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Judiciary

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Elected leaders in Kansas convened community groups and held town hall conversations after demonstrators protested George Floyd’s death statewide. But the passion and energy evident in those protests hasn’t translated into widespread change in local government. One of the most common results has been formalizing changes that had already been made. Police in several Kansas cities have put into writing the practices they say they had already adopted. Some racial justice advocates in Kansas have focused on electing diverse candidates as a way to get police reform measures approved and to ensure elected officials reflect demographic shifts.

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The South Dakota attorney general’s office is not charging billionaire and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford with any crimes following an investigation into the potential possession of child pornography. The state prosecutor’s decision was made public in a court filing Friday. Sanford is a philanthropist who made his fortune in banking, and has given billions to hospitals, universities and charities. South Dakota investigators in 2019 began searching his email account, as well as his cellular and internet service providers, for possible possession of child pornography. Sanford’s lawyer has said the investigation revealed that his client’s email accounts were hacked. The Department of Justice declined to comment when asked if Sanford remains under federal investigation.

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A high school honors student in Nevada says in federal court that he’s being bullied by students and harassed by campus administrators who search him for a gun every time someone identifies him through an anonymous school threats hotline. Graduating Reno High School junior Lucas Gorelick said Friday he thinks he's being targeted because of his Jewish heritage, his work with Democratic party candidates and his school achievements. His father compared using the anonymous SafeVoice system to say his son has a gun to “swatting,” or hoax police calls. A federal judge on Wednesday referred to school violence and declined to order school administrators to stop the searches.

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A California woman who punched a flight attendant in the face during a flight and broke her teeth has been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison. Vyvianna Quinonez on Tuesday was also ordered by the federal judge in San Diego to pay nearly $26,000 in restitution and a $7,500 fine for the assault on a May 2021 Southwest flight between Sacramento and San Diego. Quinonez is prohibited from flying for three years while she is on supervised release and must participate in anger management classes or counseling. Quinonez last year pleaded guilty to one count of interference with flight crew members and attendants.

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A high school honors student in Nevada says in federal court that he’s being bullied by students and harassed by campus administrators who search him for a gun every time someone identifies him through an anonymous school threats hotline. Graduating Reno High School junior Lucas Gorelick said Friday he thinks he's being targeted because of his Jewish heritage, his work with Democratic party candidates and his school achievements. His father compared using the anonymous SafeVoice system to say his son has a gun to “swatting,” or hoax police calls. A federal judge on Wednesday referred to school violence and declined to order school administrators to stop the searches.

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A divided federal court panel has ordered Ohio to hold an Aug. 2 primary using the third set of Statehouse maps approved by the Ohio Redistricting Commission. That’s despite a ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court that invalidated that plan as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. The panel of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio said Friday it acted after no map won the approval of the Ohio Redistricting Commission and the state Supreme Court. The decision was a victory for the Republican-dominated commission, which saw all five of its legislative plans rejected.

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Democratic Gov. Tony Evers says he can’t think of anyone worse than a Republican-hired investigator to fill a vacancy on the state’s bipartisan elections commission and he prays that the former state Supreme Court justice isn’t named to the panel. Evers’ comments Friday come a day after the Republican Assembly leader said he wasn’t ruling anyone out for the job. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has refused to rule out naming former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to the commission. Vos hired Gableman to run a taxpayer-funded investigation into the 2020 election won by President Joe Biden. His work has been widely criticized by Republicans and Democrats.

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A Michigan business owner has filed a lawsuit to try to get on Michigan’s August primary ballot. It's the first of many likely legal challenges after five Republican candidates for governor were barred because of a lack of valid petition signatures. Perry Johnson is asking the state appeals court to order the Board of State Canvassers to put him on the ballot. Former Detroit police Chief James Craig also plans to turn to court. The state elections bureau said their petitions were rife with fraudulent names and signatures created by paid circulators, bringing Johnson and Craig below the 15,000-signature threshold needed to run in the primary. Johnson says the elections did not examine every line of the petitions. The appeals court is expected to make a decision next week.

