Judge: Pretrial release OK for man accused in Capitol riot

Court News 2021/05/18 11:49   Bookmark and Share
Kentucky’s Supreme Court has ended most coronavirus-related restrictions for the state’s court system effective immediately, Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. said Tuesday.

The high court entered administrative orders eliminating most health and safety requirements related to COVID-19 and expanding in-person court operations, Minton said.

“After the most challenging year in the history of the modern court system, I am pleased to announce that the Supreme Court has lifted most of the COVID-19 restrictions for employees, elected officials and those entering court facilities across the commonwealth,” Minton said.
The court’s action “allows us to begin transitioning back to normal operations,” he added.

The changes include allowing in-person access to court facilities for anyone with court business, except for those who have symptoms, tested positive or have been exposed to COVID-19.

The mask mandate is eliminated for fully vaccinated people entering court facilities and for fully vaccinated court officials and employees, but those not fully vaccinated are strongly encouraged to continue using masks. Judges will be permitted to require people in their courtrooms to wear masks.

The court lifted most restrictions on jury trials but requires continuances, postponements and recusals for attorneys, parties and jurors who are ill or at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

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Judge: Pretrial release OK for man accused in Capitol riot

Court News 2021/05/14 13:39   Bookmark and Share
A judge has ruled that one of two Oregon brothers accused in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol will be released from custody Friday to a third-party guardian, where he will be on home detention and GPS monitoring pending his trial.
U.S. District Judge Randolph D. Moss, of the District of Columbia, on Thursday granted Matthew Klein’s pretrial release to a Baker County couple after refusing to allow him to stay with his parents. Moss last week cited text messages that showed Klein’s mother and father warning Matthew’s younger brother and co-defendant Jonathanpeter Klein not to broadcast their roles, noting “braggers get caught,” according to court testimony and documents, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
Matthew Klein, 24, and Jonathanpeter Klein, 21, both have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States, aiding and abetting in the obstruction of an official proceeding, obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder, destruction of government property, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, and disorderly conduct in a restricted building or grounds.
The judge ordered Matthew Klein to be released to a woman who is retired from Baker County government and lives with her husband, a prison guard at the Powder River Corrections Facility, court documents said. He’ll be released on Friday once he is fitted with a location monitoring device.
Jonathanpeter Klein also has asked for pretrial release to a third-party guardian, under home detention and GPS monitoring. Federal prosecutors don’t object. His release hearing will be held in early June.
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Nevada inmate fighting on several fronts to avoid execution

Court News 2021/04/24 14:15   Bookmark and Share
A convicted Nevada mass murderer is mounting a range of legal challenges to a bid to schedule his execution in early June, including questioning whether the district attorney in Las Vegas really wants the lethal injection carried out at a decommissioned prison in Carson City.

Prosecutor Alexander Chen on Friday said that’s a mistake that will be corrected in court filings next week.

Attorneys for Zane Michael Floyd filed new documents this week asking a state court judge to halt the process at least long enough to determine if the state’s lethal injection procedure would be unconstitutionally cruel and inhumane, and to force prisons officials to show they have the three drugs they would use.

“We would add to that the opportunity to present clemency on behalf of our client,” Floyd’s attorney, Brad Levenson, said in an email. “We are indeed litigating in state and federal court on many serious issues.”

District Attorney Steve Wolfson didn’t immediately respond to messages about documents that Levenson filed Wednesday.

One seeks a stay of execution. The other opposes Wolfson’s request for Clark County District Judge Michael Villani to issue a warrant to set Floyd’s execution date the week beginning June 7.

The prosecutor’s April 15 application for a death warrant specifies that the execution should be “within the limits of the State Prison, located at or near Carson City.”

Villani has scheduled court hearings on May 14. Floyd, 45, was sentenced in 2000 to die for killing four people with a shotgun and badly wounding a fifth in a Las Vegas supermarket in 1999.

He is one of 65 inmates housed on death row at Ely State Prison, a facility 250 miles (402 kilometers) north of Las Vegas and some 260 miles (418 kilometers) east of Carson City where a new lethal injection chamber was built in 2016 at a cost of about $860,000. It has never been used.

Floyd’s attorneys want a judge to force state Department of Corrections officials to say if they’ve changed a procedure posted in July 2018 for a lethal injection that was later called off; to prove they have the drugs they would use; and to demonstrate that witnesses would not be exposed to COVID-19.
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Governor swears in newest Rhode Island state court judge

Court News 2021/03/27 19:28   Bookmark and Share
The newest judge to the Rhode Island Superior Court was sworn in Saturday.

Democratic Gov. Dan McKee presided over the swearing in of R. David Cruise, a longtime political operative and state senator, at the Boys & Girls Club location in Cumberland.

