In J20 Investigation, DOJ Overreaches Again. And Gets Taken To Court Again.

From eff.org

By Mark Rumold for EFF – We’ve already written about problems with the government’s investigation into the J20 protests—a series of demonstrations on January 20, the day of President Trump’s inauguration—which resulted in the arrest of hundreds of protesters. But prosecutors in DC are still at it. And they’re still using unconstitutional methods to pursue their investigation. This time they served a search warrant on hosting provider DreamHost that would require the company to turn over essentially all information on a website it hosts, www.disruptj20.org—a site that was dedicated to organizing and planning the protest. Did you click on that link? Well, that’s apparently information the government wants to know. In just one example of the staggering overbreadth of the search warrant, it would require DreamHost to turn over the IP logs of all visitors to the site. Millions of visitors—activists, reporters, or you (if you clicked on the link)—would have records of their visits turned over to the government. The warrant also sought production of all emails associated with the account and unpublished content, like draft blog posts and photos.

US Court Of Appeals Throws Out Blackwater Murder Conviction

Seattle police officers wearing riot gear guard a Starbucks coffee shop during May Day demonstrations in Seattle

By Matthew MacEgan for WSWS – On Friday, a US appeals court threw out the first-degree murder conviction of Nicholas A. Slatten, one of the four former Blackwater security guards who massacred 14 unarmed Iraqis in September 2007 while working for the US State Department. Slatten had been sentenced to life in prison in 2015, and the other three former guards each received sentences of 30 years. The court also ruled that the three other men be resentenced. In a statement, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit panel ruled that the trial court which sentenced the four guards “abused its discretion” by not allowing Slatten to be tried separately from his three co-defendants. He was the only one who faced a murder charge since he was found to have fired the first shots as well as shooting dead the driver of a white Kia car that had stopped at a traffic circle. The other three defendants, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard, were found to have violated the constitutional prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment” for their part in the massacre. Thirty-year sentences were issued based on their use of military firearms while committing a felony, a charge that was used for the first time against security contractors who were provided weapons by the US government.

Full DC Circuit Court Overturns Order Delaying EPA Methane Rules

CC BY 2.0 mel

By Staff of EDF – (Washington, D.C. – July 31, 2017) The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued the mandate tonight in its ruling that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt acted unlawfully in suspending pollution limits for the oil and gas industry. Nine of the eleven active judges on the court ordered immediate issuance of the mandate. “Today’s issuance of the mandate by the full D.C. Circuit protects families and communities across America under clean air safeguards that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt sought to unlawfully tear down,” said EDF Lead Attorney Peter Zalzal. The en banc court issued the mandate this evening for the ruling by a three-judge panel on July 3rd.That opinion held Administrator Pruitt’s suspension of oil and gas pollution standards was “unlawful,” “arbitrary,” and “capricious.” The critical clean air protections at stake will reduce harmful methane and smog-forming, toxic and carcinogenic air pollution from new and modified sources in the oil and gas industry.

Charges Against Portland Black Lives Matter Protesters Dropped

Jake Bleiberg
A protester is led away by police during a Black Lives Matter protest in Portland on July 15, 2016.

By Jake Bleiberg for BDN – PORTLAND, Maine — A year after Portland police ended a Black Lives Matter demonstration with a mass arrest, the resulting legal drama has come to a close with the criminal charges against 17 protesters being dismissed. The charges were expected to be dropped since May, when a court hearing failed to repair a botched settlement agreement between the demonstrators and the Cumberland County District Attorney. The deal, which would have also seen the misdemeanor charges dropped, hinged on police and protesters talking through their differences in a so-called “restorative justice” session. It would have been the first time such a program was used in a civil disobedience case in Maine. But the deal went to pieces in the hall of a Portland church in February, when the protesters and an assistant district attorney couldn’t agree over logistics for the session. In May, a judge blocked the district attorney’s move to again prosecute the charges and ordered protesters and police to try again at the restorative justice session. After the ruling, District Attorney Stephanie Anderson said her office would not make another attempt at the session, thereby leaving the charges in an inactive court docket where they were finally dismissed Wednesday.

