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Pennsylvania high court rejects lawsuit challenging election
Securities Class Action | 2020/11/29 14:29
Pennsylvania’s highest court on Saturday night threw out a lower court’s order preventing the state from certifying dozens of contests on its Nov. 3 election ballot in the latest lawsuit filed by Republicans attempting to thwart President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state.

The state Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, threw out the three-day-old order, saying the underlying lawsuit was filed months after the expiration of a time limit in Pennsylvania’s expansive year-old mail-in voting law allowing for challenges to it.

Justices also remarked on the lawsuit’s staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. “They have failed to allege that even a single mail-in ballot was fraudulently cast or counted,” Justice David Wecht wrote in a concurring opinion.

The state’s attorney general, Democrat Josh Shapiro, called the court’s decision “another win for Democracy.”

President Donald Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, meanwhile, have repeatedly and baselessly claimed that Democrats falsified mail-in ballots to steal the election from Trump. Biden beat Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016.

The week-old lawsuit, led by Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania, had challenged the state’s mail-in voting law as unconstitutional.

As a remedy, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law — most of them by Democrats — or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors.

In any case, that request — for the state’s lawmakers to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors — flies in the face of a nearly century-old state law that already grants the power to pick electors to the state’s popular vote, Wecht wrote.

While the high court’s two Republicans joined the five Democrats in opposing those remedies, they split from Democrats in suggesting that the lawsuit’s underlying claims — that the state’s mail-in voting law might violate the constitution — are worth considering.

Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough, elected as a Republican in 2009, had issued the order Wednesday to halt certification of any remaining contests, including apparently contests for Congress.

It did not appear to affect the presidential contest since a day earlier, Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, had certified Biden as the winner of the presidential election in Pennsylvania.

Wolf quickly appealed McCullough’s decision to the state Supreme Court, saying there was no “conceivable justification” for it.

The lawsuit’s dismissal comes after Republicans have lost a flurry of legal challenges brought by the Trump campaign and its GOP allies filed in state and federal courts in Pennsylvania.


Saudi court issues final verdicts in Khashoggi killing
Securities Class Action | 2020/09/07 09:41
A Saudi court issued final verdicts on Monday in the case of slain Washington Post columnist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi after his son, who still resides in the kingdom, announced pardons that spared five of the convicted individuals from execution.

While the trial draws to its conclusion in Saudi Arabia, the case continues to cast a shadow over the international standing of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose associates have been sanctioned by the U.S. and the U.K. for their alleged involvement in the brutal killing, which took place inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

The Riyadh Criminal Court’s final verdicts were announced by Saudi Arabia’s state television, which aired few details about the eight Saudi nationals and did not name them. The court ordered a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the five. Another individual received a 10-year sentence, and two others were ordered to serve seven years in prison.

A team of 15 Saudi agents had flown to Turkey to meet Khashoggi inside the consulate for his appointment on Oct. 2, 2018 to pick up documents that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiance, who waited outside. The team included a forensic doctor, intelligence and security officers, and individuals who worked directly for the crown prince’s office, according to Agnes Callamard, who investigated the killing for the United Nations.

Turkish officials allege Khashoggi was killed and then dismembered with a bone saw inside the consulate. His body has not been found. Turkey apparently had the consulate bugged and shared audio of the killing with the C.I.A., among others.

Western intelligence agencies, as well as the U.S. Congress, have said the crown prince bears ultimate responsibility for the killing and that an operation of this magnitude could not have happened without his knowledge.

The 35-year-old prince denies any knowledge of the operation and has condemned the killing. He continues to have the support of his father, King Salman, and remains popular among Saudi youth at home. He also maintains the support of President Donald Trump, who has defended U.S.-Saudi ties in the face of the international outcry over the slaying.



Ohio counties tell court: Don’t let state stop opioid trial
Securities Class Action | 2019/10/03 12:42
Two Ohio counties are telling a court to deny their state attorney general’s request to delay a major trial over the toll of opioids.

Attorney General Dave Yost asked a federal appeals court in August not to let a district judge move ahead with a case scheduled to begin Oct. 21.

It would be the first federal trial of claims brought by a government seeking to hold the drug industry accountable for the opioid crisis.

The attorney general says the state’s similar claims should move ahead of those brought by Cuyahoga and Summit counties, home to Cleveland and Akron.

The counties say the state doesn’t have a say because it’s not part of this case. The judge in charge of the Oct. 21 trial has also denied the state’s request.



Court: First Amendment protects “hate group” label
Securities Class Action | 2019/09/13 22:54
A federal judge has ruled that a liberal advocacy group has a First Amendment right to call a Christian ministry a hate group for its opposition to homosexuality.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson, in a 141-page decision issued late Thursday, threw out a complaint filed by the Florida-based Coral Ridge Ministries Media Inc. against the Southern Poverty Law Center of Montgomery.

Coral Ridge, also called James Kennedy Ministries of Fort Lauderdale, sued the nonprofit law center, Amazon and others in 2017 because it wasn’t included in a program that lets Amazon customers donate to nonprofit groups. The suit said the refusal was because the law center had labeled the ministry a hate group for its stance against homosexual behavior.

The judge ruled that the liberal watchdog organization has a free-speech right to make the claim, but he didn’t address whether the ministry is a hate organization.

Attorneys representing the ministry did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. In a statement, the Southern Poverty Law Center said the decision is a win for groups that want to “share their opinions and educate the public.”

“Any organization we list as a hate group is free to disagree with us about our designation, but this ruling underscores that the designation is constitutionally protected speech and not defamatory,” said Karen Baynes-Dunning, interim president of the organization.



Activist loses UK court case on police facial recognition
Securities Class Action | 2019/09/03 09:57
A British court ruled Wednesday that a police force's use of automated facial recognition technology is lawful, dealing a blow to an activist concerned about its implications for privacy.

Existing laws adequately cover the South Wales police force's deployment of the technology in a trial, two judges said , in what's believed to be the world's first legal case on how a law enforcement agency uses the new technology.

The decision comes amid a broader global debate about the rising use of facial recognition technology. Recent advances in artificial intelligence make it easier for police to automatically scan faces and instantly match them to "watchlists" of suspects, missing people and persons of interest, but it also raises concerns about mass surveillance.

"The algorithms of the law must keep pace with new and emerging technologies," Judges Charles Haddon-Cave and Jonathan Swift said.

Ed Bridges, a Cardiff resident and human rights campaigner who filed the judicial review, said South Wales police scanned his face twice as it tested the technology - once while he was Christmas shopping in 2017 and again when he was at a peaceful protest against a defense expo in 2018.

"This sinister technology undermines our privacy and I will continue to fight against its unlawful use to ensure our rights are protected and we are free from disproportionate government surveillance," he said in a statement released by Liberty, a rights group that worked on his case.

His legal team argued that he suffered "distress" and his privacy and data protection rights were violated when South Wales police processed an image taken of him in public.

But the judges said that the police force's use of the technology was in line with British human rights and data privacy legislation. They said that all images and biometric data of anyone who wasn't a match on the "watchlist" of suspects was deleted immediately.


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