McKee, a former Cumberland mayor who has known Cruise for years, said in a statement that he’s an “honest, fair and thoughtful leader who brings decades of legal and government experience to the bench.”

Cruise is a former state senator and Cumberland town councilor. In recent years, he’s served as former Gov. Gina Raimondo’s director of legislative affairs, former administrative magistrate with the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal and chief of staff to the Rhode Island Senate, among other posts, according to McKee’s office.

In the 1990s, Cruise worked in the commerce department under President Bill Clinton and chief of staff to former Governor Bruce Sundlun. In the 1980s, he was a state senator and before that served on the Cumberland Town Council.

Cruise, who graduated from Providence College and the Suffolk University School of Law, replaces former Superior Court Judge Bennett Gallo, who retired in February.

The Rhode Island Superior Court has 22 judges and five magistrates. It handles both civil and criminal matters.
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Court upholds Iowa man’s civil judgment in mother’s death

Court News 2021/03/19 14:56   Bookmark and Share
There was enough evidence for a jury to conclude in a wrongful death lawsuit that an Iowa man shot and killed his mother, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday, leaving in place the jury’s $10 million award even though the man was eventually acquitted on criminal charges in her death.

The court denied Jason Carter’s appeal of the civil judgment, in which a jury found him responsible for the June 2015 shooting of his mother, Shirley Carter, at her home near Knoxville.

Jason Carter, of Knoxville, and his father, Bill Carter, have been locked in legal disputes since Shirley Carter’s death.

Bill Carter filed the lawsuit on behalf of his late wife’s estate and another son, Billy Dean Carter, in 2016. A jury found Jason Carter liable and awarded a $10 million judgment to be paid to his father and mother’s estate.

Jason Carter was charged with first-degree murder in his mother’s death, but a jury acquitted him in March 2019.

In his appeal of the civil judgment, Jason Carter claimed the judge had wrongly denied his motions to delay the civil trial, saying it should have been postponed because authorities were still investigating his mother’s death and hadn’t charged him yet. But the high court concluded in a decision written by Chief Justice Susan Christensen that “there is no rule requiring trial courts to stay civil proceedings until criminal proceedings conclude.”

Carter also disputed the civil trial judge’s decisions on subpoenas and motions to set aside the jury verdict. His motions were based in part on evidence that had surfaced in which witnesses claimed the shooting was a botched attempt by other people to steal prescription medication from Shirley and Bill Carters’ home. Jason Carter claimed such evidence may have helped him cast doubt on his liability in the civil case.

“We conclude that when viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs, a reasonable mind could conclude by a preponderance of the evidence that Jason intentionally shot his mother,” Christensen wrote.

Jason Carter’s lawyer, Alison Kanne, said she and her client disagree with the court’s decision and “we remain satisfied with the fact that Jason Carter was conclusively deemed not guilty by a jury of his peers who had all of the information in front of them, which is something the civil jury did not have.”

Bill Carter’s lawyer, Mark Weinhardt, said they were reviewing the decision and would comment later. In his closing argument before the high court, Weinhardt said Bill Carter was seeking at least some measure of justice for his wife.
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Anchorage companies, man fined for clean air violations

Court News 2021/03/01 11:23   Bookmark and Share
A man and two companies in Alaska have been sentenced to three years probation and a $35,000 fine for violating the Clean Air Act involving asbestos work at a shopping center more than five years ago, a judge said.

The work was performed at the Northern Lights Center in Anchorage, the former location of an REI store. Reports of potential asbestos exposure at the time closed the store for a day back in 2015, authorities said.

U.S. District Court Judge Joshua Kindred sentenced Tae Ryung Yoon, 64, on Friday to probation, fined him $35,000 and said he owes $30,000 in restitution for medical monitoring of the four workers who claimed they were exposed to asbestos, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The owners of Yoo Jin Management Company Ltd. and Mush Inn Corp. were also sentenced after agreeing to plead guilty to a charge of violating the Clean Air Act’s Asbestos Work Practice Standards. Both companies are owned by Chun Yoo, who is in his 80s and has “serious medical conditions,” and his wife, attorney Kevin Fitzgerald said. The couple still owns the center.

The case centers on workers who said they were exposed to asbestos during improperly conducted renovations involving an old boiler room. The work was stopped when two of the workers raised concerns.

High levels of asbestos exposure can cause lung disease or cancer.

Prosecutors said in a statement that the building owners and manager relied on a contractor who was not a certified asbestos abatement contractor and “failed to inform the contractor of the possibility of asbestos in the old boiler room.”

Fitzgerald argued that an assessment indicated no evidence of asbestos when his clients bought the center in 2006. Yoon was the building’s property manager at the time.

Documents show the boilers were replaced by another company in 2012 and the old ones were removed in 2014 to make more room. Some of the workers took photos of what they thought was asbestos and emailed them to the property management company that employed Yoon.
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