Court Roundup


State AG asks court to rethink cyberstalking law 
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has asked the state’s top criminal appeals court to rethink striking down a state law that banned sexually explicit online chatting between adults and minors.
Abbott’s request to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has sparked a legal turf war with Lisa McMinn, the state prosecuting attorney, the Austin American-Statesman  reported. McMinn has asked the appeals court to pay no heed to Abbott’s request, the newspaper reported.
The all-Republican court voted 9-0 in October to strike down the 2005 law as a free-speech violation, in a case arising from a challenge by a Harris County man indicted under the law. Abbott argued his office hadn’t been notified that a state law was being challenged as unconstitutional, denying him the opportunity to defend it.
McMinn told the court that only local prosecutors and her office may represent the state in appeals involving criminal cases. Abbott represents Texas in civil court matters and cannot intervene in an ongoing criminal case unless requested by a local prosecutor, she said.
Sexual cyber-exploitation of children has been a top issue on Abbott’s political agenda, and Abbott is now seeking the Republican nomination for governor. He told the appeals court that its decision in October jeopardized 20 cases his office has prosecuted or is prosecuting. Two cases accusing North Texas men of soliciting minors online for sex had to be dropped recently as a result, said Abbott spokesman Jerry Strickland.
“These are troubling cases with suspects that pose a danger to children and communities. However, due to the Court of Criminal Appeals ruling, these two cases could not be prosecuted,” Strickland told the newspaper.
The Harris County district attorney’s office, which prosecuted the case that led to the October decision, also has requested a rehearing in the case. In court filings, District Attorney Devon Anderson said the ruling will be construed as holding that sexting is constitutionally protected speech. “Is that what this court intended?” she asked.
Univ. of Wisconsin foundation sues Apple over patent 
MADSION, Wis. (AP) — The foundation that manages patents for the University of Wisconsin-Madison has filed a lawsuit against Apple Inc., alleging that the electronics and software giant infringed on one of its patents.
The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation alleges that Apple’s A7 processor, which is used in its iPhone 5S and other devices, incorporates technology patented by the university in 1998. It was developed by four UW-Madison computer microprocessor architecture researchers.
It’s not the first time the nonprofit foundation has sued over the same patent, the Wisconsin State Journal reported Wednesday. It sued Intel for infringement and that lawsuit resulted in a 2009 settlement, terms of which are confidential.
Apple did not immediately respond to a Wednesday phone messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.
In addition to the iPhone 5S, the technology is used in the iPad Air, and the iPad Mini with Retina Display.
The lawsuit, which was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Madison, asks the court to rule that the patent is valid and was willfully infringed and seeks to bar Apple from further infringement. It also seeks unspecified monetary damages and fees.
WARF general counsel Michael Falk said the so-called 752 patent “has been recognized in the field as a major milestone in computer microprocessing.” He said the technology “significantly enhances the performance of a microprocessor, among other benefits.”
Usually, in cases such as this, the company filing the lawsuit is not looking to stop production of the products that claim to violate the patent but to get money, said Madison attorney John Scheller, a partner with the law firm Michael Best & Friedrich.
“I think it’s interesting in that WARF, historically, has not been very litigious. So they must feel they have some rights here that need to be enforced,” Scheller said. An online check showed WARF has filed three other patent infringement lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Madison since December 2012.
Judge orders arrest of court clerk for contempt 
SURGOINSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A staffing dispute at an East Tennessee courthouse has apparently led to the arrest of a court clerk.
The Kingsport Times-News reports that Hawkins County Clerk of Courts Sarah Davis was arrested Monday on a contempt of court charge. The newspaper reports Hawkins County Sessions Judge J. Todd Ross issued a warrant calling for Davis to be arrested after the two got into a dispute on Jan. 30 in her office.
Former Circuit Judge Kindall Lawson says he will defend Davis.
“She works here with a total of six judges and one child support referee and certainly has always shown complete respect and dignity for and with all the judges and all the courts,” Lawson said. “She would never intentionally disrespect any of them. She doesn’t feel like she’s done anything wrong or committed contempt of court, and she feels that when she is heard on this fully that she will be vindicated.”
Lawson said he served on the bench for 40 years and has never before seen a clerk arrested for failing to meet a staffing request.
A March 27 court date has been set for the case.
Lawson said Davis wants to tell her story as soon as possible because the charge coincides with campaign season for the May 6 primary elections in the county.
“The timing of this charge is very inconvenient for her,” Lawson said. “She’s very anxious to be heard as soon as possible. It’s fair to say that there’s another side to the story.”


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