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Governor swears in newest Rhode Island state court judge
Law Firm News | 2021/03/25 09:23
The newest judge to the Rhode Island Superior Court was sworn in Saturday.

Democratic Gov. Dan McKee presided over the swearing in of R. David Cruise, a longtime political operative and state senator, at the Boys & Girls Club location in Cumberland.

McKee, a former Cumberland mayor who has known Cruise for years, said in a statement that he’s an “honest, fair and thoughtful leader who brings decades of legal and government experience to the bench.”

Cruise is a former state senator and Cumberland town councilor. In recent years, he’s served as former Gov. Gina Raimondo’s director of legislative affairs, former administrative magistrate with the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal and chief of staff to the Rhode Island Senate, among other posts, according to McKee’s office.

In the 1990s, Cruise worked in the commerce department under President Bill Clinton and chief of staff to former Governor Bruce Sundlun. In the 1980s, he was a state senator and before that served on the Cumberland Town Council.

Cruise, who graduated from Providence College and the Suffolk University School of Law, replaces former Superior Court Judge Bennett Gallo, who retired in February.

The Rhode Island Superior Court has 22 judges and five magistrates. It handles both civil and criminal matters.


Israel revokes permit of Palestinian foreign minister
Legal Interview | 2021/03/22 20:22
Israel on Sunday revoked the VIP permit of the Palestinian foreign minister after he returned to the West Bank from a trip to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, Israeli and Palestinian officials confirmed.

The move appeared to be Israeli retaliation for Palestinian support for the ICC’s war crimes investigation against Israel.

A Palestinian official said Foreign Minister Riad Malki was stopped Sunday as he entered the West Bank from Jordan through the Israeli-controlled crossing. Malki’s VIP card was seized, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing a sensitive diplomatic issue. Losing the VIP status makes it harder for him to move through Israeli military checkpoints in the West Bank, and traveling abroad will require Israeli permission.

Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter, confirmed the incident, but directed questions to the Shin Bet security agency, which declined comment. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office declined comment.

The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, announced earlier this month that she was opening an investigation  into possible war crimes by Israel committed in the occupied West Bank and blockaded Gaza Strip.

The investigation is expected to look at the Israeli military’s conduct in a 2014 war against Hamas militants and during months of mass protests along Gaza’s frontier with Israel in which dozens of Palestinian were killed or wounded by Israeli gunfire. Israel has said its actions were legitimate acts of defense.

The probe also is set to examine Israel’s settlement policies in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, areas captured in 1967 and claimed by the Palestinians for a hoped-for independent state.

According to the Palestinian Foreign Ministry, Malki met with Bensouda last Thursday and urged her to expedite the investigations “to end the era of impunity and to start the path of accountability” of Israel.

The investigation was launched in response to a request by the Palestinians, who joined the court in 2015 after being granted nonmember observer status in the U.N. General Assembly.

Israel has fiercely condemned the investigation, accusing the ICC of bias and saying it has no jurisdiction since the Palestinians do not have a state. Israel is not a member of the ICC, but its citizens could be subject to arrest abroad if warrants are issued.

The court said last week it has sent formal notices to both sides about the impending investigation, giving them a month to seek deferral  by proving they are carrying out their own investigations.


New Mexico governor appoints judge to court of appeals
Court Watch | 2021/03/21 03:23
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has appointed a judge to the state Court of Appeals to fill a vacancy created by Justice Julie J. Vargas’ appointment to the state Supreme Court.

The state’s 4th Judicial District Chief Judge Gerald E. Baca was appointed to the New Mexico Court of Appeals on Friday.

“Judge Baca has extensive experience on all sides of criminal and civil litigation as well as a diverse and rigorous background on the bench,” said Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, in a statement. “Our state Court of Appeals will greatly benefit from his decades of judicious and exemplary practice as an attorney and jurist.”

Baca, a New Mexico native, has presided over criminal cases in the district court that serves the counties of Guadalupe, Mora and San Miguel since 2013.

“I’m so excited and looking forward to doing this work,” Baca said. “But at the same time, a little saddened because I’ve been here in my hometown serving my community. It’s hard to leave hoping that I’ve done a good job but looking forward to being able to do good things for the people of New Mexico and the Court of Appeals.”

Baca, 59, will now be one of 10 judges tasked with reviewing appeals from the state’s lower courts.

New Mexico Court of Appeals judges serve eight-year terms and must be retained by at least 57% of voters at the end of each term, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

Baca, a registered Democrat, will have to win the 2022 primary and general elections to remain on the Court of Appeals, the newspaper reported. This is Baca’s third gubernatorial appointment.

Former Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson appointed Baca to the 4th Judicial District seat in 2007. Baca then lost his job in an election the following year.

In 2013, former Republican Gov. Susana Martinez appointed Baca to the 4th Judicial District again. Baca was elected to remain in his post in 2014.



Florida man gets 11 years for trafficking 78 pounds of meth
Legal Interview | 2021/03/16 22:25
A Florida man has been sentenced to 11 years in prison on a federal drug trafficking charge drug in a case that involved one of the largest seizures of methamphetamine in Montana history.

U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen sentenced Nicholas James Imhoff of Caple Coral, Florida during a Tuesday hearing in federal court in Missoula.

Police found 78 pounds (35 kilograms) of meth in a rented minivan driven by the 30-year-old defendant after he was stopped for speeding on an interstate near Columbus, Montana in February 2020.

Imhoff pleaded guilty in September to possession with intent to distribute meth, under a plea deal with prosecutors that resulted in the dismissal of a drug conspiracy charge .

Authorities said the meth seized in the case had an estimated street value of up to $1.2 million and was the equivalent of 280,000 doses of the drug.

The seizure was “by far the largest amount of meth we’ve seen in a single traffic stop,” John Barnes, a spokesperson for the Montana Department of Justice, said at the time.

In December, Canadian law enforcement seized more than 500 pounds of meth (228 kilograms) from a truck that was hauling produce across the border from Montana into Alberta. It was the largest meth seizure on record at a land border crossing in Canada, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.



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