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Supreme Court  nominee Amy Coney Barrett vows to be a justice “fearless of criticism” as the split Senate charges ahead with confirmation hearings on President Donald Trump’s pick to cement a conservative court majority before Election Day.

Barrett, a federal appeals court judge, draws on faith and family in her prepared opening remarks for the hearings, which begin Monday as the country is in the grips of the coronavirus  pandemic. She says courts “should not try” to make policy, but leave those decisions to the government’s political branches. She believes she would bring “a few new perspectives” as the first mother of school-age children on the nine-member court.

Trump chose the 48-year-old judge after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal icon. “I have been nominated to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat, but no one will ever take her place,” Barrett says in her remarks to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Associated Press obtained a copy of her statement on Sunday.

Barrett says she has resolved to maintain the same perspective as her mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who was “devoted to his family, resolute in his beliefs, and fearless of criticism.” Republicans who control the Senate are moving at a breakneck pace to seat Barrett before the Nov. 3 election, in time to hear a high-profile challenge to the Affordable Care Act and any election-related challenges that may follow the voting.

Another reason for moving quickly: It’s unclear whether the election results would make it harder to confirm Barrett before the end of the year if Democrat Joe Biden were to win the White House and Democrats were to gain seats in the Senate. The hearings are taking place less than a month after the death of Ginsburg gave Trump the chance to entrench a conservative majority on the court with his third justice.

Democrats have pressed in vain to delay the hearings, first because of the proximity to the election and now the virus threat. No Supreme Court has ever been confirmed so close to a presidential election. The country will get an extended look at Barrett over three days, beginning with her opening statement late Monday and hours of questioning Tuesday and Wednesday.



More than 15 years after the truck bomb assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut, a U.N.-backed tribunal in the Netherlands is announcing verdicts this week in the trial of four members of the militant group Hezbollah allegedly involved in the killing, which deeply divided the tiny country.

The verdicts on Tuesday at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, based in a village on the outskirts of the Dutch city of The Hague, are expected to further add to soaring tensions in Lebanon, two weeks after a catastrophic explosion at Beirut’s port that killed nearly 180 people, injured more than 6,000 and destroyed thousands of homes in the Lebanese capital.

Unlike the blast that killed Hariri and 21 others on Feb. 14, 2005, the Aug. 4 explosion was believed to be a result of nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate that accidentally ignited at Beirut’s port. While the cause of the fire that provided the trigger is still not clear, Hezbollah, which maintains huge influence over Lebanese politics, is being sucked into the public fury directed at the country’s ruling politicians.

Even before the devastating Beirut port blast, the country’s leaders were concerned about violence after the verdicts. Hariri was Lebanon’s most prominent Sunni politician at the time, while the Iran-backed Hezbollah is a Shiite Muslim group.



The Mississippi Supreme Court has affirmed the conviction of a man who injured his wife by dousing her with hot grease after she said she was planning to leave him.

Justices handed down a unanimous decision Thursday in the appeal of Kendall Woodson, 42, of Greenwood, the Greenwood Commonwealth reported.

“We cannot find any arguable issue for appeal or reversible error committed by the trial court,” Justice David Ishee wrote in upholding the conviction.

Woodson was convicted in 2017 of domestic aggravated assault and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He is in the Holmes/Humphreys County Correctional Facility in Lexington.

Woodson and his wife had been married for 20 years at the time of the assault. According to court records, Anita Woodson testified that she got home from work around 12:45 a.m. on Aug. 6, 2015. During an argument, she told her husband she was going to leave him the next day.

She fell asleep, then woke up when Kendall Woodson pulled her up by the hair, began beating her and poured hot cooking oil on her head, while threatening to kill her. Anita Woodson was severely burned and received a concussion.




A North Carolina Supreme Court candidate's lawsuit against Republican legislators over a law preventing him from having his party listed on November ballots is returning to court.

A judge scheduled a Wake County hearing Monday to consider requests by candidate Chris Anglin and a lower-court candidate also fighting the law finalized by GOP legislators earlier this month.

The law says a judicial candidate's party affiliation won't be listed next to the candidate's name if it was changed less than 90 days before filing for a race. Anglin says the law targets him — he was a registered Democrat three weeks before entering the race as a Republican.

Republicans accuse Anglin of trying to split the GOP vote with incumbent Justice Barbara Jackson to help Democratic opponent Anita Earls win.


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