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Court picks prosecutor to defend ruling on Arpaio's pardon
Court Watch | 2018/10/14 23:51

A Los Angeles attorney has been appointed to defend a ruling by a lower court judge who refused to erase the criminal record of former metro Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio after he was pardoned by President Trump.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday picked Christopher G. Caldwell to argue in support of the ruling that dismissed the lawman's case but refused to expunge his record.

The appointment in the appeal came after President Donald Trump's Justice Department refused to handle the case.

Caldwell worked for the Justice Department in the 1980s and, in private practice since then has focused on cases involving the entertainment industry, intellectual property and other areas.

After the six-term sheriff was defeated in late 2016, he was convicted of criminal contempt of court for his acknowledged disobedience of a judge's 2011 order that barred his traffic patrols that targeted immigrants. Arpaio was accused of prolonging the patrols for 17 months to boost his successful 2012 re-election campaign.

The pardon of the misdemeanor conviction spared Arpaio — an early supporter of Trump's presidential campaign — a possible jail sentence.

Arpaio is appealing the ruling that refused to expunge his criminal record.

Lawyers for the Justice Department won the conviction. But after the pardon, it sided with Arpaio, arguing that the conviction should be expunged because he was pardoned before it became final.


Supreme Court won't hear case over California beach access
Court Watch | 2018/10/01 10:32

The Supreme Court is refusing to hear an appeal from a California billionaire who doesn't want to open a road on his property so that the public can access a beach.

The justices said Monday that they will not take up Vinod Khosla's appeal of a California appeals court decision. The case had the potential to upend California's longstanding efforts to keep beaches open to the public.

Khosla bought the property in the San Francisco Bay Area for $32.5 million in 2008 and later blocked the public from accessing it. That prompted a lawsuit by the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation.

A state appeals court ruled last year that Khosla needed to apply for a coastal development permit before denying public access.

Khosla — a venture capitalist who co-founded the Silicon Valley technology company, Sun Microsystems — closed a gate, put up a no-access sign and painted over a billboard at the entrance to the property that had advertised access to the beach, according to the appellate ruling.

The secluded beach south of Half Moon Bay, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of San Francisco, is only accessible by a road that goes over Khosla's land.

The previous owners of the property allowed public access to the beach for a fee. But Khosla's attorneys say the cost to maintain the beach and other facilities far exceeded revenue from the fees.

The government cannot demand that people keep their private property open to the public without paying them to do so, Khosla's attorneys said in their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The state appeals court ruling would "throw private property rights in California into disarray," the appeal argued, saying other property owners along California's coast would prefer to exclude the public.

The Surfrider Foundation said Khosla's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was premature because he had not yet applied for a permit and received a decision from the state.

"This win helps to secure beach access for all people, as is enshrined in our laws," said Angela Howe, legal director of the foundation. "The Surfrider Foundation will always fight to preserve the rights of the many from becoming the assets of the few."


The Latest: 6 countries seek criminal probe of Venezuela
Court Watch | 2018/09/28 10:26

Six countries from the Americas say they are asking the International Criminal Court to investigate Venezuela's government for alleged crimes against humanity. It's the first time that member countries have referred another country to the Netherlands-based U.N. court.

Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay and Canada made the announcement on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting.

The court has already opened a preliminary investigation into allegations that since April 2017 Venezuelan government forces "frequently used excessive force to disperse and put down demonstrations," and abused some opposition members in detention.

Wednesday's move could broaden the scope of the existing preliminary probe. The countries accuse Venezuela of several crimes including murder, torture and unjust imprisonment.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says his meeting with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho was "very positive."

Pompeo made the comment on Twitter on Wednesday after meeting with Ri at the U.N. General Assembly. The meeting comes as U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un work to set up a widely expected second summit to restart stalled diplomacy meant to rid the North of its nuclear weapons.

Pompeo said that "much work remains, but we will continue to move forward."

Kim made denuclearization vows last week in a summit with the South Korean president in Pyongyang, but there's still skepticism over his sincerity to relinquish weapons that many believe are the only major guarantee of his continued authoritarian rule.


Idaho high court considers defamation lawsuit
Court Watch | 2018/09/23 00:18

The Idaho Supreme Court heard arguments Friday in a case that could determine whether individuals have the right to sue if they think a journalist implied — but didn't outright say — something defamatory.

The issue arose in a lawsuit brought last year by former teacher James Verity against USA Today and television stations in Idaho and Oregon after they reported on the results of a national investigation into teacher licensing. The investigation found that teachers who had a license revoked in one state were often able to move to another state to be licensed there.

Verity lost his Oregon teaching license after he was disciplined for having inappropriate sexual contact with an 18-year-old student. He was later was granted an Idaho teaching license.

Verity says the news coverage wrongly implied that he was danger to female students, that he misled Idaho officials and that he committed a crime by having sex with a student. The news organizations say their reporting was accurate.


Trump picks combat over caution in court fight
Court Watch | 2018/09/23 00:18

White House aides and congressional allies worked all week to keep President Donald Trump from unloading on the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.

But as Kavanaugh's nomination hung in the balance, Trump couldn't contain his frustration any longer and unleashed a direct Twitter attack on the credibility of Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her decades ago during a high school party.

Friday's tweet landed with a splat in the noxious brew of gender and politics that has taken over a high-stakes confirmation battle playing out against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement. In keeping with Trump's natural instinct to fight back when under attack, as well as his long pattern of defending powerful men against the claims of women, the president's tweet reflected growing anger over all the focus on Ford's accusation.

Trump initially believed he could support his nominee without wading into the specific allegations against Kavanaugh since they did not involve him. But that began to change as Trump watched ongoing coverage of the accusations, particularly on Air Force One TVs tuned into Fox News on his long flight Thursday from Washington to Las Vegas, according to a White House official and a Republican close to the White House. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private conversations.


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