Tag Archives: court

Off-duty firefighter ‘was desperate’ for police to let her aid George Floyd, court hears

A Minneapolis firefighter who saw George Floyd being pinned to the ground by police officers while she was off duty testified at the Derek Chauvin murder trial Tuesday that she felt “totally distressed” that she was prevented from providing the 46-year-old Black man medical aid.

Genevieve Hansen was one of a series of bystanders who testified in Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis on the second day of the trial about what they witnessed on May 25, 2020, as police pinned Floyd to the ground after they detained him on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a convenience store.

That included the emotional testimony of Darnella Frazier, who was 17 when she took the viral video of Floyd’s arrest that sparked protests over police brutality and racial injustice around the world. 

Chauvin, 45, who is white, faces two murder charges — second-degree unintentional murder and third-degree murder — in the death of Floyd. Chauvin, who was fired from the police force after Floyd’s death, is also charged with the lesser offence of second-degree manslaughter.

The prosecution claims Chauvin crushed his knee into Floyd’s neck, an application of unreasonable force that it says led to his death later in hospital. But Chauvin’s defence argues the 19-year veteran police officer did exactly as he had been trained to do and that Floyd’s death was the result of a combination of underlying medical conditions and drugs in his system. 

Hansen, who testified in her dress uniform and said she had emergency medical technician training, had been out for a walk when she came across the officers and Floyd.

She said she observed that Floyd needed medical attention and was in an “altered level of consciousness.”


This image from a police body camera shows people gathering as Chauvin presses his knee on Floyd’s neck outside the Cup Foods convenience story in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. Floyd later died in hospital. (Minneapolis Police Department/The Associated Press)

Would have checked for pulse

She told the court had she been allowed to assist, she would have requested additional help and had someone fetch a defibrillator from the nearby gas station.

She said she would have checked Floyd’s airway for any obstructions, checked for a pulse, and, if no pulse was found, would have started compressions.

But she said, the officers didn’t allow her to assist.

She was asked by prosecutor Matthew Frank how that made her feel.

“Totally distressed,” she said. 

“Were you frustrated?” Frank asked.

“Yes,” she said, as she broke into tears.

Frank later asked her to explain why she felt helpless.

“Because there was a man being killed, and had I had access to a call similar to that, I would have been able to provide medical attention to the best of my abilities, and this human was denied that right,” she told the court.

She said she pleaded with police and “was desperate” for them to let her help. 

WATCH | Judge Peter Cahill rebukes witness over testimony:

Judge Peter Cahill admonished witness Genevieve Hansen for her responses to defence counsel. 0:50

When ambulance arrived and took Floyd, she called 911. The recording of that call was played in court Tuesday. In it, Hansen tells the dispatcher that she had just watched police officers not take a pulse or do anything to save a man.

But during cross-examination, she grew testy with Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson. When asked about the bystanders expressing their anger at police, she told Nelson: “I don’t know if you’ve seen anybody be killed, but it’s upsetting.”

“I’m going to just ask you to answer my questions as I ask them to you,” Nelson said.

Judge rebukes witness

Her responses to Nelson earned her a stern rebuke from Judge Peter Cahill, who, after the jury had been cleared for the day, warned her that she should not argue with the court or counsel and that they have the right to ask questions.

“I was finishing my answer,” Hansen said.

“I will determine when your answer is done,” Cahill said.

Earlier in the day, court also heard from Frazier, the teenager who shot the viral video, who testified that she had stayed up at night apologizing for not doing more to help him.

Frazier, acknowledging that that video has changed her life, was tearful at times and testified that any of her Black friends or family members could have been in Floyd’s position that day.

She said she has stayed up at night “apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more, and not physically interacting, not saving his life.”

Then she added: “But it’s not what I should have done. It’s what he should have done,” in what appeared to be a reference to Chauvin.

Frazier told the court she had been walking to a corner store with her younger cousin on May 25, 2020, when she encountered police pinning Floyd to the ground.

“It wasn’t right. He was suffering. He was in pain,” she said.

WATCH | Teen who shot video of Floyd says she wishes she could have saved him

Darnella Frazier, the teenagers who shot the viral video of George Floyd, says she stays up at night apologizing for not doing more to help him. 1:07

She said she sent her cousin into the store because she didn’t want her to see “a man terrified, scared, begging for his life.”

Frazier said she took out her phone and began recording. She later posted the video on social media, where it went viral around the globe.

As Frazier recorded, she said she heard Floyd say that he “can’t breathe,” for the officer to “please get off of me,” and that he cried for his mom.

