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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.



John Paul Stevens, the bow-tied, independent-thinking, Republican-nominated justice who unexpectedly emerged as the Supreme Court’s leading liberal, died Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after suffering a stroke Monday. He was 99.

During nearly 35 years on the court, Stevens stood for the freedom and dignity of individuals, be they students or immigrants or prisoners. He acted to limit the death penalty, squelch official prayer in schools, establish gay rights, promote racial equality and preserve legal abortion. He protected the rights of crime suspects and illegal immigrants facing deportation.

He influenced fellow justices to give foreign terrorism suspects held for years at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval base the right to plead for their release in U.S. courts.

Stevens served more than twice the average tenure for a justice, and was only the second to mark his 90th birthday on the high court. From his appointment by President Gerald Ford in 1975 through his retirement in June 2010, he shaped decisions that touched countless aspects of American life.

“He brought to our bench an inimitable blend of kindness, humility, wisdom and independence. His unrelenting commitment to justice has left us a better nation,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement.

The White House issued a statement saying President Donald Trump and the first lady offered their condolences to Stevens’ family and friends and praising “his passion for the law and for our country.”

He remained an active writer and speaker into his late 90s, surprising some when he came out against Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation following Kavanaugh’s angry denial of sexual assault allegations. Stevens wrote an autobiography, “The Making of a Justice: My First 94 Years,” that was released just after his 99th birthday in April 2019.


A New Jersey judge who told a woman she could "close your legs" to prevent a sexual assault is "remorseful," his lawyer said.

Judge John Russo Jr. did not speak Tuesday during a disciplinary hearing before the state Supreme Court. But his lawyer, Amelia Carolla, told the justices Russo has "learned his lesson" and he "will not do this again."

Russo has previously said he was seeking more information and wasn't trying to humiliate the woman.

The woman appeared before Russo in 2016 seeking a restraining order against a man she said sexually assaulted her. According to a transcript of the exchange, when the woman described her encounter with the man, Russo asked her, "Do you know how to stop somebody from having intercourse with you?"

When the woman answered affirmatively and said one method would be to run away, Russo continued, "Close your legs? Call the police? Did you do any of those things?" He also made joking comments to staffers about the exchange after the woman had left the courtroom, according to a report issued by an ethics committee.

Russo was put on administrative leave in 2017 and reassigned to a different county court in December. In April, the ethics committee called his conduct "discourteous and inappropriate" and recommended he be suspended for three months without pay, though several dissenting members felt a six-month suspension would be more appropriate. The Supreme Court will issue a final determination.


The Supreme Court is declining to get involved in a dispute that began when a group tried to have Washington transit officials display an ad with a provocative cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.

The justices said Monday they would not get involved in the case.

The Texas-based American Freedom Defense Initiative in 2015 submitted an ad that depicted a sword-wielding Prophet Muhammad saying: “You can’t draw me!” Muslims generally believe any physical depiction of the Prophet Muhammad is blasphemous. The cartoon won a contest the group sponsored.

After the ad was submitted, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s board of directors voted to temporarily suspend all issue-oriented advertisements on the region’s rail and bus system.



Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack has been re-elected to a third, two-year term leading the court.

The court announced her re-election by fellow justices Tuesday. The result was public, but the vote was done in secret and the breakdown was not announced.

Roggensack replaced Justice Shirley Abrahamson as chief justice in 2015 after voters approved a constitutional amendment giving justices the power to elect the chief justice. Prior to that it had automatically gone to the longest-serving member, who is Abrahamson.

Roggensack is one of the four majority conservative justices. Abrahamson is one of three minority liberal members.

Roggensack says in a statement that she is honored to continue serving as chief justice. She has been on the Supreme Court since 2003.

The chief justice also serves as the administrative head of Wisconsin's judicial system.


The Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out a nearly $315 million judgment against Sudan stemming from the USS Cole bombing, saying Sudan hadn't properly been notified of the lawsuit.

The justices ruled 8-1 that notice of the lawsuit should have been mailed to Sudan's foreign ministry in the country's capital, Khartoum. The notice was instead mailed to Sudan's embassy in Washington.

The lawsuit in which the justices ruled involves sailors who were injured in the 2000 bombing of the Cole in Yemen. Sailors and their spouses sued Sudan in a U.S. court, arguing that Sudan had provided support to al-Qaida, which claimed responsibility for the Cole attack. Seventeen sailors died when the ship was struck by a bomb-laden boat. Dozens of others were injured.

In order to alert Sudan to the lawsuit, the group mailed the required notice to Sudan's embassy in Washington. Sudan didn't initially respond to the lawsuit in court, and a judge entered an approximately $315 million judgment against the country. Sudan then tried to get the judgment thrown out.

Sudan and the sailors who were suing disagreed about the requirements of a 1976 law, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. The statute lays out how to properly notify another country of a lawsuit filed in a U.S. court. If other agreements between the countries don't exist, the law says that notice should be "addressed and dispatched ... to the head of the ministry of foreign affairs of the foreign state concerned."

Lawyers for Sudan and for the U.S. government had argued that the best reading of that phrase is that it requires the notice to be sent to the foreign minister in the foreign country. The Supreme Court agreed.


The Arizona Supreme Court will consider if judges can allow evidence on whether defendants have brain damage making it more than likely a crime was committed impulsively rather than with premeditation.

The court agreed Tuesday to consider the appeal of Stephen Jay Malone Jr., a Tucson man convicted of first-degree murder and other crimes in the 2013 killing of his wife, 25-year-old Augustina Soto. Her sister was wounded in the same shooting.

A state Court of Appeals July 2018 decision on Malone’s appeal upheld his convictions and said past Supreme Court decisions on admission of impulsivity are “nuanced.”

According to the decision, courts can’t consider evidence that a defendant’s mental disorder short of insanity negates criminal intent but can consider evidence that a character trait for impulsivity didn’t indicate premeditation.

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