News Roundup

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Appeals court tosses conviction because juror sought relationship with witness

A New York appeals court has tossed the attempted murder conviction of Tysheem McGregor because of a juror’s romantic interest in a prosecution witness who was testifying as part of a cooperation agreement. The juror wrote to the witness during deliberations to tell him that she felt for him and seeing him testify made her “feel some type of way.” The witness, who was incarcerated, informed prosecutors before sentencing that he was corresponding with the juror and wrote to the judge for assistance obtaining a marriage license. The Appellate Division’s First Judicial Department of the New York Supreme Court concluded that the juror’s misconduct was “willful and blatant,” and it granted a new trial. (The Washington Post, the Nov. 14 opinion)

Suit alleges ‘perilous environment’ in women’s prison

A class action lawsuit filed Wednesday claims that a women’s prison in Michigan is plagued with mold and filth, causing a “perilous environment.” The suit was filed on behalf of three prisoners at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility. The suit claims that the prison is understaffed, poorly managed and poorly maintained. (The Associated Press, MLive.com, the Detroit Free Press, the lawsuit)

9th Circuit nominee described as ‘arrogant’ and ‘lazy’ gets judiciary committee OK

The Senate Judiciary Committee sent to the full Senate on Thursday an appeals court nominee who was rated “not qualified” by the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary. Judges and lawyers interviewed about the nominee, Lawrence VanDyke, reported that he is “arrogant,” “lazy” and an “ideologue,” according to an ABA letter explaining the rating by a committee majority. The Senate Judiciary Committee gave its approval over Democratic opposition. VanDyke is nominated to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at San Francisco. (Bloomberg Law, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Law.com)

Judge orders Iran to pay $180M for detention of Washington Post journalist

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has ordered Iran to pay $180 million in damages for detaining Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian and his wife in July 2014. Rezaian was held for 18 months and his wife for two months. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said Rezaian was held and tortured to gain leverage in negotiations with the United States during nuclear talks. A lawyer for Rezaian has acknowledged that collecting the default judgment could be difficult. (The Washington Post)

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