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Legal System

David Beat Goliath’ As Line 3 Water Defenders Win Protective Ruling

Indigenous water defenders and their allies on Tuesday celebrated a Minnesota court ruling protecting a Line 3 protest camp from illegal government repression. Hubbard County District Judge Jana Austad issued a ruling shielding the Indigenous-led Giniw Collective's Camp Namewag—where opponents organize resistance to Enbridge's Line 3 tar sands pipeline—from local law enforcement's unlawful blockades and harassment. The ruling follows months of litigation on behalf of Indigenous water protectors, whose legal team last year secured a temporary restraining order issued by Austad against Hubbard County, Sheriff Cory Aukes, and the local land commissioner for illegally blocking access to Camp Namewag. "Today David beat Goliath in a legal victory for people protecting the climate from rapacious corporate destruction," Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, director of the Center for Protest Law & Litigation at the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, said in a statement.

The Alternative To Cash Bail Is A Simple Reminder

Last March, the California Supreme Court ruled that low-income individuals were not to be subject to cash bail, stating that “conditioning freedom solely on whether an arrestee can afford bail is unconstitutional.” This came four months after a widely scrutinized bail reform law subject to a referendum was defeated by California voters in 2020.  Other states have moved even further to eliminate cash bail, part of the growing national concern with how a de facto for-profit element of the criminal justice system jails and immiserates people by the millions, the vast majority of whom have not been convicted of a crime. An Illinois bill from 2021 eliminates cash bail starting in 2023.

Starbucks Worker Militancy Forces Legal Victories

Recently, Starbucks workers achieved some significant wins in the form of National Labor Relations Board complaints and judgments against the company. Workers are waiting to see if these will materialize into meaningful changes in what is now a year-long, union-busting campaign waged by the company. The NLRB filed a complaint Aug. 24 over Starbucks’ illegal withholding of pay raises and other benefits from workers who were unionized or in the process of organizing.  Since the beginning of the union drive, Starbucks has been announcing a number of perks for workers who decide not to unionize, including a pay raise which took effect Aug. 1.

Leonard Peltier’s Walk To Justice demands Release Of Political Prisoner

On September 1, Leonard Peltier’s Walk to Justice departed from Minneapolis, Minnesota. The march will pass through multiple cities, finally ending in Washington, DC on November 14. Rallies and prayer sessions will be held along the route. The walk is being coordinated by the American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council to demand elder Leonard Peltier’s release from federal prison. Leonard Peltier has been unjustly held as a political prisoner by the U.S. government for over 46 years, making him one of the world’s longest incarcerated political prisoners. He is the longest held Native American political prisoner in the world. Peltier was wrongly convicted and framed for a shooting at Oglala on June 26, 1975.

Africans Take UK To Court Over Abuses Committed During Colonial Era

Several Kenyan activists are suing the United Kingdom over abuses committed during the British empire's colonial era, raising a case against the country in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday. The plaintiffs, Africans forced off their land in the Kenyan Rift Valley, are saying London violated the European Convention of Human Rights through the abuses it committed in Africa during its colonial rule of the continent. The UK is a signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights, and the plaintiffs' lawyers are saying it violated the accord by consistently ignoring complaints raised by the victims of the brutal British colonial rule.

The Plea Bargain Originated To Undermine Working-Class Solidarity

The U.S. criminal legal system is terrible by so many metrics: We lock up more people than anywhere else in the world, our penalties tend to be harsher, our arrest rates are many times higher than other democracies, and so on. Plea bargaining is not often at the top of the list when we think of all harm done by the system, but the U.S. is an outlier in this area as well. More than 95 percent of all American criminal cases end in a guilty plea, mostly due to bargained agreements, making our plea-deal rate much higher than that of any other country in the world. In my book Pleading Out: How Plea Bargaining Creates a Criminal Class, I argue that the widespread use of plea bargaining is a chief enabler of our criminal legal system’s ills.

Judge Reinstates Obama-Era Coal Leasing Moratorium On Federal Lands

Great Falls, Montana - A federal judge in Montana District Court ruled today to reinstate a moratorium on new coal leasing on public lands, halting all coal leasing on federal lands until the Bureau of Land Management completes a more sufficient environmental analysis. The original moratorium set by the Obama administration in 2016 was overturned by Trump Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in 2017. The Biden administration revoked the Zinke order last year, but did not reinstate the moratorium. “The Tribe has fought and sacrificed to protect our homelands for generations, and our lands and waters mean everything to us. We are thrilled that the court is requiring what we have always asked for: serious consideration of the impacts of the federal coal leasing program on the Tribe and our way of life,” said President Serena Wetherelt of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe.

Court Rejects Google’s Attempt to Dismiss Rumble’s Antitrust Lawsuit

California - A federal district court in California on Friday denied Google's motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that the Silicon Valley giant is violating federal antitrust laws by preventing fair competition against its YouTube video platform. The lawsuit against Google, which has owned YouTube since its 2006 purchase for $1.65 billion, was brought in early 2021 by Rumble, the free speech competitor to YouTube. Its central claim is that Google's abuse of its monopolistic stranglehold on search engines to destroy all competitors to its various other platforms is illegal under the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, which makes it unlawful to “monopolize, or attempt to monopolize…any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations.”

