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The conventional wisdom that the court is split along partisan lines based on the political views of the president that appointed each justice is false, a U.S. Supreme Court justice said.

Justice Neil Gorsuch spoke about civility to an audience of about 1,000 at Brigham Young University on Friday, refuting the notion that judges are just "like politicians with robes."

Gorsuch is considered one of the Supreme Court's most conservative members, though he recently agreed with more liberal colleagues in a decision reaffirming a criminal defendant's right to a jury trial.

Gorsuch denied that justices' decisions are predictable, the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News reported. Gorsuch noted he uses the original meaning of the Constitution to guide his judicial decisions, in contrast with judges who believe interpretations of the document should evolve over time.


The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has asked the Supreme Court to review the case of a Maryland man convicted in a case chronicled on the podcast "Serial."

News outlets report the group filed an amicus brief in the case of Adnan Syed. The brief says Syed was not given a proper opportunity to investigate an unbiased and credible alibi witness.

It also says the decision by Maryland's highest court to deny Syed a new trial and reinstate his conviction in the murder of his ex-girlfriend will impact criminal defendants "far beyond Maryland's borders."



The Iowa Supreme Court says it has hired a law firm to conduct an independent investigation into the arrests of two cybersecurity workers who were found inside a closed central Iowa courthouse and say they were just doing their jobs testing courthouse security.

The state's high court said in a statement Friday that it had hired Faegre Baker Daniels, one of the largest law firms in the Midwest.

The men were working for Colorado-based cybersecurity company Coalfire when they were arrested inside the Dallas County Courthouse early Sept. 11. The state court administration has said it hired Coalfire to test security of electronic access to court records, not "forced entry into a building."

But the contract between Coalfire and the state seems to outline plans for the company to try to break into the courthouses in Dallas and Polk counties, as well as the Judicial Branch Building that houses the Iowa Supreme Court.


A federal court in San Francisco has taken the unusual step of using the word "torture" to describe the treatment of a Palestinian man while he was in CIA custody following the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals used the word in a 2-1 ruling to describe the harsh interrogation methods used against a prisoner known as Abu Zubaydah while he was held in clandestine CIA detention facilities overseas.

Zubaydah has been held without charge since September 2006 at the detention center on the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

His lawyers were seeking depositions from two private contractors who designed the CIA interrogation program. The Ninth Circuit ruling said the two contractors could face limited questioning.



A federal judge has ruled that a liberal advocacy group has a First Amendment right to call a Christian ministry a hate group for its opposition to homosexuality.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson, in a 141-page decision issued late Thursday, threw out a complaint filed by the Florida-based Coral Ridge Ministries Media Inc. against the Southern Poverty Law Center of Montgomery.

Coral Ridge, also called James Kennedy Ministries of Fort Lauderdale, sued the nonprofit law center, Amazon and others in 2017 because it wasn’t included in a program that lets Amazon customers donate to nonprofit groups. The suit said the refusal was because the law center had labeled the ministry a hate group for its stance against homosexual behavior.

The judge ruled that the liberal watchdog organization has a free-speech right to make the claim, but he didn’t address whether the ministry is a hate organization.

Attorneys representing the ministry did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. In a statement, the Southern Poverty Law Center said the decision is a win for groups that want to “share their opinions and educate the public.”

“Any organization we list as a hate group is free to disagree with us about our designation, but this ruling underscores that the designation is constitutionally protected speech and not defamatory,” said Karen Baynes-Dunning, interim president of the organization.



The British government and its opponents faced off Tuesday at the U.K. Supreme Court in a high-stakes legal drama over Brexit that will determine whether new Prime Minister Boris Johnson broke the law by suspending Parliament at a crucial time ahead of Britain’s impending departure from the European Union.

As pro-EU and pro-Brexit protesters exchanged shouts outside the court building on London’s Parliament Square, the government’s opponents argued that Johnson illegally shut down Parliament just weeks before the country is due to leave the 28-nation bloc for the “improper purpose” of dodging lawmakers’ scrutiny of his Brexit plans. They also accused Johnson of misleading Queen Elizabeth II, whose formal approval was needed to suspend the legislature.

The government countered that, under Britain’s largely unwritten constitution, the suspension was a matter for politicians, not the courts.

Government lawyer Richard Keen said judges in a lower court had “nakedly entered the political arena” by ruling on the matter.

“The court is not equipped to decide what is a legitimate political consideration,” he said.

Johnson sent lawmakers home on Sept. 9 until Oct. 14, which is barely two weeks before the scheduled Oct. 31 Brexit day. A ruling against the government by the country’s top court could force him to recall Parliament.

Johnson hasn’t said what he will do if the judges rule the suspension illegal. He told the BBC on Monday he would “wait and see what they say.”

Keen promised that “the prime minister will take any necessary steps to comply with any declaration made by the court.” But he had no answer when judges asked if Johnson might recall Parliament on the court’s order, only to suspend it again.



A Japanese court on Thursday ruled that three former executives for Tokyo Electric Power Company were not guilty of professional negligence in the 2011 Fukushima meltdown. It was the only criminal trial in the nuclear disaster that has kept tens of thousands of residents away from their homes because of lingering radiation contamination.

The court said ex-TEPCO chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 79, and two former executives were also not guilty of causing the deaths of 44 elderly patients whose health deteriorated during or after forced evacuations from a local hospital.

The executives were charged with failing to foresee the tsunami that struck the plant after an earthquake and for failing to take preventive measures that might have protected the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant on Japan’s northeastern coast.

Katsumata and co-defendants, Sakae Muto, 69, and Ichiro Takekuro, 73, pleaded not guilty during the trial’s opening session in June 2017. They said predicting the enormous tsunami was impossible.

Three of the plant’s reactors had meltdowns after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, spreading radiation into surrounding communities and into the sea.

Prosecutors in December demanded a five-year prison sentence for each executive, accusing them of professional negligence for not taking sufficient measures to guard against the threat of a tsunami despite knowing the risks.

Hiroyuki Kawai, a lawyer representing the more than 5,700 Fukushima residents who filed the criminal complaint to prosecutors, said before the ruling that he expected the legal battle to last about a decade because the losing side will appeal.


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