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Supreme Court to swear in large group of deaf lawyers
Politics | 2016/04/13 01:15
Mobile phones ordinarily are strictly forbidden in the marble courtroom of the nation's highest court, but the justices are making an exception next week when roughly a dozen deaf and hard-of-hearing lawyers will be admitted to the Supreme Court bar.

The lawyers will use their phones to see a real-time transcript as they take part in an April 19 swearing-in ceremony featuring the largest group of hearing-impaired attorneys ever admitted at one time to practice before the high court.

Advocates for deaf lawyers say they hope the event will encourage others with disabilities to pursue legal careers.

"We wanted to do an event that would help break down stereotypes and demonstrate clearly that deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals can achieve anything they set their minds to," said Anat Maytal, a New York lawyer and president of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Bar Association.

Nearly 4,000 lawyers join the Supreme Court bar each year, though the vast majority will never actually represent a client there. Membership requires a $200 fee, membership in a state bar for three years and sponsorship by two current Supreme Court bar members.



German court ends fight over estate of Iran shah's 2nd wife
Politics | 2016/02/20 14:43
A German court has ruled that the estate of the former shah of Iran's second wife, Soraya Esfandiari-Bakhtiari, belongs to her late brother's ex-chauffeur.

The ruling announced Tuesday by the Cologne state court comes nearly 15 years after Soraya's death. She named as heir her brother, Bijan Esfandiari, who lived in Cologne and died days after her. The court ruled that a short will the brother wrote in a notebook, naming his former chauffeur and private secretary as his heir, is valid.

The man had spent several years disputing part of the inheritance with relatives of Soraya. The court didn't specify its value.

Soraya married Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in 1951. Seven years later, the shah repudiated her in an Islamic divorce after they failed to have children.


South African appeals court nears Pistorius ruling
Politics | 2015/11/28 22:26
An official says a top South African appeals court is finalizing a decision on whether to send Oscar Pistorius back to prison by overturning a lower court's manslaughter conviction and finding the double-amputee Olympian guilty of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Paul Myburgh, registrar of the Supreme Court of Appeal, told The Associated Press on Monday that no date for the ruling has been announced.

Eyewitness News, a South African media outlet, says a ruling is expected this week. It cites unnamed court officials.

Pistorius, 29, was released from jail on Oct. 19 after serving a year in prison and is under house arrest.

Prosecutors say Pistorius shot Steenkamp during an argument on Valentine's Day 2013. The defense says Pistorius killed Steenkamp by mistake, thinking an intruder was in his house.


Kansas court's approval of death sentence not seen as shift
Politics | 2015/11/16 16:08
Even though the state Supreme Court recently upheld a death sentence for the first time under the state’s 1994 capital punishment law, Kansas isn’t likely to see executions anytime soon or a shift in how the justices handle capital murder cases.

“Symbolically, there is something different,” said Robert Dunham, head of the anti-capital punishment, nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center. “But I wouldn’t read too much into it.”

Several prosecutors are encouraged by this month’s decision in the case of John E. Robinson Sr. ? who was sentenced to die for killing two women in 1999 and 2000 and tied by evidence or his own admission to six other deaths, including a teenage girl, in Kansas and Missouri ? saying it showed it is possible to preserve a death sentence on appeal in Kansas.

Two Kansas law professors said the 415-page decision in John E. Robinson’s case issued earlier this month suggests the Supreme Court’s examination of future capital cases will remain as thorough as it has been.

The high court’s past decisions overturning death sentences inspired a campaign that almost succeeded in ousting two justices in last year’s elections and handed republican Gov. Sam Brownback a potent issue in the final weeks of his race for re-election. And there are more capital cases before the justices.

Only four days after the Robinson decision, Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., an avowed anti-Semite, was sentenced to death for the fatal shootings of three people at Jewish sites in the Kansas City suburbs.


State appeals court rejects power plant approval
Politics | 2014/02/10 15:13
A state appeals court has rejected approval of Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s planned new natural gas power plant in Contra Costa County.

The 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco said the California Public Utilities Commission approved the plant in Oakley without hearing firsthand from anyone that it was needed.

The court issued its 3-0 ruling on Wednesday. The Contra Costa Times reports (http://bit.ly/1e9Ew76) that the court has previously also turned back the commission's approval of the plant.

PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian told the newspaper the utility was carefully reviewing the court's ruling.

Supporters say California needs more energy production, and the 586-megawatt plant would help.

Opponents say the state should be moving away from fossil fuels to other, cleaner energy sources.


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