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Attorney Jenna Ellis pleads guilty in Georgia election interference case
Health Care | 2024/02/15 16:15
Attorney and prominent conservative media figure Jenna Ellis pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony charge over efforts to overturn Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss in Georgia, tearfully telling the judge she looks back on that time with “deep remorse.”

Ellis, the fourth defendant in the case to enter into a plea deal with prosecutors, was a vocal part of Trump’s reelection campaign in the last presidential cycle and was charged alongside the Republican former president and 17 others with violating the state’s anti-racketeering law.

Ellis pleaded guilty to one felony count of aiding and abetting false statements and writings. She had been facing charges of violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO, and soliciting the violation of oath by a public officer, both felonies.

She rose to speak after pleading guilty, fighting back tears as she said she would not have represented Trump after the 2020 election if she knew then what she knows now, claiming that she relied on lawyers with much more experience than her and failed to verify the things they told her.

“What I did not do but should have done, Your Honor, was to make sure that the facts the other lawyers alleged to be true were in fact true,” the 38-year-old Ellis said.

The guilty plea from Ellis comes just days after two other defendants, fellow attorneys Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, entered guilty pleas. That means three high-profile people responsible for pushing baseless legal challenges to Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory have agreed to accept responsibility for their roles rather than take their chances before a jury. A lower-profile defendant pleaded guilty last month.

Responding to a reporter’s shouted question in the hallway of a New York City courthouse, where a civil case accusing him of inflating the value of his assets is being held, Trump said he didn’t know anything about Ellis’ plea deal but called it “too bad” and said he wasn’t worried by it.

“Don’t know anything, we’re totally innocent of everything, that’s political persecution is all it is,” he said.

Steve Sadow, Trump’s lead attorney in the Georgia case, used Ellis’ plea to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the racketeering charges Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis brought against all 19 defendants.


The top UN court is set to hear South Africa’s allegation of Israeli genocide in Gaza
Health Care | 2024/01/12 13:26
A legal battle over whether Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza amounts to genocide opens Thursday at the United Nations’ top court with preliminary hearings into South Africa’s call for judges to order an immediate suspension of Israel’s military actions. Israel stringently denies the genocide allegation.

The case, that is likely to take years to resolve, strikes at the heart of Israel’s national identity as a Jewish state created in the aftermath of the Nazi genocide in the Holocaust. It also involves South Africa’s identity: Its ruling African National Congress party has long compared Israel’s policies in Gaza and the West Bank to its own history under the apartheid regime of white minority rule, which restricted most Blacks to “homelands” before ending in 1994.

Israel normally considers U.N. and international tribunals unfair and biased. But it is sending a strong legal team to the International Court of Justice to defend its military operation launched in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas.

“I think they have come because they want to be exonerated and think they can successfully resist the accusation of genocide,” said Juliette McIntyre, an expert on international law at the University of South Australia.

In a statement after the case was filed, the Palestinian Authority’s foreign ministry urged the court to “immediately take action to protect the Palestinian people and call on Israel, the occupying power, to halt its onslaught against the Palestinian people, in order to ensure an objective legal resolution.”

Two days of preliminary hearings at the International Court of Justice begin with lawyers for South Africa explaining to judges why the country has accused Israel of “acts and omissions” that are “genocidal in character” in the Gaza war and has called for an immediate halt to Israel’s military actions.

Thursday’s opening hearing is focused on South Africa’s request for the court to impose binding interim orders including that Israel halt its military campaign. A decision will likely take weeks.

Israel’s offensive has killed more than 23,200 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza. About two-thirds of the dead are women and children, health officials say. The death toll does not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

In the Oct. 7 attack, in which Hamas overwhelmed Israel’s defenses and stormed through several communities, Palestinian militants killed some 1,200 people, mainly civilians. They abducted around 250 others, nearly half of whom have been released.


Assange loses latest bid to stop extradition to the U.S. on spying charges
Health Care | 2023/06/09 15:49
A British judge has rejected the latest attempt by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to fight extradition to the United States to face spying charges.

High Court justice Jonathan Swift said a new appeal would simply “re-run” arguments that Assange’s lawyers had already made and lost.