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The New Hampshire Supreme Court has released a congressional redistricting plan that moves just five towns from the state’s 2nd District to the 1st. The court's action Friday rejected a last-minute attempt by Republicans to block its takeover of the process. Both the House and Senate approved a new map Thursday on the last day of the legislative session. But Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said he will veto it, and the state Supreme Court had said it would release a map Friday if the Legislature failed to enact one. Under the court’s map,  the towns of Albany, Campton, Jackson, New Hampton and Sandwich from the 1st District to the 2nd.

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The last of eight Massachusetts State Police troopers to face federal charges in the department’s overtime abuse scandal has been sentenced to two years of probation. The first six months of it must be spent in home confinement. Federal prosecutors say 60-year-old Daren DeJong, of Uxbridge, was also ordered Thursday in U.S. District Court to pay back more than $14,000 to the state and fined $5,500. Prosecutors have said previously that the now-retired DeJong was paid for overtime shifts that he ended early or didn’t show up for. He was formerly assigned to Troop E. The troop was responsible for patrolling the Massachusetts Turnpike.

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Women from the remote U.S. territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands will likely have to travel farther than other Americans to terminate a pregnancy if the Supreme Court overturns a precedent that established a national right to abortion in the United States. Hawaii is the closest U.S. state where abortion is legal under local law. It’s already difficult to get an abortion in Guam, a small, heavily Catholic U.S. territory south of Japan. The last physician who performed surgical abortions there retired in 2018. Two Guam-licensed physicians who live in Hawaii see patients virtually and mail them pills for a medication abortion.

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A federal judge on Friday dismissed Donald Trump’s lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James, allowing her civil investigation into his business practices to continue. In a 43-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Brenda Sannes said she based her decision on case law that bars federal judges from interfering in state-level investigations in most cases. Sannes’ ruling came a day after a New York appeals court ruled that Trump must answer questions under oath in James’ probe, upholding a lower-court ruling requiring him to sit for a deposition. A lawyer for Trump said his legal team would appeal Friday's ruling.

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Legislation providing a possible path to freedom for people convicted of felonies by non-unanimous Louisiana juries has been shelved for the current legislative session. The bill would have allowed those convicted by non-unanimous juries to apply for a review by a five-member board that would decide whether the applicant should become eligible for parole. But The Advocate reports that Democratic Rep. Randal L. Gaines withdrew his measure Thursday because of disagreements on whether the board’s decision had to be unanimous. The newspaper reported that district attorneys wanted a unanimous board vote. Gaines was among those opposed to that. He noted that appellate court panel decisions do not have to be unanimous.

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A judge has ruled that South Dakota is violating federal laws by failing to make it easier to vote. U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol in an opinion released Thursday sided with two South Dakota American Indian tribes, the Rosebud Sioux and the Oglala Sioux. The tribes argued in a 2020 complaint that the South Dakota secretary of state’s office was not adhering to the National Voter Registration Act. The law requires state agencies to help residents register to vote when they interact with government agencies for other services. Piersoll wrote that secretary of state’s office had not provided adequate information to county auditors and the other state agencies that would help them comply with federal law.

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The Democratic nominee for Ohio attorney general has filed a criminal complaint against the five Republican members of the state's redistricting commission. State Rep. Jeff Crossman filing seeks charges of dereliction of duty and civil rights interference. His action Thursday came a day after the Ohio Supreme Court rejected the Ohio Redistricting Commission's legislative maps for the fifth straight time. Crossman filed the criminal complaint with Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein, a fellow Democrat, at the direction of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Ohio’s map fight comes amid the once-per-decade redistricting process that all states undertake to reflect population changes from the census.

