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Court: Cherokee Freedmen have right to tribal citizenship
Legal Business | 2017/09/01 09:00
Descendants of black slaves, known as freedmen, who were once owned by members of the Cherokee Nation have a right to tribal citizenship under a ruling handed down by a federal court in Washington, D.C.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan ruled Wednesday in a long-standing dispute between the Cherokee Freedmen and the second largest tribe in the United States.

Freedmen have long argued that the Treaty of 1866, signed between the U.S. government and the Tahlequah, Oklahoma-based Cherokees, gave them and their descendants "all the rights of native Cherokees." There are around 3,000 freedmen descendants today.

But Cherokee leaders have argued the tribe has the fundamental right to determine its citizens, and in 2007 more than three-fourths of Cherokee voters approved an amendment to remove the Freedmen from tribal rolls.


Otter appoints new justice to Idaho Supreme Court
Legal Business | 2017/08/25 08:59
Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has appointed Twin Falls judge Richard Bevan to the state's highest court.

Otter announced Tuesday that Bevan — currently the 5th Judicial District's administrative judge — will replace retiring Idaho Supreme Court Justice Daniel Eismann. Bevan was among four other finalists vying for the open seat. Eismann will retire at the end of the month.

Bevan has been a judge since 2003, where he helped establish the 5th District's mental health court and presided over the Veterans Treatment Court. Previously, he was a private practice attorney and served a term as Twin Falls County prosecuting attorney.

Otter praised Bevan's judicial demeanor and understanding of the legal system, adding that Bevan has shown to have open mind on tough, socially significant issues.




Court file: Michigan girl who killed toddler heard voices
Legal Business | 2017/08/21 23:41
Court documents say an 8-year-old girl accused of killing a toddler at a home daycare in western Michigan earlier this year suffers from "serious mental health" issues, including hearing a demon's voice.

The Department of Health and Human Services filed a petition in Muskegon County Family Court saying the girl, who was also cared for at the home daycare, killed 14-month-old Korey Landon Brown on April 14.

The petition filed last month asks the court to make the girl a temporary ward of the state and to make a decision regarding the girl's placement that protects her brother and other children. The petition says the best placement is Hawthorn Center, a state-run residential psychiatric facility in Northville for children and adolescents.

Chief Assistant Prosecutor Timothy Maat tells MLive the petition was the result of an investigation conducted by multiple agencies.

Korey's mother said that when she went to the daycare to take her children home, she found the boy unresponsive in a playpen and covered with bite marks. His death was ruled a homicide due to multiple injuries, including trauma to his head, other blunt force trauma and possible asphyxiation, according to the petition.



Top court to hear case that could reshape US political map
Legal Business | 2017/06/17 09:02
The Supreme Court will take up a momentous fight over parties manipulating electoral districts to gain partisan advantage in a case that could affect the balance of power between Democrats and Republicans across the United States.

At issue is whether Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin drew legislative districts that favored their party and were so out of whack with the state's political breakdown that they violated the constitutional rights of Democratic voters.

It will be the high court's first case in more than a decade on what's known as partisan gerrymandering. A lower court struck down the districts as unconstitutional last year.

The justices won't hear the arguments until the fall, but the case has already taken on a distinctly ideological, if not partisan, tone. Just 90 minutes after justices announced Monday that they would hear the case, the five more conservative justices voted to halt a lower court's order to redraw the state's legislative districts by November, in time for next year's elections.

The four more liberal justices, named to the court by Democrats, would have let the new line-drawing proceed even as the court considers the issue.

That divide could be significant. One factor the court weighs in making such decisions is which side seems to have a better chance of winning.

Republicans who control the state legislature assured the court that they could draw new maps in time for the 2018 elections, if the court strikes down the districts. If the state wins, there'll be no need for new districts.

Democrats hope a favorable decision will help them cut into Republican electoral majorities. Election law experts say the case is the best chance yet for the high court to put limits on what lawmakers may do to gain a partisan advantage in creating political district maps.

Both parties have tried to get the largest partisan edge when they control redistricting. Yet Democrats are more supportive of having courts rein in extreme districting plans, mainly because Republicans control more legislatures and drew districts after the 2010 census that enhanced their advantage in those states and in the House of Representatives.


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