National Roundup

Pennsylvania

Cops: Drunk got in police car with officers inside

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh police say a drunken woman tried to drive away in an unmarked police car - with two officers still inside.

According to a criminal complaint, 32-year-old Ria Buford got into the car at about 2:15 a.m. Saturday outside a nightclub that was hosting a party after the Wiz Khalifa concert.

Police say she sat in the driver's seat and told the two plainclothes officers in the back that she intended to drive the vehicle to where her own was parked.

Police say Buford was arrested before she could drive anywhere. A man who intervened in her arrest was also charged.

Online court records don't list an attorney for Buford. She faces a preliminary hearing Thursday on charges of robbery of a motor vehicle, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness.

Alabama

Judge rules law over abortion unconstitutional

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A federal judge says an Alabama law restricting abortion doctors is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled Monday that state lawmakers exceeded their authority when they passed a law last year requiring doctors at abortion clinics to have hospital admitting privileges.

Thompson issued an order temporarily blocking enforcement of the law.

Thompson's decision comes days after a federal appeals court blocked a similar law in Mississippi.

Planned Parenthood and others filed a lawsuit over the Alabama law last year.

Supporters of the law say it would make clinics safer. Clinic operators say the law would force the shutdown of all but two of Alabama's five clinics.

Thompson says the Alabama law would place an undue burden on women.

New Jersey

Court: Rap lyrics should not have been evidence

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Violent rap lyrics should not have been admitted into evidence in an attempted murder trial, New Jersey's highest court ruled Monday.

The ruling upholds an appeals court that had thrown out Vonte Skinner's conviction for shooting a fellow drug dealer in 2005.

Both courts faulted the trial judge for allowing prosecutors to read the lyrics to jurors. Among the lyrics written years before the crime, Skinner boasted about "four slugs drillin' your cheek to blow your face off and leave your brain caved in the street."

In Monday's 6-0 ruling, the state Supreme Court wrote that admitting the lyrics was highly prejudicial to the jury and wasn't outweighed by the lyrics' relevance to establishing motive or intent.

"In sum, rap lyrics, or like fictional material, may not be used as evidence of motive and intent except when such material has a direct connection to the specifics of the offense for which it is offered in evidence and the evidence's probative value is not outweighed by its apparent prejudice," Justice Jaynee LaVecchia wrote.

The case has been watched closely by civil liberties advocates who contend the lyrics should be considered protected free speech. In an amicus brief in support of Skinner, the ACLU New Jersey argued that rap lyrics, because of their violent imagery, are treated differently than other written works.

In its brief, the ACLU said that an analysis of similar cases in other states found that in about three-quarters of instances, judges allowed rap lyrics to be admitted as evidence.

Skinner's initial trial ended without a verdict, but he was convicted at a second trial of shooting Lamont Peterson multiple times at close range, leaving Peterson paralyzed from the waist down. Peterson testified the two men sold drugs as part of a three-man "team" and got into a dispute when Peterson began skimming some of the profits.

During the trial, state prosecutors read 13 pages of rap lyrics that were found in the back seat of the car Skinner was driving when he was arrested. Some of the writings were penned three or four years before the Peterson shooting.

In its ruling overturning the verdict, the appellate court said that caution must be exercised when allowing prior writings as evidence in a trial. The judges also wrote that the lyrics weren't necessary to buttress the state's case.

Florida

@ROUND UP Briefs Headline:Mom of teen s­­u­­­i­cide victim sues BOE

BARTOW, Fla. (AP) - The mother of a 13-year-old girl who authorities say jumped to her death because she was bullied is suing the Polk County School Board, a construction materials company and a teenager accused of stalking her daughter.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in Polk County.

Rebecca Sedwick was 12 when she leaped to her death at an abandoned concrete plant in September 2013. A month later, the sheriff's office arrested two of her classmates, ages 12 and 14, on charges of aggravated stalking. The charges were later dropped because of insufficient evidence.

Sedwick's mother, Tricia Norman, is seeking more than $15,000. She alleges, among other things, that the School Board didn't properly supervise the girl accused of stalking her daughter, and she accuses the construction company of negligent maintenance.

Maryland

@ROUND UP Briefs Headline:<t-3f$>Suspect in Cole attack presses for secret records<t$>

FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) - A Guantanamo detainee accused of orchestrating the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole is pressing his demand for documents detailing his treatment while he was held for several years in secret CIA prisons.

Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri won a battle earlier this year for the right to inspect the records. His lawyers are asking a U.S. military judge Monday to set a deadline for prosecutors to turn over the documents.

The judge, Air Force Col. Vance Spath, was appointed last month. Defense attorneys want to see how Spath will enforce the previous judge's order.

The trial is scheduled to start in February but is likely to be postponed.

The hearing at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba is being shown via closed-circuit video at Fort Meade.

Published: Tue, Aug 05, 2014