March 22, 2017 nº 1,851 - Vol. 14

"A man never discloses his own character so clearly as when he describes another's"

Jean Paul Richter

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  • Top News

Supreme Court rules Fourth Amendment rights continue beyond legal process

The US Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable seizure can continue after the legal process has concluded. In Manuel v. City of Joliet, the court reversed the lower court in a 6-2 decision. The case arose when police found a vitamin bottle containing pills when searching Elijah Manuel at a traffic stop. After a field test showed the pills were not a controlled substance, they arrested Manuel and brought him to the police station. The evidence statistician there received a negative result when testing the pills, but claimed one pill tested positive for the probable presence of ecstasy. The arresting officer stated in his report that he knew the pills were ecstasy. On this basis, Manuel was charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance and a judge found probable cause to detain him pending trial. Later laboratory results definitively proved the pills were not ecstasy, but Manuel remained in custody for a total of 48 days of pretrial detention. Two years after his arrest, but less than two years after his case was dismissed, he filed a § 1983 lawsuit against the City of Joliet, claiming his arrest violated the Fourth Amendment. The district court dismissed his claim in part because precedent held that pretrial detention following the start of legal process—here, the judge's probable cause determination—cannot give rise to a Fourth Amendment claim. The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit had affirmed the district court. Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the court: "The Fourth Amendment protects "the right of the people to be secure in their persons... against unreasonable... seizures." Manuel's complaint seeks just that protection. Government officials, it recounts, detained—which is to say, "seized"—Manuel for 48 days following his arrest. And that detention was "unreasonable," the complaint continues, because it was based solely on false evidence, rather than supported by probable cause. By their respective terms, then, Manuel's claim fits the Fourth Amendment, and the Fourth Amendment fits Manuel's claim, as hand in glove.” The court recognized that the Fourth Amendment establishes the standards and procedures governing pretrial detention, and those constitutional protections apply even after the start of legal process in a criminal case. The decision was 6-2, with Justice Clarence Thomas filing a dissenting opinion, and Justice Samuel Alito filing a dissenting opinion in which Thomas joined. The court heard arguments in the case in October after granting certiorari in January of last year.

  • Crumbs

1 - FBI director confirms investigation of Russia interference with US election - click here.

2 - US judge asks Google to name people who searched for fraud victim - click here.

3 - Alibaba buys out online ticketing platform Damai - click here.


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  • MiMIC Journal

Brazil meat scandal: Hong Kong joins import ban

Hong Kong has joined China is suspending meat imports from Brazil. They are the top two consumers of Brazilian meat and have suspended imports over allegations that companies have been selling unsafe produce for years. The European Union has also said it will stop buying from companies implicated in the scandal. The crisis was triggered by a huge federal police operation on Friday. It found evidence that meat-packers had been selling rotten and substandard produce for several years.

China's taxes on imported cars feed trade tensions with US

Autos are emerging as a potential point of contention ahead of Trump's meeting with his Chinese counterpart, but the industry sees no easy answers.


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  • Brief News

Flight ban on laptops 'sparked by IS threat'

Homeland Security says most personal electronics won't be allowed in carry-ons on flights from some majority-Muslim countries. The UK has acted similarly. Why the abrupt change? It's far from clear. An aircraft cabin ban on large electronic devices was prompted by intelligence suggesting a terror threat to US-bound flights. The US and UK have announced new carry-on restrictions banning laptops on certain passenger flights. The so-called Islamic State has been working on ways to smuggle explosives on to planes by hiding them in electronics. The tip-off was judged by the US to be "substantiated" and "credible". Inbound flights on nine airlines operating out of 10 airports in eight countries are subject to the US Department of Homeland Security ban. Phones and medical devices are not affected. The nine airlines covered by the US ban are Royal Jordanian, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways. The British ban, announced hours after the American measure, is similar but applies to different airlines, including British Airways and EasyJet. (Click here)

Supreme Court pick Gorsuch says Trump not above law

Trump's pick for the vacant seat on the Supreme Court has insisted that no-one, including the president who nominated him, is above the law. Neil Gorsuch also told his Senate confirmation hearing that no-one had asked him to make any promises on how he would rule. He said he would have "walked out" if Trump had asked him to overturn the landmark Roe v Wade abortion ruling. Gorsuch also called Trump's attacks on federal judges "disheartening". "When anyone criticises the honesty or the integrity or the motives of a federal judge, I find that disheartening. I find that demoralising - because I know the truth," he said.

Fiat Chrysler diesel emissions investigated in France

French prosecutors have opened an investigation into claims Fiat Chrysler Automobiles broke diesel emissions tests. Industry regulators in the country have been looking into whether some FCA cars exceeded emissions limits. FCA, already facing probes in the UK and US, said it noted the prosecutor's decision to look into "certain alleged consumer protection violations". Tests by French regulators last year, launched in the wake of the Volkswagen emissions test-cheating scandal, revealed pollutants from some Fiat Chrysler and other car maker's models exceeded regulatory limits.

