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Lawyers will seek to shift blame for warehouse fire at trial
Topics | 2018/08/19 00:44
Lawyers for the two men charged in the Northern California warehouse fire that killed 36 people said Friday they are now preparing for a trial where they will try to shift blame for the blaze from their clients to others, including the building's owner and government officials.

Derick Almena, 48, and Max Harris, 28, on Friday appeared briefly in an Oakland courtroom for the first time since a judge scuttled a plea deal agreed to by prosecutors. They were ordered back to court in three weeks to schedule a trial.

Outside court, the men's lawyers say there's plenty of blame to share for the Dec. 2, 2016, fire in an Oakland warehouse illegally converted into an underground entertainment venue and live-work space for artists. The cause of the fire has never been determined, which the lawyers said is key part of the men's defense.

Serra also said numerous government officials visited the illegally converted warehouse before the fire, and they had a duty to report the building's condition to authorities. Almena lived in the warehouse with his wife and three children and were visited by Alameda County's Child Protective Services officials several times. Oakland police officers were also called to the warehouse on several occasions to investigate noise complaints and tenant disputes, among other issues.



Alabama Supreme Court won't move lawsuit against Moore
Court Issues | 2018/08/19 00:44
The Alabama Supreme Court on Friday refused to transfer a defamation lawsuit against former U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore by a woman who says Moore molested her decades ago.

The court denied Moore's request to have the case heard in Etowah County instead of Montgomery. Moore issued a statement calling the decision "ridiculous."

Leigh Corfman accused Moore of sexually molesting her decades ago when she was 14 and he was a prosecutor in his 30s. Moore has denied the allegations, but they became an issue in the 2017 race in Alabama to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate. Moore lost to Democrat Doug Jones.

Corfman in January filed a lawsuit against Moore and his campaign, saying they defamed her and made false statements, calling her a liar and immoral as they denied the claims in the midst of the election.

Moore sought to have the case heard in Etowah County where he and Corfman both live.

"The Court itself admits venue is proper in either county. Should not the case be tried in the county where we both live and where her reputation and character are well known?" Moore said.

Etowah County has also been friendlier territory for Moore. During the U.S. Senate race, Moore won about 60 percent of the vote in Etowah County, while he garnered just 27 percent of in Montgomery.

Several Supreme Court justices recused from the case involving Moore, who is a former chief justice of the court. Five retired judges were randomly selected to hear the case along with Associate Justice Brady Mendheim, Jr., and Associate Justice Will Sellers.



California high court rules for immigrant kids in visa fight
Legal Network | 2018/08/17 07:45
The California Supreme Court on Thursday made it easier for some immigrant children who are abused or abandoned by a parent to seek a U.S. visa to avoid deportation in a ruling that advocates said would help thousands of children.

State judges cannot require that children drag an absentee parent living abroad into court in their visa application process, the justices said in a unanimous decision. Immigration rights advocates had warned that such a requirement would make it nearly impossible for the children to fight deportation. That's because courts in California cannot establish authority over a foreign citizen and the parent may want nothing to do with a child claiming abuse, and would refuse to participate in a court proceeding in the U.S., immigration groups said.

The ruling overturned a lower court decision. The California Supreme Court said it was sufficient to adequately notify the absent parent of the court proceedings, but that parent did not have to be a party to the case.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in court documents that the case had implications for a "substantial portion" of the thousands of children who have fled to the U.S. from Central America and Mexico and settled in California. Kristen Jackson, an attorney for the plaintiff in the case, estimated the ruling would affect thousands of children.



Court: Dismissal of cop's Black Lives Matter lawsuit is just
Court Watch | 2018/08/16 07:45
A federal appeals court says a Louisiana court rightly dismissed a deputy's lawsuit accusing Black Lives Matter and several leaders of inciting violence that led to a deadly 2016 attack on law enforcement officers.

The Advocate reports a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans unanimously supported the lower court's ruling Wednesday. A judge found last year that the lawsuit failed to state a plausible claim for relief.

The suit doesn't name the officer but its description of the plaintiff matches East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Deputy Nicholas Tullier, who was critically wounded by 29-year-old Gavin Long. Long killed three law enforcement officers and was later gunned down by authorities.

The attack occurred less than two weeks after a white Baton Rouge officer killed 37-year-old black man Alton Sterling during a struggle.


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