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UAE prison time dropped for transgender Singaporean, friend
Law Center | 2017/08/22 00:17
A transgender Singaporean and her friend facing a year in prison in the United Arab Emirates for dressing in a feminine way have seen their sentences reduced to a fine and deportation, an official said Monday.

Nur Qistina Fitriah Ibrahim, a transgender woman who has not undergone a sex-change operation, and her friend, freelance fashion photographer Muhammad Fadli Bin Abdul Rahman, will pay a fine of 10,000 dirhams — about $2,270 — and be immediately deported, the official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the negotiations, declined to elaborate further about the case as the process of freeing the two was ongoing.

A separate report on Monday in The National, a state-linked newspaper in Abu Dhabi, quoted an unnamed official as also saying the two would merely face a fine and deportation.

Their families and the Singaporean Embassy in Abu Dhabi declined to comment.

The two Singaporeans were arrested in Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich capital of the United Arab Emirates, on Aug. 9. Police stopped them at Yas Mall as they tried to eat at a food court, said Radha Stirling, CEO of the advocacy group Detained in Dubai.

Abu Dhabi advertises itself as a tourism destination and is home to the long-haul air carrier Etihad Airways. However, the emirate bordering Saudi Arabia is more conservative than Dubai, the UAE's commercial heart.

Even trips to Dubai can pose risks to LGBT travelers and others as laws sometimes contradict social attitudes.

Alcohol possession for foreigners is technically illegal without a government-issued license obtainable only after gaining their employer's permission, though liquor and beer is widely available in bars and clubs in both cities. Foreigners also have faced charges in the past for having sex outside of marriage.



Judge refuses to end Roman Polanski sex assault case
Law Center | 2017/08/19 08:49
A Los Angeles judge on Friday denied the impassioned plea of Roman Polanski's victim to end a four-decade-old sexual assault case against the fugitive director.
 
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon ruled that Polanski must return to California if he expects to resolve the charges. The Oscar winner fled the country on the eve of sentencing in 1978.

Gordon's ruling follows a request by Samantha Geimer to end the legal proceedings. The ruling was issued on Polanski's 84th birthday and blamed the director for the fact that the case was still alive.

"Her statement is dramatic evidence of the long-lasting and traumatic effect these crimes, and defendant's refusal to obey court orders and appear for sentencing, is having on her life," Gordon wrote.

Harland Braun, Polanski's attorney, said the ruling came after the judge asked for proposals on how to resolve the case.

Polanski pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with Geimer when she was 13. She has said he drugged, raped and sodomized her.


French Designer Wins Court Case in Dispute with Brad Pitt
Law Center | 2017/08/17 08:48
A French lighting designer has won a $600,000 court ruling in a dispute with Brad Pitt over a grandiose re-design of the chateau in Provence that he and Angelina Jolie shared.

But designer Odile Soudant isn’t stopping there. She says her business went under because of Pitt’s refusal to pay for costly architectural reveries, and she’s now fighting for the intellectual property rights to the Chateau Miraval’s lighting design.

Pitt’s representatives argue the project was late and over-budget and the design was Pitt’s brainchild – not hers.

Soudant’s legal actions are the latest challenge for Pitt, who is in protracted divorce proceedings with Jolie.

The couple stayed at the chateau when she gave birth to their twins in nearby Monaco in 2008, launched a wine venture from its vineyards and married there in 2014.



A Supreme Court pharma case deals consumers a big loss
Law Center | 2017/08/11 10:43
In the war being waged by large corporations against individual rights — and, yes, it is a war — a potentially decisive battle was recently fought. It will come as little surprise to any informed observer of American society that it was not the little guy who won.

The U.S. Supreme Court case of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. vs. Superior Court of California, which was decided in favor of BMS in June, may seem like an arcane question of legal jurisdiction. It’s anything but.

The case centered on a drug called Plavix that BMS developed. Plavix, also known by its generic name, clopidogrel, is an anti-platelet used to prevent blood from clotting inside blood vessels. Ever since the drug was approved by the FDA in 1997, thousands of people have claimed that it caused them gastrointestinal bleeding, severe bleeding from relatively minor cuts, and even brain damage.

Even though the company had significant business activities in California, as well as sales of Plavix and other drugs, a contract with a California distributor to distribute Plavix nationally, and employed hundreds of people in the state, BMS argued that California state courts could not exercise “personal jurisdiction” over the company for claims brought on behalf of people who lived, used Plavix, and were allegedly injured by the drug outside of California.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of BMS is a staggering blow for millions of Americans harmed each year by the reckless and abusive behavior of pharmaceutical companies. The decision raises an almost insurmountably high hurdle between victims and their hopes for obtaining justice in state courts throughout the country.

By foreclosing to plaintiffs’ state court venues other than those where these companies are “at home” — generally meaning where they are headquartered or incorporated — the Supreme Court has placed an almost impossible burden on state court litigants. They will now be forced to sue in far-off courts, convince experts to travel out of state to testify, and shuttle between their home states and wherever the drug company is at home. Their alternative will be pursing claims in federal court — but still also likely in a different state — where they will be subject to different laws, rules, and standards to prove their claims.


NJ Supreme Court Reverses Decades-Old Divorce Law
Law Center | 2017/08/08 10:44
The New Jersey Supreme Court has reversed a decades-old law in a landmark decision that makes the child the focus of divorce relocation proceedings.

The law centers on divorced parents who want to leave New Jersey with the child against the other parent's wishes.

NJ.com reports the previous law focused on whether the move would "cause harm" to the child. After Tuesday's ruling, divorced parents now must prove the move is in the child's best interest.

The decision centers on a 2015 case where a father tried to keep his daughters from moving to Utah with his ex-wife. The attorney for the father says the ruling will make a large impact in future proceedings.

The attorney for the children's mother has not responded to requests for comment.



North Carolina Court to Rule on Law on Gov's Elections Role
Law Center | 2017/07/20 23:10
North Carolina's highest court is speeding up a final decision on whether Republican legislators could strip down the election oversight powers of the state's new Democratic governor.

The state Supreme Court said Wednesday it will take up Gov. Roy Cooper's lawsuit against state legislative leaders. The decision bypasses an intermediate appeals court and schedules a Supreme Court hearing on Aug. 28.

GOP lawmakers have sought to dilute Cooper's powers since he narrowly beat incumbent GOP Gov. Pat McCrory last year.

The contested law takes away Cooper's ability to appoint a majority of the state elections board and make every county's elections board a Democratic majority. The law would make a Republican head of the decision-making state board in presidential election years when most people vote and ballot disputes are hottest.


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