Chicago Judge Rules Defendants Can’t Be Jailed Just Because They Can’t Afford Bail

Shutterstock

By Staff of Reuters – CHICAGO (Reuters) – Defendants who are not considered dangerous will no longer have to stay in jail if they cannot afford to pay bail while awaiting trial in the Illinois county that includes Chicago, a circuit court judge ordered on Monday. Before an initial bail hearing, information will be provided by the defendant in Cook County regarding his or her ability – within 48 hours – to pay bail, the order said. If the defendant cannot pay, he or she will not be held before trial. “Defendants should not be sitting in jail awaiting trial simply because they lack the financial resources to secure their release,” Timothy Evans, chief judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, which includes Chicago, said in a statement. “If they are not deemed a danger to any person or the public, my order states that they will receive a bail they can afford,” the judge said. The order goes into effect on Sept. 18 for felony cases and on Jan. 1, 2018, for misdemeanor cases in the circuit court. Defendants who are deemed dangerous, however, will be held in jail without bond, according to the court’s statement. Judges can also release defendants on individual recognizance or electronic monitoring, which do not require the defendant to pay money to be released, it said.

To Block Pipeline, Nuns In Court To Defend Cornfield Chapel

Supporters of the nuns' fight to protect their farmland from the pipeline project gathered at their open-air chapel for a vigil on Sunday. (Photo: @alexgeli/Twitter)

By Jessica Corbett for Common Dreams – The sisters appeared at a U.S. District courthouse in Reading for an 11:00am hearing, following two prayer vigils earlier Monday morning. About six months ago, they came up with the idea to build the chapel on their farmland as “a visible symbol of their commitment to the land,” Mark Clatterbuck, of Lancaster Against Pipelines—which helped build the chapel—told the York Daily Record, a local paper. “We have to pay reverence to the land God has given us,” said Sister George Ann Biscan. “We honor God by protecting and preserving His creation.” Friday, seeking a federal injunction, the Adorers filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, claiming the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which regulates interstate natural gas pipelines, and its commissioner have violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, “by forcing the Adorers to use their land to accommodate a fossil fuel pipeline,” the order said in a statement. The nuns, the statement continued, “allege that FERC’s action places a substantial burden on their exercise of religion by taking their land, which they want to protect and preserve as part of their faith, and forces the Adorers to use their land in a manner and for a purpose they believe is harmful to the earth.”

D.C. Judge Tossed Out Conviction Of Woman Arrested After Laughing During Sessions’ Senate Confirmation Hearing

KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS

By Ryan J. Reilly for The Huffington P0st – WASHINGTON ― A D.C. judge has tossed out a jury’s conviction of a protester who laughed during Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate confirmation hearing, finding on Friday that the government had improperly argued during the trial that her laughter was enough to merit a guilty verdict. The judge ordered a new trial in the case, setting a court date for Sept. 1. Desiree Fairooz, 61, who was associated with the group Code Pink, had been convicted of disorderly and disruptive conduct and demonstrating inside the Capitol. Fairooz was taken into custody during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in January after she laughed when Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) claimed Sessions had a “clear and well-documented” record of “treating all Americans equally under the law.” (The Senate rejected Sessions’ nomination for a federal judgeship in the 1980s over concerns about his views on race.) But Chief Judge Robert E. Morin of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia tossed out the guilty verdict on Friday because the government had argued that the laugh alone was enough to warrant the verdict. Morin said it was “disconcerting” that the government made the case in closing arguments that the laughter in and of itself was sufficient.