“He was in pain. It seemed like he knew it was over for him. He was terrified. He was suffering. This was a cry for help,” she said. 

As the crowd of bystanders became more hostile toward police, Frazier said that Chauvin applied more pressure with his knee to Floyd. 

She said Chauvin’s response to the crowd was a “cold look, heartless.

“He didn’t care. It seemed as if he didn’t care what we were saying.”


Witness Donald Williams says he called 911 after watching Chauvin shove his knee into Floyd’s neck because he believed he had witnessed a murder. (Court TV/The Associated Press)

‘I believe I witnessed a murder’

Court also heard from Donald Williams, another bystander and witness who continued his testimony from the first day of the trial.

Court heard a 911 recording of Williams, who testified he made the call because at the time, “I believe I witnessed a murder.”

“I felt the need to call the police on the police,” he said.

Williams can be heard on the call with a dispatcher, saying that Chauvin “just pretty much killed this guy who wasn’t resisting arrest.”


Defence attorney Eric Nelson, left, and Chauvin are seen in court on the second day of the murder trial into Floyd’s death. (Court TV/The Associated Press)

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‘More pain’: Some Broncos families angry over request in court to delay lawsuit

A battle between lawsuits related to the Humboldt Broncos bus crash is to be heard in a Regina courtroom this week.

Eleven lawsuits were filed after the crash on April 6, 2018. Sixteen people died and 13 were injured when the driver of a semi-truck blew a stop sign and drove into the path of the junior hockey team’s bus near Tisdale, Sask.

Lawyers for a proposed class action waiting for certification plan to ask a judge Friday to delay another lawsuit filed by five of the victims’ families until that’s done.

The possible delay has some of the families frustrated.

“We want to put certain pieces of this behind us. When they get dragged out longer and longer, it just makes it harder and harder. It causes more pain,” said Chris Joseph, a former NHL player from St. Albert, Alta. His 20-year-old son, Jaxon, died in the crash.

The proposed class action so far includes the families of 24-year-old Dayna Brons, the team’s athletic therapist from Lake Lenore, Sask., who died in hospital after the crash, and injured goalie Jacob Wassermann, 21, from Humboldt, Sask. The suit names the Saskatchewan government, the inexperienced truck driver who caused the crash and the Calgary-based company that employed him.

Vancouver lawyer John Rice said the request for a stay, or delay, is about fairness.

“In situations where numerous claimants are harmed from the same event — and where the legal findings in one proceeding could impact all the others — the court needs to strike a balance between the competing interests of individual litigants to ensure that the most efficient and just process is adopted,” Rice said.

“In these awful circumstances, in this application, the court is being asked to exercise the ‘least-worst’ option, which is to press pause on the progress of one action until the application for certification is heard.”

Kevin Mellor of Regina, lawyer for the other lawsuit, said a delay would put his clients’ claim at risk. He represents the Joseph family as well as the families of Adam Herold, 16, of Monmartre, Sask.; Logan Hunter, 18, of St. Albert, Alta.; Jacob Leicht, 19, of Humboldt, Sask.; and assistant coach Mark Cross, 27, from Strasbourg, Sask. They all died from the crash.


A ‘pray for Humboldt’ jersey is draped at the site of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash. (Susan Ormiston/CBC)

That lawsuit, in addition to naming the Saskatchewan government, the driver and his employer, also lists the bus company as a defendant.

Mellor said Jaskirat Singh Sidhu was sentenced to eight years in prison for causing the crash, but could be deported to India before their lawsuit gets to trial.

“If the class action is going to delay … they’re going to miss out on material evidence because this guy will be deported,” Mellor said.

“We need to giddy-up and go.”

Co-counsel Sharon Fox said their clients shouldn’t be punished because they were first to file a lawsuit.

“We filed our claim in July 2018, three months after the crash happened,” Fox said.

“We have been at this for almost two years … They’re trying to hold us back, put us on the sidelines, so they can catch up. We’re saying that’s not fair and that’s going to impact our client’s ability to prove our case.”

Their clients also don’t want to put their healing on hold any longer, she said.

An affidavit from Herold’s father, Russ Herold, was filed in advance of Friday’s hearing.

“I feel I will suffer psychological harm if my lawsuit is delayed,” he says in the document.

“I want to advance my lawsuit to hold responsible those that should be held responsible for my son’s death.”

Lawyers for the Saskatchewan government recently argued in court that, because of the province’s no-fault insurance, it should be struck as a defendant from the class action. A judge has not yet ruled on that application.

