Court Roundup

Washington, D.C.: Court lets NFL complaint go to state court
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court won’t stop a Minnesota state court from getting involved in a fight between the NFL and Minnesota Vikings defensive linemen Kevin Williams and Pat Williams over violations of the league’s anti-doping policy.

The high court refused Monday to hear an appeal from the National Football League.

The players took the weight-loss supplement StarCaps, which contained an unlisted but banned diuretic that can mask the presence of steroids. The federal courts threw out the players’ appeal of their NFL suspensions, but said there were issues that should be considered in state court.

The NFL wanted the entire lawsuit thrown out, saying the players’ union contract and federal law trump state law in this case.

Indiana: Feds sue to evict couple from Lake Michigan house
HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) — The U.S. attorney’s office in northern Indiana has filed a lawsuit in seeking to have a Porter County couple evicted from a house overlooking Lake Michigan they built in 1960.

The federal lawsuit filed Thursday seeks to evict George and Ann Bagnall. The Post-Tribune of Merrillville reports the Bagnalls were among 20 families who were supposed to move from their Beverly Shores homes by Sept. 30.

After Congress created the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in 1966, the government bought the houses. The Bagnalls were paid $186,750 in 1985. The government gave homeowners time to move, and gave several extensions until this fall.

Ann Bagnall said she doesn’t accept she and her husband have to move.

Delaware: Jury can’t reach verdict on murder charge
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — A sequestered jury has acquitted a 20-year-old Wilmington man of first-degree murder in the slaying of his friend’s mother.

Attorneys say jurors could not reach a verdict on the murder charge Sunday but found Jamie Beltran guilty of several other charges, including first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary.

A first-degree murder conviction would have carried a possible death sentence.

Jurors had been deliberating for several days. Defense attorney Patrick Collins says the jury also couldn’t agree on Superior Court Judge Calvin Scott’s suggestion to consider a second-degree murder conviction.

Beltran was accused of killing 57-year-old Wanda Carr during a home invasion in August 2009.

Prosecutors have 10 days to decide whether to retry Beltran.

Washington, D.C.: High Court case could affect D.C. waitresses case
WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorneys say a case before the Supreme Court could affect a suit by waitresses at a Washington Hooters restaurant.

An arbitrator ruled the waitresses can’t build a class action case because a notice on their application requires employees to submit disputes to arbitration. The waitresses have asked a federal court to review that ruling.

The Supreme Court case involves a cellphone customer seeking class action status in a dispute with AT&T Mobility. The high court is to hear arguments on Tuesday.

Catholic University law professor Suzette Malveaux says that case could affect the waitresses’ case and others.

The waitresses’ attorney, Cyrus Mehri, says he hope the justices use the case to say arbitration contracts cannot wipe out class-action claims.

Oklahoma: Cop corruption lawsuits could cost Tulsa $900,000
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Legal fees could reach $900,000 for Tulsa to defend itself against lawsuits stemming from the indictments of eight current or former police officers accused in a federal corruption investigation, a city official said.

Federal prosecutors allege the officers stole drugs and money, falsified search warrants and planted drugs on suspects. The investigation has led to 21 people being released from prison or having their charges dismissed, and three lawsuits have been filed so far.

Terry Simonson, chief of staff for Mayor Dewey Bartlett, told the Tulsa World that all or much of the money will come from expected savings in the police department budget that include reduced overtime.

“As we have consulted with some law firms, we have been told that we are going to need between $700,000 and $900,000 to handle” the three lawsuits, Simonson said.

Six current or former officers, along with a former federal agent, have been charged in connection with the probe, and two other former officers have admitted stealing drug money and are cooperating with prosecutors.

The lawsuits filed by Larry Barnes, his daughter Larita Barnes and Bobby Wayne Haley each claim wrongful imprisonment. Larita Barnes also alleges that the city failed to act on allegations that one officer had fabricated evidence.

The handling of the first cases will be “especially critical,” Simonson said.

“We will be looking at the outcomes of these cases as they go, and if we’re winning, it would appear these are fights worth fighting,” he said. “If we’re losing, then we’ll have to decide whether we need to spend our time and money settling the cases rather than fighting them.”

A budget amendment is expected to be presented to the City Council in the next few weeks. Once approved, it would allow Bartlett to hire outside attorneys, Simonson said.

“The city’s Legal Department wants us to do this sooner rather than later because some cases are already starting to rev up,” he said. “They don’t have the manpower to handle all of that and the city’s usual legal work.”

Simonson said he’s hoping to negotiate with the law firm for the city to pay only a portion of the legal fees this fiscal year and the rest next fiscal year to ease the immediate financial burden.

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