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Texas Executes TaiChin Preyor, Who Said Lawyer Used Wikipedia
Court News | 2017/07/24 16:08
The state of Texas executed TaiChin Preyor on Thursday night after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a last-minute appeal.

Preyor, 46, was put to death by lethal injection at a state corrections unit in Huntsville in the fatal stabbing of Jami Tackett during a drug-related robbery in 2004, The Associated Press reported. He claimed he acted in self-defense but was convicted of capital murder.

Preyor had argued that a previous attorney collaborated with a disbarred lawyer, relied on Wikipedia and double-billed his family and the court.

The attorney who handled Preyor's initial appeal was a real-estate specialist from Beverly Hills, Calif., who partnered with a man who had been disbarred for incompetence 15 years earlier — without informing the court, Preyor said in his latest motions.

"The federal habeas petition the duo filed in the District Court was so facially inadequate that it subsequently became its own ironic meme, circulated among habeas attorneys as an example of what not to do," Preyor's eleventh-hour appeal argued.

The California attorney had never appeared in a case in Texas state court, and a 2014 printout in her files showed that she did not do research about the death penalty in Texas until it was too late.

"It appears she relied on Wikpedia, of all things, to learn the complex ins and outs of Texas capital-punishment law," the motion reads.

"Her files included a copy of the Wikipedia page titled, 'Capital punishment in Texas,' with a post-it note stating 'Research' next to highlighted passages of 'habeas corpus appeals' and 'subsequent or successive writ applications.'"

Preyor's mother paid the duo $45,000 for their services, but the lawyer also billed the court for representing Preyor, the motion said.

"Preyor cannot be bound by the acts of two incompetent charlatans," the new lawyers wrote in their Supreme Court petition. The previous attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

In its response to Preyor's appeal, the state said the inmate failed to show that what his ex-lawyer did "amounts to fraud on the court." The state also said Preyor had waited too long to make his claim, which was filed two weeks before his execution.


Court raises chances of diesel bans in German city
Lawyer Blog Post | 2017/07/23 16:08
A court opened the door on Friday for possible bans on older diesel cars in the German city of Stuttgart, a major auto industry center, upholding a complaint by an environmental group.

The city's administrative court ordered the state government in Baden-Wuerttemberg to rework a plan to improve the air quality in Stuttgart, saying that it wouldn't bring improvements sufficiently fast, news agency dpa reported.

The state has been trying to avoid unpopular bans on diesel cars thanks to automakers' pledges to retrofit vehicles. But judge Wolfgang Kern said that a year-round ban would the most effective way of keeping to permitted nitrogen dioxide levels, which Stuttgart often exceeds.

The Environmental Action Germany group challenged a clean air plan for Stuttgart that is due to take effect in January.

Friday's ruling leaves open whether, when and how diesel models might be banned. But it increases pressure on German politicians at a time when diesel is under intense scrutiny.

The industry is currently looking for a way out of persistent troubles over excessive diesel emissions, and the government is hosting a meeting with auto bosses next week to discuss ways to reduce them.


North Carolina Court to Rule on Law on Gov's Elections Role
Legal Business | 2017/07/20 09:15
North Carolina's highest court is speeding up a final decision on whether Republican legislators could strip down the election oversight powers of the state's new Democratic governor.

The state Supreme Court said Wednesday it will take up Gov. Roy Cooper's lawsuit against state legislative leaders. The decision bypasses an intermediate appeals court and schedules a Supreme Court hearing on Aug. 28.

GOP lawmakers have sought to dilute Cooper's powers since he narrowly beat incumbent GOP Gov. Pat McCrory last year.

The contested law takes away Cooper's ability to appoint a majority of the state elections board and make every county's elections board a Democratic majority. The law would make a Republican head of the decision-making state board in presidential election years when most people vote and ballot disputes are hottest.


Idaho Supreme Court upholds grocery tax veto
Court Watch | 2017/07/19 23:31

The Idaho Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's contentious veto of legislation repealing the state's 6 percent sales tax on groceries.

The high court's decision comes after 30 state lawmakers filed a lawsuit claiming Otter took too long to veto the grocery tax repeal because he waited longer than 10 days as outlined in the Idaho Constitution.

Otter, along with other top elected officials, countered he was just following a 1978 high court ruling that said the veto deadline only kicks after it lands on his desk. The lawsuit originally singled out Secretary of State Lawerence Denney because he verified the governor's veto. Otter was later named in the challenge at the Republican governor's request because he argued that it was his veto that sparked the lawsuit.

However, the justices disagreed with Otter. Nestled inside their 21-page ruling, the court overruled the previous 1978 decision — a rare move inside the courts due to a preference to follow prior judicial precedent— because they argued the Constitution clearly states the deadline starts when the Legislature adjourns for the year. That part of the Tuesday's decision will only apply to future legislative sessions and not the grocery tax repeal case nor any other prior vetoes.

"The 1978 decision did not interpret the Constitution; it purported to rewrite an unambiguous phrase in order to obtain a desired result," the justices wrote.

Otter's spokesman did not respond to request for comment, though Otter is currently hospitalized recovering from back surgery and an infection. Denney's office also did not return request for comment.

For many Idahoans, Tuesday's ruling won't result in changes at the grocery checkout line. They will continue paying the tax and the state won't be at risk of losing the tax revenue, which helps pay for public schools and transportation projects. Instead, it's the Idaho Legislature that will face dramatic changes when handling bills at the end of each session.



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