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Britain’s top court rules Uber drivers entitled to minimum wage

Uber drivers in Britain should be classed as “workers” and not self-employed, the U.K. Supreme Court ruled Friday, in a decision that threatens the company’s business model and holds broader implications for the gig economy.

The ruling paves the way for Uber drivers to get benefits such as paid holidays and the minimum wage, handing defeat to the ride-hailing giant in the culmination of a long-running legal battle. 

Uber drivers are currently treated as self-employed, meaning that by law they are only afforded minimal protections, a status the Silicon Valley-based company sought to maintain in a long-running legal tussle.

The Supreme Court’s seven judges unanimously rejected Uber’s appeal against an employment tribunal ruling, which found that two Uber drivers were “workers” under British law.


The U.K.’s Supreme Court’s seven judges unanimously rejected Uber’s appeal against an employment tribunal ruling, which had found that two Uber drivers —including Yaseen Islam, president of the App Drivers & Couriers Union, seen here — were ‘workers’ under British law. (Frank Augstein/The Associated Press)

Legislation intended to protect vulnerable workers

The British judges cited a number of factors in their decision: Uber sets fares and contract terms and limits drivers’ choice in whether to reject or cancel rides. It also uses passenger ratings to control drivers and minimizes communications between drivers and passengers, which results in the service being “very tightly defined and controlled by Uber.”

“Drivers are in a position of subordination and dependency to Uber,” with little ability to improve their economic position and the only way to increase their earnings is by “working longer hours while constantly meeting Uber’s measures of performance,” said judge George Leggatt, as he read out a summary of the ruling on a court live stream.

Uber said some features cited in the ruling no longer exist, noting that since 2017 drivers face no repercussion for rejecting multiple consecutive trips.

Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar, the two drivers in the case, cheered the outcome.

“This ruling will fundamentally re-order the gig economy and bring an end to rife exploitation of workers by means of algorithmic and contract trickery,” Farrar said by email. The pair took Uber to the tribunal in 2016, which ruled in their favour. That decision was upheld in two rounds of appeals before it arrived at the Supreme Court.


Uber has 65,000 active drivers in the U.K. and argues they are independent contractors. (Phil Noble/Reuters)

Uber, which has 65,000 active drivers in the U.K., had argued that Aslam and Farrar were independent contractors. The company said it respected the court’s decision, which it argued focused on a small number of drivers who used the Uber app in 2016.

“Since then we have made some significant changes to our business, guided by drivers every step of the way,” Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, said in a statement. “These include giving even more control over how they earn and providing new protections like free insurance in case of sickness or injury.”

The ruling also clarified that drivers are considered to be on the job when they are logged in to the Uber app and ready and willing to accept rides, which can be used to calculate minimum wage and holiday pay. Uber had argued that drivers were only working when they were making a journey with a paying passenger.

Ramifications for gig economy workers

The gig economy, where people tend to work for one or more companies on a job-by-job basis, has faced criticism from trade unions who say it is exploitative, while businesses say many of those working in it enjoy the flexibility.

It could still take several months for the details of Friday’s decision to be worked at a further employment tribunal hearing to sort through practicalities over sums owed to drivers, according to lawyers.

Law firm Leigh Day says eligible drivers may be entitled to an average of 12,000 pounds (about $ 21,000 Cdn) in compensation. It represents more than 2,000 potential claimants.


Uber driver Jose Luis Guevara, a member of the Mobile Workers Alliance, pauses for a picture outside Los Angeles City Hall on Jan. 12. Drivers for app-based ride-hailing and delivery services are suing to overturn a California ballot initiative that makes them independent contractors instead of employees eligible for benefits and job protections. (Damian Dovarganes/The Associated Press)

Uber faced similar case in California

Uber has faced opposition from unions and challenges to its business model in several countries as it disrupts the taxi market.

Last year, Uber and other app-based ride-hailing services avoided a similar attempt in California to classify drivers as employees eligible for benefits and job protections. The companies bankrolled Proposition 22, a ballot measure exempting them from the state’s gig-economy laws by keeping drivers classified as independent contractors able to set their own hours. Voters approved it in November.

The decision comes as Uber faces drastic changes to its operating environment amid the coronavirus pandemic. The company slashed more than 6,000 jobs last year as the virus decimated demand for trips while boosting demand for its Uber Eats food delivery service. The ruling doesn’t affect Uber Eats couriers.

