A former dean at a Boston high school who was known affectionately by students as “Rev” has been ordered by a federal judge to pay more than $10 million in damages to a former student he tried to kill in a dispute over drug sales. The default judgment Friday against former English High School Dean Shaun Harrison includes more than $80,000 for the victim’s medical bills. Authorities say Harrison led a double life, working at a school while hiding gang ties. The victim, who had been recruited by Harrison to sell marijuana, was 17 when he was shot in March 2015.
A federal appeals court will hear arguments in November over Alabama’s efforts to outlaw the use of gender-affirming medications to treat transgender minors. Alabama is asking a federal appeals court to lift an injunction and let it enforce a law that would make it a felony to give puberty blockers or hormones to transgender minors to help affirm their gender identity. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has tentatively set arguments in the case for the week of Nov. 14 in Montgomery. Families and advocacy groups challenged the ban as an illegal intrusion into family and medical decisions. Alabama has maintained the ban is needed to protect children.
Some South Carolina lawmakers who oppose abortion are being cautious when it comes to tightening the state's already restrictive laws even further. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, paving the way for states to enact total bans if they choose to do so. South Carolina currently has a law banning abortion after cardiac activity is detected, at about six weeks of pregnancy. Lawmakers called a special session after the high court's decision in June to discuss the issue. But some are hesitating after seeing voters in conservative Kansas overwhelmingly reject a measure that would allow the legislature to tighten restrictions or enact a total ban.
Indiana has become the first state in the nation to pass new legislation restricting access to abortions since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June that overturned Roe v. Wade. Indiana lawmakers on Friday approved the near-total abortion ban with some exceptions, including in cases of rape, incest, and to protect the life and physical health of the mother. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb immediately signed the bill. Indiana was among the first Republican-run state legislatures to debate tighter abortion laws after the Supreme Court ruling that removed constitutional protections for the procedure.
A federal judge has ordered elections officials to place the North Carolina Green Party’s U.S. Senate candidate on the November ballot despite Democrats’ repeated attempts to block the progressive party from spoiling one of their best shots at flipping a seat in the narrowly divided chamber. U.S. District Judge James Dever III on Friday prohibited the elections board from enforcing a July 1 candidate filing deadline to keep the Green Party’s Senate nominee, Matthew Hoh, off the ballot in North Carolina. Democrats have warned Hoh’s appearance on the ballot could divide progressive voters and lead to a GOP victory in the tight Senate race between Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican Rep. Tedd Budd.
A former West Texas police chief has been sentenced to 15 1/2 years in prison for bribery. Former San Angelo police chief Timothy Ray Vasquez was sentenced Friday in San Angelo after a federal jury found him guilty of bribery and mail fraud. Federal prosecutors presented evidence that Vasquez used his position as police chief from 2004 to 2016 to help a city vendor land a contract worth almost $6 million. In return, the vendor paid Vasquez more than $175,000 and provided the use of luxury suites at sporting events and a rock concert, as well as a San Antonio condo.
A federal judge has ruled that Georgia’s statewide election of its five public service commissioners illegally dilutes Black voting power. The judge on Friday ordered the state to not prepare ballots for two races that had been scheduled in November. If the ruling stands, state lawmakers would have to draw single-member districts for the body that regulates Georgia Power Co. and other other utilities. An election would be held later. However, the state could appeal, or at least seek a delay until after this year's elections. At-large voting has long been subject to legal attack as racially discriminatory. But most cases have focused on local elections.
The man who fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery after chasing him in a Georgia neighborhood says he's afraid fellow inmates will kill him if he's sent to a state prison to serve a life sentence for murder. That's according to a legal filing by Travis McMichael's defense attorney that asks a judge to keep McMichael in federal custody when he's sentenced Monday on a hate crime conviction. Attorney Amy Lee Copeland wrote that McMichael has received hundreds of death threats since he killed Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, in February 2020. She says McMichael worries “he will promptly be killed” in a Georgia prison system that the Justice Department is investigating for violence between inmates.
When the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a right to abortion, it sparked legal changes and court challenges in states nationwide. In some states, there are multiple bans and multiple lawsuits in play, keeping the landscape unsettled. And further legislation could soon change things again. The June 24 Dobbs v. Jackson ruling is expected to lead ultimately to bans or deep restrictions on access to abortion in about half the states. Meanwhile, most Democrat-led states have put into place policies intended to protect abortion access.
A judge has rejected a federal agency's plans for managing some public lands in the West, including a major coal mining area of Wyoming and Montana. U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris says the Bureau of Land Management failed to comply with an earlier court order requiring the agency to consider the environmental impact of mining and burning coal produced in the Powder River Basin. Morris says the management plans also failed to consider an option of limiting the expansion of coal mines or eliminating some coal deposits from leasing eligibility. Morris gave the land bureau up to a year to produce new resource management plans.
(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)
Tennessee's primary elections this year determine the two major parties' nominees for governor, Congress and state legislative seats. Incumbent Gov. Bill Lee ran unopposed for the Republican nomination, hoping to win a second term. Nashville physician Jason Martin will challenge Lee in the fall after defeating JB Smiley Jr. by a slim margin in the Democratic primary, while Carnita Atwater finished a distant third. Andy Ogles emerged from a field of nine candidates vying for the GOP nomination in the most hotly contested congressional race, in Nashville's 5th District. The district was redrawn by the Republican Legislature in redistricting. Ogles will face Democratic state Sen. Heidi Campbell in November. She ran unopposed.