Judge Halts Deportation Of More Than 1,000 Iraqi Nationals From US

A protester demonstrates against the arrest of dozens of Iraqi Christians in south-eastern Michigan by US immigration officials. Photograph: Todd McInturf/AP

By Amanda Holpuch for The Guardian – More than 1,400 Iraqi nationals in the US have been protected from deportation for the next two weeks, because of an order issued late on Monday by a federal district judge. Judge Mark Goldsmith temporarily halted deportations while he considers a class-action lawsuit representing 114 Iraqis who were arrested in the Detroit area earlier this month. Attorneys say the defendants, most of whom are members of the Chaldean minority, could face persecution or death if returned to their country of birth. Islamic State and other jihadist groups have targeted Christians, including Chaldeans, and Shia Muslims in Iraq. Goldsmith said on Monday that given evidence provided about the “extraordinarily grave consequences” detainees could face if returned to Iraq, he would extend an existing halt on deportations to all 1,444 Iraqi nationals who are subject to orders of removal. “Such harm far outweighs any interest the government may have in proceeding with the removals immediately,” Goldsmith said. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) conducted a series of raids on Iraqi communities following negotiations between the US and Iraq, which resulted in Iraq agreeing, for the first time in several years, to provide travel documents to people the US attempted to deport.

Fight Against DAPL Continues Inside And Outside Federal Courthouse

Demonstrators protest the Dakota Access pipeline outside a federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. (Clara Romeo / Truthdig)

By Emma Niles for Truth Dig – Activists opposing the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) made a strong showing of support Wednesday outside a courthouse in Washington, D.C. The self-described “water protectors” rallied while representatives of the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes appeared before U.S. District Judge James Boasberg as part of a status hearing in their case against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Despite months of protests, the corps has allowed the oil pipeline to operate near tribal lands. Last week, the judge ruled in favor of the tribes by ordering the corps to “reconsider” its risk analysis of the controversial pipeline. Wednesday’s rally, according to a press release by organizers Rising Hearts Coalition, “will … provide remedy options in how to move forward for both parties.” “Oil still flows,” states the event page for the rally. “But this is a crucial victory in the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline.”

Thousands Take To The Streets To Protest Philando Castile Verdict

Castille protest of jury verdice 6-17-17

By Jessica Goldstein for Think Progress. Within hours of the verdict, thousands of protestors came together at the state Capitol, starting a march toward St. Paul Cathedral. The crowd, as the Associated Press reported, was “mixed-race” and “includ[ed] many people with children.” Their signs read “Unite for Philando” and “Corrupt systems only corrupt.” A group of protestors peeled off from the pack and headed to Interstate 94 in St. Paul; the freeway was shutdown in both directions. A police standoff with protestors lasted over an hour and a half, at which point “the group dwindled and appeared to largely clear the interstate without police using force.” According to CNN, Minnesota State Patrol reported 18 arrests following I-94 demonstrations when protestors did not comply with orders to disperse. St. Paul police put the number of peaceful protestors in the streets and at the Capitol at about 2,000.

Minnesota Police Officer Yanez Acquitted In Shooting Death of Philando Castile

of moments after shooting.

Update: Several hours after the verdict, a protest which began at the St Paul State Capital building, made its way to I-94 freeway where there were 18 arrests, including several journalists.

By John Zangas for DC Media Group. A mostly white jury acquitted Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez of the shooting death of Philando Castile, a Black man from Twin Cities, Minnesota, during a traffic stop. The verdict was delivered Friday afternoon after the jury deliberated for five days. The shooting death of Castile happened on July 6, 2016, when Yanez pulled Diamond Reynolds over in Falcon Heights for a broken taillight. Castillo was riding in the front passenger seat and Reynolds’ 4 year old daughter was seated in a baby car seat behind them. Officer Yanez had pulled over Reynolds at about 9 pm because of a broken taillight. In a patrol car voice recording of the incident, and before Reynolds began her cell video camera, Castillo can be heard telling Officer Yanez that he has a firearm and is licensed to carry it. “Sir, I have to tell you that I do have a firearm on me.” Castillo said to Yanez. Yanez then said “Okay,” Yanez said to Castile not to pull out his gun. Castile said, “I’m not pulling it out,” Yanez then screamed, “Don’t pull it out,” while he pulled his own gun out and shot Castile. He fired seven shots in succession. The last thing Castillo said before he lost consciousness was, “I wasn’t going to pull it out.” Their four year old daughter sat in the backseat of the car. She was not hit though one shot penetrated Castile’s seat…

