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•  National News - Legal News


A court in Pakistan’s capital has ordered an investigation into the controversial arrest of a former human rights minister over a decades old land dispute.

Chief Justice Ather Minallah of the Islamabad High Court late Saturday ordered the probe in response to a petition from the daughter of former minister Shireen Mazari.

Minallah questioned the decision by officials in Islamabad to allow police from a Punjab provincial district to make the arrest in the capital.

Mazari, who served in the Cabinet-level position under former Prime Minister Imran Khan, had been detained by police near her Islamabad home earlier in the day.

Fawad Chaudhry, former information minister in Khan’s administration, alleged that Mazari — the senior leader in Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party — had been politically targeted by the new administration of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif under the guise of a land dispute dating back to 1972.

Hours after Mazari’s arrest, Chief Minister of Punjab province Hamza Shahbaz ordered her release and late Saturday she was brought to the Islamabad court for an urgent hearing. She was then released.

Mazari has been critical of Sharif’s government on Twitter since Khan’s government was toppled in a no-confidence vote in Parliament last month. Khan’s party lawmakers resigned from the body’s lower house in protest and Khan is mobilizing supporters through public rallies across the country to pressure the government into an early election.



California taxpayers would help pay for abortions for women who can’t afford them under a new spending proposal Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday to prepare for a potential surge of people from other states seeking reproductive care if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

California already pays for some abortions through its Medicaid program, the taxpayer-funded health insurance plan for the poor and the disabled.

But some women don’t qualify for Medicaid and don’t have private health insurance. When that happens, clinics will sometimes perform abortions for free, known as “uncompensated care.” Wednesday, Newsom said he wants the state to give $40 million worth of grants to clinics to help offset those costs.

An abortion can cost between a few hundred dollars and a few thousand dollars in California, depending on how far along the pregnancy is and what kind of insurance a patient has.

“California will not stand idly by as extremists roll back our basic constitutional rights; we’re going to fight like hell, making sure that all women – not just those in California – know that this state continues to recognize and protect their fundamental rights,” Newsom said in a news release.

While the grants could potentially pay for abortions for women from other states, the money would not pay for those women to travel or stay in California.

A bill in the Democratic-controlled state Legislature would set up a fund to help pay for the logistics of getting an abortion in California, including things such as travel, lodging and child care. The California Legislative Women’s Caucus has asked Newsom for $20 million to put into that fund. But Newsom’s announcement on Wednesday did not include that money.



The Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles and court officials have scrambled to close a gap in tracking and sharing information about criminal convictions that should result in license suspensions.

The problem surfaced when a man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter following a fatal crash during a police pursuit was arrested for causing another crash while being chased by police. Two others were injured, one of them critically, in the crash on March 4 in Paris, Maine.

The man being chased by police shouldn’t have had a license after pleading guilty last summer to the earlier crash that killed a 70-year-old driver.

A one-page document that would have allowed the BMV to process his suspension was never sent by court staff despite the BMV’s requests, and court officials suggested it was not their duty to send the paperwork because the conviction was not technically considered a driving offense under state law, the Portland Press Herald reported.

The state court’s response hinged on a technicality — he was convicted not of a driving offense but manslaughter. In Maine, there’s no separate conviction for “vehicular manslaughter.”

On Friday, officials including Secretary of State Shenna Bellows and Valerie Stanfill, chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, came to an agreement on correcting the problem, the newspaper reported.

But the Portland Press Herald reported that representatives of the courts and secretary of state declined to discuss specifics.

The agreement with the courts will encompass convictions connected to use of a vehicle but not specifically included in the driving statute, said Emily Cook, spokesperson for Bellows.

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