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Senate confirms district court judge for New Jersey
Law Firm News | 2016/06/22 08:45
The Senate has confirmed President Barack Obama's nominee for the U.S. District Court for the district of New Jersey.

The vote was 92-5 on Wednesday for Brian Martinotti, who has served as a judge on the Superior Court of New Jersey since 2002. Obama nominated him to the district court post in June 2015.

Martinotti worked from 1987 to 2002 at the law firm of Beattie Padovano LLC, where he was elevated to partner in 1994. While at the firm, Martinotti also served as a councilmember for the borough of Cliffside Park from 1991 to 2002.

He was a law clerk to Judge Roger M. Kahn of the New Jersey Tax Court from 1986 to 1987.



Kansas Supreme Court reviews lawmakers' school aid changes
Law Firm News | 2016/05/11 11:21
Attorneys for Kansas hope to persuade the state Supreme Court that recent changes in the state's education funding system are fair enough to poor districts that the justices can abandon a threat to shut down public schools.

The high court was set to hear arguments Tuesday on whether the technical changes legislators made earlier this year comply with a February order from the justices to improve funding for poor school districts. The changes leave most districts' aid unchanged and don't boost overall education spending.

Lawyers for four school districts suing the state contend legislators' work shouldn't satisfy the Supreme Court because aid to all poor districts didn't increase. But the state's attorneys have submitted more than 950 pages of documents in an attempt to show that lawmakers' solution was in keeping with past court decisions.

"I'm hopeful the Supreme Court's going to take what the Legislature has done and say it's an appropriate answer," Republican Gov. Sam Brownback told reporters ahead of the arguments.

The Dodge City, Hutchinson, Wichita and Kansas City, Kansas, districts sued the state in 2010, arguing that Kansas spends too little on its schools and unfairly distributes the aid it does provide, more than $4 billion a year.

The court concluded in February that lawmakers hadn't done enough to ensure that poor districts keep up with wealthy ones. The justices ordered lawmakers to fix the problems by June 30 or face having schools shut down.



Planned Parenthood shooting defendant returning to court
Law Firm News | 2016/05/11 11:21
A man who admitted killing three people at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic is returning to court for the continuation of a hearing on whether he's mentally competent to stand trial.

A psychologist who examined 57-year-old Robert Dear is scheduled to testify Tuesday.

Dear is charged with 179 counts including murder, attempted murder and assault in the Nov. 27 shootings at the Colorado Springs clinic. Nine people were injured in the attack.

In court, he has declared himself a "warrior for the babies" and said he was guilty.

The hearing started last month, when two psychologists testified that Dear isn't competent to stand trial.

If the judge agrees, Dear's case would be put on hold while he undergoes treatment at a state psychiatric hospital intended to restore him to competency.


Democrats push McConnell, GOP on Supreme Court nomination
Law Firm News | 2016/04/16 01:37
Senate Democrats called on Republicans to vote on Merrick Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court by Memorial Day, as GOP lawmakers showed no sign of relenting despite the latest round of courtesy calls.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., maintains that the president chosen by voters in November should fill the vacancy on the high court, and there will be no confirmation hearings or a vote. But Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and his Democratic colleagues are hoping that election-year pressure will eventually wear them down.

"We feel the public is on our side, and this is to their detriment," Reid told reporters Thursday at a news conference in which Democrats pressed for consideration of Garland's nomination.

One Republican in a tough re-election race, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, met with Garland Thursday morning and told the judge that he agreed with McConnell on delaying the nomination until after the next president takes office.



White S.C. trooper pleads guilty in shooting of unarmed black man
Law Firm News | 2016/03/18 16:25
A white South Carolina trooper pleaded guilty Monday to assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature in the 2014 shooting an unarmed black driver seconds after a traffic stop.

Trooper Sean Groubert, 32, faces up to 20 years in prison. The shooting captured on dash-cam video from the trooper's patrol car shocked the country, coming during a wave of questionable police shootings.

Levar Jones was walking into a convenience store in September 2014 when Groubert got out of his patrol car and demanded Jones' driver's license.

Jones turned back to reach into his car and Groubert fired four shots. Jones' wallet is seen flying out of his hands.

Groubert's boss, state Public Safety Director Leroy Smith, fired Groubert after seeing the video.

Jones was shot in the hip and survived. He walked into the courtroom Monday with a noticeable limp and played with a Rubik's Cube before the hearing started.

Video of the encounter was played in the courtroom and showed Groubert pulling up to Jones without his siren on, and the trooper asking Jones for his license after he also was out of his car.

As Jones turns and reaches back into his car, Groubert shouts, "Get outta the car, get outta the car." He begins firing and unloads a third shot as Jones staggers away, backing up with his hands raised, and then a fourth.

From the first shot to the fourth, the video clicks off three seconds.



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