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The head of the Iowa court system says technology and the need to ensure justice for everyone demands increased spending.

Speaking Wednesday in his annual speech to the Legislature, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady told lawmakers “we simply can no longer proceed into the future thinking it will be a modest linear extension from where we are today.”

The judicial branch is requesting nearly $185 million, a 4 percent increase from the current year’s budget. Gov. Kim Reynolds is proposing nearly $183 million.

Among the new programs Cady proposes is a $1.6 million rural courts initiative to secure courthouses and upgrade services to ensure court services in all 99 counties.

He also proposes a $2.5 million digital upgrade that would allow judges to send search warrants electronically to investigators, improve an internet-based telephone system and upgrade technology to allow for remote video appearances for witnesses, parties in cases and court reporters.

Cady also seeks $1.9 million to pay for a proposed 4 percent increase in pay for judiciary officers.


Attorneys for a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple on religious grounds — a stand partially upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court — argued in federal court Tuesday that the state is punishing him again over his refusal to bake a cake celebrating a gender transition.

Lawyers for Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver, are suing to try to stop the state from taking action against him over the new discrimination allegation. They say the state is treating Phillips with hostility because of his Christian faith and pressing a complaint that they call an "obvious setup."

"At this point, he's just a guy who is trying to get back to life. The problem is the state of Colorado won't let him," Jim Campbell, an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, said after the hearing. The conservative Christian nonprofit law firm is representing Phillips.

State officials argued for the case to be dismissed, but the judge said he was inclined to let the case move forward and would issue a written ruling later.

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission said Phillips discriminated against Denver attorney Autumn Scardina because she's transgender. Phillips' shop refused to make a cake last year that was blue on the outside and pink on the inside after Scardina revealed she wanted it to celebrate her transition from male to female.

She asked for the cake on the same day the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would consider Phillips' appeal of the previous commission ruling against him. In that 2012 case, he refused to make a wedding cake for same-sex couple Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins.

The Supreme Court ruled in June that the Colorado commission showed anti-religious bias when it sanctioned Phillips for refusing to make the cake, voting 7-2 that it violated Phillips' First Amendment rights.


Poland's president signed legislation Monday that reinstates Supreme Court judges who were forced into early retirement despite the European Union condemning the removals as a violation of democratic standards.

Earlier in the day, the EU's top court, the European Court of Justice, ruled that Poland needed to suspend a law that lowered the retirement age for Supreme Court judges and to put about two dozen justices the law had affected back on the bench.

President Andrzej Duda signed the revisions that removed the early retirement provisions, presidential aide Pawel Mucha said late Monday. The quick response comes amid a broader push by Poland's conservative ruling party, Law and Justice, to ease tensions with the EU.

Monday's ruling confirmed the Court of Justice's interim judgment from October ordering Poland to reinstate justices who were forced to step down when the retirement age was lowered from 70 to 65. The European Commission, which enforces EU law in member countries, had asked the court to review Poland's law.

The commission viewed the forced retirements of the judges as erosions of judicial independence and democratic standards because it gave the legislative and executive branches of government unprecedented control over the courts.

After the interim injunction, Poland's parliament passed the amended legislation to remove the early retirement provisions.

Critics of the government welcomed the backtracking on the issue of the retirement age but argued more must be done to undo what they see as extensive damage to judicial independence under the Law and Justice.

They say the ruling party's overhaul of the judicial system included capturing control of the Constitutional Court and a council that names judges, as well as other steps that increase its sway over the Supreme Court.



A Congressional candidate in Georgia says she's asking a federal court to block one of the state's largest counties from certifying its vote totals before ballot disputes are resolved.

Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux's campaign filed a complaint Sunday night accusing Gwinnett County of improperly rejecting hundreds of absentee ballots in Georgia's 7th Congressional District.

Bourdeaux says those votes should be counted, partly because they were rejected based on "immaterial" information such as missing or inaccurate addresses or birth dates.

The race between Bourdeaux and Republican incumbent Rep. Rob Woodall remains too close to call. With all precincts reporting, Woodall held a lead of about 900 votes out of nearly 279,000 votes counted.

Under Georgia law, Bourdeaux could request a recount. Woodall's campaign on Monday didn't immediately return messages seeking comment.


Supreme Court won't stop climate change lawsuit

  Law Center  -   POSTED: 2018/11/03 13:03

The Supreme Court is declining for now to stop a lawsuit filed by young activists who say the government isn't doing enough to prevent climate change.

The Supreme Court said Friday it would not extend an order it had previously entered temporarily stopping the case from going forward. Trial in the case had been scheduled to begin Oct. 29 in Eugene, Oregon, before the high court temporarily stopped the case.

The federal government under the Obama and Trump administrations has tried repeatedly to get the case dismissed since it was filed in 2015.

Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Neil Gorsuch said they would have extended the halt to the case.



Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday criticized a court order that allows for the questioning of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on how a citizenship question came to be added to the 2020 census.

The court's actions, the attorney general said in a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation, represent an improper attempt "to hold a trial over the inner-workings of a Cabinet secretary's mind."

With his remarks, Sessions waded into a simmering legal dispute that may ultimately be resolved by the Supreme Court, which solidified its conservative majority with the recent addition of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

The conflict centers on a judge's order that Ross may be deposed by lawyers challenging whether a question on citizenship legally can be included on the census. Plaintiffs in two lawsuits, including more than a dozen states and big cities, have sued, saying the question will discourage immigrants from participating in the census.

The judge, Jesse M. Furman, has said Ross can be questioned about how the citizenship inquiry was added to the census because he was "personally and directly involved in the decision, and the unusual process leading to it, to an unusual degree." A New York-based federal appeals court backed Furman's ruling last week, but Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a temporary stay.


Poland's president swore in 27 new Supreme Court judges Wednesday, stepping up the conflict over control of the judiciary and ignoring another top court that said the appointments should be suspended pending an opinion by European Union judges.

Andrzej Duda appointed judges to the civil and penal chambers of the court as well as to its new chamber of extraordinary control, according to his top aide, Pawel Mucha. Reporters were not allowed to witness the ceremony.

"We are implementing another stage of the reform of the justice system that is so important to us," Mucha said, adding: "We are acting in the public interest."

The new judges are part of the sweeping changes that the ruling conservative Law and Justice party has been applying to the justice system since winning power in 2015. It says that judges active during the communist era, before 1989, must be replaced. Many of the court's judges have been forced to retire early under a new law that put their retirement age at 65, from the previous 70.

But critics say the changes violate the constitution and are putting Poland's courts under the party's political control. They also say Duda is acting against the supreme charter and warn he may be brought to account before a special tribunal.

The former head of the Constitutional Tribunal, designed to try actions by politicians, Andrzej Zoll, said Duda must be "brought to account in the future," saying his actions are against the rule of law and could lead to anarchy.


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