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•  Bar Associations - Legal News


A U.S. Supreme Court decision reviving a challenge to several Virginia legislative districts could send lawmakers back to the drawing board, but Republicans say they are confident the state's current electoral map will withstand further scrutiny.

The justices on Wednesday tossed out a ruling that upheld 11 districts in which African-Americans made up at least 55 percent of eligible voters and ordered the lower court to re-examine the boundaries. The lawsuit accused lawmakers of illegally packing black voters into certain districts to make surrounding districts whiter and more Republican.

Democrats say they're certain the lower court will find the districts unconstitutional and force lawmakers to redraw them. Marc Elias, an attorney for the Virginia voters who brought the case, said they will push for that to happen before the November elections.

"It's important that the people of the Commonwealth don't have to have another election using unconstitutional district lines, and we will move forward as quickly as possible to make sure we have constitutional and fair lines in place for the 2017 elections," Elias said.

The top Republican in the Virginia House, however, said he's confident that the current boundaries will stand.



The U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to hear Arizona's appeal of a lower court ruling that overturned a convicted murderer's death sentence has opened the door for about 25 death row inmates to challenge their sentences.

The justices on Monday let stand the ruling that said Arizona unconstitutionally excluded evidence about James McKinney's troubled childhood and post-traumatic stress disorder that might have led to a lesser punishment.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last December that Arizona's causal nexus rule violated the Constitution. The rule required any mitigating evidence, such as mental illness or post-traumatic stress disorder, to be directly tied to the crime committed to be relevant in sentencing.



A court in Britain has sentenced a former schoolteacher to 22 life sentences for child abuse after using his position teaching English in Malaysia to gain access to victims.

Judge Peter Rook sentenced 30-year-old freelance photographer Richard Huckle on Monday to serve a minimum of 25 years for 71 offenses against children aged between six months and 12 years from 2006 to 2014.

The National Crime Agency arrested Huckle in 2014 and found 20,000 indecent images on his computer, 1,117 of which showed him raping and abusing children in his care. Huckle also created a 60-page "how to" guide for other pedophiles seeking to evade getting caught. He also kept a scorecard tallying the number of children abused.

Huckle groomed children while posing as a Christian English teacher and philanthropist.


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