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  Politics - Legal News

Supreme Court to take up dispute over subpoenas

  Politics  -   POSTED: 2019/12/14 18:37

The Supreme Court says it will hear President Donald Trump’s pleas to keep his tax, bank and financial records private.

The justices’ decision Friday to hear cases involving demands for records from Trump’s banks and accounting firm means the court is likely to issue final rulings in June, amid Trump’s campaign for re-election.

He is trying to prevent the records from being turned over to House of Representatives committees and the Manhattan District Attorney, who is seeking the president’s tax returns as part of a criminal investigation.


An Israeli man detained in Jordan has appeared before a state security court where he was charged with illegally entering the country and possessing drugs.

The 35-year-old Israeli pleaded guilty on Monday to entering Jordan illegally but denied the other charge. Konstantin Kotov said that possessing a small amount of marijuana is legal in Israel. The judge rejected that argument, saying he had violated Jordanian law.

Kotov, who was arrested on Oct. 29, did not say why he traveled to Jordan.

Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty 25 years ago, but relations have cooled in recent years over the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Israeli policies in occupied and annexed east Jerusalem, where Jordan has custodianship over Muslim holy sites.


The Supreme Court said Tuesday that a survivor and relatives of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting can pursue their lawsuit against the maker of the rifle used to kill 26 people.

The justices rejected an appeal from Remington Arms, which argued it should be shielded by a 2005 federal law preventing most lawsuits against firearms manufacturers when their products are used in crimes.

The case is being watched by gun control advocates, gun rights supporters and gun manufacturers across the country because it has the potential to provide a roadmap for victims of other mass shootings to circumvent the federal law and sue the makers of firearms.

The court’s order allows the lawsuit filed in Connecticut state court by a survivor and relatives of nine victims who died at the Newtown, Connecticut, school on Dec. 14, 2012, to go forward.

The lawsuit says the Madison, North Carolina-based company should never have sold a weapon as dangerous as the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle to the general public. It also alleges Remington targeted younger, at-risk males in marketing and product placement in violent video games. Opponents of the suit contend that gunman Adam Lanza alone is responsible for killing 20 first graders and six educators. He was 20 years old.

The Connecticut Supreme Court had earlier ruled 4-3 that the lawsuit could proceed for now, citing an exemption in the federal law. The decision overturned a ruling by a trial court judge who dismissed the lawsuit based on the 2005 federal law, named the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

The majority of justices in the state Supreme Court ruling, however, said it may be a “Herculean task” for the families to prove their case at trial.

The federal law has been criticized by gun control advocates as being too favorable to gun-makers. It has been cited by other courts that rejected lawsuits against gun-makers and dealers in other high-profile shooting attacks, including the 2012 Colorado movie theater shooting and the Washington, D.C., sniper shootings in 2002.



The Supreme Court is taking up the Trump administration’s plan to end legal protections that shield 660,000 immigrants from deportation, a case with strong political overtones amid the 2020 presidential election campaign.

All eyes will be on Chief Justice John Roberts when the court hears arguments Tuesday. Roberts is the conservative justice closest to the court’s center who also is keenly aware of public perceptions of an ideologically divided court.

It’s the third time in three years that the administration is asking the justices to rescue a controversial policy that has been blocked by several lower courts.

The court sided with President Donald Trump in allowing him to enforce the travel ban on visitors from some majority Muslim countries, but it blocked the administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Roberts was the only member of the court in the majority both times, siding with four conservatives on the travel ban and four liberals in the census case. His vote could be decisive a third time, as well. With Congress at an impasse over a comprehensive immigration bill, President Barack Obama decided to formally protect people from deportation while also allowing them to work legally in the U.S.

But Trump made tough talk on immigration a central part of his campaign and less than eight months after taking office, he announced in September 2017 that he would end DACA.


House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff says President Donald Trump’s administration is “building a powerful case” for impeachment as a former White House national security adviser defied a subpoena on Monday.

Charles Kupperman failed to show up for a scheduled deposition Monday after asking a federal court in Washington for guidance on whether he was legally required to do so.

Schiff, who is leading the impeachment probe, says Kupperman’s suit has “no basis in law” and speculated that the White House didn’t want him to testify because his testimony could be incriminating. Democrats are investigating Trump’s overtures to the Ukrainian government to pursue politically motivated investigations.



The Supreme Court as we once knew it—as a national institution that could at least sometimes stand apart from partisanship—died last year. The ongoing fight over its corpse spilled into public view last week.

On Thursday, 53 United States senators—every member of the Republican caucus—wrote a “letter” to the clerk of the Supreme Court assuring the justices that the Republican Party has their back. The Democrats, the senators told the Court, pose “a direct, immediate threat to the independence of the judiciary.”

The spat is about guns. The Court has granted review in a Second Amendment case entitled New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York, New York, which (nominally) tests an obscure New York City ordinance governing how firearms owners could—note the past tense—travel with their weapons.

Under city law as it was when the case began, New Yorkers with a “premises” license had to keep their guns in their homes at all times, except when being taken to a licensed target-shooting facility for practice and training. But those facilities had to be in New York City itself. “Premises” licensees could not put their guns in their trunk and drive out of town for any reason—not to go to a gun range, not to compete in a shooting match, not to take the guns to a second home.

Appeal in John Steinbeck lawsuit heard in court

  Politics  -   POSTED: 2019/08/08 15:47

Both sides had another day in court Tuesday in a family battle that has been waged for decades over who controls the works of iconic author John Steinbeck.

A three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments to an appeal by the estate of Steinbeck’s late son, Thomas Steinbeck. The panel was in Anchorage to hear various cases.

Thomas Steinbeck’s estate is contesting a 2017 federal jury verdict in California that awarded more than $13 million to the author’s stepdaughter, Waverly Scott Kaffaga, whose mother was John Steinbeck’s third wife. The lawsuit said Thomas Steinbeck and his wife, Gail Steinbeck, impeded film adaptations of the classic works. A judge earlier ruled in the same case that the couple breached an agreement between Kaffaga’s late mother and Thomas Steinbeck and his late brother, John Steinbeck IV.

Neither Gail Steinbeck nor Waverly Kaffaga attended Tuesday’s proceeding.

Attorney Matthew Dowd, representing the Thomas Steinbeck estate, told the circuit judges the appeal contends the 1983 agreement was in violation of a 1976 change to copyright law that gave artists or their blood relatives the right to terminate copyright deals. The appeal also disputes the award handed up by the jury, maintaining it was not supported by substantial evidence of Gail Steinbeck’s ability to pay.

Kaffaga’s attorney, Susan Kohlmann, told the circuit judges multiple courts, including an earlier Ninth Circuit decision, have already upheld the agreement as binding and valid, and deemed it enforceable. She called the contract argument a “complete red herring.”

Dowd disagreed. He said previous decisions on the agreement didn’t completely deal with the particular issue involving the 1976 statute. He said Gail Steinbeck was not allowed to fully address the issue in court.

The appeals panel did not rule immediately on the case. Dowd earlier said he didn’t expect a decision for several months.

The judges appeared skeptical that the contract issue wasn’t adequately dealt with in previous rulings, and they questioned whether they were being asked to review another circuit court’s decision.

The judges also said the punitive damages of about $8 million awarded by the Los Angeles jury in 2017 appeared to have been decided without evidence of Gail Steinberg’s ability to pay. If that part was stricken from the award, there would still remain $5.25 million in compensatory damages, they noted.

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