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Indiana Supreme Court considers eavesdropping case
Topics in Legal News | 2017/12/22 11:24
The Indiana Supreme Court has taken up an eavesdropping case that could result in a new state standard to determine when prosecutorial misconduct is so egregious that a criminal suspect can no longer be made to stand trial.

The court heard arguments last week in a case involving a Long Beach murder suspect, John Larkin, whose supposedly private conversation with his attorney in a police interrogation room was recorded. The video was then viewed by LaPorte Chief Deputy Prosecutor Robert Neary, who ordered a transcript of the conversation and gave it to a special prosecutor handling the murder case.

Last month, the Supreme Court suspended Neary's law license for four years.

Court records show that police or prosecutors likely tampered with evidence before providing it to the defendant's examiner as well, the (Northwest Indiana) Times reported .

Deputy Attorney General Eric Babbs asked the high court to overturn the LaPorte Circuit Court decision that tossed the voluntary manslaughter case against Larkin. The case was affirmed in June by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Babbs requested that prosecutors be given the opportunity to prove that not all evidence in their case is tainted. Babbs also argued for the ability to proceed to trial with whatever evidence a judge finds was properly obtained.

Larkin's attorney Stacy Uliana said Babbs' requests are "too little, too late."

The justices didn't indicate when they will issue a ruling. There isn't a statutory timeline for a decision by the high court.

The Indiana Supreme Court has taken up an eavesdropping case that could result in a new state standard to determine when prosecutorial misconduct is so egregious that a criminal suspect can no longer be made to stand trial.


Court convicts British woman of smuggling powerful painkillers
Legal Interview | 2017/12/21 11:25
A court in Egypt's Red Sea region has convicted a British woman of smuggling hundreds of powerful painkillers banned in the Arab country, sentencing her to three years in prison.

The woman, 33-year-old Laura Plummer from Hull, has maintained her innocence since her arrest in October on arrival from Britain at Hurghada, a Red Sea resort city. She has insisted the Tramadol tablets were for her Egyptian partner who suffers chronic back pain.

Tramadol is listed by Egyptian authorities as an illegal drug given its wide use as a heroin substitute.

Tuesday's conviction came as a surprise since the hearing was supposed to be taken up by the argument of the defense. The verdict can be appealed.



US jury acquits Peruvian defendant in FIFA bribery case
Court Watch | 2017/12/21 11:25
A former South American soccer official was acquitted Tuesday of a corruption charge stemming from the FIFA bribery scandal after two others were convicted last week, capping a trial in which U.S. prosecutors sought to expose a culture of greed and corruption among the powerful men who oversee the world's most popular sport.

Jurors found Manuel Burga, the 60-year-old former president of Peru's soccer federation, not guilty of a single racketeering conspiracy charge.

Burga wept when the acquittal was announced. After the verdict, he came out of the courtroom, his eyes wet and said: "God Bless America. That's all I can say."

Burga said he would go home and resume a career as a lawyer that had been largely left behind for the last 15 years during his career as a soccer executive.

"My history in soccer is finished," he said. "I'll go back to the law."

On Friday, jurors told U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen they were deadlocked on Burga's case but had reached guilty verdicts on multiple charges against two other former officials: Juan Napout, of Paraguay, and Jose Maria Marin, of Brazil. Chen gave jurors the holiday weekend to think about Burga's case.

The judge had jailed Marin, 85, and Napout, 59, after their convictions Friday. The two were acquitted on some lesser charges. Burga, meanwhile, was waiting on his passport to return home.

Marin, Burga and Napout had been arrested in 2015. Prosecutors accused them of agreeing to take millions of dollars in bribes from businessmen seeking to lock up lucrative media rights or influence hosting rights for the World Cup and other major tournaments controlled by FIFA.



Russian court: ex-minister guilty of taking $2 million bribe
Court Watch | 2017/12/18 11:25
Russia's former economics minister was handed an eight-year prison sentence Friday after being convicted of accepting a $2 million bribe from one of President Vladimir Putin's top associates. The high-profile trial of Alexei Ulyukayev has been widely seen as part of infighting between Kremlin clans. Ulyukayev was a key member of a group of liberal-minded technocrats in the Cabinet, while his accuser, Igor Sechin is the most prominent representative of the hard-line flank of the Russian elite.

Sechin heads Russia's largest oil producer, Rosneft, and his clout seconds only that of Putin. The 61-year-old Ulyukayev is the highest-ranking Russian official to be arrested in more than two decades. The case was viewed by many as Sechin's personal vendetta against Ulyukayev, who had been critical of a Rosneft privatization plan proposed by Sechin.

Ulyukayev was detained a year ago at Rosneft's headquarters following a sting operation by the Federal Security Service (FSB), the main KGB successor agency.

Sechin claimed in written testimony that Ulyukayev was extorting a bribe from him in exchange for issuing a positive assessment of Rosneft's bid to take over another oil company, Bashneft.

Ulyukayev denied the charges, calling them a provocation set up by Sechin. The minister argued that a person would have to be insane to try to extort a bride from the powerful Sechin.

Sechin has flaunted repeated court orders to testify as a witness at Ulyukayev's trial, citing urgent business. Asked Thursday about Sechin's failure to show up, Putin said at his marathon news conference that he saw no violation of legal procedures by his lieutenant.

A Moscow court on Friday also ordered Ulyukayev to pay a $2.2 million fine.



Ex-police officer pleads guilty in daughter's hot car death
Court News | 2017/12/13 16:56
A former Mississippi police officer charged in the death of her daughter in a hot patrol car has pleaded not guilty.

The Sun Herald reports 28-year-old Cassie Barker was arraigned Monday on a charge of second-degree murder in the 3-year-old girl's death.

The former Long Beach officer is accused of leaving Cheyenne Hyer unattended in a patrol car for more than four hours while she was in another officer's home. The car's air conditioner was on but wasn't blowing cold air. Hyer was found unresponsive in the car and died Sept. 30, 2016.

Barker was fired days later and initially charged with manslaughter.


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