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With 2 in 3 months, Ohio executions could be back on track
Headline News | 2017/09/18 01:16
Court rulings favorable to the state and the outcome of two executions in three months indicate Ohio could be on track to resume putting inmates to death regularly.

The state executed child killer Ronald Phillips in July and double killer Gary Otte on Wednesday in the state death chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.

Witnesses said Phillips did not appear to be distressed. Otte’s chest rose and fell several times over two minutes in a fashion similar to some executions, though the movement appeared to go on longer than in the past.

Otte’s lawyers believe he suffered a phenomenon known as air hunger and plan to continue their challenge of Ohio’s use of a sedative called midazolam.

“My concerns were that he was obstructing, he was suffering air hunger, trying desperately to get air, and there were tears running down his face, which indicated to me that he was feeling pain or sensations,” federal public defender Carol Wright said after Wednesday’s execution.

Prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said the procedure “was carried out in compliance with the execution policy and without complication.”

The next and last execution scheduled this year is Nov. 15, when the state plans to put Alva Campbell to death. A jury found Campbell, 69, guilty of killing 18-year-old Charles Dials 20 years ago after Campbell, who was in a wheelchair while feigning paralysis, escaped from a court hearing.

Ohio is scheduled to execute four people next year, including Cleveland R. Jackson, of Lima, and six in 2019. Nine men were executed in 2010, the most since Ohio resumed putting inmates to death in 1999.


Chicago's lawsuit over sanctuary city threat goes to court
Headline News | 2017/09/11 18:12
Chicago is asking a federal judge to block President Donald Trump's administration from following through on its threat to withhold public safety grants to so-called sanctuary cities.

Attorneys for the city will be in court Monday to argue their case. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said Chicago won't "be blackmailed" into changing its values as a city welcoming of immigrants.

Trump's policy stands to withhold public safety grants unless cities agree to tougher enforcement of immigrations laws. Chicago is among several cities refusing to cooperate.

Chicago sued the U.S. Department of Justice last month, arguing the new federal requirements are unconstitutional.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has warned that Chicago would forfeit its rights to the federal funds if it insists on violating the "rule of law."



Abortion clinic dispute to be argued in Ohio Supreme Court
Headline News | 2017/09/10 01:12
A dispute over whether to shut down Toledo's last abortion clinic is headed to the Ohio Supreme Court Tuesday, in a case both sides view as pivotal.

At issue in oral arguments will be the state health department's 2014 order shutting down Capital Care of Toledo for lack of a patient-transfer agreement, which would formally authorize the transfer of patients from the clinic to a local hospital.

Such agreements were mandated, and public hospitals barred from providing them, under restrictions Ohio lawmakers passed in 2013. The change prompted the University of Toledo Hospital, which is public, to withdraw from its transfer arrangement with Capital Care.

The clinic sued and won in the lower courts, which ruled the restrictions were unconstitutional. Judges have allowed the clinic to continue operating as the legal dispute continues.

Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine appealed to the high court last year, asking that justices uphold the state's action and shut the clinic down. In a divided vote in March, the court agreed to take up the case.

After the Republican-controlled state Legislature opted to outlaw transfer agreements with public hospitals, Capital Care went out of state, negotiating its required agreement with the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor.



Supreme Court justice blocks ruling on redrawing Texas districts
Headline News | 2017/08/29 14:01
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Monday temporarily halted enforcement of a lower-court ruling that required two Texas congressional districts to be redrawn.

Responding to an appeal by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Alito halted action on the order and gave those who challenged the districts until Sept. 5 to address the points raised by Paxton’s appeal.

Sept. 5 is the day the three-judge court was to hold a hearing in San Antonio on redrawing the districts, including one based in Travis County and another that includes Bastrop County.

The court ruled two weeks ago that the districts were created by the Republican-controlled Legislature to intentionally discriminate against minority voters, who tend to favor Democrats.




Mizzou's Howard arrested again for failing to appear in court
Headline News | 2017/08/15 16:43
Missouri defensive end Nate Howard, already suspended and facing a felony drug charge, was arrested again Monday night by UMPD for an out-of-county warrant for failing to appear in court for a speeding ticket in Montgomery County.

Howard had a ticket arraignment scheduled for last Thursday in Montgomery Circuit Court for a misdemeanor speeding ticket filed March 28. Howard didn't pay the ticket for $121 or appear in court to contest the charge, according to online court records.

Howard was contacted during a traffic stop Monday when MU police discovered the warrant, MUPD Lt. Buddy Anliker said in an email.

Howard's next court date in his felony drug possession case is Aug. 24. Howard, a former All-Metro standout at Ladue High School, was arrested June 14 in Columbia on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance and suspicion of marijuana possession when police found illegal mushrooms and marijuana in the vehicle he was driving. Howard has been charged with a class D felony for possession of a controlled substance. All MU athletes charged with a felony are suspended indefinitely until their case is resolved.

Howard has not practiced with the Tigers since the spring and is not on the current 105-man roster. Howard has 15 tackles in 15 career games.


Challenge filed in court to Australian gay marriage ballot
Headline News | 2017/08/10 23:43
Gay-rights advocates filed a court challenge Thursday to the government's unusual plan to canvass Australians' opinion on gay marriage next month, while a retired judge said he would boycott the survey as unacceptable.

The mail ballot is not binding, but the conservative government won't legislate the issue without it. If most Australians say "no," the government won't allow Parliament to consider lifting the nation's ban on same-sex marriage.

Lawyers for independent lawmaker Andrew Wilkie and marriage equality advocates Shelley Argent and Felicity Marlowe, applied to the High Court for an injunction that would prevent the so-called postal plebiscite from going ahead.

"We will be arguing that by going ahead without the authorization of Parliament, the government is acting beyond its power," lawyer Jonathon Hunyor said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the government had legal advice that the postal ballot would withstand a court challenge.

"I encourage every Australian to exercise their right to vote on this matter. It's an important question," Turnbull said.

Gay-rights advocates and many lawmakers want Parliament to legislate marriage equality now without an opinion poll, which they see as an unjustifiable hurdle to reform.

Retired High Court judge Michael Kirby, a gay man who supports marriage equality, dismissed the ballot as "irregular and unscientific polling."

"It's just something we've never done in our constitutional arrangements of Australia, and it really is unacceptable," Kirby told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Kirby would not comment on the legality of the government proceeding with the 122 million Australian dollar ($96 million) ballot without Parliament's approval, but said: "I'm not going to take any part in it whatsoever."

Plebiscites in Australia are referendums that don't deal with questions that change the constitution. Voting at referendums is compulsory to ensure a high voter turnout and that the legally-binding result reflects the wishes of a majority of Australians.


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