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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.


3 hurt in court shooting leave hospital; gunman identified
Court Watch | 2018/09/21 07:18

The wife of a gunman killed after he opened fire at a Pennsylvania municipal building Wednesday said in a social media post that she was OK but did not say whether she had been injured in the shooting.

Crystal Dowdell, 39, posted on her Facebook account that she was fine late Wednesday and that police had taken her phone as evidence. Pennsylvania state police confirmed Thursday that Patrick Dowdell, 61, was the deceased gunman.

Dowdell entered the Masontown Borough building about 60 miles south of Pittsburgh after 2 p.m. Wednesday with a handgun drawn and began firing into the crowded complex’s lobby. He wounded a police officer, who was treated and released for injuries to his hand, before wounding three civilians.

Authorities would not say whether any of the victims were Dowdell’s intended target or related to the domestic violence charges he was scheduled to appear in court to face Wednesday.

The three were taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia. A spokeswoman said Thursday the two men, ages 35 and 47, and a 39-year-old woman were all released Wednesday night.


Guatemala court orders UN anti-graft chief be readmitted
Court Watch | 2018/09/16 08:05

Guatemala's Constitutional Court has ordered President Jimmy Morales to allow the head of a U.N.-backed anti-corruption commission to return to the country.

Ivan Velasquez is the head of the commission known as CICIG for its initials in Spanish. It has led a number of high-profile graft investigations, including one that is pending against Morales.

Earlier this month the president announced that he would not renew CICIG's mandate for another two-year term, effectively giving it a year to wind down and end its activities.

He later said that Velasquez, who was traveling in Washington, would be barred from re-entering the Central American nation. Morales called Velasquez "a person who attacks order and public security in the country."



Court: British surveillance violates European law
Court Watch | 2018/09/11 08:07

Europe's human rights court handed a partial victory Thursday to civil rights groups that challenged the legality of mass surveillance and intelligence-sharing practices exposed by American whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that some aspects of British surveillance regimes violated provisions in the European Convention on Human Rights that are meant to safeguard Europeans' rights to privacy.

Specifically, the court said there wasn't enough independent scrutiny of processes used by British intelligence services to sift through data and communications intercepted in bulk.

The ruling cited a "lack of oversight of the entire selection process" and "the absence of any real safeguards."

The court's seven judges also voted 6-1 that Britain's regime for getting data from communications service providers also violated the human rights convention, including its provisions on privacy and on freedom of expression.

But the ruling wasn't all bad for British spies. The court said it is "satisfied" that British intelligence services take their human rights convention obligations seriously "and are not abusing their powers."

The court also gave a green light to procedures British security services use to get intelligence from foreign spy agencies, saying the intelligence-sharing regime doesn't violate the convention's privacy provisions.


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