Manson family killer Leslie Van Houten will be paroled, lawyer says, after Gov. Newsom drops fight

Leslie Van Houten, a follower of Charles Manson who was convicted in two killings, will be paroled in weeks, her attorney said Friday after California’s governor said he would not challenge it at the State Supreme Court.

“She’s thrilled,” Van Houten’s attorney Nancy Tetreault said.

Van Houten, now 73, will be paroled in the next several weeks after spending more than five decades in prison, Tetreault said.

An appeals court ruled in May that Van Houten is eligible for parole, reversing a decision by Gov. Gavin Newsom to reject parole.

Newsom, who has repeatedly blocked efforts for Van Houten to be paroled, had until Monday to file a challenge with the state Supreme Court.

Newsom, a Democrat, said Friday he would not do so.

“The Governor is disappointed by the Court of Appeal’s decision to release Ms. Van Houten but will not pursue further action as efforts to further appeal are unlikely to succeed,” Erin Mellon, spokesperson for the governor’s office, said in a statement.

“The California Supreme Court accepts appeals in very few cases, and generally does not select cases based on this type of fact-specific determination,” the governor’s office said.

Van Houten is serving a life sentence after being convicted along with other cult members of the 1969 killings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in Los Angeles.

A jury convicted Van Houten in 1971 of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. She was initially sentenced to death, but that was overturned and she has spent 52 years in state prison.

Van Houten has had 23 hearings before the Board of Parole. The panel has recommended Van Houten be paroled five times since 2016, according to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Newsom had reversed Van Houten’s parole grant three times.

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Trump’s Lawyer Vows to Appeal Verdict in Carroll Case

Outside of the courthouse in Lower Manhattan, Donald J. Trump’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, said the trial had been unfair in several ways and his client intended to appeal the verdict.

Mr. Tacopina said Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who oversaw the case in federal court, had displayed a bias toward Ms. Carroll in several decisions. He called the court “highly prejudicial.”

For starters, Mr. Tacopina said, the judge allowed E. Jean Carroll’s lawyers to play for the jury the Access Hollywood tape in which Mr. Trump boasted about how his status as a celebrity gave him the ability to kiss and grab women’s genitalia without asking.

“There were things that happened in this case that were beyond the pale,” Mr. Tacopina said. He added: “In New York you can’t get a fair trial.”

Mr. Tacopina defended Mr. Trump’s decision not to testify.

“This was a circus atmosphere, and having him be here would be more of a circus,” Mr. Tacopina said. He added that Mr. Trump could do little more than say, “‘I didn’t do it?’ And he said that under oath here. It’s hard to prove a negative.”

He said that he thought the anonymous jury was particularly unfair to Mr. Trump’s side.

“We should have been able to tell something about the background of these people,” he said. “Unfortunately, having anonymous jurors, even kept from the lawyers, I don’t think was fair or was right.”

When asked if the verdict would derail Trump’s presidential campaign, Mr. Tacopina had a one word answer.

“Nope,” he said.

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Grandmother accused of attempted cocaine trafficking misses court as lawyer cites dementia

An Adelaide grandmother charged with attempted cocaine trafficking failed to appear in court today for medical reasons, with her lawyer saying she was suffering from significant dementia.

Flinders Park woman Eudoxia Pehlivanidis and her grandson Kosta Adam Pehlivanidis were charged earlier this year for allegedly attempting to traffic a large quantity of the drug.

Mrs Pehlivanidis’s defence lawyer said her client had trouble coming into settings like court due to her illness.

“There’s some aggression and the like,” her lawyer said.

Mrs Pehlivanidis was arrested at the age of 82 in February, when police conducted a property search amid an investigation into the “attempted importation of eight kilograms of cocaine”.

Police estimated the alleged quantity had a street value of $3.2 million.

The prosecution today asked the court for another six months to analyse evidence from both New South Wales Police and SA Police.

“There’s also likely to be drug analysis and DNA related evidence to assist,” a prosecutor said.

Mrs Pehlivanidis’s defence lawyer asked police to provide her with police footage before the pair’s next appearance.

“I’m seeking a copy of the record interview for Mrs Pehlivanidis and also any footage of the police entry to the property,” she said.

The grandmother’s lawyer said the footage may help in the process of writing Mrs Pehlivanidis’s medical reports.

Mr Pehlivanidis declined to comment outside of court.

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Lawyer of Suriname ex-dictator calls for his acquittal

The lawyer of Suriname’s former dictator Desi Bouterse called Friday for a court to acquit him of a 20-year sentence over the deaths of 15 political prisoners.

Bouterse first seized power in a 1980 coup and in December 1982 allegedly rounded up 15 political opponents — including lawyers, journalists and businessmen — for execution at the Fort Zeelandia military barracks in the capital Paramaribo.

The 77-year-old had already been sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2019, but he has been challenging that verdict and under Surinamese law cannot be arrested before he exhausts the appeals processes.

“I ask for you to respond to the undeniable need of our society… for the trial to end as soon as possible and with an acquittal,” said his lawyer Irvin Kanhai during the appeal hearing in Paramaribo.

