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Audit: 'Pervasive lack of accountability' in Kentucky courts
Court Feed News | 2018/07/13 23:55
In 2016, Kentucky's Administrative Office of the Courts was looking for office space for newly-elected Supreme Court Justice Sam Wright. They got two offers: One would cost more than $59,000 a year and require extensive renovations. The other space was larger, had 15 parking spaces and would cost $21,000 a year.

State officials chose the first option, even though it cost three times as much. They did not document why they chose it, and they did not visit the site before signing the lease, as state policy requires. The selection memo, which is the sole document relied on to make the decision, also left out one key detail: The company that owned the more expensive property was owned by the justice's two sons.

That's just one finding of many in a scathing audit released Thursday of the administrative arm of Kentucky's judicial system. The audit, believed to be the first ever independent examination of judicial system's finances and policies, found a "pervasive lack of accountability" and resistance to transparency. The Supreme Court sets administrative policy for the judicial branch, but they meet in secret and won't allow the public to monitor their actions. When Auditor Mike Harmon recommended they conduct administrative business in public, they refused.

"Their dismissive attitude towards key recommendations regarding ethics and accountability quite frankly saddens me," Harmon said in a news release announcing the audit's findings. "No matter what branch of government, we owe it to the taxpayers of Kentucky to strive toward openness and transparency."




Demonstrators force Fox crew from Supreme Court broadcast
Court Feed News | 2018/07/12 23:54
Fox News' Shannon Bream said the network had to move a planned live broadcast indoors after she and her crew felt threatened by demonstrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday following President Donald Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

People shouted obscenities at Bream and her crew, crowded around and touched crew members as they prepared to air Fox's 11 p.m. Eastern hour from the location two hours after the nomination, she said.

"I've been in the middle of many protesters and signs and chanting and we all do our jobs," Bream said Tuesday. "But last night had a different feel to it."

Bream said Fox felt specifically targeted, although she said other reporters had a difficult time with the crowd. Disturbed by the scene, Fox executives made the decision to move to a nearby studio. Bream had been at the court for several hours, doing live reports during several programs.

The incident on an emotional political night exposed Fox News to a threatening atmosphere frequently faced by reporters at other news organizations at Trump rallies. CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta recently described how an elderly woman swore at him and tried to get him to leave one of Trump's recent rallies.

Bream, who has covered the Supreme Court for 11 years, said that often during demonstrations security separates demonstrators from the press with barricades, but they weren't on duty Monday night. She recalled only one other similar situation, but that happened during daylight hours.



Wisconsin court to rule on conservative professor's firing
Court Feed News | 2018/07/08 04:40
The Wisconsin Supreme Court is set to rule on whether Marquette University was correct to fire a conservative professor who wrote a blog post criticizing a student instructor he believed shut down discussion against gay marriage.

John McAdams sued the private Catholic school in 2016, arguing that he lost his job for exercising freedom of speech.

Marquette says McAdams wasn't fired for the content of his 2014 post, but because he named the instructor and linked to her personal website that had personal identifying information. The instructor later received a flood of hateful messages and threats.

The court heard arguments in April. The ruling expected Friday has been eagerly awaited by conservatives who see universities as liberal havens and by private businesses that want control over employee discipline.



The Latest: Trump promises 'great' pick for Supreme Court
Court Feed News | 2018/07/05 04:41
President Donald Trump is promising to select a "great" Supreme Court nominee to fill the vacancy of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy

The president said Tuesday at a "Salute to Service" dinner in West Virginia that he "hit a home run" with Justice Neil Gorsuch, whom he picked for the nation's high court last year. Trump says, "We're going to hit a home run here."

Trump spoke to three potential Supreme Court nominees Tuesday before departing the White House.

On Monday, the president interviewed federal appeals judges Raymond Kethledge, Amul Thapar, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. That's according to a person with knowledge of the meetings who was not authorized to speak publicly about them.

The White House says President Donald Trump spoke Tuesday to three potential Supreme Court nominees.

