National Roundup

Former funeral worker charged for leaving casket on city sidewalk

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A former New Jersey funeral home worker has been charged with abuse of a corpse for allegedly leaving a casket on a Philadelphia sidewalk that contained the embalmed organs of an infant. reports 24-year-old Jeremy Brooks and his attorney haven’t commented on the charge. He has a Sept. 21 hearing date.

Brooks worked for Stanley’s Memorial Chapel in Camden. The casket became damaged during a June 29 funeral in Philadelphia. The baby’s body was transferred to a new casket, but the bagged organs were mistakenly left in the old one.

When Brooks realized the damaged casket in his work vehicle still contained the organs days later, he tried to store them at his Philadelphia home, but his sister objected. Brooks acknowledged dumping the casket on a secluded street.

Judge nixes $1M request for lawyer fees 

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) — A federal judge has angrily rejected a request for more than $900,000 in legal fees in a Pennsylvania insurance case that saw the attorneys’ client receive just $125,000.

The (Scranton) Times-Tribune reports U.S. District Judge Malachy Mannion found the fee request so “mind-boggling” and “outrageously excessive” that he’s planning to report the attorneys involved to the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The board investigates complaints of attorney misconduct.

Mannion says the bill is based on 2,583 hours, or the equivalent of 323 8-hour days spent on the case.

Lead attorney Michael Pisanchyn defended the request saying he and another attorney worked hard on the 2013 lawsuit to hold an insurance company responsible for delaying payment of a $25,000 car crash claim and won the client another $100,000 at trial.

New York
Sotomayor in Judge’s Chambers at Yankee game

NEW YORK (AP) — Sonia Sotomayor looked right at home in The Judge’s Chambers.


The Bronx-born U.S. Supreme Court Justice was in the Yankee Stadium crowd Thursday night for the opener of New York’s four-game series against the rival Boston Red Sox, which the Yankees won 6-2. Of course, she held court in The Judge’s Chambers , the rooting section out in right field for power-hitting rookie Aaron Judge.

When the slumping right fielder came to bat in the second inning, television cameras showed Sotomayor wearing a big smile and one of the black robes handed out to fans in the faux jury box. In her grasp was one of those Styrofoam gavels stamped with “All Rise!”

An inning later, Sotomayor high-fived fans on both sides of her when Gary Sanchez homered for New York.

It was hardly Sotomayor’s first visit to the ballpark. A fervent Yankees fan, she threw out a first ball at the current Yankee Stadium during its inaugural season in 2009. She also sat with the Bleacher Creatures in right-center for their “Roll Call” at the outset of a game in 2012.

And while fans presiding in The Judge’s Chambers this year must leave their robes behind, the 63-year-old Sotomayor has them all beat: She’s got one of her own.

Judicial ethics panel suspends small town judge 

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A state judicial oversight panel has increased sanctions on a small-town Nevada judge accused of ethical lapses and abuse of power after 17 years on the bench.

The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline upgraded a suspension imposed in December on Goodsprings Township Justice of the Peace Dawn Haviland from paid to unpaid, and extended it for another year.

The panel said Tuesday that Haviland has to complete judicial education courses, and will have a judicial monitor overseeing her actions for a year after she returns to the bench.

Haviland’s current six-year term expires in 2018.

Her defense attorney, Al Marquis, didn’t respond Thursday to messages seeking comment. He pointed instead to documents he filed in March denying allegations against her.

Goodsprings is a former mining town of about 200 residents about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southwest of Las Vegas.

Anti-abortion activist, lawyers fined $200,000

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge has fined an anti-abortion activist and two of his attorneys nearly $200,000 after videos that the judge had barred from release appeared on the attorneys’ website.

U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick said Thursday he hoped the sanction against David Daleiden and his attorneys, Steve Cooley and Brentford Ferreira, would ensure future compliance with his injunction.

Daleiden’s Center for Medical Progress has released secretly recorded videos it says show Planned Parenthood employees selling fetal tissue for profit. Planned Parenthood has denied the claim.

Orrick has blocked other secret recordings by the group, and held Daleiden and his attorneys in contempt after the videos surfaced.

Daleiden said in a statement the sanction was an unconscionable attack on his rights to defend himself.
Matthew Geragos, an attorney for Cooley and Ferreira, said he is appealing.

Cancer faker sought shorter sentence, it got longer instead

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) — An Illinois woman convicted of falsely claiming she and her son had cancer saw her sentence increased after she asked for reconsideration of her original sentence.

Melissa D. Barton was sentenced in July to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of felony theft by deception. She solicited funds from numerous donors for fraudulent cancer claims.

Public Defender John Rekowski contended the sentence was too harsh. But instead of probation, Madison County Judge Kyle Napp on Thursday gave her a two-year sentence.

The judge noted Barton knowingly accepted money from several people over a long period of time. Napp added giving Barton probation would “deprecate the seriousness of the crime.”

State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said Napp modified the sentence to be in compliance with the statute that says the minimum is 24 months.

Rekowski called the judge’s decision “even more unfair than the original one.”