Courts Round Up

Mississippi: Lawsuit seeks $22M from fatal car-train accident
McCOMB, Miss. (AP) — A McComb woman, whose three children killed in a 2009 car-train accident, has filed a lawsuit seeking $22.5 million in damages from Amtrak and Illinois Central Railroad.

Attorneys for Angela Perkins filed the lawsuit recently in Pike County Circuit Court.

Perkins’ three children were killed Oct. 19, 2009, when their car collided with a northbound Amtrak train a crossing.

According to the suit, which represents one side of a legal argument, the railroad crossing was “dangerous and ultra hazardous.”

The McComb Enterprise-Journal reports that spokesmen for the defendants have declined comment.

State transportation officials recently put barriers up at the crossing.

West Virginia: Man on trial for duct-taping child while babysitting
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A man accused of duct-taping a 2-year-old boy is on trial in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

Testimony began Tuesday in the trial of 19-year-old James Usher. He’s charged with felony child abuse.

Assistant Prosecutor Erica Lord told jurors that Usher and another defendant, Della Kay Jackson, bound the boy with duct tape while they were baby-sitting him.

Jackson pleaded guilty in March to felony child abuse. The boy’s mother, 24-year-old Jessica McClure, pleaded guilty in March to a child neglect charge.

McClure testified Tuesday that she was working when the incident occurred in October 2009. After she found photos of her child on her computer, she said McClure told her that he and Jackson were “goofing around.”

California: Man sentenced in $8M investment fraud get 8 years
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Colma man accused of bilking investors out of more than $8 million has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

A federal judge in San Francisco on Monday also ordered 63-year-old Alexander James Trabulse to pay full restitution to his victims and perform community service.

Authorities say between 1998 and 2007 Trabulse inflated the value of his hedge fund’s returns, making investors believe their investments were worth $50 million when in fact they were only $12 million.

Many of the investors in the Fahey Fund or a related business Trabulse ran called the Fahey Financial Group attended his church.

Trabulse was also accused of using investors’ money to finance cars and shopping trips.

He pleaded guilty to mail fraud in November. In a letter to the court, Trabulse apologized for hurting his investors.

Florida: Group sues school district over policy limiting prayer
PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) — A conservative group is suing a Panhandle school district over its limits on prayer.

Santa Rosa schools reached an agreement last year with the ACLU after it sued over the same issue. The new policy approved by a federal judge prevents the practice or promotion of religious activities involving students.

The Orlando-based Liberty Counsel sued in federal court Tuesday, alleging the agreement violates the First Amendment rights of two dozen students, staff members and others.

The district lamented in a statement that it’s caught between two advocacy groups trying to impose an agenda.

The Legislature last week passed a bill inspired by the fight that bans schools from infringing on First Amendment rights unless teachers, staff or students sign a waiver.

Louisiana: Judge delays manslaughter sentencing
CLINTON, La. (AP) — A state judge has delayed sentencing for a man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter before his attorney gave up his law license to avoid a federal drug conviction.

Judge George H. Ware Jr. on Tuesday set 25-year-old Blake T. Thompson of Ethel sentencing for July 6. Thompson pleaded guilty in January to manslaughter in the February 2009 shooting death of 22-year-old Brandon Dixon of Greenwell Springs.

Without mentioning attorney Kevin Monahan by name, Ware noted Thompson’s attorney is no longer involved in the case.

The state Supreme Court on Friday accepted Monahan’s resignation from the practice of law. The Advocate reports he is participating in a pretrial diversion program to avoid a federal conviction for possession of marijuana and the pain reliever Oxycodone.

North Carolina: Judge to decide hospitalized man’s fate by week’s end
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina judge is expected to decide later this week the fate of a man who killed four people and wounded five others in 1988.

The Winston-Salem Journal reported that Forsyth County Superior Court Judge Steve Balog says he will decide by the end of this week if Michael Hayes can be released from a state mental hospital.

Hayes has been held at Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh since he was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the shootings.

During a two-day hearing, seven psychologists and psychiatrists testified Hayes is not dangerous and no longer suffers from a personality disorder. Hayes also testified that he believes that he no longer has a personality disorder.

Delaware: Lawyers want class-action status for Bradley cases
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Lawyers are seeking class-action status for their cases filed against a Delaware pediatrician charged with raping or sexually abusing more than 100 children dating back to 1998.

The News Journal of Wilmington reports the request was made in a lawsuit filed Monday by three attorneys on behalf of a 12-year-old girl Earl B. Bradley allegedly abused.

Attorney Bruce L. Hudson says if his petition is approved in court he would have to send out notices to the 7,000 patients treated by Bradley in the Lewes and Milford areas. Hudson says he represents about 40 alleged victims.

More lawsuits are expected as Bradley is facing hundreds of counts including rape, sexual exploitation of a child and reckless endangering.