White House spokesman Raj Shah disclosed the conversations. He did not detail with whom Trump had spoken Tuesday or say how many potential nominees Trump has now interviewed.

Trump has said he'll announce his pick July 9 and will chose from a list of 25 candidates.

Trump on Monday interviewed federal appeals judges Raymond Kethledge, Amul Thapar, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. That's according to a person with knowledge of the meetings who was not authorized to speak publicly about them.

He also spoke Monday to Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah. The senator's office characterized the call as an interview, but the White House would only say the two spoke.


For new Supreme Court justice, a host of big issues awaits
Court Feed News | 2018/07/01 00:04
Justice Anthony Kennedy's successor will have a chance over a likely decades-long career to tackle a host of big issues in the law and have a role in shaping the answers to them.

Most court-watchers and interest groups are focused on abortion and whether a more conservative justice may mean more restrictions on abortions get upheld or even whether the 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision affirming a woman's right to abortion might someday be overturned.

But Kennedy's replacement will quickly confront a host of issues, some prominent and others not. Whomever President Donald Trump chooses, the person is expected to move the court to the right. Conservative groups, seeing a court friendlier to their views, might look at the new court and think it's time to bring challenges to liberal laws currently on the books. And conservative state lawmakers may also attempt to pass legislation testing boundaries they wouldn't have while Kennedy was on the court.

The Supreme Court in the term that ended Wednesday had two cases before it dealing with whether electoral maps can give an unfair advantage to a political party. The justices ducked that question, sending cases from Wisconsin and Maryland back to lower courts for further review. Kennedy had been the justice who left the door open to court challenges to extreme partisan redistricting, but he never found a way to measure it that satisfied him. A case involving North Carolina's heavily Republican congressional districting map now in a lower court could provide an opportunity for the justices to revisit the issue as soon as next term.

Another unresolved issue recently before the court is whether a business can cite religious objections in order to refuse service to gay and lesbian people. The court could have tackled that issue in a case argued this term about a Colorado baker who wouldn't make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Instead, the justices found that a member of the Colorado commission that looked at the case displayed an anti-religious bias against the baker but left for another day the broader question.

The justices could have added another case on the issue to the list of cases they'll begin hearing arguments in this fall, a case that involved a flower shop owner who cited her religious beliefs in declining to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding. For now they've sent that case back to a lower court. That same case or another one like it could quickly be in front of the court again.


Police shooting of boy spurs more protests, appeals
Court Feed News | 2018/06/23 06:25
Protesters demonstrated Friday for a third day over the fatal police shooting in Pennsylvania of an unarmed black teen fleeing a traffic stop as they sought to get the attention of a nation engrossed by the immigration debate, and to pressure officials to charge the officer.

Hundreds of marchers chanting "Who did this? The police did this" shut down a Pittsburgh area highway in the early morning hours, and a small group staged a sit-in outside the district attorney's office later in the day.

Demands for answers to why a police officer shot 17-year-old Antwon Rose Jr. seconds after he bolted from a car grew with an emotional speech by state Rep. Jake Wheatley at the state Capitol, and a videotaped appeal by the legislator and two other black Pittsburgh area lawmakers for a "thorough and transparent investigation that builds community."

"My heart is heavy right now," Wheatley said , decrying both Rose's death and the street violence that earlier in the week left a young rapper dead. "We cannot casually keep closing our eyes and ears to the fact there's a group of people whose lives seemingly don't matter."

Rose was shot Tuesday night in East Pittsburgh, a suburb of Pittsburgh, after the car he was riding in was pulled over by Officer Michael Rosfeld because it matched the description of a car wanted in a shooting in a nearby town, police said. The car had bullet damage to a back window.

As Rosfeld was taking the driver into custody, a video taken from a nearby house shows Rose and a second passenger running from the car. Three gunshots can be heard, and the passengers can be seen either falling or crouching as they pass between houses. It is unclear from the video if Rosfeld yelled for them to stop.




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