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California governor backs plan to pay for some abortions
Court Feed News | 2022/05/12 15:57
California taxpayers would help pay for abortions for women who can’t afford them under a new spending proposal Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday to prepare for a potential surge of people from other states seeking reproductive care if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

California already pays for some abortions through its Medicaid program, the taxpayer-funded health insurance plan for the poor and the disabled.

But some women don’t qualify for Medicaid and don’t have private health insurance. When that happens, clinics will sometimes perform abortions for free, known as “uncompensated care.” Wednesday, Newsom said he wants the state to give $40 million worth of grants to clinics to help offset those costs.

An abortion can cost between a few hundred dollars and a few thousand dollars in California, depending on how far along the pregnancy is and what kind of insurance a patient has.

“California will not stand idly by as extremists roll back our basic constitutional rights; we’re going to fight like hell, making sure that all women – not just those in California – know that this state continues to recognize and protect their fundamental rights,” Newsom said in a news release.

While the grants could potentially pay for abortions for women from other states, the money would not pay for those women to travel or stay in California.

A bill in the Democratic-controlled state Legislature would set up a fund to help pay for the logistics of getting an abortion in California, including things such as travel, lodging and child care. The California Legislative Women’s Caucus has asked Newsom for $20 million to put into that fund. But Newsom’s announcement on Wednesday did not include that money.


Maryland governor appoints 2 to state’s highest court
Court Feed News | 2022/02/18 21:13
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced the appointments of two judges to the state’s highest court on Thursday.

Harford County Circuit Court Judge Angela Eaves has been appointed to the Maryland Court of Appeals. Eaves, who is the first Hispanic judge appointed to the court, has been nominated to succeed Judge Robert McDonald upon his mandatory retirement later this month.

Hogan also announced the appointment of Judge Matthew Fader, of Howard County, to the Court of Appeals. Fader is currently the chief judge of the Court of Special Appeals, Maryland’s intermediate-appellate court. He has been appointed to succeed Judge Joseph Getty upon his mandatory retirement in April.

The Republican governor also announced that Court of Special Appeals Judge E. Gregory Wells will serve as the new chief judge of that court.

In addition, Hogan appointed Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Anne Albright to fill the seat that will open on the Court of Special Appeals with Fader’s departure.


Suits target New Orleans virus rules, some affect Mardi Gras
Court Feed News | 2022/02/05 06:21
More than 100 people have joined a lawsuit against New Orleans’ mayor and health director over COVID-19 restrictions that recently were extended to parade and other participants on Mardi Gras and during the season leading up to it.

The lawsuit against Mayor LaToya Cantrell and health director Jennifer Avegno targets mask and vaccination mandates, news outlets reported.

It was filed Monday in state court by Alexandria attorney Jimmy Faircloth, who has lost federal court challenges to restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocates noted.

“Traditionally, we do not comment on active or pending litigation,” City Hall spokesman Beau Tidwell said during a news conference Tuesday. “However, in this case I think it’s worth noting that the guidelines that we put in place saved lives, full stop. The vaccine mandate and the mask requirements are going to remain in place throughout Mardi Gras.”

Fat Tuesday will be March 1 this year. The 2020 festival was later recognized as a super spreader that turned New Orleans into an early pandemic hot spot. Last season, parades were canceled and bars were shuttered in the city.

This year, masks are required in bars, restaurants and other public spaces. And children as young as 5 must show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test for the virus to get into indoor public areas.

The new lawsuit accuses Cantrell and Avegno, who often have gone beyond state restrictions, of taking “authoritarian actions under the pretext of an emergency without end,” the newspaper reported.

The plaintiffs, mostly from New Orleans and neighboring Jefferson Parish, want Judge Robin Giarrusso to halt the requirements while the lawsuit is in court.


US sanctions Myanmar judiciary officials on coup anniversary
Court Feed News | 2022/01/31 20:22
The Biden administration on Monday slapped sanctions on top members of Myanmar’s judiciary and one of its main revenue-producing ports over rights abuses since last year’s coup.

