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  Court Watch - Legal News

A California appeals court ordered the dismissal of a criminal case Tuesday against a Mexican megachurch leader on charges of child rape and human trafficking on procedural grounds.

Naasón Joaquín García, the self-proclaimed apostle of La Luz del Mundo, has been in custody since June following his arrest on accusations involving three girls and one woman between 2015 and 2018 in Los Angeles County. Additional allegations of the possession of child pornography in 2019 were later added. He has denied wrongdoing.

While being held without bail in Los Angeles, García has remained the spiritual leader of La Luz del Mundo, which is Spanish for “The Light Of The World.” The Guadalajara, Mexico-based evangelical Christian church was founded by his grandfather and claims 5 million followers worldwide.

It was not clear when he would be released. The attorney general’s office said it was reviewing the court’s ruling and did not answer additional questions. García’s attorney, Alan Jackson, said he and his client are “thrilled” by the decision.

The Supreme Court is declining to take the case of a 1960s black militant formerly known as H. Rap Brown who is in prison for killing a Georgia sheriff’s deputy in 2000.

As is usual, the justices didn’t comment Monday in turning away Brown’s case. Brown had argued his constitutional rights were violated at trial.

Brown converted to Islam and now goes by the name Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin. He gained prominence more than 50 years ago as a Black Panthers leader and was at one point the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

In 2002, Al-Amin was convicted of murder in the death of Fulton County sheriff’s Deputy Ricky Kinchen and the wounding of Kinchen’s partner, Deputy Aldranon English. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Al-Amin had argued that a prosecutor violated his right not to testify by directly questioning him during closing arguments in a sort of mock cross-examination.

The U.S. Supreme Court has once again postponed oral arguments scheduled for this spring, but this time the court seemed to hint it might not hear arguments in most cases until next term.

Following postponement of arguments scheduled for the last two weeks of March, the court on Friday announced that it would delay another round of oral arguments--its last for the term-- scheduled for the second half of April.

In a press release, the court said it would "consider a range of scheduling options and other alternatives if arguments cannot be held in the courtroom before the end of the court term," which usually is, for all practical purposes, at the end of June when the court completes its work and recesses for the summer.

The wording of the press release would seem to suggest, however, that the justices may postpone some cases until next term and extend the current term to hear a few particularly pressing cases.

Among them are three cases involving subpoenas for President Trump's financial records: two involving congressional subpoenas, and another involving a New York grand jury subpoena for financial records relating to alleged hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and another woman during the 2016 presidential campaign.

West Virginia says a ban on elective medical procedures during the coronavirus pandemic will reduce abortions but will be upheld in an eventual legal challenge.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Thursday said the executive order “will be upheld because it’s designed to protect the public health and applies to all elective procedures and all elective facilities.”

The order went into effect this week and mirrors directives in other Republican-controlled states that have been temporarily blocked by federal judges.

Officials say at least 217 people in West Virginia have the virus after 5,493 tests.

A lawsuit filed Tuesday said Georgia's secretary of state violated the law and deprived citizens of their right to vote by canceling a schedule election for a state Supreme Court seat.

The civil rights suit against Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was filed in federal court in Atlanta by three Georgia voters. It is rooted in Raffensperger's decision to cancel a scheduled May 19 election for Justice Keith Blackwell's seat on the state Supreme Court. Blackwell had announced his intention to resign in November and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp said he planned to fill the seat by appointment.

Raffensperger spokesman Walter Jones declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

The cancellation has already prompted two earlier lawsuits filed in Fulton County Superior Court by would-be candidates for Blackwell's seat who allege that the cancellation was illegal. A judge ruled that Raffensperger didn't violate the law and that Kemp could rightfully fill the seat by appointment. Appeals are pending before the state Supreme Court.

Blackwell continues to occupy his seat on the high court and his resignation isn't effective until Nov. 18, meaning it hasn't created a vacancy that the governor has the power to fill, the new federal lawsuit says.

“Georgia law does not give the Secretary the authority to deem an occupied seat on the Georgia Supreme Court vacant,” the lawsuit says. “To call an occupied seat vacant is to confound the meaning of both ‘occupied’ and ‘vacant.'”

That means the cancellation of the election violates state law, and a violation of state law that disenfranchises voters is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's due process guarantee, the suit says.

But even if state law allows Raffensperger not to hold an election for Blackwell's seat, that state law and Raffensperger's actions under that law violate the U.S. Constitution, the lawsuit says.

The Michigan Supreme Court is reviewing a speed limit dispute in a small town in western Michigan. The court said it will hear arguments in the case of Anthony Owen, who was accused of drunk driving in Ionia County.

A sheriff's deputy said Owen was speeding in a 25 mph zone. However, Owen won in appeals court by noting the speed limit was actually 55 mph by default, as there was no sign on the road.

The Supreme Court is exploring whether the officer simply, "made an objectively reasonable mistake of the law."

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review whether a 2015 lawsuit alleging gross failures in the foster-care system should be treated as a class-action matter.

The high court decision means the case will proceed to trial as a class-action lawsuit, the Arizona Republic reported.

A trial date has not yet been scheduled before U.S. District Court Judge Roslyn Silver. Any changes to the system resulting for the lawsuit will apply to all children in Arizona foster care, as well as those in the future.

Attorneys for the Arizona Department of Child Safety and the state's Medicare provider argue the lawsuit conflates problems that individual children have encountered with systemwide failures.

New York-based nonprofit Children's Rights has brought similar lawsuits in other states, arguing the problems are systemic and can only be solved with judicial intervention.

Silver's decision to classify the matter as a class action was upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Department of Child Safety has argued that it has made substantial improvements, citing a 23% decrease of children in state custody and to a higher rate of children leaving the system, either because the children were returned to their parents or were adopted.

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