States And Industries Face More Climate Court Action

From climatenewsnetwork.net

By Paul Brown for Climate News Network – LONDON, 15 June, 2017 – Governments that make promises they do not keep to cut greenhouse gases or to protect their citizens against climate change are finding themselves more frequently facing climate court action by their own citizens. According to a UN environment (the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP) report, climate change cases have been filed in 24 countries – with the US, with 654 individual cases, facing by far the largest number. Australia has seen 80 cases, the UK and the European Union Court of Justice 49 each. In many cases it is the promises made by governments at the Paris climate conference in 2015 that are providing the legal arguments which campaigners are using in the courts. These issues are complex and vary according to the legal system of the country involved. But many boil down to whether the government in question is doing its share to hold the average global temperature rise down to below 2°C, or as close as possible to 1.5°C, the primary promise the politicians made in Paris. Another type of case involves human rights, the right to clean air, health, and protection from threats like sea level rise. Where governments have enacted legislation to protect the public but failed to implement it…

Victory For Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Court Finds Approval Of Dakota Access Pipeline Violated Law

Flags fly at the Oceti Sakowin Camp in 2016, near Cannonball, North Dakota.

LUCAS ZHAO / CC BY-NC 2.0

By Jan Hasselman and Phillip Ellis for Earth Justice – The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe won a significant victory today in its fight to protect the Tribe’s drinking water and ancestral lands from the Dakota Access pipeline. A federal judge ruled that the federal permits authorizing the pipeline to cross the Missouri River just upstream of the Standing Rock reservation, which were hastily issued by the Trump administration just days after the inauguration, violated the law in certain critical respects. In a 91-page decision, Judge James Boasberg wrote, “the Court agrees that [the Corps] did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial.” The Court did not determine whether pipeline operations should be shut off and has requested additional briefing on the subject and a status conference next week. “This is a major victory for the Tribe and we commend the courts for upholding the law and doing the right thing,” said Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II in a recent statement. “The previous administration painstakingly considered the impacts of this pipeline…

Donald Trump Maintains Losing Streak In Court Over His Travel Ban

Mr Trump has said he needs more to time to decide whether to pull out of the Paris climate change agreement Evan Vucci/AP

By Cristian Farias for The Huffington Post – President Donald Trump couldn’t appease the appeals court that first rebuked him over his travel ban, as a panel of judges dealt him yet another legal setback Monday despite administration efforts to help the ban survive judicial scrutiny. More than three months since the president went back to the drawing board on his original executive order, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit again refused to reinstate the revised version, which aimed to impose a ban on travel from six Muslim-majority countries and a suspension of the refugee resettlement program. “The Immigration and Nationality Act … gives the President broad powers to control the entry of aliens, and to take actions to protect the American public. But immigration, even for the President, is not a one-person show,” said the court in a unanimous, unsigned ruling. “The President’s authority is subject to certain statutory and constitutional restraints. We conclude that the President, in issuing the Executive Order, exceeded the scope of the authority delegated to him by Congress,” the court added.

We’re Winning In The Fight Against Corporate Courts And Toxic Trade Deals

Screenshot 2017-06-03 at 2.00.01 PM

By Staff of War On Want – In recent weeks two EU court rulings and a decision taken by Ecuador to scrap its investment treaties have dealt a heavy blow to secretly negotiated, corporate trade deals. The events have proved a major boost to social movements resisting these toxic deals in the UK and around the world, as part of a wider fight for trade justice and democracy. Growing opposition to ‘corporate courts’. The decisions have severely dented the deeply undemocratic investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) or ‘corporate court’ system, under which corporations can sue governments for lost future profits. Corporate courts are effectively taxpayer-funded risk insurance for corporations. Time and again countries around the world have been sued by corporations for lost future profits after taking action to ban nuclear power, safeguard the human right to water or stop harmful mining operations. In response, a broad opposition to corporate courts has built up across Southern countries, civil society groups, among trade unions, academics, progressive political parties and UN independent experts. EU states must have a say. In the midst of election campaigning here in the UK, it’s been easy for these somewhat technical stories to pass under the radar.