Assange has battled in British courts for years to avoid being sent to the U.S., where he faces 17 charges of espionage and one charge of computer misuse over WikiLeaks’ publication of classified diplomatic and military documents more than a decade ago.

In 2021, a British district judge ruled that Assange should not be extradited because he was likely to kill himself if held under harsh U.S. prison conditions. U.S. authorities later provided assurances that the Australia-born Assange wouldn’t face the severe treatment that his lawyers said would put his physical and mental health at risk.

Those assurances led Britain’s High Court and Supreme Court to overturn the lower court’s ruling, and the British government authorized extradition in June 2022.

Assange is seeking to halt extradition by obtaining a new court hearing on parts of his case that were dismissed by the first judge.

But in a ruling made public on Friday, Swift said all eight parts of Assange’s potential appeal were not “arguable” and should not be heard.

“The proposed appeal comes to no more than an attempt to re-run the extensive arguments made to and rejected by the district judge,” he said.

Assange’s wife, Stella Assange, said the WikiLeaks founder would make a new appeal attempt at a High Court hearing on Tuesday. He has almost exhausted his avenues of appeal in the U.K. but could still try to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights.


Supreme Court asked to preserve abortion pill access rules
Health Care | 2023/04/14 18:02
The Biden administration and a drug manufacturer asked the Supreme Court on Friday to preserve access to an abortion drug free from restrictions imposed by lower court rulings, while a legal fight continues.

The Justice Department and Danco Laboratories both warned of “regulatory chaos” and harm to women if the high court doesn’t block an appeals court ruling in a case from Texas that had the effect of tightening Food and Drug Administration rules under which the drug, mifepristone, can be prescribed and dispensed.

The new limits would take effect Saturday unless the court acts before then.

“This application concerns unprecedented lower court orders countermanding FDA’s scientific judgment and unleashing regulatory chaos by suspending the existing FDA-approved conditions of use for mifepristone,” Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, the Biden administration’s top Supreme Court lawyer, wrote Friday, less than two days after the appellate ruling.

A lawyer for the anti-abortion doctors and medical organizations suing over mifepristone said the justices should reject the drugmaker’s and the administration’s pleas and allow the appeals court-ordered changes to take effect.

The fight over mifepristone lands at the Supreme Court less than a year after conservative justices reversed Roe v. Wade and allowed more than a dozen states to effectively ban abortion outright.

The justices are being asked for a temporary order to keep in place Food and Drug Administration regulations governing mifepristone. Such an order would give them time to more fully consider each side’s arguments without the pressure of a deadline.

The Biden administration and Danco, which is based in New York, also want a more lasting order that would keep the current rules in place as long as the legal fight over mifepristone continues. As a fallback, they asked the court to take up the issue, hear arguments and decide by early summer a legal challenge to mifepristone that anti-abortion doctors and medical organizations filed last year.

The court rarely acts so quickly to grant full review of cases before at least one appeals court has thoroughly examined the legal issues involved.

A ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late Wednesday would prevent the pill, used in the most common abortion method, from being mailed or prescribed without an in-person visit to a doctor. It also would withdraw the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone for use beyond the seventh week of pregnancy. The FDA says it’s safe through 10 weeks.


Republicans invoke Soros to steer narrative on Trump probe
Health Care | 2023/03/22 10:31
As former President Donald Trump braces for a potential indictment related to hush money payments made on his behalf during his 2016 campaign, Republicans blasting the case as politically motivated are blaming a frequent target: George Soros.

The 92-year-old billionaire investor and philanthropist — who has been falsely accused of everything from hiring violent rioters to committing election crimes — doesn’t know and didn’t donate directly to the New York prosecutor steering the probe. But that hasn’t stopped Trump and other high-profile Republicans from accusing Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who convened the grand jury investigating Trump, of acting on Soros’ behalf.

Trump on Monday used his Truth Social platform to misleadingly claim that Bragg “received in EXCESS OF ONE MILLION DOLLARS” from Soros. Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance tweeted that the prosecutor was “bought by George Soros.” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called the case a “manufactured circus by some Soros-DA.”

