An appellate court in Poland on Monday rejected a lawsuit brought against two Holocaust scholars in a case that has been closely watched because it was expected to serve as a precedent for research into the highly sensitive area of Polish behavior toward Jews during World War II.
Poland is governed by a nationalist conservative party that has sought to promote remembrance of Polish heroism and suffering during the wartime German occupation of the country. The party also believes that discussions of Polish wrongdoing distort the historical picture and are unfair to Poles.
The Appellate Court of Warsaw argued in its explanation that it believed that scholarly research should not be judged by courts. But it appeared not to be the end: a lawyer for the plaintiff said Monday that she would appeal Monday’s ruling to the Supreme Court.
The ruling was welcomed by the two researchers, Jan Grabowski and Barbara Engelking, who declared it a “great victory” in a Facebook post.
“We greet the verdict with great joy and satisfaction all the more, that this decision has a direct impact on all Polish scholars, and especially on historians of the Holocaust,” they said.
Monday’s ruling comes half a year after a lower court ordered the two researchers to apologize to a woman who claimed that her deceased uncle had been defamed in a historical work they edited and partially wrote, “Night Without End: The Fate of Jews in Selected Counties of Occupied Poland.”
Lawyers for the niece, 81-year-old Filomena Leszczynska, argued that her uncle was a Polish hero who had saved Jews, and that the scholars had harmed her good name and that of her family by suggesting the uncle was also involved in the killing of Jews.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Monika Brzozowska-Pasieka, said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press that Leszczynska was “astonished” by the judgement and intends to file an appeal to the Polish Supreme Court.
Civil rights advocates sued a Maryland county on Wednesday to seek the court-ordered removal of a Confederate monument from a courthouse lawn on the state’s Eastern Shore, calling it a racist symbol of oppression.
In their federal lawsuit, an NAACP branch leader and a defense lawyer say the “Talbot Boys” statue in Talbot County is the last Confederate monument remaining on public property in Maryland besides cemeteries and battlefields.
The lawsuit claims that a statue glorifying the Confederacy on the lawn outside the county courthouse in Easton, Maryland, is both unconstitutional and illegal under federal and state laws. Keeping it there “sends a message that the community does not value Black people, that justice is not blind, and that Black people are not equal in the eyes of the county,” the suit says.
“For Black employees and litigants entering the courthouse, the statue is, in its least damaging capacity, intimidating and demoralizing,” it adds.
In August 2020, Talbot County Council members voted 3-2 to keep the memorial on the courthouse lawn.
Council President Chuck Callahan was among the three members who voted to keep the memorial. He did not immediately respond Wednesday to an email and phone call seeking comment on the lawsuit.
The memorial, dedicated in 1916, commemorates more than 80 soldiers who fought for the Confederacy. A website advocating for it to stay on the courthouse lawn calls it “a piece of history and a splendid work of art that tells the story of brother vs. brother where North and South came together, the border state of Maryland.”
The lawsuit says the statute, erected 50 years after the Civil War ended and during the Jim Crow era, was funded primarily by a prominent white lawyer who “embraced ideals of slavery.”
“It is also telling that no monument was erected to honor the sacrifices of those from Talbot County who fought for the Union ? particularly since Maryland was not part of the Confederacy,” the suit adds.
The lawsuit’s plaintiffs include Richard Potter, president of the Talbot County branch of the NAACP, and Kisha Petticolas, a Black lawyer who works in Talbot County for the Maryland Office of the Public Defender.
Plaintiffs’ lawyers, including from the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, filed the federal lawsuit in Baltimore.
It asks the court to order the statute’s permanent removal from the courthouse area and bar its display at any other county property. It also seeks unspecified monetary damages for the plaintiffs.
The Supreme Court has 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 and subvert the will of voters.
Trump bemoaned the decision late Friday, tweeting: “The Supreme Court really let us down. No Wisdom, No Courage!”
The high court’s order earlier Friday was a stark repudiation of a legal claim that was widely regarded as dubious, yet embraced by the president, 19 Republican state attorneys general and 126 House Republicans.
Trump had insisted the court would find the “wisdom” and “courage” to adopt his baseless position that the election was the product of widespread fraud and should be overturned. But the nation’s highest court emphatically disagreed.
Friday’s order marked the second time this week that the court had rebuffed Republican requests that it get involved in the 2020 election outcome and reject the voters’ choice, as expressed in an election regarded by both Republican and Democratic officials as free and fair. The justices turned away an appeal from Pennsylvania Republicans on Tuesday.
On Monday, the Electoral College meets 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 — setting aside those four states’ 62 electoral votes for Biden — pending resolution of the lawsuit.
Trump complained that “within a flash,” the lawsuit was “thrown out and gone, without even looking at the many reasons it was brought. A Rigged Election, fight on!”
Three Trump appointees sit on the high court. In his push to get the most recent of his nominees, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, confirmed quickly, 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.
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.
Republican support for the lawsuit and its call to throw out millions of votes in four battleground states was rooted in baseless claims of fraud, an extraordinary display of the party’s willingness to countermand the will of voters. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana were among those joining to support the action.
“The Court has rightly dismissed out of hand the extreme, unlawful and undemocratic GOP lawsuit to overturn the will of millions of American voters,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday night.
A young black man filmed by a security camera walking through a home under construction in December and in February may have stopped at the site for a drink of water, according to an attorney for the homeowner thrust into the investigation of the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery.
Arbery was killed Feb. 23 in a pursuit by a white father and son who armed themselves after the 25-year-old black man ran past their yard just outside the port city of Brunswick. Right before the chase, Arbery was recorded inside an open-framed home being built on the same street.
Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, have been jailed on murder charges since May 7. The elder McMichael told police he suspected Arbery was responsible for recent break-ins in the neighborhood. He also said Arbery attacked his son before he was shot.
Arbery’s mother has said she believes her son was merely out jogging.
On Friday, an attorney for the owner of the house under construction released three security camera videos taken Dec. 17, more than two months before the shooting. They show a black man in a T-shirt and shorts at the site. In the final clip, he walks a few steps toward the road, then starts running at a jogger's pace.
“It now appears that this young man may have been coming onto the property for water,” J. Elizabeth Graddy, the attorney for homeowner Larry English, said in a statement. “There is a water source at the dock behind the house as well as a source near the front of the structure. Although these water sources do not appear within any of the cameras’ frames, the young man moves to and from their locations.”
A man in similar clothes appears briefly in another security video taken at the home construction site Feb. 11, less than two weeks before the shooting. Graddy said that person appears to be the same man shown in the Dec. 17 videos.