Gavel Grab

3/5/08 – News so Good, That you Could Wait 🙂

Take politics out of selecting judges – Augusta Chronicle
A letter to the editor in Georgia wanting to get politics out of the courts.

Divided state Supreme Court delves into same-sex marriage – The San Diego UNION-TRIBUNE
The California Supreme Court is divided on the issue of Same-Sex marriage, after the first hearing on March 4th.

D.C. GUN CONTROL CASE – The Washington Post
The Supremes will release the audio recording of the Guantanamo and DC hand gun ban oral arguments to the public on the same day. The Supremes usually wait until after the term to release audio of cases, but for high profile cases, like these two, the court has decided to post the recordings on the same day of hearing.

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3/3/08 – Criticism Around for Guantanamo; Same-Sex Marriage Case Hits the California Supreme Court; A Call For Tougher Ethics in Louisiana

State Supreme Court takes up same-sex marriage – The San Francisco Chronicle
The California Supreme Court will be looking at Same-Sex Marriage in a hearing Tuesday.

ABA protests war court at Guantanamo – The Register Guard
The ABA join in the protest for fair trials for the War Court at Guantanamo. ABA president, William Neukom, wrote a letter to President Bush, requesting a change.

State court seat most watched race – The Brewton Standard
The Brewton Standard pointing out that the Alabama Supreme court campaign will be the most watched because of how the 2006 campaign turned out. Justice at Stake is also paying close attention the Supreme Court Campaign this year also.

Iraqi Court Tosses American’s Conviction – The Associated Press
An interesting bit of news concerning the overthrow of an American court’s decision in Iraq.

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2/26/08: Justice at Stake in Wisconsin; Canada Same-Sex Marriage vs.The U.S.;

Campaigns push finance reform – The Badger Herald
Coverage of the Judicial Campaign fight in Wisconsin, with our very own Bert Brandenburg.

Canadian same-sex marriage faces U.S. challenge – Time’s Colonist
An interesting case concerning whether the US should honor same-sex marriages from Canada is discussed here.

Judicial candidates keeping varied war chests – The Brownsville Herald
Lower court Judicial elections in Mississippi is bringing in a lot of contributions.

High court to hear local warrantless case – The Arizona Daily Star
SCOTUS will be look at a case from Arizona to determine the limits of police warrantless searches.

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2/14/08 – Valentine's Day in CO, Dems Want Limit on Bush's Secret Powers, Third WV Justice Asked to Recuse in Massey Case, Sentencing Deal with Dems and DOJ, MI Lacks Jury Diversity

2 Sue to Void Ban on Same-Sex Marriage – The New York Times
Colorado’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is being challenged for the first time since it was approved by voters in 2006. The trial dates is set for April 14.

Democrats Seek to Narrow Secrets Law – The Associated Press
Sen. Patrick Leahy intends to introduce legislation that would force the Bush administration to produce evidence for a judge to privately review, even when it is claimed that disclosing information might endanger national security.

Benjamin asked to withdraw from $240 million Massey case – The Associated Press
Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Co. has requested that Justice Brent Benjamin recuse himself from the Massey case because Benjamin’s 2004 campaign received significant funds from Massey CEO Don Blankenship.

Lawmaker sees action on crack sentences – Reuter
Senator Joe Biden is attempting to make a deal in which Congress helps the Bush administration limit early releases for crack-cocaine offenders in exchange for cooperation in revising the mandatory minimum sentence for crack position.

High Court pushed to diversify juries – The Detroit News
The Michigan Supreme Court and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick both weighed in on the apparent underrepresentation of minorities serving on juries as activists continued to criticize the broken system and lack reforms to fix it.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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2/12/08 – Louisiana SC Wants to Self-Govern, Griffen's Case May Finally Be at an End, CO Couple Wants Marriage Rights, First 9/11 Charges Made, WV Candidates Debate

Supreme Court: ‘Let us govern ourselves’ – The Times-Picayune
Louisiana Supreme Court Associate Justice Kitty Kimball speaks out about Gov. Bobby Jindal’s ethics proposal and requests that the courts be given a chance to govern themselves.

