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Late Justice Sandra Day O’Connor honored at Supreme Court ceremony
Legal Interview | 2023/12/18 11:30
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, was remembered Monday as a trailblazer who never lost sight of how the high court’s decisions affected all Americans.

O’Connor, an Arizona native who was an unwavering voice of moderate conservatism for more than two decades, died Dec. 1 at age 93. Mourners at the court on Monday included Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman to serve in her role, and her husband Doug Emhoff.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke at a private ceremony that included the nine justices and retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, as well as O’Connor’s family and court colleagues.

She would often say, ‘It was good to be the first, but I don’t want to be the last,’” Sotomayor said of O’Connor’s distinction as the first woman. She lived to see a record four women serving on the high court.

“For the four us, and for so many others of every background and aspiration, Sandra was a living example that women could take on any challenge, could more than hold their own in any spaces dominated by men and could do so with grace,” Sotomayor said.

O’Connor’s body lay in repose after her casket was carried up the court steps with her seven grandchildren serving as honorary pallbearers. It passed under the iconic words engraved on the pediment, “Equal Justice Under Law,” before being placed in the court’s Great Hall for the public to pay their respects.

Funeral services are set for Tuesday at Washington National Cathedral, where President Joe Biden and Chief Justice John Roberts are scheduled to speak.

O’Connor was nominated in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan and confirmed by the Senate, ending 191 years of male exclusivity on the high court. A rancher’s daughter who was largely unknown on the national scene until her appointment, she received more letters than any other member in the court’s history in her first year and would come to be referred to by commentators as the nation’s most powerful woman.

O’Connor had “an extraordinary understanding of the American people,” and never lost sight of how high court rulings affected ordinary Americans, Sotomayor said.

She was also instrumental in bringing the justices together with regular lunches, barbecues and trips to the theater. “She understood that personal relationships are critical to working together,” the justice said.


Trump decides against testifying for second time in NY civil fraud trial
Court Watch | 2023/12/11 16:30
Donald Trump said Sunday he has decided against testifying for a second time at his New York civil fraud trial, posting on social media a day before his scheduled appearance that he “very successfully & conclusively” testified last month and saw no need to do so again.

The former president, the leading contender for the 2024 Republican nomination, had been expected to return to the witness stand Monday as a coda to his defense against New York Attorney General Letitia James ' lawsuit.

James, a Democrat, alleges Trump inflated his wealth on financial statements used in securing loans and making deals. The case threatens Trump’s real estate empire and cuts to the heart of his image as a successful businessman.

“I will not be testifying on Monday,” Trump wrote in an all-capital-letters, multipart statement on his Truth Social platform less than 20 hours before he was to take the witness stand.

“I have already testified to everything & have nothing more to say,” Trump added, leaving the final word among defense witnesses to an accounting expert hired by his legal team who testified last week that he found “no evidence, whatsoever, for any accounting fraud” in Trump’s financial statements.

A Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions about his decision.

The decision was an abrupt change from Trump’s posture in recent days, when his lawyers said he was insistent on testifying again despite their concerns about a gag order that has cost him $15,000 in fines for disparaging the judge’s law clerk.

“President Trump has already testified. There is really nothing more to say to a judge who has imposed an unconstitutional gag order and thus far appears to have ignored President Trump’s testimony and that of everyone else involved in the complex financial transactions at issue in the case,” Trump lawyer Christopher Kise said Sunday.

Trump’s decision came days after his son, Eric Trump, ditched his return appearance on the witness stand. Trump said on social media that he’d told Eric to cancel. It also follows Trump’s first trip back to court since he testified in the case on Nov. 6. Last Thursday, he watched from the defense table as the accounting professor, New York University professor Eli Bartov, blasted the state’s case and said Trump’s financial statements “were not materially misstated.”

Trump’s cancellation caught court officials by surprise. Without Trump on the witness stand, the trial will be on hold until Tuesday, when Bartov will finish his testimony. State lawyers say they’ll then call at least one rebuttal witness.


Mexico’s Supreme Court lifts 2022 ban on bullfighting
Court News | 2023/12/07 10:30
Mexico’s Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned a 2022 ban on bullfighting in Mexico City, opening the way for events to resume.

A panel of five justices voted to overturn a May 2022 injunction that said bullfights violated city resident’s rights to a healthy environment free from violence.

The justices did not explain their arguments for overturning the ban, but bullfight organizers claimed it violated their right to continue the tradition. The capital had a history of almost 500 years of bullfighting, but there had been no fights since the 2022 injunction.

A crowd of people gathered outside the Supreme Court building Wednesday, holding up signs reading “Bulls Yes, Bullfighters No!” and “Mexico says no to bullfights.”

Critics say the fights inherently represent cruelty to animals.

“Animals are not things, they are living beings with feelings, and these living, feeling beings deserve protection under the constitution of Mexico City,” said city councilman Jorge Gaviño, who has tried three times to pass legislation for a permanent ban. None has passed.

Bullfight organizers say it is a question of rights.

