Court Roundup

Pennsylvania: Abortion foes sue Pittsburgh over leafletting law
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Two anti-abortion activists have sued to overturn a Pittsburgh leafletting law designed to curb littering, because they say it also curbs their free speech rights.

Kathleen Ramsey, of Ross Township, and Albert Brunn, of Pittsburgh, filed the federal lawsuit Wednesday and are represented by the American Center for Law & Justice, an evangelical Christian legal group.

The lawsuit wants a judge to order the city to change or drop the ordinance, which they contend is overbroad and constitutionally vague.

The ordinance bans placing flyers and leaflets on parked vehicles or from distributing such materials “so as to cause litter or unreasonably interfere with pedestrians or traffic.”

A spokeswoman for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl declined comment on the lawsuit.

New York: Report: Another lawsuit alleges Alomar has HIV
NEW YORK (AP) — Roberto Alomar’s wife has accused the former baseball star in divorce papers of having unprotected sex with her despite knowing that he is HIV-positive.

The New York Post reported Thursday that Maria Del Pilar Rivera Alomar filed paperwork in Florida alleging Alomar “knew prior to his first sexual contact with (her) that he was HIV-positive.”

The lawsuit is the second in two years to accuse Alomar of having unprotected sex while knowingly carrying the virus. A former girlfriend, Ilya Dall, filed a lawsuit in February 2009 accusing him of having unprotected sex with her over the course of four years. Dall sought $15 million from Alomar, and the case was eventually settled last May.

Alomar’s then-girlfriend Rivera defended him at the time, calling Dall’s lawsuit “a vile lie.”

Indiana: School district sued over 1st grade Bible class
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana first-grader and his mother are accusing his school district of violating the Constitution by teaching the Bible in a classroom during school hours.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed the lawsuit against the Fairfield Community Schools district in Elkhart County on Tuesday in federal court in South Bend on behalf of the pair, who aren’t named in court documents.

A message seeking comment was left Wednesday with the district.

The suit alleges the boy was left unsupervised in the hallway when his mother opted him out of a weekly 20-minute Bible class at New Paris Elementary School. He later was sent to the school library.

The suit says the boy is being deprived of educational instruction during the Bible class.

Rhode Island: Providence man sues over euthanized dog
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Providence man claims in a lawsuit filed against the city’s animal control department that his mixed-breed pit bull was captured and euthanized the next day in violation of city law.

Louis DiBacco says in the suit that the dog got loose on Aug. 28.

He says the city caught the animal, diagnosed it with parvovirus, then had it euthanized the next day.

DiBacco’s lawyer tells The Providence Journal that animal control “executed” the dog because of a bias against pit bulls.

The suit alleges the department violated city law by not keeping the dog for five days, not making an effort to find the owner and denying knowledge of the dog’s whereabouts.

The chief animal control officer and a city lawyer refused comment on the suit, which seeks unspecified damages.

Tennessee: Taylor Swift wins trademark case
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Taylor Swift has won a court fight against 16 individuals she claimed violated trademark by selling counterfeit merchandise bearing her name and picture.

Court documents said a federal judge in Nashville granted a default judgment last week permanently barring 16 individuals from making or selling Taylor Swift merchandise.

Swift claimed in the suit that her merchandise enforcement team found numerous individuals selling fake goods across the country during her 2009 tour, including T-shirts with her image on them.

A message left for Swift’s attorney on Wednesday was not immediately returned. Court records indicated that the accused individuals had no attorneys listed and they had not responded to the lawsuit.

Wisconsin: Media outlets reach settlement over 911 calls suit
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Four Wisconsin media outlets have reached a financial settlement with Dane County in a lawsuit about the release of 911 calls in the slaying of a student.

Dane County has agreed to pay $118,000 to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, Milwaukee-based WTMJ-TV and Madison-based WISC-TV for attorney fees.