Judge refuses to reconsider judge’s lawsuit – The Associated Press
A federal judge Monday refused to reconsider Arkansas Appeals Court Judge Wendell Griffen’s lawsuit challenging the state judicial disciplinary panel’s rules.

Couple asks court to overturn gay marriage ban – The Denver Post
A lesbian couple is challenging the constitutionality of Colorado’s same-sex marriage ban. The couple will be in court tomorrow facing charges from their sit-in protest last year after they were denied a marriage license.

US seeks the death penalty as six detained in Guantánamo are charged over 9/11 – The Guardian
U.S. Military prosecutors issued the first charges relating to the September 11 attacks and announced they would seek the death penalty against six detainees held at Guantánamo Bay.

Court candidates speak at forum – The Journal
The four Democratic candidates in the West Virginia State Supreme Court race faced off in a question/answer session in Charles Town.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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2/7/08 – Cal. Sets Date for Same-Sex Marriage Case, Mukasey Faces Questioning Today on CIA Tapes and Crack Sentencing, Election Reform Piques WV's Interest, TN Sees a Heated Down Ballot Race

Calif. Supreme Court schedules hearing on gay marriage – The Associated Press
The California State Supreme Court will hear the consolidated case challenging state laws prohibiting same-sex marriage on March 4 and will have 90 days to hand down a decision.

Justice attorneys may have known CIA had destroyed tapes – The Los Angeles Times
Newly surfaced documents relating to the Moussaoui case have turned up evidence that Justice Department attorneys knew of the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes since 2006. Attorney General Michael Mukasey will be appearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee today and will likely face questions about this new development.

Crack-Sentencing Reductions Decried – The Washington Post
Attorney General Michael Mukasey is expected to argue in against early releases for crack cocaine offenders because it will mean the release “among the most serious and violent offenders”.

Interest growing in court reform – The Herald-Dispatch
In light of recent controversies involving several West Virginia State Supreme Court Justices, judicial election reform and non-partisan elections are being seriously considered

Judicial race focuses on finances – The Daily Times
Judge David R. Duggan and Judge Mike Meares are both running for Blount County Division II Circuit Court in Tennessee, but the candidates are clashing on campaign finance.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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2/4/08 – Judicial Selection Reform Discussed in 2 States, Guantanamo Gets New Court but No New Hearing, NY Court Rules to Recognize Out-of-State Same-Sex Marriages

Consider Judge Lackey: How Mississippians choose the judiciary – The Clarion-Ledger
After a difficult year for the Mississippi judiciary, some question the way judges are selected and suggest alternative judicial selection methods.

Maintain judge selection process – The Charleston Post and Courier
Discussion surrounding upcoming legislative, merit-based judicial elections in South Carolina has prompted Lanneau Wm. Lambert Jr., President of the South Carolina Bar to defend the system as one of the most fair and impartial judicial selection methods in the country.

U.S. unveils new court as Guantanamo trials resume – Reuters
The U.S. Military opens the doors to its new war crime court at Guantanamo Bay and resumes hearing the Omar Khadr case.

Court Won’t Reconsider Guantanamo Ruling – The Associated Press
A federal appeals court dealt another blow to the Administration by refusing to reconsider a ruling broadening its own authority to scrutinize evidence against detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

State Court Recognizes Gay Marriages From Elsewhere – The New York Times
A New York appellate court ruled Friday that valid out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples must be legally recognized in New York, just as the law recognizes those of heterosexual couples solemnized elsewhere.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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1/25/08 – Impeachment Threat In Iowa, Justice in Question, TX SC Justice Wants Arson Charges Erased, WV Massey Case to be Redecided, OH Judges Say No to New Law

Conservatives want to impeach judge over gay marriage ruling – The Associated Press
Conservative activist Bill Salier over 6,000 signatures calling for the impeachment of Judge Hanson because of his ruling last year upholding same-sex marriage.

