National Roundup

New York
Diocese sues to rescind insurer abortion mandate

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany has sued state insurance regulators over requirements that workplace health plans cover employee abortions.

The Department of Financial Services lacks legislative authority to impose the requirements, and the mandate is unconstitutional, because it forces employers with religious and conscientious objections to abortion to help pay for them, according to the lawsuit filed in state court.

"As a result of the clear and unequivocal religious moral teaching against abortion, the notion of a church institution providing its employees, regardless of their particular religious affiliation, with health insurance coverage for abortion, is morally unacceptable as a matter of religious and moral conviction," the lawsuit says.

The complaint specifically faults the department's "model language" to insurers in 2015 and 2016 requiring individual and small group health plans to include coverage of both "therapeutic" abortions and "non-therapeutic" abortions in cases of rape, incest or fetal malformation. The suit also says that abortion coverage "is encrypted in health insurance contracts under the rubric of 'medically necessary' surgery."

The department and governor's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

"We simply cannot live with this policy, and unfortunately have been left with no choice but to bring this action," Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger said.

Also joining in the lawsuit were the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg, trustees of the Albany Episcopal Diocese, Catholic Charities of the Brooklyn Diocese, the St. Gregory the Great Roman Catholic Church Society of Amherst, First Bible Baptist Church in Rochester, Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Albany, a Plattsburgh construction company and a Saratoga County woman who works for a religious organization.

Judge's addiction leads to retrial in murder conviction

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A woman whose two husbands died under suspicious circumstances will get a retrial in the second death because her judge was so addicted to painkillers that he fell asleep on the bench.

Raynella Dossett Leath is serving life in prison after being convicted of murder in the 2003 shooting death of David Leath.

Knoxville media are reporting Friday that she was granted a trial after an investigation later proved that Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner used drugs during her trial, robbing her of a constitutionally sound proceeding.

The widow was indicted by a grand jury on charges of killing her first husband, prosecutor Ed Dossett, 16 years after his body was found trampled by cattle. Those charges were later dropped.

Two attorneys withdraw from case in bomb plot

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Two public defenders withdrew Friday from representing a Topeka man who has pleaded guilty to plotting to bomb a northeast Kansas military installation.

U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia granted the lawyers' request to withdraw during a brief hearing for John T. Booker Jr., 21, and plans to appoint a private attorney for him. Attorney Melody Brannon said she and fellow public defender Kirk Redmond had developed a potential conflict of interest with Booker but declined to comment further after the hearing.

Murguia had a short, private conference with Booker and the attorneys before concluding that Booker wouldn't get the representation he wanted because he didn't trust his attorneys.

"This line of communication has been irretrievably broken," Murguia said.

Booker pleaded guilty in February to two felony charges under an agreement with prosecutors for him to serve 30 years in prison. He acknowledged in court that his plot against Fort Riley, about 60 miles west of Topeka, was designed to help the Islamic State group. He initially faced three charges and faced a potential life prison sentence.

Murguia has yet to schedule a sentencing hearing.

Booker was arrested outside the Army post in April 2015 as he was trying to arm what he believed was a 1,000-pound bomb in a van. He had been plotting the bombing with two contacts who actually were confidential FBI sources.

Redmond said during Booker's hearing in February that Booker had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which is characterized by mood swings that can affect functioning. Booker confirmed in court that he was taking medication.

Appeals court won't overturn 'Sister Wives' polygamy ruling

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A federal appeals court is refusing to overturn a decision that upheld Utah's law banning polygamy in a case filed by TV's "Sister Wives."

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Friday that Kody Brown and his four wives can't sue over the law because they weren't charged under it.

The Browns had asked the court to reconsider reversing a 2013 decision that struck down key parts of the state's bigamy law.

The family says polygamous families can be as healthy as monogamous ones, and banning multiple marriages violates their constitutional rights.

The state of Utah defended the ban that they say helps prosecute polygamists who commit crimes like underage marriage.

Family attorney Jonathan Turley could not immediately be reached for comment. He has said the family could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reporter asks court to review embed case

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A Wisconsin freelance reporter who says he was kicked out of Afghanistan for reporting on a "controversial shooting" has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up his case against military officials.

Wayne Anderson, now 60, says he was sent home from Afghanistan in 2010 after reporting on a shooting at a military base that led to several deaths, including an American civilian trainer.

Anderson says U.S. commanders attempted to interfere with his reporting, telling him he was "chasing a non-story."

A circuit court and the D.C. Court of Appeals dismissed his case against Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and other officials for lack of jurisdiction. Anderson filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Justice didn't immediately respond to a message.

Published: Mon, May 16, 2016