Experts say the claims exploit a gray area of campaign fundraising, where tenuous connections between PAC donors and the candidates who ultimately receive the funds can be unclear.

Scapegoating Soros, who is Hungarian American and Jewish, also perpetuates deep-rooted false ideas about Jewish people and immigrants to underscore the conspiracy theory that he is a shadowy villain orchestrating world events.

The misleading claims about Soros’ link to the Trump case stem from a real donation the philanthropist made in 2021. Soros gave $1 million to Color of Change PAC, a political group that ran an independent expenditure campaign to support Bragg’s district attorney run.

But Soros spokesman Michael Vachon confirmed the wealthy donor’s contribution to the PAC was not earmarked to be used for Bragg. Soros didn’t donate to Bragg’s campaign directly, and the two have never met in person, by phone or virtually, Vachon said.

Soros’ contribution to Color of Change PAC, which told The Associated Press it supports prosecutors looking to change the criminal justice system, follows a pattern for the investor, who “has made numerous contributions in support of reform-minded prosecutors across the country since 2015,” Vachon said.

Soros wrote in an op-ed in 2022 that he supports these candidates because they invest in changes he supports, including mental health programs and treating drug addiction as a disease instead of a crime. Personally and through another PAC, Soros donated about $4 million to Color of Change PAC between 2016 and 2022, Vachon said.


South Carolina Supreme Court strikes down state abortion ban
Health Care | 2023/01/05 14:51
The South Carolina Supreme Court struck down Thursday a ban on abortion after cardiac activity is detected — typically around six weeks — ruling the restriction violates the state constitution’s right to privacy.

The decision comes nearly two years after Republican Gov. Henry McMaster signed the measure into law. The ban, which included exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest or pregnancies that endangered the patient’s life, drew lawsuits almost immediately. Since then, legal challenges have made their way through both state and federal courts.

“The State unquestionably has the authority to limit the right of privacy that protects women from state interference with her decision, but any such limitation must be reasonable and it must be meaningful in that the time frames imposed must afford a woman sufficient time to determine she is pregnant and to take reasonable steps to terminate that pregnancy. Six weeks is, quite simply, not a reasonable period of time for these two things to occur, and therefore the Act violates our state Constitution’s prohibition against unreasonable invasions of privacy,” Justice Kaye Hearn wrote in the majority opinion.

Currently, South Carolina bars most abortions at 20 weeks. Varying orders have given the law’s supporters and opponents both cause for celebration and dismay. Those seeking abortions in the state have seen the legal window expand to the previous limit of 20 weeks before returning to latest restrictions and back again.

Federal courts had previously suspended the law. But the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade allowed the restrictions to take place — for just a brief period. The state Supreme Court temporarily blocked it this past August as the justices considered a new challenge.


Jackson, in dissent, issues first Supreme Court opinion
Health Care | 2022/11/07 13:35
New Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson has issued her first Supreme Court opinion, a short dissent Monday in support of a death row inmate from Ohio.

Jackson wrote that she would have thrown out lower court rulings in the case of inmate Davel Chinn, whose lawyers argued that the state suppressed evidence that might have altered the outcome of his trial.

Jackson, in a two-page opinion, wrote that she would have ordered a new look at Chinn’s case “because his life is on the line and given the substantial likelihood that the suppressed records would have changed the outcome at trial.”

The evidence at issue indicated that a key witness against Chinn has an intellectual disability that might have affected his memory and ability to testify accurately, she wrote.

Prosecutors are required to turn over potentially exculpatory evidence to the defense. In this case, lower courts determined that the outcome would not have been affected if the witness’ records had been provided to Chinn’s lawyers.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the only other member of the court to join Jackson’s opinion. The two justices also were allies in dissent Monday in Sotomayor’s opinion that there was serious prosecutorial misconduct in the trial of a Louisiana man who was convicted of sex trafficking.

Jackson joined the high court on June 30, following the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer, her onetime boss.

The court has yet to decide any of the cases argued in October or the first few days of this month. Jackson almost certainly will be writing a majority opinion in one of those cases.


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