“This is not an animal welfare issue. This is an issue of freedoms, and how justice is applied to the rest of the public,” said José Saborit, the director of the Mexican Association of Bullfighting. “A small sector of the population wants to impose its moral outlook, and I think there is room for all of us in this world, in a regulated way.”

Since 2013, several of Mexico’s 32 states have banned bullfights. Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay have banned bullfighting.

According to historians, Spanish conqueror Hernán Cortés watched some of the first bullfights in the city in the 1520s, soon after his 1521 Conquest of the Aztec capital.


Opening statements begin in Jonathan Majors assault trial in New York
Court News | 2023/12/04 09:20
Opening statements began Monday in the criminal trial of actor Jonathan Majors, who was charged last spring for allegedly assaulting his then-girlfriend during an argument.

Majors did not speak as he strode into a Manhattan courthouse seeking to clear his name following an arrest in March that has effectively stalled his fast-rising career.

The six-person jury is expected to hear opposing narratives from 34-year-old Majors and his accuser, Grace Jabbari, a British dancer, about their confrontation in the back of a car.

Prosecutors said Jabbari was riding in a car with Majors in late March when she grabbed the actor’s phone out of his hand after seeing a text message, presumably sent by another woman, that said: “Wish I was kissing you right now.”

When Majors tried to snatch the phone back, he allegedly pulled her finger, twisted her arm behind her back and hit her in the face. After the pair got out out of the vehicle, he threw her back inside, Jabbari said.

Attorneys for Majors have maintained that Jabbari was the aggressor in the confrontation. They have suggested that prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office are targeting Majors because he is Black.

The arrest came weeks after the release of “Creed III,” a break-out role for Majors. He has also starred in the Marvel TV series “Loki” and the film “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania,” and was awaiting the release of another star vehicle, “Magazine Dreams,” which is now in limbo.

He could be sentenced to up to a year in jail if convicted.


Panama’s high court declared a mining contract unconstitutional
Headline Legal News | 2023/11/30 09:29
In a historic ruling, Panama’s Supreme Court this week declared that legislation granting a Canadian copper mine a 20-year concession was unconstitutional, a decision celebrated by thousands of Panamanians activists who had argued the project would damage a forested coastal area and threaten water supplies.

The mine, which will now close, has been an important economic engine for the country. But it also triggered massive protests that paralyzed the Central American nation for over a month, mobilizing a broad swath of Panamanian society, including Indigenous communities, who said the mine was destroying key ecosystems they depend on.

In the unanimous decision Tuesday, the high court highlighted those environmental and human rights concerns, and ruled the contract violated 25 articles of Panama’s constitution. Those include the right to live in a pollution-free environment, the obligation of the state to protect the health of minors and its commitment to promote the economic and political engagement of Indigenous and rural communities.

The ruling would lead to the closure of Minera Panama, the local subsidiary of Canada’s First Quantum Minerals and the largest open-pit copper mine in Central America, according to jurists and environmental activists.

The court said the government should no longer recognize the existence of the mine’s concession and Panama’s President Laurentino Cortizo said “the transition process for an orderly and safe closure of the mine will begin.”

Analysts say it appears highly unlikely that Panama’s government and the mining company will pursue a new agreement based on the resounding rejection by Panamanians.

“There are sectors in the country that would like a new contract, but the population itself does not want more open-pit mining, the message was clear,” said Rolando Gordón, dean of the economics faculty at the state-run University of Panama. “What remains now is to reach an agreement to close the mine.”

Analysts say the mining company is free to pursue international arbitration to seek compensation for the closure based on commercial treaties signed between Panama and Canada. Before the ruling, the company said it had the right to take steps to protect its investment.

With the ruling, the Panamanian government and the mining company are headed for arbitration at the World Bank’s international center for arbitration of investment disputes, in Washington, said Rodrigo Noriega, a Panamanian jurist.

Marta Cornejo, one of the plaintiffs, said “we are not afraid of any arbitration claim” and that they are “capable of proving that the corrupt tried to sell our nation and that a transnational company went ahead, knowing that it violated all constitutional norms.”

In a statement after the verdict, the mining company said it had “operated consistently with transparency and strict adherence to Panamanian legislation.” It emphasized that the contract was the result of “a long and transparent negotiation process, with the objective of promoting mutual economic benefits, guaranteeing the protection of the environment.”

Cortizo, who had defended the contract arguing it would keep 9,387 direct jobs, more than what the mine reports, said that the closing of the mine must take place in a “responsible and participative” manner due to the impact it would have.

The company has said the mine generates 40,000 jobs, including 7,000 direct jobs, and that it contributes the equivalent of 5% of Panama’s GDP.

The court verdict and the eventual closure of the mine prompted more protests, this time by mine workers.


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Securities fraud, also known as stock fraud and investment fraud, is a practice that induces investors to make purchase or sale decisions on the basis of false information, frequently resulting in losses, in violation of the securities laws. Securities Arbitration. Generally speaking, securities fraud consists of deceptive practices in the stock and commodity markets, and occurs when investors are enticed to part with their money based on untrue statements.
 
 
 

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