Kanhai added it would be “wise and an act of patriotism to end” the trial against Bouterse, who has always denied involvement in the murders.

Bouterse was all smiles when he left the court on Friday, greeting supporters who shook his hand and hugged him.

During the previous hearing in January, Bouterse admitted in court that he had heard gunshots on the day the prisoners were killed, but insisted he did not order their execution nor was he present for the killings.

He said he believed the gunshots were part of an effort to intimidate the inmates, who he claims were trying to overthrow him.

Instead, Bouterse accused his number two Paul Bhagwandas — who died in 1996 — of being responsible for the Fort Zeelandia violence.

The court is expected to issue its verdict in the second half of 2023.

Bouterse stepped down in 1987 under international pressure, but returned to power in 1990 in a second, bloodless coup. He left office a year later

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Israeli ministers approve bill on $270,000 gift to Netanyahu

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Cabinet ministers on Sunday advanced a bill that would allow Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to keep a $270,000 donation he received from a relative to pay for his legal bills as he fights corruption charges.

The bill is part of a proposed overhaul of Israel’s legal system by Netanyahu’s new government. The plan has drawn fierce protests for over two months in Israel, the largest seen in years.

Netanyahu has been on trial for charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes for almost three years. He denies wrongdoing and says the accusations are part of a “witch hunt” orchestrated by a biased media, law enforcement and justice system.

Last year, Israel’s high court ordered Netanyahu to pay back the funds given by a late cousin to cover the legal expenses for him and his wife, Sara.

Sara Netanyahu became a target of the protests last week when demonstrators gathered outside a Tel Aviv salon where she was having her hair done. Scores of police officers were called in to escort her out of the salon and away from the jeering crowd.

On Sunday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill that would let public officials accept donations for legal or medical bills, despite vocal objection by the country’s attorney general that it would promote corruption.

A committee in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, also advanced bills to curtail the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review and give parliament the ability to override high court decisions.

Netanyahu’s allies say these changes are needed to reduce the power of unselected judges. But critics say they will eliminate checks and balances, concentrate power with the ruling majority and defang the Supreme Court. They also say that Netanyahu, as a criminal defendant, has a conflict of interest.


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Dorchester man convicted of 2010 murder gets a new trial because his lawyer was really bad

Massachusetts’ highest court ordered a new trial for a Dorchester man convicted of a 2010 shooting murder because his lawyer was really bad.

Omay Tavares, now 33, was convicted on Oct. 17, 2011, for first-degree murder in the shooting death of George “Jeffrey” Thompson on Jan. 7, 2010.

“Failure to investigate the only defense a defendant has,” the Supreme Judicial Court established in 1987 in their ruling in Commonwealth v. Haggerty, “falls below the level of competency expected.”

It’s one of several precedents that informed the justices in their Friday decision to affirm a lower court’s ruling on Tavares’ motion for a new trial. The request asserted “ineffective assistance” because his lawyer didn’t look into the information that indicated he wasn’t the killer.

His trial lawyer in that case was hired by a “family friend” for a flat fee of $5,000, according to the SJC.

Little did they know, but that attorney was taking on this case — his first murder case as lead counsel — right after a one-year bar suspension for “gross incompetence” that got his last client thrown in prison. The SJC ruling makes clear that the attorney’s skills got no better during that suspension.

Prosecutors two weeks before trial made the defense attorney aware of a “proffer,” which the SJC defines as information on one or more crimes given up to the government in exchange for that information not being used against the person presenting it, that indicated that someone else — identified as “HH” — was the likely perpetrator and not Tavares.

Apparently, the attorney made no move on this information. He got the redacted document a day before trial and didn’t ask for a continuance to investigate the new information, nor did he capitalize on interviewing “HH” when the court ordered him available ahead

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Illinois Supreme Court to hear case against elimination of cash bail

The Illinois Supreme Court will hear arguments next month on whether the far-reaching SAFE-T Act and its elimination of cash bail are unconstitutional, as a Kankakee judge ruled at the end of last year.

The court set a date of March 14 as the office of Illinois Atty. Gen. Kwame Raoul filed a motion Monday urging the court to reject the “grab bag of constitutional theories” raised by the law’s opponents.

Kankakee County Chief Judge Thomas Cunnington sided with those opponents just days before the bail reform provision were to take effect, ruling in favor of a group of state’s attorneys and sheriffs who brought more than 60 lawsuits challenging aspects of the law.

Cunnington ruled that part of the act violated a requirement in the state Constitution that requires defendants to be bailable “by sufficient sureties,” except for certain offenses. He also found that it violated the separation of powers between the judiciary and Legislature.

“The appropriateness of bail rests with the authority of the court and may not be determined by legislative fiat,” Cunnington wrote in his ruling.

Legislators who wrote the bill, and reform advocates who support it, have argued that cash bail is inherently unfair and doesn’t benefit public safety when some defendants accused of crimes are released ahead of trial while others are held in jail because they lack the financial ability to post bond.

Opponents to the law argued lawmakers violated the state’s constitution when they failed to seek approval from voters through a constitutional amendment, and they said they would “strongly support” such a system if the state had done so.

