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California Supreme Court to consider suit over Yelp review
Court Press News | 2016/09/23 22:58
The California Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to consider a lawsuit that Yelp.com warns could lead to the removal of negative reviews on the popular website.

The seven-member court voted unanimously Wednesday to take up an appeal by Yelp of a lower court ruling upholding an order requiring Yelp to remove posts against a San Francisco law firm.

Yelp wants the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling, saying that if it's allowed to stand, it will open the door for businesses to force the company to remove critical reviews.

Dawn Hassell, the law firm's managing attorney, says the business review website is exaggerating the stakes of her legal effort. She says it aims only to remove from Yelp lies by a former client that a judge determined were defamatory, not just negative.

Hassell referred comment Wednesday to her attorney, Monique Olivier, who said in a statement she was not surprised the Supreme Court has taken up the case given the "amount of attention" it has received.

"This case is not one of a 'bad review' " she said. "It is a case where a court adjudicated statements to be defamatory after receiving and reviewing evidence about the falsity of those statements."

Aaron Schur, Yelp's senior director of litigation, said the company looked forward to explaining to the court "how the lower court's decision is ripe for abuse, contradicts longstanding legal principles, and restricts the ability of websites to provide a balanced spectrum of views online."



Pakistan court adjourns case of British woman's murder
Court Press News | 2016/09/18 15:48
A Pakistani court on Saturday adjourned the case of a British-Pakistani woman's murder until Sept. 23 to give police more time to finalize charges against her father and ex-husband, who are accused of slaying her in the name of honor, police and lawyers said.

Police brought both men before the court in Jhelum as they covered their faces. They avoided most questions from journalists. However, when pressed, the woman's father, Mohammad Shahid, told reporters that the accusations are "all lies."

"The police arrested me, police charged me, you go to police station and check my report, check my statement," Shahid said.

The death of 28-year-old Samia Shahid has shocked the nation as the latest alleged case of so-called "honor killings" in Pakistan. The Bradford native's death while visiting Pakistan in July was originally declared to be from natural causes.

But Shahid's second husband, Mukhtar Kazim, publicly accused her family of killing her. The case was reopened and a police probe quickly concluded that Shahid's death was a "premeditated, cold-blooded murder," according to a police statement.

Police allege that Mohammed Shahid stood guard while his daughter's ex-husband, Mohammed Shakeel, raped her. The men then both strangled her, according to police.

Defense lawyer Mohammed Arif dismissed the police allegations as a baseless, saying his clients have been wrongly accused. He said he will appeal another court's recent rejection of bail for Mohammed Shahid.



Judge begins to deliver verdict in Ukrainian pilot trial
Court Press News | 2016/03/21 16:26
A Russian court has begun reading a verdict for Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko, who is charged with complicity to murder two Russian journalists in war-torn eastern Ukraine.
 
The judge began reading the verdict Monday morning. He quoted arguments by prosecutors who said Savchenko, who served in a volunteer Ukrainian battalion at the time, called in the coordinates for shelling that killed the two journalists and several civilians in July 2014. He also quoted them as saying she was driven by "political hatred" toward residents of Ukraine's Luhansk region.
   
The judge in the trial quoted the prosecution saying that Savchenko was part of a "criminal group" and aimed to kill an "unlimited number of people."

Prosecutors have asked for a 23-year prison sentence for Savchenko. Sentencing is expected on Tuesday.

This story has been corrected to show that Savchenko has not been found guilty. The judge, quoting prosecutors, said Savchenko was complicit in the killing, but stopped short of pronouncing her guilty. A verdict will come at the end of the verdict-reading process, which is expected to take two days.



Chinese woman pleads guilty in college test-taking scheme
Court Press News | 2015/11/01 09:48
A Chinese woman pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to have two other women take college admissions examinations in her place to help her get accepted to Virginia Tech.
 
Yue Zou acknowledged having her boyfriend contact a China-based test-taking service.

After that happened, Zou, of Blacksburg, Virginia, supplied her passport information through an online network known as QQ Chat, which enabled people in China to create in her name phony passports that were shipped to her in the United States.

On the passports were the photos of two other Chinese women, who took tests in the Pittsburgh area while pretending to be her.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jimmy Kitchen told the judge that Zou forwarded results from the Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL, to Virginia Tech in November 2013 and results of a Scholastic Aptitude Test, or SAT, taken by another Chinese impostor in March 2014.

Zou, from Hegang, a city in the Chinese province of Heilongjiang, paid an unspecified sum for the TOEFL and $2,000 for the SAT, Kitchen told a judge in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh.

Zou, 21, faces up to five years in prison when she's sentenced in February. She could also be deported, though that will be handled by federal immigration officials in a separate proceeding.

Federal authorities haven't explained how they learned of the scheme.

Zou's attorney, Lyle Dresbold, told the judge that Zou will remain confined to her Blacksburg apartment with an electronic monitoring bracelet until she's sentenced. He told the judge she's still enrolled at Virginia Tech.

University spokesman Mark Owczarski said he could not comment on her status. But he said students found to have submitted work that is not their own to gain admission would face a range of possible sanctions, including expulsion, under the university's honor code.

Zou's TOEFL test was taken by Yunlin Sun, 24, of Berlin, Somerset County. She pleaded guilty in August and faces sentencing in December. Prosecutors say Ning Wei, from Taiyuan, in the Chinese province of Shanxi, took Zou's SAT. She hasn't been arrested, and prosecutors say they believe she returned to China.



Court again considers fate of seized gold coins worth $80M
Court Press News | 2015/10/15 00:12
A federal appeals court is again considering the fate of 10 rare gold coins possibly worth $80 million or more that the government says were illegally taken from a Philadelphia mint and wound up in a jeweler's hands.

A lawyer for jeweler Israel Switt's heirs told the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday that authorities erred by seizing the coins without filing a required civil forfeiture action.

A jury found the seizure legal because the coins hadn't been circulated and must therefore have been stolen, but a three-judge appellate court reversed that decision in April. Federal prosecutors then asked for Wednesday's hearing before the full appeals court.

They say returning the rare $20 Double Eagles to Joan Langbord and her two sons would reward the family of a thief.



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