National Roundup

 Ohio

Judge won’t stop execution by untried drugs 
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A federal judge has refused to stop the execution of an Ohio man facing death by a never-tried execution method that the inmate’s attorneys allege will cause him agony and terror.
Monday’s ruling by Judge Gregory Frost moves condemned killer Dennis McGuire one step closer to execution Thursday by the two-drug method developed after supplies of Ohio’s former execution drug dried up.
McGuire’s attorneys argue the drugs won’t properly sedate McGuire and he’ll suffer a syndrome known as air hunger as he struggles to breathe.
The state disputes such a scenario and calls the request an eleventh-hour appeal.
McGuire has also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the execution, arguing a jury never got to hear the full extent of his chaotic and abusive childhood.
 
Louisiana
Court approves drilling near Houma homes 
HOUMA, La. (AP) — Vanguard Environmental has won an appeal to drill an underground oilfield-waste well near houses and businesses in north Houma after a state court judge affirmed a 2012 decision.
The well would be drilled less than a mile away from St. Gregory Elementary and Legion Park Middle schools — injecting wastewater under high pressure into sand formations about 4,000 feet underground.
The well would also accept water from pipeline testing and cleaning.
The state court agreed in June that Terrebonne Parish officials had unconstitutionally applied parish law to block the well. The state Supreme Court reviewed the appeal and declined to hear the case in November.
Parish President Michel Claudet tells The Courier the parish has exhausted its legal options to prevent the construction.
“I’m very disappointed with the thought that we have an ordinance that would prohibit this law that’s in place since the 1980s, yet they said they can supersede our local laws through the state,” Claudet said.
Parish law prevents companies from drilling such wells within a mile of neighborhoods, schools and businesses, but state law allows them outside 500 feet. Vanguard received a permit from the Department of Natural Resources for a site closer than a mile.
The state court affirmed Judge George Larke Jr.’s 2012 decision that, in this particular case, the state has exclusive regulatory authority over oil and gas industry sites, so the parish’s law couldn’t override the state permit.
 
Louisiana
Benefact­or is secretly helping in FEMA fight 
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A financial institution is paying lawyers $700 per hour to help Livingston Parish fight the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s denials of $60 million in claims for Hurricane Gustav-related cleanup costs.
But its identity is shrouded in secrecy.
The Advocate reports the parish won’t name the bank assisting in its battle against FEMA, and the benefactor is fighting to keep its identity a secret.
FEMA has repeatedly denied the bulk of the parish’s claims for debris removal costs stemming from the 2008 storm. The agency said much of the work ran afoul of federal guidelines and was therefore ineligible for reimbursement. The parish requested arbitration over the issue, but FEMA has asked the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals in Washington, D.C., to dismiss the case.
FEMA contends the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General must first determine whether FEMA wrongly denied payment before the case can go to arbitration. The parish disagrees and is fighting against dismissal.
Parish President Layton Ricks said Friday that the financial institution paying for the parish’s Washington, D.C., attorneys — whom the parish legal adviser described as “top-notch” and charging “upwards of $700 per hour” — does not want its identity revealed to anyone.
The parish’s contract for debris removal was with International Equipment Distributors, a firm that has sued the parish in state court for more than $50 million in unpaid work, plus interest.
That case is on hold, pending the outcome of the arbitration.
 
Nebraska
County might spend $600,000 on temp court 
GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — Hall County is considering spending $600,000 to buy a temporary courthouse to use while it upgrades the heating and air conditioning system at its current courthouse.
The Grand Island Independent reports that county supervisors will decide Tuesday whether to buy the former Workforce Development building in Grand Island from the city.
The county used to co-own the building with the city, and it has been used for several different purposes over the years.
Hall County board chairwoman Pam Lancaster says the building would work well as a courthouse while the existing building undergoes a yearlong $1 million renovation.
The county looked at doing the renovations while continuing to use the courthouse, but contractors said doing that would double the cost of the project.
 
South Carolina
Woman sent to jail for leaving kids with body 
CONWAY, S.C. (AP) — A Loris woman has been sentenced to 20 days in jail after pleading guilty to cruelty charges for leaving her children alone in a hotel room with a dead man's body.
Belonda Renee Davis, 31, was given credit for the time she has been in jail, The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reported.
Circuit Judge Steven John on Thursday also ordered Davis to pay court costs and comply with all orders from the South Carolina Department of Social Services.
She had been arrested in September on cruelty and illegal neglect of a child charges. The neglect charges were dropped following the guilty plea to the cruelty charge.
Police said they found the woman's 11-year-old and 13-year-old daughters in a hotel room Sept. 18 with the body of 21-year-old Paul Tebeau of Loris.
Horry County Deputy Coroner Tony Hendrick said a cause of death was not determined by an autopsy, pending the outcome of toxicology reports.
Officers said they found marijuana, a crack pipe, what appeared to be a decongestant, and unidentified white pills on the table next to the man.
Officers found numerous prescription bottles with Davis' name on them in the room, according to the police report.

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