“This did not occur,” opponents argued in a motion before the state Supreme Court earlier this month. “In so doing, the General Assembly has illegitimately attempted to amend the Illinois Constitution.”

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Disbarred lawyer Girardi pleads not guilty to client thefts

LOS ANGELES — Disbarred lawyer Tom Girardi had not guilty please entered on his behalf Monday on charges he embezzled millions of dollars from some of the massive settlements he won for clients during a once prominent career.

Girardi, 83, is charged in Los Angeles federal court with wire fraud for allegedly stealing more than $15 million from clients that included an Arizona widow whose husband was killed in a boat accident, a Los Angeles couple injured in a car wreck that paralyzed their son and a man who was severely burned in the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion.

As one of the nation’s most prominent plaintiff’s attorneys, Girardi took on powerful corporations, movie studios and Pacific Gas and Electric in a case that led to a $333 million settlement, which was portrayed in the 2000 Julia Roberts film “Erin Brockovich.”

But Girardi’s law empire collapses and he faces mounting legal problems.

He lost his law license last year because of client thefts, creditors of his bankrupt Girardi Keese firm are seeking more than $500 million and he’s in divorce proceedings with Erika Jayne, who starred on “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”

He’s gone from living in a mansion in Pasadena to an assisted living facility memory care unit, where attorneys say he has Alzheimer’s and is under a court conservatorship.

Girardi also faces federal wire fraud charges in Chicago, where he is accused of stealing about $3 million from family members of victims in a 2018 Lion Air crash that killed 189 people.

Public defenders in LA are seeking a mental competency evaluation for Girardi that will determine if he can stand trial.

Girardi, wearing a purple V-neck sweater and blue shirt, appeared to be frail as he walked slowly into a federal courthouse in front of cameras.

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Lawyer Sue Gray was released from custody after being accused of contempt of court

Lawyer Sue Gray is representing the Great Barrier Island groups.

Sue Gray in court in July 2019.
Photos: RNZ / Michael Cropp

Prominent anti-vaccination lawyer Sue Gray has been released from custody in Nelson after earlier being stood down by a judge for contempt of court.

Last week, Gray represented the parents of Baby W in the High Court as they fought to use unvaccinated blood during their child’s heart surgery.

At a hearing in the Nelson District Court this afternoon, Judge Tony Zohrab said Gray was taken into custody for disruptive behavior at an earlier court appearance for Golden Bay man, Mad Cafe owner Kelvin McKenney, also known as NgAng.

It is understood McKenney was representing himself in a judge alone trial on charges relating to an alcohol license for his cafe.

By way of explanation, Gray told Judge Zohrab while McKenney had obtained some legal advice on the recommendation of the court, he had some difficulty understanding it and the court processes.

“In my analogy sir it is somewhat like a Russian person speaking to a Chinese person in that they don’t understand each other.”

Lawyer Sue Gray (centre), who is also an anti-vaccine campaigner, outside the Nelson District Court on 13 December 2022, after Judge Zohrab ordered her to be removed from <a href=court after ongoing disruption.”/

Sue Gray (centre), who is also an anti-vaccine campaigner, outside the Nelson District Court with Kelvin McKenney (left wearing hat) who she said she was supporting.
Photos: RNZ / Samantha Gee

Gray said she was trying to raise issues about McKenney’s case with the judge when she was removed from the court.

“I’m sorry your honor if it caused offense to you or if it disturbed your thinking in any way, I appreciate and empathize with Your Honor, the situation in court is difficult sometimes, but I was pleased to act in accordance with my duties to the court and putting forward what I could do in the circumstances for this defendant.”

Judge Zohrab questioned what Gray was

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Pathetic Trump Lawyer Pretends It Was Her Idea To Sue Clinton

Trump lawyer Alina Habba made an appearance on Fox’s Hannity this Friday night to whine about the lawsuit that was dismissed this week by Judge Donald Middlebrooks of the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, where he issued a blistering rebuke of Trump’s waste of the court’s time.

I’m wondering how long it will take before all of Trump’s lawyers end up needing lawyers of their own after the revelations about the handling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago and God know what else they’ve aided and abetted with that we may not even know about yet.

Here’s more trump-lawyer-mopes-after-suit-tossed-its-a-sad-day”from the Daily Beast with Habba pathetically taking the blame for filing the suit against Clinton in the first place and pretending it was all her idea instead of Trump’s:

Judge Donald Middlebrooks wrote that his court “is not the appropriate forum” for Trump to “flaunt a two-hundred-page political manifesto.” Habba’s response, as told to Sean Hannity: “Well what is the proper place for him?” Habba later said she might appeal the decision, and also that Trump had told her that the case would ultimately not be a winner and she should just drop it. “I said no. We have to fight. It’s not right what happened. And you know, he was right. It’s a sad day for me personally because I fought him on it and should have listened, but I don’t want to lose hope in our system, I don’t.”

Never mind all the hundreds or more of tweets or endless rants at his rallies about how Clinton was going to jail any day now, we’re supposed to believe this was all this lawyer’s idea over the objection of Trump. Jebus these people know their followers are idiots.

Politics Girl has some thoughts on the

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