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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
  May 2016
  April 2016
SJC rules for trigger-lock on guns

While the right to bear firearms remains intact, the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), the Highest Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts , has ruled in favour of certain restrictions on the way the right has to be exercised. One could keep the firearm, but must keep the trigger-lock on when the firearm is not in use so as to prevent accidental firing.

The Second Amendment does not stand in the way of Massachusetts to impose its own regulations with respect to gun ownership so long as they do not impinge upon the right conferred by the Second Amendment. And in the opinion of the SJC, the requirement of having the trigger-lock on does not interfere with the Second Amendment right.

Delivering a unanimous judgment in favour of the legal requirement, Justice Ralph Gants wrote, "We conclude that the legal obligation safely to secure firearms in [State law] is not unconstitutional".

The case involved one Richard Runyan, a Billerica man, who was facing prosecution for having kept a rifle under his bed with the trigger lock off. The police got involved when, in 2007, it was found that Runyan's developmentally disabled son, who was all of 18 years then, had been shooting with a BB gun in the neighbourhood.

The case was rejected by a Lowell District Court judge. The State went into appeal against the decision in 2009, and the case eventually reached the Supreme Court.


Chinese Supreme Court judge sentenced for corruption

The Highest Court of China saw one of its darkest days with a court in Northern China upholding the conviction and life sentence of a former Supreme Court judge, Huang Songyou, on corruption charges.

Huang Songyou has been a former Vice President of the Supreme People's Court and attained the unenviable distinction of being the highest judicial officer to be tried and convicted on charges of corruption when the Hebei Province People's High Court upheld the life sentence awarded by a lower court in January, a State-run newspaper reported. According to the newspaper report, Huang did not issue any statement after the decision was declared.

Huang (52) was accused of ruling in favour of a law firm between 2005 and 2008 in exchange of bribes totaling 3.9 million yuan ($574,000).

Huang was also accused of embezzling 1.2 million yuan ($176,000) in government funds during the time he served as President of a city court in 1997 in Guangdong .

Reportedly, Huang had confessed during the course of investigation and most of the money he took in bribes and embezzled was recovered.


Canada SC quashes child porn conviction

A technically flawed search warrant led to the reversal of a child pornography convict, who had been found guilty of possessing child pornography imaterial.

The Supreme Court of Canada in a 4-3 decision held that a Saskatchewan man, Urbain P. Morelli, deserved to be acquitted because he had been subjected to "unreasonable" search and seizure in 2003 that led to the conviction under challenge.

"This case concerns the right of everyone in Canada , including the appellant, to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure ... particularly, to the search and seizure of a personal computer," Justice Morris Fish wrote quashing the conviction.

Justice Fish further noted that the search warrant was obtained by the authorities on the basis of misleading and factually incomplete information. The police, Judge Fish pointed out, "invoked an unsupported stereotype of an ill-defined 'type of offender' and imputed that stereotype to the appellant".

In 2005, after the conviction, Morelli had been sentenced to an 18-months house arrest. The search warrant that led to overturning of the conviction was issued solely on the basis of the statement by a computer technician, Adrian Hounjet, who found the icons "Lolita Porn" and "Lolita XXX" on Morelli's computer when he visited Morelli's to install high-speed internet connection.

He also saw Morelli's webcam pointed at the toys of Morelli's daughter, and on his second visit he noticed that the icons had been deleted and toys cleared, which deepened his suspicion. He told his mother, who, in turn, informed the authorities. The search warrant was then obtained and executed in January 2003, four months after Hounjet's visits.


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