime judge and former clerk for Kennedy — questioning his commitment to social issues like abortion and noting his time serving under President George W. Bush as evidence he is a more establishment choice. But his supporters cite his experience and wide range of legal opinions. He is also former law clerk to Kennedy, as is Kethledge.



Court gives Spanish princess' husband 5 days to go to prison
Class Action | 2018/06/13 12:54
Judicial authorities on Wednesday told the brother-in-law of Spain's King Felipe VI that he must report to a prison within five days in order to serve five years and 10 months for fraud and tax evasion, among other crimes.

Inaki Urdangarin, a former Olympic handball medal winner who has been married for two decades to the king's sister, Princess Cristina, is the closest person to the ruling family of the Bourbons to be convicted and imprisoned.

The case was seen as instrumental in prompting the abdication in 2014 of Juan Carlos I, who passed on the throne to Felipe. Public broadcaster TVE showed Urdangarin and his lawyer arriving Wednesday by car at the Palma de Mallorca court after landing on a commercial flight from Geneva, where the 50-year-old lives with his wife Cristina.

He left minutes later, without making any remarks to the crowd of reporters and cameras awaiting him. The provincial court ruled last year that Urdangarin embezzled about 6 million euros ($7 million) between 2004 and 2006 by exploiting his "privileged status" in the royal family to obtain public contracts related to sports events.

Spain's Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the lower court's decision, but acquitted him of forgery and reduced his prison sentence by five months. Cristina, who became the first member of the Spanish royal family to face criminal charges, was acquitted for aiding her husband's crimes and only fined as a beneficiary in the scheme. She had already paid a 265,000-euro fine ($311,500), but Tuesday's Supreme Court ruling on the appeal halved the amount.

It wasn't immediately clear where the former duke will serve the prison sentence, although in theory he has the right to choose any of the facilities in Spanish territory.

Urdangarin could still appeal to the Constitutional Court, but experts say that would be futile because the country's top court has not taken in any appeals for imprisonments beyond the five year mark in the past.


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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. They can construct your law firm a brand new website, lawyer website templates and help you redesign your existing law firm site to secure your place in the internet.
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