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Indicted Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter Will is set to return to court Monday for the first time since being re-elected to a sixth term in California amid corruption charges.

The congressman and his wife have pleaded not guilty to a 60-count indictment alleging they spent more than $250,000 in campaign finance funds on family trips, tequila shots and other items. A judge could set a trial date at the hearing in San Diego.

Hunter, a 41-year-old Marine veteran, has said he is looking forward to the trial to defend his name.

Prosecutors say the couple used campaign money to go on $11,000 shopping sprees at Costco and to buy more than $400 in tequila shots. They also went to Italy and Hawaii with their children on the campaign's dime, according to the indictment.

The couple tried to cover their tracks by lying on their campaign reports to the Federal Election Commission, prosecutors say.

Mixed rulings from Kentucky Supreme Court

  Legal Business  -   POSTED: 2018/11/16 18:48

Kentucky’s state Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a law requiring a panel of doctors to review medical malpractice lawsuits and upheld a law banning mandatory union dues for most employees.

The rulings gave Republicans and Democrats each something to celebrate, as the GOP passed both laws in their first year of control over the loud opposition of some Democrats. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has credited the union dues law, known as right-to-work, with spurring record levels of business investment in Kentucky. But the medical review panel law has been criticized for clogging the state’s court system.

For the past year, whenever someone files a medical malpractice lawsuit in Kentucky it is first reviewed by a panel of doctors before it can go to court. The doctors have nine months to issue a report on whether they think the claim has merit. The report can then be used as evidence at trial.

Republican state Sen. Ralph Alvarado, an emergency room doctor, sponsored the bill with the goal of reducing frivolous lawsuits. Tonya Claycomb sued to overturn the law on behalf of her child, Ezra, who was born with severe brain damage and cerebral palsy she says was caused by medical malpractice. She argued the bill had delayed her access to the courts, citing section 14 of the Kentucky Constitution. It says all courts shall be open and every person will have access “without ... delay.”

Lawyers for Gov. Bevin argued the law is helpful because it gets the two sides talking before a lawsuit is filed, which could lead to an agreement to settle the case outside of court. They also argued section 14 of the Constitution only applies to the courts, not the legislature.

But the court ruled the law is unconstitutional because it delays access to the courts, rejecting the argument that section 14 of the state Constitution only applies to the courts.



Now that an impeached and suspended West Virginia Supreme Court justice has resigned, lawmakers are turning their attention to a panel of justices that had cut off pending impeachment trials.

After Justice Allen Loughry's resignation, the state Senate wants to revisit an Oct. 11 order halting the Legislature's efforts to impeach three justices as a violation of the separate of power doctrine. The court hasn't scheduled a hearing on the Senate's request.

The panel of acting justices ruled the Senate lacked jurisdiction to pursue Justice Margaret Workman's impeachment trial. The decision also was applied to trials involving retired Justice Robin Davis and Loughry, who had petitioned the court to intervene.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael said Monday the focus now is on overturning "this ridiculous, crazy decision by the appointed Supreme Court that just breaks every judicial canon. It is a ridiculous decision that has far-ranging implications for the separations of powers."

Carmichael said the Senate's view on the court's earlier decision is that the court can't decide whether one of its members can be impeached.


A Supreme Court with a new conservative majority takes the bench as Brett Kavanaugh, narrowly confirmed after a bitter Senate battle, joins his new colleagues to hear his first arguments as a justice.

Kavanaugh will emerge Tuesday morning from behind the courtroom's red velvet curtains and take his seat alongside his eight colleagues. It will be a moment that conservatives have dreamed of for decades, with five solidly conservative justices on the bench.

Kavanaugh's predecessor, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired in June, was a more moderate conservative and sometimes sided with the court's four liberal justices. Kavanaugh, in contrast, is expected to be a more decidedly conservative vote, tilting the court right for decades and leaving Chief Justice John Roberts as the justice closest to the ideological middle.

With justices seated by seniority, President Donald Trump's two appointees will flank the Supreme Court bench, Justice Neil Gorsuch at one end and Kavanaugh at the other. Court watchers will be looking to see whether the new justice asks questions at arguments and, if so, what he asks. There will also be those looking for any lingering signs of Kavanaugh's heated, partisan confirmation fight. But the justices, who often highlight their efforts to work together as a collegial body, are likely to focus on the cases before them.

Republicans had hoped to confirm Kavanaugh in time for him to join the court on Oct. 1, the start of the new term. Instead, the former D.C. Circuit judge missed the first week of arguments as the Senate considered an allegation that he had sexually assaulted a woman in high school, an allegation he adamantly denied.

