Weekly Legal News 11/24/13

Here’s the latest in legal news:

On Tuesday the Supreme Court allowed Texas to continue enforcing abortion restrictions in a 5-4 vote.  These restrictions have led to 1/3 of abortion clinics being closed down in Texas.  The court was split along party lines.  Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion and Justice Breyer wrote the dissenting opinion.  The case remains on appeal in New Orleans and the law will remain in effect until then.

A soldier in Colorado claims his twin may be responsible for sex crimes he was accused of.  Although the crime scene produced samples of his DNA, defendant Aaron Gregory Lucas is using the argument that his twin has virtually the same DNA.  He is a suspect in sex crimes in two other states as well.  The Colorado judge ruled that the defendant can list his brother as a suspect in his defense, as well as the name of a third man who the defendant claims may also be responsible.  Both brothers had lived in Alabama and Texas, the two other states where there were charges; however, Lucas’s brother Brian only visited Colorado once in the last decade, leading authorities to believe Aaron was responsible.

Michael Skakel, a relative of the Kennedys, was released after a bail was set at $1.2 million.  He had been convicted in the murder of 15 year-old Martha Moxley, but the conviction was vacated after a judge ruled that he did not receive adequate counsel that was “constitutionally sufficient” in his 2002 trial.  He has spent more than a decade in prison, and has proclaimed his innocence throughout this lengthy process.

When Republicans gain power in the Senate, they plan on expanding the rule change that Democrats made in the process of confirming judicial nominees.  The Senate under the Democrats requires only a majority vote rather than 60 votes to confirm judicial nominees beneath the Supreme Court level.  The Republicans plan to apply this change to Supreme Court nominees as well.

Three women were released from a home in London after being held captive for 30 years, essentially as slaves.  The women included a 69 year-old Malaysian, a 57 year-old Irish woman, and a 30 year-old Briton.  A man and woman were arrested on Thursday for suspected forced labor and domestic servitude.  The two suspects have also been questioned on suspicion of immigration offenses.  The three women in captivity were able to be freed after one of them called a charity a month ago explaining the situation, which led to more private conversations with the police and the eventual rescue.  This has led to a public reaction regarding slavery, which is said to be on the rise in Europe, although the U.K. has one of the lowest estimated prevalence of slavery ratings.

Also for a couple of fun facts, on this day in history in 1941, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Edwards v. California, unanimously struck down a California law prohibiting people from bringing impoverished non-residents into the state.    And on this day in 2000, The U.S. Supreme Court stepped into the bitter, overtime struggle for the White House, agreeing to consider George W. Bush’s appeal against the hand recounting of ballots in Florida.

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