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High court temporarily blocks subpoena over sex ads
Videos for Legal Insight | 2016/09/04 09:06
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on Tuesday temporarily blocked a congressional subpoena that seeks information on how the classified advertising website Backpage.com screens ads for possible sex trafficking.

The order came hours after Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer asked the high court to intervene, saying the case threatens the First Amendment rights of online publishers.

A federal appeals court ruled 2-1 on Friday that the website must respond to the subpoena within 10 days. Roberts said Backpage does not have to comply with the appeals court order until further action from the Supreme Court. He requested a response from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations by Friday.

The Senate panel has tried for nearly a year to force Backpage to produce certain documents as part of its investigation into human trafficking over the Internet.

After the website refused to comply, the Senate voted 96-0 in March to hold the website in contempt. The vote allowed the Senate to pursue the documents in federal court, marking the first time in more than two decades that the Senate has enforced a subpoena in court.

A federal district judge sided with the Senate last month, rejecting arguments that the subpoena was unconstitutional, overly broad and burdensome. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed.



Court won't reinstate church official's conviction
Videos for Legal Insight | 2016/07/28 12:18
The first U.S. church official convicted over his handling of priest-abuse complaints could soon leave prison after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed Tuesday that his conviction was flawed.

Monsignor William Lynn, who served two cardinals at the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, has been imprisoned for almost three years for child endangerment.

But the high court Tuesday declined to reinstate his 2012 conviction. A lower appeals court had found the trial judge allowed too much indirect testimony from other church-abuse victims.

Defense lawyer Tom Bergstrom will ask that his client be released this week. Lynn, 65, has nearly served the minimum of his three- to six-year term.

"He was in the middle of this thing, by direction of the cardinal," Bergstrom said. "He was thrown into this melting pot of awfulness, without a whole lot of experience (and) without a whole lot of education. ... And he did his best."

Prosecutors after two grand jury investigations found that Lynn played a key role helping the archdiocese transfer known pedophile-priests through his job as secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004.

The trial revealed that his bosses kept a half century of abuse complaints in secret, locked files under Lynn's control and that he reviewed them to compile lists of suspected pedophiles.

Lynn was charged, though, with enabling the abuse of a single, 10-year-old altar boy by a priest transferred to the parish despite other complaints.

Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina, in sentencing Lynn, said he had "enabled monsters in clerical garb ... to destroy the souls of children."

Lynn's novel case has reached the state Supreme Court twice, and he has been in and out of prison amid several rounds of appeals.

Prosecutors could ask to retry the case. A spokesman for District Attorney Seth Williams said the office would review its options.

Lynn, during several grueling days on the stand, said he tried his best but "my best was not good enough."



Court Vacates $1.8M Ventura Award in 'American Sniper' Case
Videos for Legal Insight | 2016/06/14 15:05
A federal appeals court on Monday threw out a $1.8 million judgment awarded to former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who says he was defamed in the late author Chris Kyle's bestselling book "American Sniper."

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the jury's 2014 award of $500,000 for defamation and $1.3 million for unjust enrichment against Kyle's estate. Kyle, a former SEAL who was the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history with 160 confirmed kills, died in 2013.

The majority of the three-judge panel reversed the unjust-enrichment award, saying it fails as a matter of law. The majority also vacated the defamation award, but sent that portion of the case back to court for a new trial.

Messages left with Ventura's publicist and attorney were not immediately returned Monday. A message left with an attorney for Kyle's estate also did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Kyle claimed in a subchapter called "Punching Out Scruff Face," to have decked a man, whom he later identified as Ventura, during a fallen SEAL's wake at a California bar in 2006. He wrote that "Scruff Face" had made offensive comments about the elite force, including a remark that the SEALs "deserve to lose a few" in Iraq.

Ventura, a former Underwater Demolition Teams/SEAL member and ex-pro wrestler, testified at trial that Kyle's story was a fabrication. Ventura said he never made the comments and that the altercation never happened. He said the book ruined his reputation in the tight-knit SEAL community.



Iran's president slams US court ruling on frozen assets
Videos for Legal Insight | 2016/05/07 13:31
Iran's president said Wednesday that a U.S. court ruling that allows for the seizure of Iranian assets amounts to theft and indicates continued "hostility" toward his country.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that the families of victims of a 1983 bombing in Lebanon and other attacks linked to Iran can collect nearly $2 billion in frozen funds from Iran as compensation.

Rouhani was quoted by state TV as warning that the United States would have to face up to "all the consequences of this illegal action," without elaborating. "The move indicates Washington's continued hostility against the Iranian nation," Rouhani added, speaking during a Cabinet meeting.

On Tuesday, the Cabinet tasked a group of top officials with examining the court decision and defending Iran's "rights."

The U.S. court's ruling directly affects more than 1,300 relatives of victims, some who have been seeking compensation for more than 30 years. They include families of the 241 U.S. service members who died in the Beirut bombing.



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