Kavanaugh was confirmed 50-48 Saturday, the closest vote to confirm a justice since 1881, and has had a busy three days since then. On Saturday evening, Kavanaugh took his oaths of office in a private ceremony at the Supreme Court while protesters chanted outside the court building.



A group of judicial stand-ins representing West Virginia's Supreme Court was hearing challenges Monday to GOP Gov. Jim Justice's appointments of two Republican politicians to replace two departed justices.

Democrats have called the impeachments that imploded the state's highest court an unprecedented power grab by the West Virginia GOP. One of the petitions being heard on Monday says the choice of U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins and ex-House speaker Tim Armstead violates "the clear will of the voters" who elected Democrats to their spots on the bench.

Justice appointed Jenkins and Armstead — who resigned as speaker of the House of Delegates in anticipation of his move to the court — to serve until a Nov. 6 special election in which both men are candidates.

Also on the November ballot is attorney William Schwartz, whose petition seeks to stop Jenkins and Armstead from temporarily serving on the court. His petition also accuses Jenkins of being ineligible because he hasn't actively practiced law recently. The state constitution requires justices to be admitted to practice law for at least 10 years prior to their election.

Jenkins and Schwartz are seeking to serve the remainder of retired Justice Robin Davis' term through 2024, while Armstead hopes to finish the term of retired Justice Menis Ketchum through 2020. Both Davis and Ketchum were elected as Democrats.

Ketchum resigned before the Republican-led House voted to impeach the remaining four justices. Davis then resigned in time to trigger an election for the remainder of her term. The others await Senate impeachment trials next month, including Allen Loughry, who is suspended, and Margaret Workman and Beth Walker, who recused themselves from hearing these petitions. Temporary Chief Justice Paul T. Farrell then appointed four circuit judges to hear the challenges.

According to Schwartz's petition, Jenkins voluntarily placed his West Virginia law license on inactive status in 2014 after he was elected to the U.S. House. But Jenkins said he's been admitted to practice law in the state for more than three decades. According to the bylaws of the State Bar, an inactive status means members are admitted to practice law but aren't taking clients or providing legal counseling.



The United States is pledging to use "any means necessary" to protect American citizens and allies from International Criminal Court prosecution.

President Donald Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, says the court is "illegitimate" and "for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us."

Bolton delivered his remarks Monday to the conservative Federalist Society in Washington. He says that the court threatens the "constitutional rights" of Americans and U.S. sovereignty.

The ICC, which is based in the Hague, has a mandate to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

President Bill Clinton signed the Rome Statute that established the court, but his successor, George W. Bush, renounced the signature, citing fears that Americans would be unfairly prosecuted for political reasons.

The State Department is announcing the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington.

The department says that the PLO "has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel."

It accuses the Palestinian leadership of condemning a yet-to-be-released Trump administration plan to forge peace between Israel and the Palestinians. It also contends that the PLO is refusing to engage with the U.S. government on peace efforts.

In its statement Monday, the department says its decision is also consistent with administration and congressional concerns with Palestinian attempts to prompt an investigation of Israel by the International Criminal Court.


Facing a growing threat to his presidency, President Donald Trump lashed at his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, a day after the onetime "fixer" implicated Trump in a campaign cover-up to buy the silence of women who said they had sexual relationships with him.

Trump on Wednesday accused Cohen of making up "stories in order to get a 'deal'" from federal prosecutors. Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations that the lawyer said he carried out in coordination with Trump.

"If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don't retain the services of Michael Cohen!" Trump tweeted Wednesday.

Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis, said Wednesday that Cohen has information "that would be of interest" to the special counsel. Davis said Cohen is not looking for a presidential pardon.

"My observation is that the topics relating to hacking and the crime of hacking ... that there are subjects that Michael Cohen could address that would be of interest to the special counsel," Davis said in a series of television interviews.

Trump soon weighed in on Twitter, taking his shot at Cohen and praising Manafort, saying he has "such respect for a brave man!"

Manafort, Trump wrote, had "tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to 'break.'"

But there was no doubt that Cohen's acknowledgement of a coordinated payoff scheme puts Trump's presidency on the defensive.

"It's going to be hard for the president to try to discredit all this. It's circling him," said David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor who is not involved in the case.

Cohen and Manafort played prominent roles in Trump's political rise in 2016.

Cohen said once he'd take a bullet for Trump, and was intimately familiar with Trump's personal, business and political dealing for more than a decade. Cohen released a secretly recorded audio of Trump discussing a payout made via a third party to model Karen McDougal who says she had a sexual relationship with Trump in 2006.

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