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Trump, Giuliani sued in federal court over role in Capitol riot

A Democratic congressman accused Donald Trump in a federal lawsuit on Tuesday of inciting the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and of conspiring with his lawyer and extremist groups to try to prevent Congress from certifying the results of the presidential election he lost to Joe Biden.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson by Joseph Sellers, a Washington lawyer, and the NAACP, is part of an expected wave of litigation over the Jan. 6 riot and is believed to be the first filed by a member of Congress. Thompson, the Democratic chair of the House’s homeland security committee, could be joined by other members of Congress, lawyers said.

The case also names as defendants the Republican former president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and groups including the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, extremist organizations that had members charged by the Justice Department with taking part in the siege. The suit seeks unspecified punitive and compensatory damages.

A Trump adviser, Jason Miller, said in a statement Tuesday that Trump did not organize the rally that preceded the riot and “did not incite or conspire to incite any violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6th.” A lawyer for Giuliani did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

The suit, filed in federal court in Washington under a Reconstruction-era law known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, comes after Trump was acquitted on Feb. 13 in a Senate impeachment trial that centred on allegations that he incited the riot that saw five people in attendance die, including a Trump supporter who was fatally shot and a Capitol police officer who was killed in circumstances that are still unclear.

Trump’s acquittal is likely to open the door to fresh legal scrutiny over his actions before and during the siege.

WATCH | McConnell highly critical of Trump despite vote to acquit:

Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican, excoriated Donald Trump on Saturday for the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, but defended his vote to acquit him at the impeachment trial. 2:49

Even some Republicans who voted to acquit Trump on Saturday acknowledged that the more proper venue to deal with Trump was in the courts, especially now that he has left the White House and lost certain legal protections that shielded him as president.

“We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation and former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one,” Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said from the chamber floor after the Senate voted 57-43 to find Trump guilty of the impeachment charge, a result that didn’t meet the threshold of a two-thirds majority for a conviction.

Riot a ‘foreseeable culmination,’ suit alleges

The suit traces the drawn-out effort by Trump and Giuliani to cast doubt on the election results even though courts across the country, and state election officials, repeatedly rejected their baseless allegations of fraud.

Despite evidence to the contrary, the suit says, the men portrayed the election as stolen while Trump “endorsed rather than discouraged” threats of violence from his angry supporters in the weeks leading up to the assault on the Capitol.

“The carefully orchestrated series of events that unfolded at the Save America rally and the storming of the Capitol was no accident or coincidence,” the suit says. “It was the intended and foreseeable culmination of a carefully co-ordinated campaign to interfere with the legal process required to confirm the tally of votes cast in the Electoral College.”


Rudy Giuliani, former U.S. president Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, was at the pro-Trump rally in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, where he encouraged a ‘trial by combat’ in his speech. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

Presidents are historically afforded broad immunity from lawsuits for actions they take in their role as commander-in-chief. But the lawsuit filed Tuesday was brought against Trump in his personal, not official, capacity and alleges that none of the behaviour at issue had to do with his responsibilities as president.

“Inciting a riot, or attempting to interfere with the congressional efforts to ratify the results of the election that are commended by the Constitution, could not conceivably be within the scope of ordinary responsibilities of the president,” Sellers said in an AP interview.

“In this respect, because of his conduct, he is just like any other private citizen,” Sellers said.

Though the impeachment case focused squarely on accusations of incitement, the lawsuit more broadly accuses Trump of conspiring to disrupt the constitutional activities of Congress — namely, the certification of election results establishing Biden as the rightful winner — through a months-long effort to discredit the outcome and to lean on individual states and his own vice-president to overturn the contest.

The case against Trump was brought under a provision of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which was passed in response to KKK violence and prohibits violence or intimidation meant to prevent Congress or other federal officials from carrying out their constitutional duties.

“Fortunately, this hasn’t been used very much,” Sellers said. “But what we see here is so unprecedented that it’s really reminiscent of what gave rise to the enactment of this legislation right after the Civil War.”

Defending use of ‘trial by combat’

The suit cites incendiary comments that Trump and Giuliani made in the weeks leading up to the riot and on the day of it that lawyers say were designed to mobilize supporters to work to overturn the election results and to prevent the Senate’s certification process. That process was temporarily interrupted when Trump loyalists broke into the Capitol.

Giuliani has said his exhortation to those in attendance for a “trial by combat” was a Game of Thrones reference to encourage investigations of voting systems used in the Nov. 3 vote.

Dominion Voting Systems, which has headquarters in Toronto, is one of two voting software companies to target Trump allies in lawsuits.

