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Hailey attorney named to Idaho District Court bench
Securities Class Action | 2017/08/11 09:27
Central Idaho attorney Ned Williamson has been named the new judge in Idaho's 5th District Court.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter selected Williamson, a Hailey resident, to replace recently retired Judge Robert Elgee in Blaine County.

The Times-News newspaper reports Williamson served as a deputy prosecutor in both Canyon and Blaine counties before opening his private law practice in 2001. Williamson was one of four candidates submitted to Otter for the judgeship.

Otter said Williamson's local experience will serve him well on the bench. Williamson said he's honored by the selection and will dedicate himself to being a fair and impartial judge.



Court: Energy firm can pass $55M cleanup costs
Securities Class Action | 2017/07/05 10:09
The Ohio Supreme Court says an energy company is allowed to pass on the $55 million cost of cleaning up two polluted sites to its customers in the form of an added charge on their monthly bills.

Duke Energy has been adding $1.67 to bills in Ohio for about three years to help pay for the cleanup of two long-closed facilities in Cincinnati. A spokeswoman says the charge will likely continue for two more years.

The Supreme Court ruled last week that cleanup costs can be treated like other business expenses.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke Energy inherited the plants from another company. They were closed in 1928 and 1963, but cleanup had been a low priority because there was little public access to the sites.



Court to hear challenge to speed up California executions
Securities Class Action | 2017/06/06 09:00
The California Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday over a ballot initiative designed to speed up executions that could fundamentally change the way the court handles death penalty appeals.

Death penalty opponents are challenging a ballot measure passed by a slim majority of voters in November that aimed to reform a dysfunctional system that hasn't executed a condemned killer in more than a decade.

Foes of capital punishment argue that Proposition 66 was unconstitutional because it would take power away from the state's high court to decide how it handles cases and it would disrupt the court system, cost the state more money and undermine the appeals process.

If allowed to take effect, the measure would require more lawyers to take death penalty appellate cases, some trial court judges would be assigned appeals and all state appeals would have to be completed in five years, which is about a third of the time it typically takes.

With a backlog of 380 death penalty appeals, there's concern judges would be overwhelmed trying to speed through appeals, said Elisabeth Semel, a law professor at University of California, Berkeley, who consulted for death penalty opponents on the case.

"There's an enormous ripple effect to that," said Semel, who directs the school's death penalty clinic. "The attention the justices can pay to each individual case is significantly diminished. When you're talking about life and death, that's important."

The ballot initiative supported by 51 percent of voters was designed to "mend not end" capital punishment in California, where nearly 750 inmates are on Death Row and only 13 have been executed since 1978.

A competing measure to repeal capital punishment lost by a slightly wider margin. Both sides acknowledged the current system is broken.


Danish teenager found guilty of terrorism, sentence pending
Securities Class Action | 2017/05/16 10:42
A Danish court on Tuesday convicted a teenage girl of attempted terrorism for planning bomb attacks against two schools.

Holbaek District Court judge Peder Christensen says the 17-year-old, who wasn't identified, was also convicted of assaulting an employee in the juvenile incarceration facility where she had been held during the trial.

Christensen said the girl had converted to Islam and intended to carry out attacks, including one on a Jewish school, when she was 15. He said she possessed chemicals to make the explosive known as TATP. It also appeared she had online contacts with radical militants.

The teenager was arrested Jan. 13, 2016. The court said the bombings were not carried out because she was arrested before she could take action, and that she had not received any orders to blow up her former school, Holbaek, 65 kilometers (40 miles) northwest of Copenhagen, and Copenhagen's Jewish Caroline School.

Her lawyer, Mette Gritt Stage, had said her client had been bullied at school and is a confused teenager seeking attention.

After the guilty ruling, Stage said her client "was very, very saddened."

Three letters were found in her cell in late April and read in court. In one, the teenager wrote that she deliberately didn't wear a headscarf "to fool the disbelievers" to think she had not converted to Islam.

In another letter to a Danish-Turkish man who had been sentenced to six years in prison and had his Danish citizenship stripped off for joining radical Islamic State militants in Syria, she wrote that she stabbed the employee in the incarceration facility because he had been a soldier in Iraq, adding "I couldn't accept this."

The court is expected to announce sentencing on Thursday. Prosecutors are requesting her incarceration at a mental institution.


Idaho Judicial Council accepting applications for high court
Securities Class Action | 2017/04/30 23:44
An opening on the Idaho Supreme Court won't be filled through an election but through an application process.

Supreme Court Justice Daniel Eismann announced earlier this year he will retire in August — 16 months before the end of his current six-year term.

Because Eismann is stepping down early, the Idaho Judicial Council will solicit applications and recommend up to four names to the governor for appointment instead of waiting until the 2018 election, The Spokesman-Review reported. Idaho's Supreme Court positions are nonpartisan.

It's a merit-based process that had been used primarily to replace outgoing justices until this past year when former Idaho Supreme Court Justice Jim Jones announced he would retire at the end of his term.

"I would never have been on the court if the only avenue was to go through the Judicial Council and be appointed by the governor," said Jones, 74, who was twice elected Idaho attorney general. "It just didn't even occur to me as a possibility, because if you've been involved in the political arena, you probably at one time or another have stepped on the toes of whoever ends up being governor."

Eismann joined the state's highest court in 2001 after successfully running against incumbent Justice Cathy Silak. That election was the first time in 68 years that a sitting supreme court justice had been ousted in an election.

He caused a stir when he decided to announce his election campaign at a Republican Party event in eastern Idaho. He has since become one of the most outspoken justices, known for his tough questioning and advocating for specialty courts throughout Idaho.



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