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•  Recent Cases - Legal News


A woman convicted in the 1987 kidnapping and death of a northern Illinois businessman has been granted a re-sentencing hearing by the state’s appellate court.

Nancy Rish, 59, petitioned in December 2017 for a resentencing hearing so that the court can consider evidence of domestic violence. Stephen Small of Kankakee suffocated in a plywood box when a breathing tube running to the surface failed before a ransom could be paid.

Her attorneys argued Rish was coerced by ex-boyfriend Daniel Edwards into driving him and that she was unaware of his kidnapping plan even as he had her pick him up from the remote, wooded burial site and drive him between phone booths where he made ransom calls.

The attorneys argued her case is what Illinois legislators had in mind when they passed legislation in 2015 giving abuse victims who had been sentenced to prison for crimes a break on their sentences.

In its ruling Thursday, the court noted the state maintained the trial court’s sentence rested on the “horrific nature of the crime in which (defendant) played an integral part” and that the evidence of domestic violence could not overcome the seriousness of the crime.

“This is the first time in 33½ years that she’s gotten a ruling that may result in her sentence being reduced from natural life,” Margaret Byrne, a private attorney who is representing Rish pro bono, told the Chicago Tribune.

Rish was sentenced to life in prison after a jury trial in 1988. Edwards was convicted and sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to a life term by then-Gov. George Ryan as Illinois moved toward ending the death penalty.

Rish, an inmate at Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, has maintained her innocence through more than three decades of legal losses. In July 2019, Kankakee County Judge Michael Sabol rejected Rish’s petition for a re-sentencing, rejecting the argument a new sentence was warranted because of a change in Illinois law.



Nepal’s Supreme Court reinstated the House of Representatives on Monday and upheld the leader of the opposition’s claim to be the new prime minister.

The 167-page court order removes Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli, who had been running a caretaker government until planned elections.

In May, Oli directed the president to dissolve the House of Representatives, Parliament’s lower house, and announce new elections later this year. The decision was challenged in the Supreme Court by a coalition of opposition parties that said they had the support of a majority in Parliament to form a new government.

The Supreme Court also ruled Monday that the reinstated House of Representatives should meet within a week, when the leader of the main opposition party, Sher Bahadur Deuba, is expected to call a vote of confidence.

There was no immediate comment from Oli’s office or his aides.

Hundreds of Oli’s supporters gathered outside the Supreme Court to oppose the court decision.

“We are here to protest the unconstitutional decision by the Supreme Court, which was interfering with the affairs of the Parliament and its rights,” said one of the protesters, Ramesh Acharya.

The protesters briefly scuffled with riot police who were able to push them back. There were no injuries or arrests.

More protests are likely later in the week because Oli still has significant support among the public.

It is the second time the Supreme Court has reinstated the House of Representatives this year after it was dissolved by Oli.

He had the House of Representatives dissolved in December and called for new elections in April, but that was rejected by the Supreme Court and the lower house was reinstated in February. Oli again had the president dissolve the House of Representatives in May with elections planned for November.

Oli became prime minister in 2018 after the Communist Party of Nepal won a majority of the seats in the House of Representatives. The party, however, has had two splits this year, weakening Oli’s hold on power.



British lawyer Karim Khan was sworn in Wednesday as the new chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, pledging to reach out to nations that are not members of the court in his quest to end impunity for atrocities and to try to hold trials in countries where crimes are committed.

Khan, a 51-year-old English lawyer, has years of experience in international courts as a prosecutor, investigator and defense attorney. He takes over from Fatou Bensouda of Gambia, whose nine-year term ended Tuesday.

“The priority for me, and I believe that’s the principle of the Rome Statute, is not to focus so much on where trials take place, but to ensure that the quest for accountability and inroads on impunity are made,” Khan said, referring to the treaty that founded the court, in his first speech after taking his oath of office.

“The Hague itself should be a city of last resort,” he said. “Wherever possible, we should be trying to have trials in the country or in the region.”

Khan said he wanted to work with countries that are not among the court’s 123 member states to achieve justice. World powers the United States, Russia and China are not members and do not recognize the court’s jurisdiction.

“My conviction is that we can find common ground in the quest and in the imperative to ensure we eradicate genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes,” Khan said.

Most recently, Khan led a United Nations team investigating atrocities in Iraq, telling the Security Council last month that he uncovered “clear and compelling evidence” that Islamic State extremists committed genocide against the Yazidi minority in 2014.

In the past, he has defended clients at international courts including former Liberian President Charles Taylor and Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto. ICC prosecutors dropped charges against Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta of involvement in deadly post-election violence in their country.

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