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Philippine court clears Arroyo of plunder, orders her freed
Legal Business | 2016/07/11 12:21
The Philippine Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plunder case against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and ordered her freed immediately after nearly five years of hospital detention — a decision the grateful ex-leader indicated can help her deal with those who "through self-serving interpretation and implementation of the law" made her suffer.

The 15 justices voted 11-4 to grant Arroyo's petition seeking to dismiss the case before the special anti-graft Sandiganbayan court because of insufficient evidence, Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te said. The case involved the alleged misuse of 366 million pesos ($7.8 million) from the state lottery agency, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

Arroyo thanked the court "for finally stopping the persecution I had unjustly gone through the last five years" and President Rodrigo Duterte "for allowing due process to take its course."

She released a statement while still detained in the hospital, with the serving of the court's order for an immediate release apparently delayed by paperwork.

"It is my fervent hope that nobody else will suffer the persecution that had been levied on me through self-serving interpretation and implementation of the law," she said. "And that the disregard for truth for which I was made to suffer be dealt with accordingly at the soonest possible time."

Arroyo was detained under former President Benigno Aquino III, who accused her of corruption and misrule. Aquino's successor, Duterte, however, has said the plunder case against her was weak. She rejected his offer of a pardon because it would require that she be first convicted, preferring to fight the allegation.

Aquino has not commented on the court decision. But his former justice secretary and now Senator Leila de Lima said the Supreme Court seems to have assumed a role as a "trier of facts" in the case, supplanting the anti-graft court's assessment when it declared there was insufficient evidence of guilt.


Planned Parenthood shooting defendant returning to court
Legal Business | 2016/05/11 13:12
A man who admitted killing three people at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic is returning to court for the continuation of a hearing on whether he's mentally competent to stand trial.

A psychologist who examined 57-year-old Robert Dear is scheduled to testify Tuesday.

Dear is charged with 179 counts including murder, attempted murder and assault in the Nov. 27 shootings at the Colorado Springs clinic. Nine people were injured in the attack.

In court, he has declared himself a "warrior for the babies" and said he was guilty.

The hearing started last month, when two psychologists testified that Dear isn't competent to stand trial.

If the judge agrees, Dear's case would be put on hold while he undergoes treatment at a state psychiatric hospital intended to restore him to competency.



Florida's high court urged to throw out death sentences
Legal Business | 2016/05/07 13:13
Former judges and top legal officials are calling on the Florida Supreme Court to impose life sentences on nearly 400 people now awaiting execution on death row.

The group, which includes three former state Supreme Court justices and two former presidents of the American Bar Association, filed a legal brief Tuesday in a case that could determine the fate of Florida's death penalty.    

In January, the U.S. Supreme Court declared Florida's death penalty sentencing law unconstitutional, prompting the state Supreme Court to halt two executions. The Florida Legislature responded by overhauling the law.

But the Florida Supreme Court still hasn't decided what should happen to those sentenced to death under the previous sentencing scheme. The court will hear arguments from lawyers this week on what should be done.



Obama's power over immigration drives Supreme Court dispute
Legal Business | 2016/04/16 22:56
The raging political fight over immigration comes to the Supreme Court on Monday in a dispute that could affect millions of people who are in the United States illegally.
 
The court is weighing the fate of Obama administration programs that could shield roughly 4 million people from deportation and grant them the legal right to hold a job.

Among them is Teresa Garcia of suburban Seattle, who has spent 14 years in the United States illegally after staying beyond the expiration of her tourist visa in 2002.

She's already gotten much of what she wanted when she chose not to return to her native Mexico. Her two sons are benefiting from an earlier effort that applies to people who were brought here illegally as children. Garcia's 11-year-old daughter is an American citizen.

Now, she would like the same for herself and her husband, a trained accountant who works construction jobs. Neither can work legally.

"To have a Social Security number, that means for me to have a better future. When I say better future, we are struggling with the little amount of money my husband is getting for the whole family. It makes for stress every day. We struggle to pay for everything," Garcia said.

The programs announced by President Barack Obama in November 2014 would apply to parents whose children are citizens or are living in the country legally. Eligibility also would be expanded for the president's 2012 effort that helped Garcia's sons. More than 700,000 people have taken advantage of that earlier program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The new program for parents and the expanded program for children could reach as many as 4 million people, according to the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute.



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