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Ohio court sets 2022 execution date for Cleveland killer
Lawyer Blog Post | 2017/09/22 10:10
The Ohio Supreme Court has set a 2022 execution date for a man sentenced to die for fatally shooting a man in an argument over a sewing machine.

Death row inmate Percy Hutton, of Cleveland, was sentenced to die for the 1985 slaying of Derek Mitchell.

Hutton's attorney, Michael Benza, argues the execution date shouldn't be scheduled because the 63-year-old Hutton still has federal appeals pending.

The court on Friday scheduled Hutton to die on June 22, 2022.

Court records show Hutton accused Mitchell of stealing tires and a sewing machine from him, and shot him after recovering the sewing machine. Records say Hutton also shot a second man who survived.


Myanmar court grants bail for editor in defamation case
Lawyer Blog Post | 2017/08/02 16:11
A court in Myanmar granted bail Friday to a newspaper editor who is being tried under a controversial defamation statute in a telecommunications law.

Kyaw Min Swe, chief editor of The Voice Daily, was arrested in June for publishing online a satirical article that allegedly mocked the efforts of the military to reach a peace agreement with ethnic minority groups.

His previous requests for bail had been rejected, but during his ninth appearance in court, the judge granted his release on bail of 10 million kyats ($7,000).

He was charged under Article 66(D) of the Telecommunications Law, which broadly defines defamation and carries a penalty of up to three years' imprisonment.

Rights groups decry the article as a restriction on freedom of expression, but the country's parliament this week turned down a bid to drop the article and decriminalize the offense.

One of the newspaper's columnists, Kyaw Zwa Naing, was also arrested on June 2 under Article 66(D), but the charge against him was dropped last month.



Court: Violence law unfair to gay South Carolina couples
Lawyer Blog Post | 2017/07/27 16:08
People in same-sex relationships in South Carolina should get the same legal protections against domestic violence as heterosexual couples, the state's highest court ruled Wednesday, deeming a portion of the state's domestic violence law unconstitutional.

The court was asked to weigh in after a woman tried to get a protective order against her former fiancée, also a woman, and was denied.

Current law defines "household members" as a spouse, former spouse, people with a child in common, or men and women who are or have lived together. It does not include unmarried same-sex couples.

Acting Justice Costa Pleicones, who wrote the majority opinion, said during oral arguments in March 2016 that he felt the law was "pretty clearly unconstitutional in its discriminatory impact upon same-sex couples."

In his opinion, Pleicones pointed out lawmakers have over the years addressed the definition of "household members" as covered under domestic violence protections in 1994, amending the language from "persons" living together to "male and female." In 2015, during a massive overhaul of South Carolina's criminal domestic violence law, legislators made changes including increasing penalties for offenders but left the gender-based definition intact.

The U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause, the court wrote, states, "No state shall ... deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws," such as a benefit offered to one class of person but not others.

"In this case, we cannot find a reasonable basis for providing protection to one set of domestic violence victims - unmarried, cohabiting or formerly cohabiting, opposite-sex couples - while denying it to others," the court wrote.

Other states have addressed this issue since the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide. The Ohio Supreme Court in 2016 adopted the use of gender-neutral references in family court cases. California and Massachusetts proactively changed language in their laws.


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.


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