Court Roundup

Anarchists may be linked to Portland fire-bomb suspect 

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge says a man accused of throwing a firebomb at a Portland police car could be released while awaiting trial.
But one of the conditions set Wednesday for Sergey Turzhanskiy is that he have no contact or communication with anarchist groups.
The Oregonian reports he’s specifically ordered to have no contact with a group called Resist the Northwest Grand Jury. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen F. Peifer says the group is trying to obstruct an inquiry into the May Day firebombing of a federal courthouse in Seattle.
Defense lawyer Patrick J. Ehlers says Turzhanskiy does not have a significant criminal record and no one was injured last November when the Molotov cocktail was thrown at a parked police car.
Trial is set for March 5.

U.S. won’t retry  whistle-blower prosecution

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department will not try again to prosecute a watchdog group that shared money from a whistle-blower settlement with a government economist a decade ago.
The decision came at a hearing Thursday. A federal judge declared a mistrial last month when the eight jurors in the civil case failed to reach a unanimous verdict.
The defendants are the Project on Government Oversight and former government economist Richard A. Berman. POGO had paid Berman nearly $400,000 from a $1.2 million settlement for exposing oil companies’ underpayment of royalties to the government.
They had faced fines, but no jail time. The Justice Department argued the payment violated a federal ban on supplementing the salary of an executive branch employee.

Court: Inmate was properly denied access to porn

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A state appeals court has refused to reinstate a lawsuit alleging prison officials improperly denied an inmate access to what they deemed were pornographic publications.
Green Bay Correctional Institution inmate Charles Downing filed the suit in 2010. He alleged prison officials improperly denied his request to order copies of two collections of letters to Penthouse magazine, confiscated his copies of a number of other books, including “The Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices,” and placed another eight books he wanted on the prohibited publications list.
A Madison judge dismissed the case in 2011. The 4th District Court of Appeals upheld the decision in a ruling Thursday, concluding Downing had no grounds to sue.
Online court records indicated Downing represented himself in the case.

Mexican Mafia member on death row loses appeal

HOUSTON (AP) — A Mexican Mafia member sent to death row for strangling a woman in San Antonio 15 years ago for failing to pay the gang a 10 percent tax on illegal drug sales has lost a federal court appeal.
Forty-four-year-old Manuel Vasquez was condemned for the slaying of 51-year-old Juanita Ybarra at a San Antonio motel.
Appeals lawyers argued Vasquez had deficient legal help at his 1999 trial and that prosecutors withheld some interview notes from a man who was severely beaten in the same attack. The defense also challenged the racial makeup of the grand jury that indicted Vasquez and contended one of his gang partners gave perjured testimony.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late Wednesday rejected all claims.

Laughing gas abuser blames local head shops 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A nitrous oxide abuser is blaming California head shops for injuries during his laughing gas highs.
Doctors say Jason Starn, who must now use a walker to get around, suffered degeneration of his spinal cord because of his nitrous oxide use.
The 35-year-old former Modesto school teacher filed a Sacramento Superior Court lawsuit last year against head shops in Modesto, Folsom and Foothill Farms, where he bought the drug in the form of gas chargers that go by the trade name Whip-It.
The lawsuit claims Whip-It is the nation’s most-popular inhalant drug.
The Sacramento Bee says Starn’s product safety suit asks for an unspecified general and punitive damages. A court date hasn’t been set.

Woman settles mug shot suit against WTAE

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A federal lawsuit has been settled by a woman who says her mug shot was wrongly aired by a Pittsburgh TV news program when her daughter — who has the same first and last name — was charged with kidnapping.
Federal court records show Hearst Stations Inc., which owns WTAE-TV, and 49-year-old Kathy Bass, of New Salem, have settled the lawsuit, though terms aren’t disclosed in court documents filed Wednesday.
Bass’s attorney says she can’t comment because the terms haven’t been finalized. A Hearst attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment Thursday.
Hearst lawyers had blamed police for giving them the mug shot of Bass when her 24-year-old daughter was arrested in August 2010. The younger Bass received one to two years in prison after pleading to lesser charges in the case aired on WTAE.

Victim asks judge to not send boys to adult court

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Three young robbery suspects will likely spend time in juvenile lockup, but their case was kept out of adult court because the victim asked.
Monroe Davis told a Shelby County Juvenile Court judge he didn’t want the teens sent to adult court, even though he feared for his life when one of them — just 13 at the time — stuck a gun in his face and demanded money.
At a Wednesday hearing, where prosecutors argued the case should be treated as an adult crime, Davis told the court the boys — now ages 14, 15 and 16 — might come out worse than when they went in.
The youngest among them had only a previous citation for possession of brass knuckles. Both older boys had criminal histories involving guns.

Boston man admits to 2003 Boston shooting

BOSTON (AP) — A Boston man whose murder conviction was overturned by the state’s highest court has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in the same slaying.
Linrose Woodbine on Wednesday pleaded guilty to charges including voluntary manslaughter in connection with the December 2003 shooting of 28-year-old Aston Dwayne Thompson, who was killed after his birthday party.
The 36-year-old Woodbine was sentenced to 15 years in prison and faces deportation to Jamaica upon release. He had been received a life sentence at his original conviction.
The Supreme Judicial Court granted him a new trial last year after ruling that a police detective’s testimony, as well as remarks made by a prosecutor in closing arguments “created a substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice.”
Woodbine’s lawyer said his client wanted to accept responsibility.?