Joseph Wapner, the retired Los Angeles judge who presided over "The People's Court" with steady force during the heyday of the reality courtroom show, died Sunday at age 97.
Son David Wapner told The Associated Press that his father died at home in his sleep. Joseph Wapner was hospitalized a week ago with breathing problems and had been under home hospice care.
"The People's Court," on which Wapner decided real small-claims from 1981 to 1993, was one of the granddaddies of the syndicated reality shows of today. His affable, no-nonsense approach attracted many fans, putting "The People's Court" in the top five in syndication at its peak.
Before auditioning for the show, Wapner had spent more than 20 years on the bench in Los Angeles, first in Municipal Court and then in Superior Court. At one time he was presiding judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court, the largest court in the United States. He retired as judge in November 1979, the day after his 60th birthday.
"Everything on the show is real," Wapner told the AP in a 1986 interview. "There's no script, no rehearsal, no retakes. Everything from beginning to end is like a real courtroom, and I personally consider each case as a trial."
"Sometimes I don't even deliberate," he added. "I just decide from the bench, it's so obvious. The beautiful part is that I have carte blanche."
"The People's Court" cases were tried without lawyers by the rules of Small Claims Court, which has a damage limit of $1,500. Researchers for the producer, Ralph Edwards Productions, checked claims filed in Southern California for interesting cases.
The plaintiff and defendant had to agree to have the case settled on the show and sign a binding arbitration agreement; the show paid for the settlements.
Congress returns to Washington this week to confront dramatic decisions on health care and the Supreme Court that may help determine the course of Donald Trump's presidency.
First, the president will have his say, in his maiden speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night. Majority Republicans in the House and Senate will be closely watching the prime-time address for guidance, marching orders or any specifics Trump might embrace on health care or taxes, areas where some of his preferences remain a mystery.
Congressional Republicans insist they are working closely with the new administration as they prepare to start taking votes on health legislation, with the moment finally upon them to make good on seven years of promises to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. House Republicans hope to pass their legislation by early April and send it to the Senate, with action there also possible before Easter.
Republicans will be "keeping our promise to the American people," House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said as he sent lawmakers home for the Presidents Day recess armed with informational packets to defend planned GOP changes to the health law.
Intel, Yahoo, Pandora and Spotify are the latest big-name tech companies to sign on to a legal brief supporting transgender rights, a source told Axios.
The firms join Apple, Salesforce, eBay, IBM, Microsoft and others, who will file arguments in the case of Gavin Grimm, a Virginia high school student who is fighting for the right to use the restroom and other facilities that line up with his gender identity.
The Trump administration has withdrawn Obama-era guidance that sided with Grimm, but ultimately it will be the Supreme Court that gets to decide whether existing sex discrimination law protects protects the rights of transgender people.
Who's still not on board: Google and Facebook have yet to sign on, sources said.
Milwaukee's sheriff does not have to release information on people at his jail suspected of being in the country illegally because the federal government prohibits it, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Friday.
The 4-2 decision from the court's conservative majority reverses lower-court decisions that ordered Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke to disclose the information under the state's open records law, following a request from an immigrant advocacy group.
The ruling is a victory for Milwaukee's sheriff, who has pledged to follow President Donald Trump's directive to crack down on illegal immigration and expand the number of people prioritized for deportation.
Milwaukee-based Voces de La Frontera filed the request in February 2015, asking for records identifying who the sheriff had held at the request of immigration authorities for the prior two months. The group said it wanted to know who the sheriff was detaining and whether they had a criminal record to meet the narrower guidelines former President Barack Obama previously set for deportation.
The immigrant advocacy said it also wanted to monitor whether any U.S. Citizens were being mistakenly detained because they're aware of one case where that happened.
The U.S. Supreme Court won't review the case of the Ohio leader of a breakaway group that was accused in hair- and beard-cutting attacks on fellow Amish.
Defense lawyers challenged the constitutionality of the federal hate crimes law and how a kidnapping allegation was used to stiffen the sentence for 71-year-old Samuel Mullet Sr. He petitioned the Supreme Court after a federal court rejected his appeal last May.
Mullet's attorney, Ed Bryan, told Cleveland.com he is disappointed by the high court's decision this week not to take up the case.
Prosecutors said some of the victims in the 2011 attacks were awakened in the middle of the night and restrained as others cut their hair and beards, which have spiritual significance in the Amish faith. Prosecutors alleged the motive was religious, while the defense attributed it to family disputes.
Mullet, who led a group in the eastern Ohio community of Bergholz near the West Virginia panhandle, was accused of orchestrating the attacks. Despite arguments that he wasn't present during the hair-cuttings, he received an 11-year sentence.
How a U.S. Border Patrol argent’s use of lethal force at the U.S-Mexican border implicates constitutional rights and foreign affairs dominated arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday in Hernandez v. Mesa. The lawyer arguing that the agent should be held liable had a rough day in front of the justices.
Both sides agree that while standing on American soil at the border on June 7, 2010, Border Patrol Agent Jesus Mesa fatally shot Sergio Hernandez, a 15-year-old Mexican national standing on the Mexican side. But then the factual accounts diverge.
According to Hernandez’s family, the teenager was playing with his friends near the border opposite El Paso, Texas, where the border runs through the middle of a concrete culvert. There is a fence on the U.S. side of the culvert.
According to Mesa and the federal government, Mesa was detaining one of Hernandez’s companions on the U.S. side of the border, when Hernandez and the other teenagers started throwing rocks at Hernandez. Mesa claims that the rocks posed a danger to his safety. He repeatedly ordered then to stop and back away, but they persisted. Finally Mesa fired in what he claims is self-defense, fatally striking Hernandez.
Hernandez’s family sued, and Mesa filed a motion to dismiss. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, when considering a motion to dismiss, a federal court must consider the plaintiff’s allegations as true when deciding whether to throw out the lawsuit versus letting it continue. The parties later present evidence to prove their version of the facts if the lawsuit goes forward, but when deciding whether to end the case before it gets started, judges must consider only plaintiff’s version.
A man from Syria who says he was tortured in his home country after converting to Christianity has no legal recourse against an Oklahoma church that published his name and baptism online, the state's highest court ruled on Wednesday.
The former Muslim, identified in the lawsuit only as "John Doe," says that after his baptism in 2012 at the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Tulsa he returned to Syria and was kidnapped, tortured and nearly beheaded by radical Muslims who learned of his baptism online. He claims he escaped by killing a relative who aided his captors and now is wanted for murder in Syria.
"Appellant asserts that he suffered numerous physical injuries and psychological damage, all proximately caused by appellees' publication of his baptism, in contravention of promises they supposedly made to him that it would be kept confidential," the court wrote in its majority opinion.
But the court upheld a lower court ruling and decided that despite the plaintiff's injuries, courts must refrain from "undue interference with religious beliefs and practices."
"Per the church autonomy doctrine, the courts lack subject matter jurisdiction over the matter," Chief Justice Douglas Combs wrote in the majority opinion.
The plaintiff's attorney, Keith Ward, said his client is considering whether to petition the court for a rehearing. He said that since the lawsuit was filed in 2014, his client has become a U.S. citizen and now lives in Tulsa, but struggles with injuries he suffered in the attack and fears every day that Muslim extremists might try to kill him.