National Roundup

Texas: Court of Appeals affirms life terms for young killers
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals says sentencing juvenile convicted killers to life in prison without parole is not unreasonably harsh.

Chris Joshua Meadoux was 16 at time of a 2007 double slaying in San Antonio.

A jury sentenced the Hurricane Katrina evacuee to life in prison without parole for his capital murder conviction in the killing of 17-year-old Johnny You and 19-year-old Luis Martinez during a fight.

Meadoux and You were friends in Slidell, La., before their families evacuated after the 2005 hurricane.

The Austin American-Statesman reports an appeals court said Wednesday that juveniles may be less morally culpable, but some actions justify the penalty.

The 2009 Legislature approved a ban, which is non-retroactive, on no-parole sentences for those who committed murder while younger than 18.

Louisiana: Five abortion clinics sue over state’s new law
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A third challenge to Louisiana’s new abortion-clinic laws was filed Wednesday in Baton Rouge federal court.

Five abortion clinics in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Metairie and Bossier City allege in their civil suit that state regulatory officials now can shut them down for any alleged violation before they can appeal that decision.

“Unlike a hospital and some other licensed medical facilities, an outpatient abortion facility no longer has the right to a suspensive appeal,” the plaintiffs claim in their lawsuit assigned to U.S. District Judge James J. Brady.

“Thus, if the outpatient abortion facility files an administrative appeal, it will still be deprived of its license, cannot operate, and cannot generate revenue to avoid bankruptcy during the pendency of the appeal,” the plaintiffs alleged.

Attorneys for the clinics said in the suit the new law violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution “by treating outpatient abortion facilities differently than all other medical facilities.”

The suit was filed by Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge; Choice Inc. of Texas, doing business as Causeway Medical Clinic in Metairie; Bossier City Medical Suite Inc. in Bossier City; and two New Orleans clinics, Midtown Medical LLC and Women’s Health Care Center Inc.

A sixth plaintiff is a physician identified only as John Doe, M.D.

The same clinics and a sixth in Shreveport, Hope Medical Group for Women, sued the state in August over two other alleged unconstitutional elements of Louisiana’s new abortion laws.

One of those laws bans abortion doctors from participation in a state-run medical malpractice fund available to physicians who do not perform abortions, the clinics allege in that pending suit.

The clinics also allege in that suit that another new law unconstitutionally requires women about to undergo abortions to have ultrasound examinations and receive notice that they are entitled to photographs of those images.

Chief U.S. District Judge Ralph E. Tyson initially granted a temporary restraining order against enforcement of those two new laws.

But Tyson dissolved that order a week later after both sides agreed that state officials must provide the affected women with a list of facilities that provide free ultrasound services. Both sides also agreed the women cannot be compelled to receive an ultrasound image.

Arkansas: Restaurant chain in Texas sues Ark. eatery owner
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — A Texas-based restaurant chain is suing an Arkansas restaurant owner for trademark infringement.

Texas-based chain Twin Peaks features scantily-clad female servers in a mountain snow lodge-style atmosphere. The Arkansas owner, Kevin Laughlin, incorporated his company called Grand Tetons LLC in July 2009 and plans to open a restaurant called Northern Exposure next month.

In the lawsuit filed in federal court in Dallas, Twin Peaks claims Laughlin approached the company in spring 2009 and spent time learning about the business. The company claims it helped him select a location for a Twin Peaks franchise in Fayetteville.

The lawsuit claims Laughlin pulled out of the negotiations after a few months, saying he’d develop his own business model.

The Northwest Arkansas Times reports the staff at Laughlin’s restaurant said he was too busy to be interviewed Wednesday.

Iowa: Judge upholds prison contract to Chicago firm
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An administrative law judge says a Chicago construction firm can build Iowa’s new maximum-security prison near Fort Madison.

The Des Moines Register says the judge has upheld a decision by state officials to award a $116.9 million contract to Walsh Construction.

A construction trade group, Master Builders of Iowa, and a Des Moines construction company, the Weitz Co., contended the Chicago company submitted incorrect bidding forms and the contract should be rescinded. State officials maintained the contract was properly awarded.

Scott Norvell of Master Builders of Iowa says no decision has been made on whether to appeal. Mike Tousley of the Weitz Co. says they are considering the options.

The new prison is scheduled to open in July 2013.

Nebraska: Race bias alleged in suit by four prison guards
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Four prison guards have sued the Nebraska prisons director and their warden in federal court, alleging racism at work.

Jaryl Ellis, Michael Hunter, Tiffany Johnson and Paul Zeiger are black. The four say in their lawsuit that they have been targets of offensive comments and bias on the job at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln.

They say corrections director Robert Houston (HOW-stun), warden Dennis Bakewell and other officials have failed to act on complaints from the four.

Their lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Corrections spokeswoman Dawn-Renee Smith told the Lincoln Journal Star that the department “has strong policies and practices that uphold equal treatment for all employees.”

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