National Roundup

Mississippi

Suspect in priest beach house dea th back in state

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- A man accused of killing a Catholic priest and stealing his car and money before fleeing to Florida has been returned to Mississippi and is expected in court on Thursday.

Jeremy Wayne Manieri is accused in the shooting death and robbery of the Rev. Edward E. Everitt, a parish priest from Hammond, La. The 70-year-old Everitt's body was found July 11 at a beach front home in Waveland on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Florida authorities arrested the 31-year-old Manieri the next day at a hotel near Winter Haven. Officers said he'd bought passes to the Walt Disney World theme park but was captured before getting there.

Manieri was returned Tuesday night and was taken to the Hancock County jail after booking. He's expected to appear Thursday in Waveland Municipal Court.

North Dakota

District judge in trouble over case backlog

MINOT, N.D. (AP) -- A North Dakota district judge based in Minot has been barred from handling new cases until he clears a backlog on his docket.

Northwest Judicial District Presiding Judge William McLees signed an order this month saying Judge Richard Hagar had failed to "adequately perform his duties" by not timely resolving cases, according to a story published Wednesday by the Minot Daily News.

"These failures have delayed the administration of justice, and have created administrative problems in scheduling and case flow management," McLees' order said. "These failures have damaged the public's trust and confidence in the judicial system."

Hagar has been a judge since 2006. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment that The Associated Press left on his office phone Wednesday. His home listing was not in service. McLees said in his order that Hagar's home was among the thousands in Minot recently flooded by the Souris River.

McLees also said the homes of three other judges had been flooded and those judges still were coming to work daily.

"Judge Hagar has, for the most part, been absent, further delaying his work on files assigned to him and adding to the burden of the judges who have reported for work," McLees said.

Hagar must provide McLees and the North Dakota Supreme Court with a written report on all of his unresolved cases with a plan for handling each of them. McLees said in his order that if Hagar does not comply McLees will recommend to the state Judicial Conduct Commission that Hagar be suspended.

Montana

Man charged with trying to run over deputies

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) -- A 29-year-old man was arrested after two Gallatin County deputies said he tried to run over them with his truck twice when they responded to the report of a domestic disturbance.

Court records say deputies Dane Vranish and Dave Johnson were dispatched to a residence west of Bozeman just before midnight Monday.

The officers say Kristoffer Carnes got into a one-ton flatbed truck and refused orders to shut it off despite being pepper sprayed.

Vranish reported that Carnes drove toward the deputies. Vranish said he drew his gun and dodged the truck, which crashed into a tree. Vranish's report says Carnes put the truck in reverse and tried to hit the deputies a second time.

Carnes is charged with two counts of assaulting a peace officer and resisting arrest.

Virginia

Full appeals cou rt to hear man's innocence plea

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- The entire Virginia Court of Appeals will hear the exoneration plea of a Richmond man who spent nearly three decades in prison for at least one rape he didn't commit.

A three-judge panel in March heard Thomas Haynesworth's petition for writs of actual innocence, which would vacate abduction and rape convictions from two 1984 sexual assaults.

DNA evidence cleared Haynesworth of another assault, but no biological evidence exists in the remaining two cases. He was paroled in March.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and local prosecutors support Haynesworth's petition. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the full court of appeals wants to hear more about why they do.

Prosecutors now know at least one of the attacks was the work of Leon Davis Jr., who is serving life for multiple rapes.

Pennsylvania

Court rejects parolee's 'free speech' appeal

BEAVER, Pa. (AP) -- A state appeals court has rejected the argument that a western Pennsylvania man's free speech rights were violated when his parole was violated for writing a threatening letter to a Common Pleas judge.

The Beaver County Times was reporting Wednesday that the Commonwealth Court rejected 32-year-old John Malarik's appeal in an opinion Monday.

The Monaca man acknowledged writing the letter threatening to kidnap and kill Beaver County Judge C. Gus Kwidis (KWEE'-dis), but also argued the state parole board erred by deeming it "assaultive behavior" that violated his parole on a 2008 earlier insurance fraud conviction.

The appeals court rejected that argument, and said because Malarik didn't raise the free speech issue before the parole board he couldn't appeal on that basis either.

The judge had rejected some personal injury cases that Malarik filed in 2004.

California

SF judge upholds city's cigarette pack surcharge

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A San Francisco judge has upheld the city's 20-cent-per-pack surcharge on cigarettes.

Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay ruled on Monday that the additional charge was a fee and not a tax and therefore did not need to be approved by voters.

Cigarette maker Philip Morris USA and some local retailers had disputed that.

The 20-cent charge was the brainchild of former Mayor Gavin Newsom, who said it was intended to cover what it cost the city to clean up discarded cigarette butts.

Philip Morris had argued that the surcharge was not reasonably related to the city's actual cleanup costs.

Philip Morris spokesman Steve Callahan said the company was disappointed with the ruling and considering its appellate options.

Published: Thu, Jul 21, 2011