Trump told supporters at a rally preceding the riot to “fight like hell,” but lawyers for the former president adamantly denied during the impeachment trial that he had incited the riot. They pointed to a remark during his speech in which he told the crowd to behave “peacefully” that day.

Defence lawyers are likely to revisit those assertions in the lawsuit. They may also argue, as was done during the impeachment case, that Trump’s speech was protected by the First Amendment.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that her chamber will move to establish an independent, Sept. 11-style commission to look into the insurrection. Pelosi said the commission will “investigate and report on the facts and causes” relating to the attack and “the interference with the peaceful transfer of power.”

At the White House on Tuesday, press secretary Jen Psaki said the president supports the formation of a commission. Biden “backs efforts to shed additional light on the facts to ensure something like that never happens again,” she said.

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Thai court gives record 43-year sentence for insulting king

A court in Thailand on Tuesday sentenced a former civil servant to a record prison term of 43 years and six months for breaching the country’s strict law on insulting or defaming the monarchy, lawyers said.

The Bangkok Criminal Court found the woman guilty on 29 counts of violating the country’s lese majeste law for posting audio clips to Facebook and YouTube with comments deemed critical of the monarchy, the group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said.

The sentence, which comes amid an ongoing protest movement that has seen unprecedented public criticism of the monarchy, was swiftly condemned by rights groups.

“Today’s court verdict is shocking and sends a spine-chilling signal that not only criticisms of the monarchy won’t be tolerated, but they will also be severely punished,” said Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher for the group Human Rights Watch.

Controversial law

Violating Thailand’s lese majeste law — known widely as Article 112 — is punishable by three to 15 years’ imprisonment per count. The law is controversial not only because it has been used to punish things as simple as liking a post on Facebook but also because anyone — not just royals or authorities — can lodge a complaint that can tie the person accused up in legal proceedings for years.

During Thailand’s last 15 years of political unrest, the law has frequently been as a political weapon as well as in personal vendettas. Actual public criticism of the monarchy, however, had until recently been extremely rare.

That changed during the past year, when young protesters calling for democratic reforms also issued calls for the reform of the monarchy, which has long been regarded as an almost sacred institution by many Thais. The protesters have said the institution is unaccountable and holds too much power in what is supposed to be a democratic constitutional monarchy.

Authorities at first let much of the commentary and criticism go without charge, but since November has arrested about 50 people and charged them with lese majeste.

Sunai said Tuesday’s sentence was likely meant to send a message.

‘Last resort measure’

“It can be seen that Thai authorities are using lese majeste prosecution as their last resort measure in response to the youth-led democracy uprising that seeks to curb the king’s powers and keep him within the bound of constitutional rule. Thailand’s political tensions will now go from bad to worse,” he said.

After King Maha Vajralongkorn took the throne in 2016 following his father’s death, he informed the government that he did not wish to see the lese majeste law used. But as the protests grew last year, and the criticism of the monarchy got harsher, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha warned a line had been crossed and the law would be used.

The protest movement has lost steam since the arrests and a new restrictions on public gatherings that followed a surge in coronavirus cases.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights identified the woman sentenced Tuesday only by her first name Anchan and said she was in her mid-sixties. The court initially announced her sentence as 87 years, but reduced it by half because she pleaded guilty to the offences.

Held for almost 4 years

Her case dates back six years, when anti-establishment sentiment was growing after a 2014 military coup led by Prayuth. She was held in jail from January 2015 to November 2018.

She denied the charges when her case was first heard in military court, where lese majeste offences were prosecuted for a period after the coup. When her case was transferred to criminal court, she pleaded guilty with the hope that the court would have sympathy for her actions, because she had only shared the audio, not posted or commented on it, she told local media Tuesday on her arrival at court.

“I thought it was nothing. There were so many people who shared this content and listened to it. The guy (who made the content) had done it for so many years,” Anchan said. “So I didn’t really think this through and was too confident and not being careful enough to realize at the time that it wasn’t appropriate.”

She said she had worked as a civil servant for 40 years and was arrested one year before retirement, and with a conviction would lose her pension.

What is believed to have previously been the longest lese majeste sentence was issued in 2017, when a military court sentenced a man to 35 years in prison for social media posts deemed defamatory to the monarchy. The man, a salesman, had initially been sentenced to 70 years, but had his sentence halved after pleading guilty.

