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Court says convicted serial rapist should be released
Criminal Law Updates | 2018/07/11 23:57
A convicted serial rapist should be allowed to be released into the community under supervision, the Minnesota state Court of Appeals ruled Monday, saying the state did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that Thomas Duvall should remain in treatment.

Department of Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper said Monday that she will appeal the provisional discharge of Duvall, in a case that once set off a political firestorm as lawmakers were considering changes to the state's treatment program for sex offenders.

"I have grave concerns about this decision," Piper said in a statement. "Three experts have previously testified that Thomas Duvall is not ready for life in the community and that he presents far too great a risk to public safety. I share that view and will exhaust every possible avenue of appeal."

Duvall, 62, has spent the last 30 years locked up for the violent rapes of teenage girls in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1987, he bound a Brooklyn Park girl with an electrical cord and raped her repeatedly over several hours while hitting her with a hammer. He was civilly committed as a psychopathic personality in 1991 and sent to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program.

Duvall has been in treatment since 2001 and was diagnosed as a sexual sadist. He has been in the final stages of the program since 2010, living outside the security perimeter at the facility in St. Peter, going on regular supervised community outings, volunteering at a thrift store, attending community support groups and preparing for transition into the community.


Hawaii Supreme Court sides with lesbian couple in B&B case
U.S. Legal News | 2018/07/11 23:55
A Hawaii appeals court ruling that a bed and breakfast discriminated by denying a room to two women because they're gay will stand after the state's high court declined to take up the case.

Aloha Bed & Breakfast owner Phyllis Young had argued she should be allowed to turn away gay couples because of her religious beliefs.

But the Hawaii Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously rejected Young's appeal of a lower court ruling that ordered her to stop discriminating against same-sex couples.

Young is considering her options for appeal, said Jim Campbell, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian law firm that is representing her. He said Young might not be able to pay her mortgage and could lose her home if she's not able to rent rooms.

"Everyone should be free to live and work according to their religious convictions - especially when determining the living arrangements in their own home," Campbell said in an emailed statement.

Peter Renn, who represents the couple, said the Hawaii high court's order indicates the law hasn't changed even after the U.S. Supreme Court last month, in a limited decision, sided with a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. He said "there still is no license to discriminate."

"The government continues to have the power to protect people from the harms of discrimination, including when it's motivated by religion," said Renn, who is a senior attorney with Lambda Legal, an organization that defends LGBTQ rights.

Diane Cervelli and Taeko Bufford of Long Beach, California, tried to book a room at Aloha Bed & Breakfast in 2007 because they were visiting a friend nearby. When they specified they would need just one bed, Young told them she was uncomfortable reserving a room for lesbians and canceled the reservation.


Courts finds suspect in neo-Nazi trial guilty of 10 killings
U.S. Legal News | 2018/07/10 23:54
A German court on Wednesday found the main defendant in a high-profile neo-Nazi trial guilty over the killing of 10 people - most of them migrants - who were gunned down between 2000 and 2007 in a case that shocked Germany and prompted accusations of institutional racism in the country's security agencies.

Judges sentenced Beate Zschaepe to life in prison for murder, membership of a terrorist organization, bomb attacks that injured dozens and several lesser crimes including a string of robberies. Four men were found guilty of supporting the group in various ways and sentenced to prison terms of between 2½ and 10 years.

Presiding judge Manfred Goetzl told a packed Munich courtroom that Zschaepe's guilt weighed particularly heavily, meaning she is likely to serve at least a 15-year sentence. Her lawyers plan to appeal the verdict.

The 43-year-old showed no emotion as Goetzl read out her sentence. A number of far-right activists attending the trial clapped when one the co-accused, Andre Eminger, received a lower sentence than expected.

Zschaepe was arrested in 2011, shortly after her two accomplices were found dead in an apparent murder-suicide. Together with the men, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Boehnhardt, she had formed the National Socialist Underground, a group that pursued an ideology of white racial supremacy by targeting migrants, mostly of Turkish origin.

Goetzl said the trio agreed in late 1998 to kill people "for anti-Semitic or other racist motivations" in order to intimidate ethnic minorities and portray the state as impotent.

They planned to wait until they had committed a series of killings before revealing their responsibility, in order to increase the public impact of their crimes.



Supreme Court enjoys relatively high public confidence
Criminal Law Updates | 2018/07/09 23:54
The next Supreme Court justice will join the bench at a time when the public has more confidence in the high court than in Congress or the presidency.

A Gallup survey in June found 37 percent of Americans have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the court, while another 42 percent have "some" confidence. Only 18 percent have little or no confidence in the court.

Those are sterling marks compared with the court's neighbor on Capitol Hill: Just 11 percent of Americans say they have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in Congress and nearly half say they have little or no confidence in the nation's legislature.

Down Pennsylvania Avenue, confidence in the White House is on par with that of the Supreme Court - though 44 percent of Americans have little or no confidence in it.

While the public's overall view of the court has remained steady over the past decade, there's been a shift this year as Republicans and GOP-leaning independents were more likely to express confidence in the court than Democrats and left-leaning independents were.

That change comes after a just-concluded term in which retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy sided with conservative-leaning justices on rulings that blessed President Donald Trump's ban on travel from several Muslim nations, placed new limits on public-employee unions and struck down a California law aimed at regulating anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers, among others.

Trump's choice - a former Kennedy clerk, Brett Kavanaugh, who currently sits on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit - will almost certainly push the court to the right. More Americans believe the court is "too conservative" than say it's "too liberal," according to a Quinnipiac poll conducted after Kennedy announced his plans to step down.



Wisconsin court to rule on conservative professor's firing
Court Feed News | 2018/07/08 04:40
The Wisconsin Supreme Court is set to rule on whether Marquette University was correct to fire a conservative professor who wrote a blog post criticizing a student instructor he believed shut down discussion against gay marriage.

John McAdams sued the private Catholic school in 2016, arguing that he lost his job for exercising freedom of speech.

Marquette says McAdams wasn't fired for the content of his 2014 post, but because he named the instructor and linked to her personal website that had personal identifying information. The instructor later received a flood of hateful messages and threats.

The court heard arguments in April. The ruling expected Friday has been eagerly awaited by conservatives who see universities as liberal havens and by private businesses that want control over employee discipline.



Lawyers: 2014 arrest at Vegas hotel precursor to killings
U.S. Legal News | 2018/07/06 21:40
Attorneys in a negligence lawsuit stemming from the Las Vegas Strip shooting say the massacre could have been avoided if hotel management tightened security after a man was found with multiple weapons at the Mandalay Bay resort in 2014.

Lawyer Robert Eglet said Friday the arrest of Kye Aaron Dunbar in a 24th-floor Mandalay Bay room with guns including an assault-style rifle, a tripod and a telescopic sight bears similarities to the Oct. 1 shooting.

Last year, gunman Stephen Paddock killed 58 people shooting modified assault-style weapons from a 32nd-floor room at the Mandalay Bay into a concert crowd below.

Dunbar is 32 and serving federal prison time after pleading guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.

Hotel officials aren't commenting about a court filing Thursday that brought the Dunbar case to light.


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