National Roundup

Suit: Court breaks law by denying access to records

ATLANTA (AP) — A lawsuit says a west Georgia court is illegally jailing people and then making it impossible to challenge their convictions by denying them access to their public court records.

The Southern Center for Human Rights filed the lawsuit last week on behalf of two poor women who recently served jail time after appearing in Columbus Recorder’s Court. It says the women want to challenge their convictions and probation revocations, but they’re unable to access court files that would allow their attorneys to properly investigate or decide on a course of action.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Keiona Wright and Elizabeth Harris King against the Columbus city government, the mayor and court officials.

City attorney Clifton Fay said his office is reviewing the suit and promised a vigorous defense.

Google highlights false story about election results

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google’s search engine is highlighting an inaccurate story claiming that President-elect Donald Trump won the popular vote in last week’s election, the latest example of bogus information spread by the internet’s gatekeepers.

The incorrect results are shown in a two-day-old story posted on the pro-Trump “70 News” site. On Monday, a link to the site appeared at or near the top of Google’s influential rankings of relevant news stories for searches on the final election results.

Facebook has been accused of possibly swaying the election by promoting fake news stories on its social network, an increasingly important source of information for many Americans.

Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College’s decisive count, but is losing the popular vote.

ACLU: Student shouldn’t be punished for exposing posts

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio (AP) — A civil rights organization is asking an Ohio high school to rescind discipline leveled against a student who tried to expose a schoolmate’s racism by reposting the classmate’s remarks.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio said Monday it had asked Shaker Heights school officials to cancel a one-day, in-school suspension Tuesday against one of two teenage girls accused of being disruptive for reposting the schoolmate’s comments. The other teen served her suspension last week.

The Shaker Heights schools superintendent wrote on the district’s website that the situation has been addressed but wouldn’t comment further on student discipline.

The ACLU says the comments were reposted away from school and the teens are entitled to First Amendment rights of free speech.

West Virginia
Racist post about Michelle Obama causes backlash

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The director of a West Virginia development group and a mayor are under scrutiny after a racist post about first lady Michelle Obama caused a backlash and prompted calls on social media for both women to be fired.

Clay County Development Corp. director Pamela Ramsey Taylor made the post following Donald Trump’s election as president, saying: “It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a Ape in heels.”

Clay Mayor Beverly Whaling responded: “Just made my day Pam.”

The post, first reported by WSAZ-TV, was shared hundreds of times on social media before it was deleted.

The Facebook pages of Taylor and Whaling couldn’t be found Monday. A call to the Clay County Development Corp. went unanswered and Whaling didn’t immediately return a telephone message.

An online petition seeks to remove Whaling and Taylor. The nonprofit development group provides services to elderly and low-income residents in Clay County. It is funded through state and federal grants and local fees.

It is not affiliated with the town of Clay, which is about 50 miles east of Charleston.

African-Americans make up about 4 percent of West Virginia’s 1.8 million residents, according to the U.S. Census.

About 77 percent of Clay County residents supported Trump in the Nov. 8 election. In 2012, President Barack Obama received 31 percent of the county vote when Republican Mitt Romney easily carried the state.
The town council has a previously scheduled meeting Tuesday.

Last week in Kentucky, Republican Dan Johnson defeated incumbent Democrat Linda Belcher in Bullitt County despite a series of Facebook posts that depicted Barack Obama and his wife as monkeys. Republican officials, including likely new House Speaker Jeff Hoover, had called on Johnson to drop out of the race. But Hoover declared last week that Johnson would be “welcome in our caucus.”

Inmate seeks to stop January execution date

An Ohio death row inmate is seeking to stop his scheduled January execution.

Ronald Phillips has asked a federal court to delay the execution so there is more time to hear his challenge to Ohio’s new three-drug method to carry out death sentences.

The state in October announced plans to use the new drug combination for at least three executions.

Ohio hasn’t carried out any executions since January 2014, when an inmate repeatedly gasped and snorted during a procedure using a never-before-tried drug combo.

Phillips is scheduled to be executed on Jan. 12 for the rape and murder of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter in Akron in 1993.

His latest challenge was filed late last week. It says the delay is needed to make sure he can pursue his claims.

4 kids found alone ­without beds, food; mother charged

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A Pittsburgh woman has been charged with endangering her four children after police say they found them alone in an apartment with no beds, no food and one working light.

Court records show 34-year-old Takoya Parker was charged after the children were found Saturday, though it’s unclear if she’s in custody and no defense attorney is listed.

Police said they found the children — ages 10, 6, 5 and 3 — after being asked to check on their welfare. They say the apartment was in disarray and the children said they hadn’t eaten and didn’t have a phone number to contact their mother.

When police contacted Parker at work, she allegedly told officers she couldn’t leave and to “just take them.” Police and child welfare caseworkers have placed the children in a neighbor’s care.