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India’s top court suspends implementation of new farm laws that led to mass protests

India’s top court on Tuesday temporarily put on hold the implementation of agricultural reform laws and ordered the creation of an independent committee of experts to negotiate with farmers who have been protesting against the legislation.

The Supreme Court’s ruling came a day after it heard petitions filed by farmers challenging the legislation. It said the laws were passed without enough consultation and that it was disappointed with the way talks were proceeding between representatives of the government and farmers.

Tens of thousands of farmers protesting against the legislation have been blocking half a dozen major highways on the outskirts of New Delhi for more than 45 days. Farmers say they won’t leave until the government repeals the laws.

They say the legislation passed by Parliament in September will lead to the cartelization and commercialization of agriculture, make farmers vulnerable to corporate greed and devastate their earnings.

The Indian government insists the laws will benefit farmers and enable them to market their produce and boost production through private investment.

Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde said the independent committee of four experts would “amicably resolve” the standoff between the farmers and the government.

The court, however, did not provide details as to how it selected the committee experts.

Farmer unions rejected the idea of an expert committee and said all four members have publicly favoured the contentious legislation. They reiterated their demand for the total repeal of the laws.


Farmers transport blankets and mattresses to tents set up as part of demonstrations at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border in Ghaziabad, India. (Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

A key union said the court’s decision to suspend the implementation of the legislation was welcome but “not a solution.”

“The government must withdraw. It must understand that farmers and people of India are opposed to the laws,” the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee said.

During a virtual hearing on Monday, Bobde said the impasse was causing distress to farmers, and the situation at the protest sites was only getting worse.

“Each one of us will be responsible if anything goes wrong,” Bobde told India’s attorney general, K.K. Venugopal, who was arguing the government’s case.

The two sides have failed to make progress in multiple rounds of talks over the farmers’ main demand that the laws be scrapped. The government has ruled out withdrawing the laws but says it could make some amendments.

The two sides are due to meet again on Friday.

On Dec. 30, they reached a consensus on two issues — that the government would continue its subsidy of electricity for irrigating farms and that farmers would not be punished for burning crop residues, a cause of air pollution.

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Hong Kong court orders media publisher Jimmy Lai back into custody

Hong Kong’s top court has remanded media and publishing tycoon Jimmy Lai, the most high-profile person to be charged under the Chinese-ruled city’s national security law, in custody until another bail hearing on Feb. 1.

The Court of Final Appeal’s ruling comes a week after Lai, one of Hong Kong’s most prominent democracy activists who is accused of colluding with foreign forces, was released on $ 1.3 million US bail along with extensive restrictions that included barring him from using social media.

Prosecutors immediately appealed against the bail decision.

Beijing imposed the legislation on the former British colony in June that critics say aims to crush dissent and erode freedoms in the semi-autonomous, Chinese-ruled city — charges that authorities in Hong Kong and China reject.

Lai, a critic of Beijing who had been a frequent visitor to Washington, is widely believed to be a target of the new legislation.

Lai is among a string of pro-democracy activists and supporters arrested by Hong Kong police in recent months as authorities step up their crackdown on dissent in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. 

On Tuesday, Lai resigned as chairman and executive director of Next Digital, which runs the Apple Daily newspaper, according to a filing made to the Hong Kong stock exchange. He did so “to spend more time dealing with this personal affairs” and confirmed that he had no disagreement with the board of directors, the filing said.
 

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U.S. Supreme Court rejects Trump-backed lawsuit to overturn Biden’s election win

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday rejected a lawsuit backed by President Donald Trump to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory, ending a desperate attempt to get legal issues rejected by state and federal judges before the nation’s highest court.

The court’s order was its second this week rebuffing Republican requests that it get involved in the 2020 election outcome. The justices turned away an appeal from Pennsylvania Republicans on Tuesday.

The electoral college meets Monday to formally elect Biden as the next president.

Trump had called the lawsuit filed by Texas against Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin “the big one” that would end with the Supreme Court undoing Biden’s substantial electoral college majority and allowing Trump to serve another four years in the White House.

In a brief order, the court said Texas does not have the legal right to sue those states because it “has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections.”


Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, who have said previously the court does not have the authority to turn away lawsuits between states, said they would have heard Texas’ complaint. But they would not have done as Texas wanted pending resolution of the lawsuit, and set aside those four states’ 62 electoral votes for Biden.

Three Trump appointees sit on the high court. In his push to quickly confirm the most recent of his nominees, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Trump said she would be needed for any post-election lawsuits.

Barrett appears to have participated in both cases this week. None of the Trump appointees noted a dissent in either case.

