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Court fight over Ohio executions likely to focus on sedative
Legal Interview | 2016/10/03 22:33
Ohio says it's resuming executions in January with a three-drug protocol similar to one it used for several years.

The concept is one adopted for decades by many states: the first drug sedates inmates, the second paralyzes them, and the third stops their hearts.

The key difference comes with the first drug the state plans to use, midazolam (mih-DAY'-zoh-lam), which has been challenged in court as unreliable.

The state argues that a planned dose of 500 milligrams will ensure that inmates are properly sedated.

Defense attorneys say it's unclear what a much bigger dose would achieve.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that midazolam can be used in executions without violating the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.




Appeals court rules against Kansas in voting rights case
Legal Interview | 2016/10/01 12:41
Thousands of prospective voters in Kansas who did not provide citizenship documents will be able to vote in the November election under a federal appeals court ruling late Friday that upheld a judge's order.
 
The decision from the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals affirms lower court's May order forcing Kansas to register more than 20,000 voters, a number that is expected to swell to 50,000 by the time of the November elections. It noted that the preliminary injunction serves the public interest.

The 10th Circuit ruled "no constitutional doubt arises" that federal law prohibits Kansas from requiring citizenship documents from people who register to vote at motor vehicle office. It added that its reasoning would be more fully explained in a forthcoming order.

The court had previously refused to issue an emergency stay of U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson's order, and this latest comes after a three-judge panel heard oral arguments last month in the case.

Its decision is the latest setback for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. It comes just a day after the Kansas Republican avoided contempt proceedings by striking a deal with the American Civil Liberties Union to fully register and clearly inform affected voters that they could vote in the November election.

Kobach did not immediately return a cell phone message seeking comment, but his spokeswoman said his office would issue a statement later.



Mexico's Supreme Court overturns state anti-corruption laws
Legal Interview | 2016/09/07 23:36
Mexico's Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional two state anti-corruption laws that outgoing governors passed in apparent attempts to shield themselves from investigation.

Many Mexicans were outraged when the governors of the states of Veracruz and Chihuahua pushed through the laws just months before they are to leave office giving them the power to name anti-corruption prosecutors.

The federal Attorney General's Office appealed the laws, arguing they violated new federal anti-corruption standards. It said the appeals were meant to show "there is no room for tailor-made local laws."

On Monday, the Supreme court agreed, saying neither law could stand.

There have been allegations of corruption in both Veracruz and Chihuahua, and many feared the now struck-down laws would have allowed the governors to control who would investigate them.




Stepmom of scalded boy who died pleads guilty to murder
Legal Interview | 2016/09/05 23:36
A woman accused of holding her 4-year-old stepson in a scalding bath, covering his burns and not getting him medical care before he died was sentenced to at least 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to murder and other charges on Thursday.

A Warren County judge sentenced Anna Ritchie to 18 years to life in prison after she changed her plea from not guilty.

Ritchie was arrested after the March death of Austin Cooper. A detective said Ritchie told police that she put Austin's legs in extra-hot water as punishment because he didn't like baths and that she tried to hide his burns.

Her attorneys had tried unsuccessfully to have evidence from her interview with Franklin police detectives excluded from the case.

County Prosecutor David Fornshell alleged that Ritchie held Austin in extra-hot water for 20 to 25 minutes as he struggled, then put him to bed wearing pajamas and socks to cover his bleeding feet and burned skin, his arms cut where her fingernails had grasped him. His father found him dead in his crib more than 16 hours later, Fornshell said.


Court rejects Cosby's attempt to reseal testimony on affairs
Legal Interview | 2016/08/17 14:52
A federal appeals court on Monday rejected Bill Cosby's effort to reseal his deposition testimony about extramarital affairs, prescription sedatives and payments to women, saying the documents are now a matter of public knowledge.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled that the comedian's appeal was moot. "The contents of the documents are a matter of public knowledge, and we cannot pretend that we could change that fact by ordering them resealed," the court wrote in an opinion.

Cosby's attorneys hoped a ruling in their favor could help them keep the documents from being used in the criminal case against him in Pennsylvania and in the many lawsuits filed around the country by women who accuse him of sexual assault or defamation.

Cosby gave the testimony in 2005 as part of a lawsuit brought against him by Andrea Constand, a Temple University employee who said he drugged and molested her at his home. She later settled for an undisclosed sum, and sensitive documents in the file remained sealed.

In the nearly 1,000-page deposition, the married comic once known as "America's Dad" for his beloved portrayal of Dr. Cliff Huxtable on his top-ranked 1980s TV show, "The Cosby Show," admitted to several extramarital affairs and said he obtained quaaludes to give to women he hoped to seduce.

The documents were released last year on a request from The Associated Press. U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno found the public had a right to Cosby's testimony because of his role as a self-appointed "public moralist" and because he had denied accusations he drugged and molested women.



Court orders release of detained immigrant kids, not parents
Legal Interview | 2016/07/11 12:22
A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that Homeland Security officials must quickly release immigrant children — but not their parents — from family detention centers after being picked up crossing the border without documentation.

The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said that lengthy detentions of migrant children violated a 19-year-old legal settlement ordering their quick release after processing. Government lawyers had argued that the settlement covered only immigrant children who crossed the border unaccompanied by adult relatives. But the three-judge panel ruled that immigration officials aren't required to release the parents detained along with the children, reversing U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee's ruling last year.

Advocates seeking stricter immigration controls said they hoped the ruling would discourage adults crossing the border illegally from exploiting children as a way to stay out of custody in the United States.

Mark Krikorian, Center for Immigration Studies executive director and an advocate for stricter border controls, said allowing the parents to be released may have encouraged illegal immigration of adults traveling with children.


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