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EU Court Unfreezes Assets of Saudi Charity
Court Issues | 2008/09/08 14:23
Europe's highest court overturned a decision by the EU governments to freeze the assets of a Saudi businessman and a Sweden-based charity because of their alleged ties to terrorist groups.

The ruling allows judicial review of a regulation by the United Nations Security Council requiring member states to freeze the assets of individuals and organizations with ties to Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida or the Taliban.

But the European Court of Justice said the Security Council should not have deprived Yasin Al-Qadi and the Al Barakaat International Foundation of their property without giving them a chance to defend themselves in court.


NY Judge dismisses challenge to gay marriage recognition
Court Issues | 2008/09/08 14:22
Judge Lucy Billings of the New York State Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday that challenged the decision made by New York Governor David Paterson to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. The lawsuit, brought by conservative Christian legal advocacy group Alliance Defense Fund [advocacy website], asked the court to declare that Governor Paterson's May 14, 2008 Executive Directive recognizing such marriages "contravenes New York law" and asked the court to "permanently enjoin the Directive's enforcement, because it exceeds the Governor's lawful authority." In dismissing the lawsuit, Judge Billings wrote
Governor Paterson's Executive Directive dated May 14, 2008, requiring state agencies to recognize same sex marriages legally solemnized in other jurisdictions is consistent with New York's common law, statutory law, and constitutional separation of powers regarding recognition of marriages legally solemnized outside New York. ... The court therefore denies the declaratory and injunctive relief sought by the amended petition and grants respondents' motions to dismiss this proceeding.
Governor Paterson's Executive Directive notes a February decision by an intermediate New York appellate court in Martinez v. County of Monroe  holding that legal same-sex marriages performed outside the state are entitled to recognition in New York. The memo was dated one day before the California Supreme Court overturned a state ban on same-sex marriage in In re Marriage Cases.


Court Chides Judiciary for Relying on Wikipedia
Court Issues | 2008/09/03 14:28
An immigration judge should not have relied on information the Department of Homeland Security gleaned from Wikipedia to bolster its case for denying asylum to an Ethiopian immigrant, the 8th Circuit ruled.

The government used the free online encyclopedia to glean information about the purpose of a laissez-passer, the travel document that petitioner Lamilem Badasa claimed would establish her identity.

The Board of Immigration Appeals stated that it did "not condone or encourage the use of resources such as Wikipedia.com in reaching pivotal decisions in immigration proceedings," but held that the immigration judge's denial of asylum was "supported by enough evidence to find no clear error."

However, Judge Colloton said the immigration judge might not have denied asylum without the use of Wikipedia. The court also reiterated that anyone can edit the entries in the online reference.

"Because the BIA's ultimate conclusion that Badasa failed to establish her identity is not adequately explained," Colloton wrote, "we must remand for further proceedings.


Landlord Can Demand Gold Coins, Court Says
Court Issues | 2008/09/02 14:17
The owners of a building in downtown Cleveland have the right to ask for payment in gold coins, the 6th Circuit ruled.

The landowner, 216 Jamaica Avenue, sued S&R Playhouse Realty to enforce a "gold clause" in the original lease for the Halle Building, which was signed in 1912.

Instead of being paid the annual $35,000 rent in cash, Jamaica asked to be paid in 35,000 gold coins. The district court declined to enforce the clause, but Judge Sutton reversed the decision.

Gold clauses were used as a safety net against the effects of inflation until they were outlawed by Congress in 1933. Forty-four years later, Congress reversed field and allowed gold clauses to be enforced again.

Despite this winding road, Sutton ruled that the 99-year lease signed by the Halle brothers in 1912 is still standing because the 1982 assignment agreement between the two parties obligated S&R to the terms of the lease.

"The parties to a contract are free to structure it however they wish, so long as they do not offend a constitutional, statutory or common-law prohibition," Judge Sutton wrote.

The judge also refuted S&R's objection that there was no "meeting of the minds" by noting that the assignment agreement quoted extensively from the 1912 contract.

"That clarity precludes S&R from establishing that the parties failed to have an objective meeting of the minds," Sutton wrote.

Since the gold clause is enforceable, Sutton remanded the case to district court to determine how much S&R will have to pay.


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