The outlets successfully sought the release of 911 tapes and other records in the case of Brittany Zimmermann. The 21-year-old University of Wisconsin-Madison student was found stabbed in her Madison apartment on April 2, 2008.

The 911 calls became important components of the investigation after county officials said a 911 dispatcher mishandled Zimmermann’s minute-long call.

Zimmermann’s homicide remains unsolved.

Mississippi: Judge jails attorney for not reciting pledge
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi state judge has jailed an attorney for several hours after the lawyer refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in court.

Court records show that Chancery Judge Talmadge Littlejohn told people in his Tupelo courtroom Wednesday to stand up and say the pledge.

Attorney Danny Lampley “failed and refused to do so” and was jailed for criminal contempt of court, according to the judge’s order, obtained by The Associated Press.

The 49-year-old Oxford lawyer was booked into the Lee County jail and stayed for about five hours until the judge ordered him released.

Littlejohn has not responded to messages left at his home and office. Lampley didn’t respond to calls, either.

The judge’s calendar said Lampley was representing a client in a divorce case.

California: Chinese-born man convicted in smuggling case
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Southern California man was convicted Wednesday on a conspiracy charge for attempting to arrange the smuggling of shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missiles from his homeland into the United States.

Yi Qing Chen, 46, who was born in China, was found guilty of five felony counts, including drug conspiracy and conspiracy to import missile systems designed to destroy aircraft.

It is the first guilty verdict in the nation under a 2004 anti-terrorism statute that outlaws the importing of missile systems designed to destroy aircraft. The statute calls for a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years and the possibility of life in prison without parole.

Prosecutors said Chen and Chao Tung Wu, also a naturalized U.S. citizen born in China, met with an undercover agent in October 2004 and said they could arrange shipment of the missiles from China.

The agent was initially told 200 missiles were available to buy.

The missiles were never delivered because Wu and Chen were arrested before the deal was concluded.

Wu pleaded guilty in 2006 to similar charges and died while he awaited sentencing.

The case against Chen and Wu was part of an FBI-led investigation called “Operation Smoking Dragon,” that examined smuggling operations in Southern California. Along with a related investigation, 87 people were indicted on conspiracy charges to smuggle counterfeit U.S. currency, drugs and other items into the United States.

Colorado: Woman accused of damaging controversial artwork
LOVELAND, Colo. (AP) — A Montana woman accused of taking a crowbar to an art museum display that has spurred protests and been denounced as obscene was arrested Wednesday on a charge of criminal mischief.

Kathleen Folden, 56, of Kalispell, Mont., was accused of damaging a print that critics say portrays Jesus Christ engaged in a sex act.

Witnesses said the woman entered the Loveland Museum Gallery, used a crowbar to break glass over the art and ripped the print, according to the Loveland Reporter-Herald.

Mark Michaels, an area art dealer who was at the museum, told Denver’s KUSA-TV that he saw the woman break the glass and grab the print, and that he tried to stop her.

He said that as the woman broke the case, she screamed: “How can you desecrate my Lord?”

Police spokesman Andy Hiller said the work by Stanford University professor Enrique Chagoya has a tear in the panel with the depiction of Christ. The work, titled “The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals,” is a 12-panel lithograph that that includes comic book characters, Mexican pornography, Mayan symbols and ethnic stereotypes.

It is part of an 82-print exhibit by 10 artists that opened in mid-September.

Chagoya told The Associated Press that he was shocked and saddened that his work was attacked.

“My intention has never been to offend anybody,” he said.

Police said the incident was the first disturbance since protesters began gathering this week outside the city-owned museum about 50 miles north of Denver. About 100 people packed the Loveland City Council meeting Tuesday night to support and oppose removing Chagoya’s work.

The council decided to leave the art in place.

Chagoya said his work, a collage using religious and pop culture symbols, is a critique of religious institutions, not beliefs.

“I critique the institutions and my disagreements with the way the church corrupts the spiritual,” he said. “People might disagree with my views, my art, but I’m not trying to offend anybody.”