Judge: Pretrial release OK for man accused in Capitol riot

Court News 2021/07/07 11:04   Bookmark and Share
Education officials are asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit challenging West Virginia’s new law that bans transgender athletes from competing in female sports in middle schools, high schools and colleges.

Education and athletic officials said in court documents filed last week that they can’t be held liable for the law, which they didn’t request and largely won’t be responsible for enforcing, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.

The American Civil Liberties Union and its West Virginia chapter filed the lawsuit in May on behalf of an 11-year-old transgender girl who had hoped to compete in cross country in middle school in Harrison County. The girl is seeking an injunction to prevent the law from being enforced.

The ban is set to take effect Thursday and will require the state Board of Education to establish rules to determine the means by which local athletic officials can enforce the law.

Attorneys for the West Virginia Board of Education and the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission argued that they can’t be held responsible for the law because they aren’t responsible for enforcing it.

Attorneys for Harrison County Schools said the district “was not responsible for and did not pass” the transgender athlete ban and has not caused harm to the girl.

“(The law) was not created by the County Board, and it is not under the County Board’s control,” the response said.

The U.S. Justice Department intervened in the case last month, saying the ban was a violation of federal law.
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Court refuses appeal of ex-Cleveland cop who shot Tamir Rice

Court News 2021/07/06 10:44   Bookmark and Share
The Ohio Supreme Court announced on Tuesday it would not consider an appeal over the firing of a white police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice outside a Cleveland recreation center in 2014.

The appeal was filed in April by the Cleveland Police Patrolment’s Association on behalf former officer Timothy Loehmann. Cleveland fired Loehmann in 2017 not for killing Tamir, who was Black, but for providing false information on his job application. An arbitrator and a county judge upheld his firing.

A state appellate court earlier this year dismissed Loehmann’s appeal, citing the union’s failure to serve notice on outside attorneys hired by the city.

Loehmann, a rookie, shot Tamir within seconds of a cruiser skidding to a stop near a gazebo where the child had been sitting. Officers responded to a call from a man who said someone was waving a gun around. The man also told a dispatcher the gun could be a fake and the person might be a juvenile.

A state grand jury declined to indict Loehmann in Tamir’s shooting and, in December, federal authorities announced they would not bring federal criminal charges.

“I am glad that Loehmann will never have a badge and gun in Cleveland again,” Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, said in a statement issued Tuesday.

A message seeking comment was left with the Loehmann’s union attorney, Henry Hilow.
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Ruling is final blow to New Hampshire voter registration law

Court News 2021/07/02 15:29   Bookmark and Share
The New Hampshire Supreme Court struck a final blow Friday to a 2017 voter registration law that faced repeated legislative and court challenges, upholding a previous ruling that it’s unconstitutional.

The law required additional documentation from voters who register within 30 days of an election. It was passed by the Republican Legislature after President Donald Trump alleged that widespread voter fraud led to his loss in the state in 2016, though there is no evidence to support that and voter fraud cases are rare. Supporters said the law would increase trust in elections by requiring people to prove they live where they vote, but opponents argued it was confusing, unnecessary and intimidating.

After the New Hampshire Democratic Party and the League of Women Voters sued, a judge allowed the law to take effect in 2018 but blocked penalties of a $5,000 fine and a year in jail for fraud. In 2019, after Democrats won control of the Legislature, lawmakers passed a bill to repeal the law, but it was vetoed by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu.

The case went to trial in late 2019, and a judge ruled in April 2020 that the law was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court upheld that decision Friday.

“We acknowledge that the interests identified by the state are important, if not vital,” Justice Patrick Donovan wrote in the unanimous order. But the law failed to further those objectives while imposing unreasonable burdens on the right to vote, the court concluded.

Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley said the ruling “sends a clear message to Chris Sununu and NH Republicans that their insidious voter suppression schemes will not stand in New Hampshire.”

“Today, we celebrate this incredible victory for voting rights. Tomorrow, we will continue to work to protect voting rights in the Granite State,” he said in a statement.

Sununu encouraged the Legislature to propose new legislation taking the court order into account.

“It’s disappointing that these commonsense reforms were not supported by our Supreme Court, but we have to respect their decision,” he said.

In its ruling, the court rejected the state’s argument that the law could only be struck down if it was unconstitutional in every set of circumstances. Similarly, it disagreed with the state’s claim that the law shouldn’t be deemed unconstitutional because only some, but not all, voters are burdened by it.

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