The sanctions on the country’s attorney general, supreme court chief justice and others were announced by the Treasury and State Departments to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the February 2021 coup, which replaced a civilian-led government with a military regime.

The penalties freeze any assets that those targeted may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them and are to be complemented by similar measures from Britain and Canada.

“One year after the coup, the United States, along with allies in the United Kingdom and Canada, stands with the people of Burma as they seek freedom and democracy,” Treasury said in a statement using the country’s alternate name. “We will continue to target those responsible for the coup and ongoing violence, enablers of the regime’s brutal repression, and their financial supporters.”

Among the judiciary, the new sanctions apply to Attorney General Thida Oo, Supreme Court chief justice Tun Tun Oo, and Tin Oo, the chairman of the Myanmar’s anti-corruption commission. The sanctions also hit the KT Services and Logistics Company, which operates a major port in Myanmar’s economic hub of Yangon, and its CEO as well as the procurement department of the country’s defense ministry.

“The United States will continue to work with our international partners to address human rights abuses and press the regime to cease the violence, release all those unjustly detained, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and restore Burma’s path to democracy,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.


Appeals court: Illinois counties must end ICE contracts
Court Feed News | 2022/01/17 05:34
A federal appeals court has ruled two counties that hold immigrant detainees at local jails must terminate contracts with federal authorities starting Thursday.

Leaders in Kankakee and McHenry counties sued over an Illinois law aimed at ending immigration detention in the state by Jan. 1 and lost. But they were allowed to delay while on appeal.

In the ruling, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the counties hadn’t made their case.

“We conclude that the counties have not made a ‘strong showing’ that they are likely to succeed on the merits,” the three-judge panel concluded.

Roughly 100 detainees remain at the jails. Winding down the contracts is expected to take a few weeks.

The Illinois law has been celebrated by immigrant rights activists who say detaining people awaiting immigration hearings is inhumane and costly. They’re pushing to release detainees instead of transferring them elsewhere.

Last year, downstate Pulaski County cleared its jail of immigrant detainees. Court records show 15 were released. Dozens of others were transferred to Kansas and the two Illinois facilities.

Officials in McHenry and Kankakee counties, who didn’t return messages Thursday, have previously said they’d continue to appeal. They say the contracts are lucrative and argue that ending them simply transfers detainees further from their families.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement didn’t return a message Thursday.


Partisan letters cost long-serving Alaska magistrate his job
Court Feed News | 2022/01/12 03:02
The longest serving magistrate in Alaska is no longer on the bench after writing letters to the editor critical of the Republican party.

Former Seward Magistrate George Peck wrote four letters to the editor of the Anchorage Daily News, the latest in December which claimed the Republican party “is actively trying to steer the U.S. into an authoritarian kleptocracy.”

The other letters written since 2019 have been critical of former President Donald Trump and Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, both Republicans, and the GOP, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Peck did not note his judicial position when signing in the letters, and there have been no complaints filed against him. However, his supervisor, Anchorage Superior Court Judge William Morse, ordered the court’s human resources department to investigate.

Morse said in a formal decision last Wednesday that Peck’s letter was in violation of Alaska’s code of judicial conduct.

“As a magistrate judge, the public entrusts you to decide cases with the utmost fairness, independence and impartiality. The power of your own voice, even when expressed off the bench, can become inextricably tied to your position, especially in a small community where you are the sole judicial officer,” Morse said.

When the 81-year-old Peck was informed Wednesday that he would be fired two days later, he instead immediately submitted his resignation and worked his last day Thursday.

Peck told the Anchorage newspaper that he doesn’t regret the letter and said he was just “stating a fact that the Republican Party tried to overturn the election, which I think most people agree on.”

He also doesn’t blame the juridical system for forcing him out.

“Clearly, they were justified in doing what they’re doing,” Peck said. “I just think they could have found a little better way to do it, but that’s up to them.”

Peck began working as a magistrate judge in 1976 and retired from full-time work in 2016. The court system kept him working on a temporary, part-time basis.

Magistrates oversee minor judicial matters in the court system, such as traffic violations, small-claims cases and time-sensitive matters, such as search warrants and domestic violence cases.


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