Eighteen other states won by Trump in last month’s election, 126 GOP members of Congress and Trump himself joined Texas in calling on the justices to take up the case that sought to stop electors from casting their votes for Biden.

The four states sued by Texas had urged the court to reject the case as meritless. They were backed by another 22 states and the District of Columbia.

Republicans divided

Republican support for the lawsuit and its call to throw out millions of votes in four battleground states over baseless claims of fraud was an extraordinary display of the party’s willingness to subvert the will of voters. The House members backing the suit included House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

“This lawsuit is an act of flailing GOP desperation, which violates the principles enshrined in our American Democracy,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote in a message to Democrats on Friday.

A few Republicans have expressed concerns about the case. Many others have remained silent even as Trump endlessly repeated claims that he lost a chance at a second term due to widespread fraud.

WATCH | Republicans worried about Georgia runoff:

U.S. President Donald Trump spent some of the weekend trying to rally support for Republican Senate candidates in Georgia, but there are concerns his continued denouncement of the electoral system could convince voters to stay home. 2:03

“Texas is a big state, but I don’t know exactly why it has a right to tell four other states how to run their elections. So I’m having a hard time figuring out the basis for that lawsuit,” Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander told NBC’s Chuck Todd in an interview for Meet The Press that will air Sunday.

To be clear, there has been no evidence of widespread fraud.

The Texas complaint repeated false, disproven and unsubstantiated accusations about the voting in four states that went for Trump’s Democratic challenger. The high court had never before been asked for such a dramatic remedy.

Two days after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed his suit, Trump jumped into the high court case. Hours later, the president held a meeting at the White House, scheduled before the suit was filed, with a dozen Republican attorneys general, including Paxton and several others who backed the effort.

“If the Supreme Court shows great Wisdom and Courage, the American People will win perhaps the most important case in history, and our Electoral Process will be respected again!” he tweeted Friday afternoon. Trump had spent the week relentlessly tweeting about the Texas case with the hashtag “overturn” and claiming, falsely, that he had won the election but was robbed.

Still, some of the top state Republican prosecutors who urged the court to get involved acknowledged that the effort was a long shot and sought to distance themselves from Trump’s baseless allegations of fraud. North Dakota’s Wayne Stenehjem, among the attorneys general supporting the case, said North Dakota is not alleging voter fraud in the four states at issue.


“We’re careful on that,” said Stenehjem, who noted that his office has received thousands of calls and emails from constituents asking the state to support the suit. “But it’s worth it for the Supreme Court to weigh in and settle it once and for all,” he said.

The case has inflamed already high tensions over the election. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said his office staff received two death threats Thursday after he signed onto the brief supporting the case.

The lawsuit has also divided officials in some states.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox supported Texas’ case, even though he said the suit was “belated” and its chances “are slim at best.” Fox said the case raised “important constitutional questions about the separation of powers and the integrity of mail-in ballots in those defendant states.”

But Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, urged the court to reject the case. He said the fact that Texas is not suing Montana, which Trump won, even though the state similarly used mail-in ballots underscores that “this action is less about election integrity than it is about attempting to overturn the will of the electorate.”


Trump supporters demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington on Friday. The slogan ‘Stop the Steal’ has become a rallying cry for Republicans unwilling to accept Biden’s victory in last month’s presidential election. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

The litigation rankled Democratic attorneys general. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, co-chair of the Democratic Attorneys General Association, called the attempt to overturn votes “unconscionable.” Support among other leading lawyers was disturbing, Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, who’s also co-chair of the Democratic attorneys general group, told The Associated Press.

“I do think that these individuals are kowtowing to a president who has implemented some level of control and authority over the duly elected attorneys general in their states in a way that is unfortunate,” he said.

Many of the attorneys general supporting the case have shown greater political ambitions.

WATCH | Trump turns supporters away from Fox News:

U.S. President Donald Trump and his supporters have long relied on Fox News to bolster their message. But since the network’s news programs announced Trump’s election loss, the president has been speaking against it and is instead promoting smaller conservative media outlets One America News Network and Newsmax. 7:18

In Kansas, Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who is considering a bid for governor in 2022, announced that he would back the effort only hours after former Republican governor Jeff Colyer — another potential candidate for governor — tweeted that Schmidt’s office should.

Despite the political pressure, Idaho’s Republican attorney general chose not to join Texas.

“As is sometimes the case, the legally correct decision may not be the politically convenient decision,” Lawrence Wasden said in a statement. “But my responsibility is to the state of Idaho and the rule of law.”