Padilla trial highlights Bush Administration’s manipulation of justice – The JURIST
Former US Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions, Paul Craig Roberts talks about the Administration’s post 9/11 assault on US civil liberties.

Lawyer wants to erase charges against Texas Supreme Court justice – The Associated Press
Justice Medina and his attorney moves to have all public record of the justice’s arson indictment erased from public record.

W.Va. Court to Rehear Massey Case – The Associated Press
Ethics issues arising from a potentially inappropriate relationship between Justice Maynard and chief executive of Massey Energy Co. have prompted the state Supreme Court to reconsider its reversal of the $76 million judgment.

Ohio’s new sex-offender law draws rebuke from judges – The Plain Dealer – OH
Ohio County judges are refusing to enforce the newest and toughest sex-offender registration law because of potential constitutional conflicts.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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1/24/08 – A Special Texas Edition of the Daily Media Monitoring, Plus Bonus Ethics News From Maine and a Defense of Impeachment in Iowa

AP NewsBreak: High court justice use campaign funds questioned – The Associated Press
Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht joins Justices Paul Green and David Medina in defending campaign spending on questionable travel expenses.

As the Texas Supreme Court turns – The Star-Telegram
A play-by-play editorial of the ongoing ethics saga unfolding in the Texas Supreme Court.

Looks matter: Ethics issues involving Texas justices have put a cloud over top judicial panels. – The Houston Chronicle
With the ongoing ethics concerns in the Texas judiciary, voters should pay special attention to judicial elections and be sure to educate themselves before voting in the primaries.

Judge’s nomination questioned – The Associated Press
Gov. John Baldacci comes under fire after he appointed Assistant Attorney General Susan Sparaco to serve as District Court Judge. Sparaco is the domestic partner of Gov. Baldacci’s chief of staff.

Let public be heard in same-sex marriage debate – The Des Moines Register
Mike Manno, a West Des Moines attorney, responds to two earlier Register article and defends the argument that the voters should ultimately decide the fate of same-sex marriage and that discussion of judicial impeachment should be left on the table for the legislators.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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1/23/08 – GOP Primary Means Open Season on Judiciary, Special Interests in IL, WV SC Judge Investigates His Collegue, IA Gov. Lights a Fire Under the SC, Arson Charges Mysteriously Dropped for TX SC Justce

Fred Thompson Blasts Mike Huckabee on Abortion, Constitution Comments – Life News
Fred Thompson accused Mike Huckabee of using “code words for judicial activism”, to which Huckabee replied by stating he opposes liberal judicial activism and abhors the idea of unelected judges making decisions on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. And just so he didn’t feel left out, Mitt Romney made a statement that he, too believes that “unelected judges should not be the final arbiters on these important decisions which define who we are as a people.”

Lawyer’s deep pockets in Ill. judicial race raise hackles – The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Cindi Canary of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform weighs in on the effects of special interest fundraising in judicial elections.

Justice Seeks Probe in Massey Case – The Associated Press
Justice Larry Starcher sent a memo to the West Virginia Supreme Court administrator regarding serious ethical concerns over Chief Justice Maynard’s relationship with the chief executive officer of Massey Energy Co.

Iowa Gov. Tells High Court To Speed Gay Marriage Ruling – 365 Gay
Iowa Gov. Chet Culver requests that the state Supreme Court expedite its ruling on same-sex marriage and announces that legislative action will be taken if the courts rule in favor of same-sex marriage.

Texas grand jurors outraged by politics of justice – The LA Times
The Texas jury that convicted Republican Justice David Medina last week of arson is speaking out now that District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal, also a Republican, dropped all charges against Medina.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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