Brexit: EU summit on 29 April to discuss way ahead

A summit of EU member states to discuss Brexit is be held on 29 April, a month after the UK triggers Article 50. The meeting will be used to agree the guidelines for the EU's negotiating team headed by Michel Barnier. European Council president Donald Tusk said the priority would be giving "clarity" to EU residents, business and member states about the talks ahead. Prime Minister Theresa May will officially notify the EU of the UK's intention to leave on 29 March. She told her cabinet on Tuesday that triggering Article 50 would be an "historic event" and the start of a "bold new chapter... as a prosperous open and global nation". The letter which she will send to Tusk, will be "one of the most important documents in the country's recent history" and it will set the tone for a new relationship with the EU, she said. (Click here)

Google promises to take action on 'hateful' content

Google has responded to major companies withdrawing online adverts by promising to take "a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content". Google also said it would also tighten advertising safeguards. It added that as well as removing content, its YouTube team would revisit the guidelines on allowable videos. The move came after several firms withdrew their ads when some appeared next to extremist content on YouTube. Several high profile companies, including Marks and Spencer, Audi, RBS and L'Oréal, have pulled online advertising from YouTube, which is owned by Google.

Nevada on cusp of ratifying equal rights amendment 35 years after deadline

With a vote Monday, Nevada drew closer to approving the ERA, long after Congress' 1982 deadline for ratification. But the state has given the amendment's supporters new reason to hope.

Supreme Court rules in patent infringement case

The US Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC—a patent infringement case—vacating a portion of the opinion and remanding it to a lower court. In SCA Hygiene, the defendant, who is accused of infringing on a patented adult hygiene product design, was attempting to use the defense of laches despite the plaintiff filing suit within the six-year statute of limitations. The court rejected that defense, holding that "[l]aches cannot be interposed as a defense against damages where the infringement occurred within the period prescribed by §286," as, inter alia, "laches is a gap-filling doctrine, and where there is a statute of limitations, there is no gap to fill." In dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer argued that there was a gap to be filled by the doctrine of laches in the instant case. In one example, Breyer, posed that the statute provided no period of time to sue and because of this a patentee could wait significant time to sue while an infringer works on a patent making marked developments leaving developers open to highly prejudicial suits in which the patentee will "collect a significant recovery."

UN rights chief urges international community to target hate speech

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein marked the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Tuesday by making a statement emphasizing the importance of curtailing hate speech. Highlighting the racially motivated atrocities occurring worldwide, Zeid noted how several reputable organizations have reported an increase in hate crimes, potentially due to racially charged rhetoric.

India court gives rivers same rights as legal person

The Ganges and Yumana rivers were granted the same legal rights as people by the high court in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand on Monday. The two rivers are considered sacred by Indians but have faced harm from widespread pollution. The court cited New Zealand's recent granting of legal person rights to the Whanganui River. The rivers and their tributaries are "legal and living entities having the status of a legal person with all corresponding rights, duties, and liabilites." The court also established three officials to protect the river as legal custodians and directed the government to form a board to protect the rivers through the Namami Gange Mission.

Families of 9/11 victims sue Saudi Arabia

More than 850 family members of victims of the 9/11 attacks filed a lawsuit Monday against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The suit alleges that Saudi Arabia provided support to al Qaeda in multiple ways. First, it alleges that Saudi Arabian charities ran terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, working hand in hand with Osama bin Laden. The suit also claims that the government of Saudi Arabia directly funded al Qaeda by providing passports and transportation across the globe. Finally, the suit contends that certain Saudi officials worked with the hijackers in the US for the 18 months leading up to the attacks. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, with the primary motive on trying to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the attacks. (Click here)

Vodafone is paying a high price to be no. 1 in India

A punishing price war in India's mobile market heightens the worries over the deal's structure and the combined company's debt.

The California bar exam flunks too many law school graduates

Graduates who fail face losing jobs already started, not getting jobs that were promised, debt, embarrassment and more debt. Simply taking the exam again costs more than $700, and add to that the cost of further bar review classes, living expenses in the meantime and income lost. All told, thousands more dollars may be piled onto law school debt that is increasingly well above $100,000. Most of those who fail their first attempt eventually pass the bar on the second or third try. After each attempt, however, these graduates do not learn to be better lawyers, they simply learn how to beat the test. And the damage done from the initial failure can be great. In addition to the financial costs, they may find themselves timed out of promising professional opportunities that never reappear. Finally, there are the emotional and psychological costs that are possibly the most overwhelming consequence of even one failed attempt. The California bar exam has historically had the highest cut score of any state, consistently resulting in the nation’s lowest pass rates. In July 2016, California's pass rate reached a record low 62% for graduates of American Bar Assn.-accredited law schools. New York's was 83%. Although California has always had low pass rates, the July results caused an outcry. It finally dawned on those of us who run law schools in the state to ask why. (Click here)


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