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Trump asks Supreme Court to let him join another legal attempt to overturn his election loss

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to let him join a long-shot lawsuit by Texas seeking to overturn his election loss by throwing out the voting results in four states, litigation that also drew support from 17 other states.

In a court filing, Trump asked to intervene in the Texas lawsuit, the latest litigation to try to undo Democratic president-elect Joe Biden’s victory over the Republican incumbent in the Nov. 3 election. In a separate brief, lawyers for 17 states led by Missouri’s Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt also urged the nine justices to hear the case.

Efforts in the courts on behalf of Trump challenging the election results so far have failed.

The lawsuit, announced on Tuesday by the Republican attorney general of Texas Ken Paxton, targeted four states that Trump lost to Biden after winning them in the 2016 election. Trump has falsely claimed he won re-election and has made baseless allegations of widespread voting fraud. Election officials at the state level have said they have found no evidence of such fraud.

Writing on Twitter earlier on Wednesday, Trump said, “We will be INTERVENING in the Texas (plus many other states) case. This is the big one. Our Country needs a victory!”

‘Zero chance’ 

Election law experts have said the Texas lawsuit stands little chance of success and lacks legal merit.

“Both procedurally and substantively, it’s a mess,” Justin Levitt, an election law professor at Loyola Law School in California, said of the Texas lawsuit. “There’s zero chance the court agrees to take the case.”

In addition to Missouri, the states joining Texas were: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia. All of the states were represented by Republican officials in the filing. All but three of the states have Republican governors.

Officials from Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have called the lawsuit a reckless attack on democracy. It was filed directly with the Supreme Court rather than with a lower court, as is permitted for certain litigation between states.

The Texas suit argued that changes made by the four states to voting procedures amid the coronavirus pandemic to expand mail-in voting were unlawful. Texas asked the Supreme Court to immediately block the four states from using the voting results to appoint presidential electors to the electoral college.

Biden has amassed 306 electoral votes — far higher than the necessary 270 — compared to Trump’s 232 in the state-by-state electoral college that determines the election’s outcome. The four states contribute a combined 62 electoral votes to Biden’s total.

Texas also asked the Supreme Court to delay the Dec. 14 date for electoral college votes to be formally cast, a date set by law in 1887.

Democrats and other critics have accused Trump of aiming to reduce public confidence in U.S. election integrity and undermine democracy by trying to subvert the will of the voters.

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U.S. Supreme Court rejects Republican challenge to Biden’s Pennsylvania win

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday handed a defeat to Republicans seeking to throw out up to 2.5 million mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania as they try to undo President Donald Trump’s election loss, with the justices refusing to block the state from formalizing president-elect Joe Biden’s victory there.

The court in a brief order rejected a request made by U.S. congressman Mike Kelly, a Trump ally, and other Pennsylvania Republicans who filed a lawsuit after the Nov. 3 election arguing that the state’s 2019 expansion of mail-in voting was illegal under state law.

Pennsylvania was one of the pivotal states in the election, with Biden, a Democrat, defeating Trump there after the Republican president won the state in 2016. State officials had already certified the election results.

There were no noted dissents from any of the justices on the court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority — including three Trump appointees.

Trump had urged the Republican-led Senate to confirm his most recent nominee, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, before the election so she would be able to participate in any election-related cases.

Trump has falsely claimed that he won re-election, making unfounded claims about widespread voting fraud in states including Pennsylvania.

Democrats and other critics have accused Trump of aiming to reduce public confidence in the integrity of U.S. elections and undermine democracy by trying to subvert the will of the voters.

“This election is over. We must continue to stop this circus of ‘lawsuits’ and move forward,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter.

The Republican plaintiffs argued that the universal, “no-excuse” mail-in ballot program passed by the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania legislature in 2019, enabling voters to cast ballots by mail for any reason, violated the state’s constitution.

Biden won Pennsylvania by 80,000 votes and received a much higher proportion of the mail-in votes than Trump. Many more people voted by mail this year because of health concerns prompted by the coronavirus pandemic as they sought to avoid crowds at polling places.

Ahead of the election, Trump urged his supporters not to vote by mail, making groundless claims that mail-in voting — a longstanding feature of American elections — was rife with fraud.

The Supreme Court also must decide what to do with another election-related case brought on Tuesday. Republican-governed Texas, hoping to help Trump, mounted an unusual effort to overturn the election results in Pennsylvania and three other states — Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin — by filing a lawsuit against them directly at the Supreme Court.

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