Lawsuit Alleges Officials Illegally Hold People In Jail Before Trial

Prince George’s County, Maryland - Nine people who were recently held in the Prince George’s County jail say they were detained illegally, even after courts ordered or allowed their release. They’ve filed a lawsuit that suggests as many as a third of people in the county jail may be in custody illegally. The lawsuit, which lawyers are seeking to certify as a class action, was filed in federal district court in Maryland this week. It alleges that county judges unlawfully deferred to county officials in final decisions about the release of people before trial, shrouding the decision making process in bureaucratic mystery and leading to lengthy delays in giving people who have not been found guilty of a crime their freedom. “Every night, hundreds of people are jailed awaiting trial in Prince George’s County, Maryland, despite the absence of any legally sufficient order that they be detained,” the complaint reads.

Undocumented Immigrants Take To The Streets As Appeals Court Debates DACA

Over 100 undocumented immigrants and their supporters descended on a federal appeals court in New Orleans Wednesday, as oral arguments began on a case that will determine the future of DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — the program protecting hundreds of thousands from deportation. José Coronado Flores, 25, a DACA recipient and organizer for the immigration advocacy group CASA, traveled from Maryland to the courtroom at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, as attorneys debated the legality of the program in the case of Texas v. United States. Since its inception over a decade ago, DACA has provided temporary work status and protection from deportation to people brought into the U.S. as children. “For a lot of people, DACA is just a word or a political talking point,” Coronado Flores said.

How New Federal Antimerger Guidelines Can Restore Competition

When the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice announced plans to revise their merger guidelines earlier this year, it marked a dramatic shift from business as usual. Their announcements set the stage for a new era in antitrust regulation where mergers are not seen as inherent benefits to the market to be encouraged but rather as inherent threats of which to be skeptical. In “Rolling Back Corporate Concentration: How New Federal Antimerger Guidelines Can Restore Competition and Build Local Power,” the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) provides context illuminating why the departments’ new stance on merger activity is both enormously consequential for today’s economy and also entirely consistent with what Congress intended when creating antimerger law in the mid-20th century.

Young Victims Of Climate Disasters Sue EU States Over Energy Treaty

In the latest attempt to use the courts to address the climate crisis, five young people are suing 12 EU countries over membership in a treaty that they argue puts the needs of fossil fuel companies above climate action. The young people brought their case before the European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday, as Euractiv reported. The lawsuit targets the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), which gives energy companies the right to sue governments for compensation when their policies threaten profits. “Governments are still putting profits of the fossil fuel industry over human rights. But climate change is escalating and demanding more and more lives every day,” a plaintiff named Julia, who is 17, said in a statement reported by Reuters.

Political Prisoner Simón Trinidad Settles First Amendment Lawsuit

On January 24, 2022, Simón Trinidad filed a complaint in Federal District Court in Denver, Colorado against U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and the Bureau of Prisons. The complaint (22-cr-00193) asserted that the denial of access to a Colombian attorney violated his right to freedom of speech and freedom of association guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. He further asserted that his access to an attorney was critical, as he has numerous cases in the Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz (JEP), or Special Peace Jurisdiction, a specialized court in Colombia created to resolve issues related to Colombia’s 50-year armed conflict between the Colombian government and the FARC. In 2017 Simón Trinidad requested access to a Colombian lawyer and his request was denied.

Officer Released On Bail After Indictment For Killing Patrick Lyoya

Patrick Lyoya, 26, an African immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), was shot in the back of the head by patrolman Christopher Schurr on April 4. This act of police violence was met with widespread shock and mass demonstrations demanding that Schurr be terminated from the Grand Rapids police department and charged with murder. There was an announcement made on June 15 saying that Schurr had been fired from the Grand Rapid Police Department. This came less than a week after his indictment on second degree murder charges in the death of Lyoya. Despite the national attention focusing on the killing of Lyoya, it would take more than two months for Schurr to be indicted for second degree murder.

Three Animal Rights Advocates Face Trial Over 2019 Hog Farm Occupation

Abbotsford, B.C., Canada – It’s been three years since two hundred animal rights advocates descended on the Excelsior Hog Farm on April 28, 2019 “to expose the reality of what is happening to the victims of the ‘meat’ industry and to challenge the current mindset within our society,” according to the activist group Meat The Victims. Over a year later, a total of four activists were facing multiple charges, however today, three of them stand trial at the end of June 2022. During the farm action, approximately 50 of the activists got inside the building where they witnessed deceased pigs in a dumpster, pigs laying on the ground unable to get up because of injuries, and “row upon row of pregnant pigs crammed inside metal crates the size of their own bodies, unable to even turn around or move for months on end.”
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