National Roundup


Inmate will have trial over 13 years of isolation
MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) — A federal appeals court granted a trial Thursday to a Michigan prisoner with a history of escape who claims he spent 13 years in a segregated cell without a fair opportunity to join other inmates.
Charles Selby, a convicted killer from Jackson County, can take the state Corrections Department to trial over whether it violated his due process rights, the appeals court said in a 3-0 decision that overturned a ruling by a federal judge in Marquette.
"Selby may be able to show that a reasonable prison official should have known that he could not be confined in administrative segregation" for unjust reasons, the appeals court wrote.
Selby says he was locked in his cell at least 23 hours a day and even locked in a cage when he was allowed outdoors. He was finally moved to the general prison population in 2011, nearly two years after filing his lawsuit.
In 1999, Selby escaped from a state prison in Washtenaw County through a hole in a fence. He was captured five days later. In 2001, Selby was caught after fleeing from a van that was transporting him to a hospital. He was then transferred to a prison in Marquette in the Upper Peninsula in 2001.
In a court filing, the state said Selby's segregation in prison was regularly reviewed by officials. He had a handful of misconducts over the years, including possession of contraband and a homemade weapon.
New York
Court blocks ruling on police tactic on stops
NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court on Thursday blocked a judge's order requiring changes to a New York Police Department stop-and-search tactic that has been widely criticized by rights advocates as targeting black and Hispanic men. The stops reached an all-time high in 2011 of 684,330.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also took the unusual step of removing Judge Shira Scheindlin from the case, saying interviews she gave during the trial responding to criticism of the court called her impartiality into question.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said he was grateful for the ruling.
"This is indeed an important decision for all New Yorkers and for the men and women of the New York City police department who work very hard day in and day out to keep this city safe," he said.
Scheindlin ruled in August that the city violated the Constitution in the way it carried out its program of stopping and questioning people. She ruled that police in America's largest city violated the civil rights of tens of thousands of people by wrongly targeting black and Hispanic men.
The issue has attracted national interest. Students at Brown University in Rhode Island this week shouted down Police Commissioner Ray Kelly when he tried to give a speech about the so-called stop-and-frisk practice there.
Appeals panel decides Indian voting case moot
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A voting rights lawsuit involving three American Indian tribes will go back to a federal court in Montana after an appellate panel declined to intervene.
The plaintiffs from the Crow, Northern Cheyenne and Fort Belknap tribes say three counties should set up satellite voting offices to make up for the long distances they must drive to reach courthouses for early voting or late registration.
After a now-retired judge declined to intervene before the 2012 election, the 16 Indian plaintiffs appealed.
But a three-judge appeals panel wrote in a Wednesday opinion that the emergency injunction request by the Indians is now moot. They sent the case back to U.S. District Court in Montana for a decision on future elections.
The U.S. Justice Department has sided with the plaintiffs, alleging that retired U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull overlooked the fact that some Indians are denied equal access to voting because they can't afford to travel up to 150 miles to county courthouses.
Cebull since has retired after forwarding an email with a racist joke about President Barack Obama.
The lead plaintiff in the case is Mark Wandering Medicine, whose great-grandfather helped defeat Gen. George Armstrong Custer and the U.S. 7th Cavalry at the Battle of Little Bighorn in Montana. He is opposed in the lawsuit by officials including Rosebud County elections clerk Geraldine Custer, whose husband is the general's descendant.
State agrees to mediation in suit by black colleges 
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The state of Maryland and attorneys representing historically black colleges have agreed to attempt to mediate a resolution to create high-demand academic programs at the schools, a spokeswoman for Gov. Martin O'Malley confirmed Thursday.
The announcement comes after U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake issued a 60-page ruling in October after years of debate in Maryland, where all four of the state's historically black colleges are a short distance away from at least one traditionally white college. While Blake did not find fault with two other policies examined in the case, she found the state is violating desegregation law by perpetuating the duplication of programs at predominantly white colleges.
In her ruling, Blake noted that during the 1960s and 1970s, Maryland's historically black colleges began offering unique, high-demand programs and attracted significant numbers of white students.
Blake specifically cited the joint University of Baltimore and Towson University MBA program, which was developed in 2005 over Morgan State University's objections, as an example of the state failing to address the duplication problem. Morgan State is a historically black university.
The judge did not find fault with two other policies that were under review after a coalition of plaintiffs sued in 2006. For example, the ruling found that the state has worked to expand the roles of historically black colleges to mitigate the effects of past discrimination during the era of segregation. Blake also found that the state's traditionally black colleges are not underfunded by the state for operational expenses.
In her ruling, the judge cited a study that found Maryland's historically black institutions have only 11 unique high-demand programs, while the traditionally white institutions have 122. The judge also noted that between 2001 and 2009, 18 new programs at traditionally white institutions unnecessarily duplicated programs at historically black institutions, 13 of which were high-demand. As a result, the judge wrote, the state never dismantled duplicated programs that facilitated segregation — and has even maintained policies and practices that have made the problem worse.