Federal prosecutors are recommending an eight-year prison sentence for an off-duty Virginia police officer who was convicted by a jury of storming the U.S. Capitol. In a court filing Thursday, prosecutors say former Rocky Mount Police Sgt. Thomas Robertson used his law enforcement training to block police officers who were trying to protect the Capitol from a mob’s attack on Jan. 6, 2021. U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper is scheduled to sentence Robertson next Thursday. An eight-year prison sentence would be the longest among hundreds of Capitol riot cases. The lengthiest so far is seven years and three months.
(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)
The U.S. Senate has confirmed a prominent Arizona election attorney for a position as a judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Roopali Desai was confirmed Thursday on a 67-29 vote. She drew bipartisan support after Democratic Arizona Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema touted her when President Joe Biden nominated her in June. Desai has been at the center of virtually every major election case in Arizona in recent years representing various arms of the Democratic Party, Democratic candidates, left-leaning interest groups. She also represented Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in cases filed by supporters of former President Donald Trump challenging the 2020 election results.
A judge deciding if three Pennsylvania counties have to certify May primary vote counts including ballots lacking dates on their return envelopes learned this week that a fourth county is in the same situation — and there may be more. The legal dispute is holding up certification of primary results for governor and U.S. Senate. It has also created problems for Republican state House member Matthew Dowling, who's just filed a lawsuit seeking to withdraw from his Fayette County reelection contest. The Wolf administration is suing Berks, Fayette and Lancaster counties over the disputed ballots.
A judge has made it likely she'll rule in weeks rather than months whether NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gets to decide the merits of racial discrimination claims made by Black coaches against the league and its teams. Federal Judge Valerie Caproni said Thursday that lawyers for coaches Brian Flores, Steve Wilks and Ray Horton cannot gather additional evidence from defendants to support their arguments that the lawsuit in Manhattan federal court should remain in court rather than be sent to arbitration. The NFL and six of its teams say the lawsuit they maintain is “without merit” is required to go to arbitration, where Goodell would be the arbitrator.
A transgender child and her parents are suing the Tennessee Department of Education over a law that prohibits transgender students and staff from using school bathrooms or locker rooms that match their gender identities. The suit was filed Thursday in federal court in Nashville by a student identified only as D.H. It claims Tennessee's law violates D.H.'s Constitutional rights under the Equal Protection Clause and also violates Title IX, the 1972 federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. Whether Title IX protects transgender students is a subject of fierce debate. The U.S. Department of Education issued guidance in June that it did apply, but a federal judge temporarily blocked that interpretation last month.
The Supreme Court ruling expanding gun rights threatens to upend firearms restrictions across the country as activists wage court battles over issues including age limits and bans on AR-15-style guns. The June decision struck down a New York law requiring people to demonstrate a particular need to get a license to carry a concealed gun in public. The decision has led one judge to temporarily block a Colorado town from enforcing a ban on the sale and possession of certain semi-automatic weapons. The ruling could reshape gun laws in the U.S. even as mass shootings push the issue into the headlines. The Biden administration and police departments across the U.S. are struggling to combat a surge in violent crime.
Some 1,000 Palestinians are at risk of expulsion from an arid region of the occupied West Bank that the Israeli military has designated as a live-fire training zone. Israel’s Supreme Court upheld their expulsion in May after a two-decade legal battle. Most residents have remained in place since the ruling, even as Israeli security forces periodically roll in to demolish structures. But they could be forced out at any time, and rights groups fear Israel will do it gradually to evade international scrutiny. Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war and the Palestinians want it to be the main part of their future state.
A Christian flag that became the focus of a free speech battle that went to the Supreme Court has been taken down after briefly flying outside Boston City Hall. Wednesday's flag-raising took place three months after the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the the city discriminated against Harold Shurtleff and his Camp Constitution group because of his “religious viewpoint” when it refused permission for him to fly the banner on City Hall Plaza in 2017. The flag was up for about two hours before Camp Constitution took it down. The city has proposed new flag-raising rules.
Democrats are celebrating a stunning victory for abortion rights in Republican stronghold Kansas as proof that the issue could turn back a Republican wave this fall. Republicans — and some Democrats — suggest that may not be so easy. But Kansas’ overwhelming vote against a measure that would have allowed Republican state lawmakers to ban abortion gave Democrats nationwide a badly needed dose of optimism. From Arizona to Georgia to Pennsylvania, Democrats have struggled under the weight of President Joe Biden’s low approval ratings and deepening concerns about the economy. Biden, speaking at a White House event on abortion, declared: “This fight is not over. And we saw that last night in Kansas."
The Biden administration has filed its first legal challenge to a state abortion ban since the end of Roe v. Wade with a case that could allow hospitals to keep giving women abortion-related medical care in serious medical situations. Legal experts say the Department of Justice may have a strong argument in the Idaho case filed under federal health care law, but even if they win it wouldn’t allow full access to abortion there. It could, though, give doctors more latitude to provide an abortion in an emergency or a situation that could become one. But Texas argues federal health-care law doesn’t allow for abortion-related care banned under state law and the ultimate outcome is unclear.
A person familiar with the filing told The Associated Press that the NFL is seeking an indefinite suspension of at least one year plus a fine in appealing a disciplinary officer’s decision to suspend Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson for six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter isn’t public. The NFL’s appeal gives Commissioner Roger Goodell or someone he designates authority to impose a stiffer penalty. League spokesman Brian McCarthy said it’s still to be determined whether Goodell or someone else will hear the appeal.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein is pushing back against Republican General Assembly leaders’ allegations that he neglected his duty to defend state law by refusing to seek enforcement of a blocked 20-week abortion ban after the fall of Roe v. Wade. Attorneys for Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore filed a brief last week asking U.S. District Judge William Osteen to lift an injunction on a 1973 state law banning nearly all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Stein, an abortion rights supporter, says he will continue to recuse himself from the case, drawing criticisms from Republicans who say he is refusing to do his job.