National Round Up

Kentucky: Cinci attorney subject of bar investigation
COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A prominent Cincinnati class-action lawyer is the subject of two investigations by the Kentucky Bar Association stemming from a pair of the state’s largest legal settlements in the last decade.

Stanley Chesley, known as the “Prince of Torts,” faces probes into his roles in a $200 million settlement over the diet drug fen-phen and an $85 million settlement between victims of sexual abuse and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington.

The fen-phen investigation was disclosed in an order recommending discipline for another attorney. The Kentucky Enquirer reported that the investigation into the abuse case was disclosed in a now-sealed court filing in a lawsuit.

Chesley’s attorney, Frank Benton IV, told the paper in a letter the complaints were “untrustworthy and without foundation.”

Nebraska: Kansas woman being tried for funeral protest
PAPILLION, Neb. (AP) — A trial has started in Papillion for a Kansas woman accused of disturbing the peace and negligent child abuse stemming from a 2007 protest outside a soldier’s funeral in Bellevue.

Shirley Phelps-Roper is a member of Kansas’ Westboro Baptist Church, which has gained notoriety because of members’ protests at soldiers’ funerals around the country. The church says the deaths are God’s punishment for America’s tolerance of homosexuality.

Her trial was scheduled to begin Monday in Sarpy County Court.

Phelps-Roper says the charges aren’t warranted because she was executing her right to free speech and was in compliance with a Bellevue permit for the protest. She has pleaded not guilty and twice asked unsuccessfully for the case to be dismissed.

Maryland: Man charged in ax slaying of brother
CUMBERLAND, Md. (AP) — Allegany County authorities say a man with a history of mental illness is behind bars on charges he murdered his brother with an ax.

Forty-two-year-old Mark Collins is charged in the slaying of 46-year-old William Collins, who was found dead Saturday night on a couch in a trailer the men shared.

The Allegany County Bureau of Police says deputies found Mark Collins spattered with blood. He was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree assault and ordered held without bond.

Court records show that Mark Collins was committed to a mental institution in September 2004 after he was charged with arson in Allegany County. He was released in January 2006.

He was on probation for a 2009 second-degree assault conviction.

Montana: Animal cruelty charges filed in horse neglect
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — A former Flathead County resident has been charged with felony animal cruelty after 15 severely neglected horses were seized by the sheriff’s office in May.

Tanya Michele Shove is scheduled to be arraigned in District Court on Sept. 2. The charge was filed on Aug. 16.

Prosecutors say Shove allegedly boarded the animals on private property before leaving the area without providing a forwarding address.

Deputies received a report on May 7 that the animals had not been fed in at least five days. Fifteen of the animals were seized on May 27.

Undersheriff Pete Wingert says the horses are being cared for by a citizen who volunteered to board them. Several mares have given birth. He says the horses are doing well now.

Pennsylvania: Police: Woman gave son, 6, to stranger on bus
PITTSBURGH (AP) — A Pittsburgh woman is facing charges after she allegedly left her 6-year-old son with a stranger on board a bus while she was being arrested on a shoplifting charge.

Police say Portia Scoggins had two children with her Friday when she boarded a bus after taking items from a pharmacy, but just one when they pulled it over and arrested her.

Officers say Scoggins left the older child on board, giving a stranger the address for one of the boy’s friends and instructions to drop him off there.

Police later learned the boy had been on the bus and found him at the address Scoggins supplied to the stranger.

Online court records don’t detail the charges against Scoggins. A phone listing for her could not be located Monday.

The children are in the custody of county social workers.

North Dakota: ND AG plans to argue pharmacy case himself
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — When the North Dakota Supreme Court considers whether a pharmacy initiative should go on the November ballot, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem plans to argue the case himself.

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments at 9 a.m. on Sept. 1. Stenehjem says he believes the court is acting quickly because supporters of the pharmacy measure want to put the question to voters this fall.

The measure seeks to repeal North Dakota’s restrictions on pharmacy ownership. Its supporters say the proposal will help lower prescription drug prices.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger says the initiative petition was improperly circulated because it didn’t include the names of the initiative’s sponsoring committee. Supporters of the initiative want the Supreme Court to overturn Jaeger’s ruling.

New Hampshire: Man charged in murder to argue insanity
NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — Lawyers for a man charged in a home invasion and killing of a woman in Mont Vernon, N.H., are expected in court to discuss an insanity defense.

Twenty-year-old Christopher Gribble of Brookline is charged with stabbing to death Kimberly Cates and slashing her 11-year-old daughter, Jaimie Cates, last Oct. 4. His hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday.

He has entered not guilty pleas to first-degree murder and is scheduled to stand trial in February.

Steven Spader and William Marks also are charged with first-degree murder. Two other men have pleaded guilty to lesser charges and have agreed to testify against the others.