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About 400 workers at Planned Parenthood offices in five Midwestern states plan to unionize. The move comes as their employer deals with the potential loss of business in states where abortions may become illegal if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Ashley Schmidt is a training and development specialist for Nebraska and western Iowa. She says workers at Planned Parenthood North Central States in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota formally filed for a union election with a National Labor Relations Board on Thursday. The workers plan to join SEIU Healthcare Minnesota & Iowa, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, which represents Planned Parenthood workers in other states.

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The New Hampshire Legislature wrapped up its work for the year by passing another congressional redistricting map that Gov. Chris Sununu said he will veto. That moves the process to the state Supreme Court, which has said it will draw a map that changes the current districts as little as possible. Sununu said he will veto the map in part because it puts both U.S. Reps. Chris Pappas and Annie Kuster in the same district. In other action, the House killed a bill that would have given parents greater oversight over their child’s curriculum, participation in clubs and conversations with staff.

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Poland's lawmakers have approved the removal of a disciplinary body of the top court that the right-wing government has used to sanction outspoken judges, drawing condemnation from the European Union. The government expects Thursday's vote will pave the way for an agreement with the EU on the controversial matter and will result in Brussels disbursing funds for Poland that have been frozen due to the dispute.  Poland's prime minister said the EU Commission chief is expected to sign the agreement in Warsaw on June 2. The new judicial regulations still need approval from the Senate and from the president.  Critics say the change is superficial and misleading, because the controversial body is to be replaced with a professional responsibility chamber.

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The Supreme Court has allowed the Biden administration to use a higher estimate than Republican-led states want for calculating damages to people and the environment from greenhouse gas emissions. A federal judge had blocked the government from putting greater emphasis on potential damage from greenhouse gas emissions when creating rules for polluting industries. The justices didn't comment Thursday in refusing to put that order back in place. The damages approach uses the “social cost of carbon” to calculate future climate damages to justify tougher restrictions for  fossil fuels, transportation and other industries. Louisiana led nine states in asking the high court to in to intervene.

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A New York appeals court has ruled former President Donald Trump must answer questions under oath in the state’s civil investigation into his business practices. A four-judge panel in the appellate division of the state’s trial court on Thursday upheld Manhattan Judge Arthur Engoron’s Feb. 17 ruling enforcing subpoenas for Trump and his two eldest children to give deposition testimony in Attorney General Letitia James’ probe. Trump had appealed, seeking to overturn the ruling. His lawyers argued that ordering the Trumps to testify violated their constitutional rights because their answers could be used in a parallel criminal investigation.

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A group of abortion providers in Oklahoma has filed a legal challenge to a bill that bans nearly all abortions in the state. The lawsuit was filed Thursday with the Oklahoma Supreme Court. It seeks to stop the new law from taking effect. The court declined to temporarily halt a similar law that prevents abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy that took effect earlier this year. But the court did agree to hear arguments in that case and scheduled dates for briefs to be filed in June and July.

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With mass shootings in Texas, New York and California fresh in Americans’ mind, the Supreme Court will soon issue its biggest gun ruling in more than a decade. The ruling in a New York case is expected to make it easier to carry guns in public in some of the largest cities. The justices already are in an uncomfortable spotlight over a leaked draft opinion that would overrule Roe v. Wade’s nationwide right to abortion. And now they're facing a possible backlash from the guns case. In both the abortion and gun cases, the court could issue decisions that polls say would be unpopular with the majority of Americans.

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A federal appeals court has declined to disturb an Indiana Supreme Court ruling that declared that Lake Michigan’s shoreline is — and always has been — owned by the state for the public’s use. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago says in Wednesday’s 3-0 decision that three lakefront property owners who claim their holdings include a private beach lack standing to challenge Indiana’s high court ruling and statute in federal court. The Times of Northwest Indiana reports the appeals court ruling also says the plaintiffs failed to establish that their beach property was “taken” by Indiana. An attorney for the plaintiffs says they're disappointed in the outcome and considering their next steps.

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