National Roundup

Michigan
Judge: No new customers at motel where body was found

MOUNT MORRIS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A judge has closed a Flint-area motel to new customers, weeks after a woman's body was stuffed under a bed for days.

The Genesee County prosecutor's office says the Great Western Inn in Mount Morris Township is notorious for prostitution and drug use. Assistant prosecutor Patrick McCombs says, "They're dropping like flies over there." Police have been called at least 106 times in six months.

Judge Judith Fullerton closed the motel to new customers Tuesday. The Flint Journal says she'll revisit the case in October.

A woman's body was found stuffed under a bed in June. Two people have been charged with murder.

The motel's attorney, Chris Christenson, says he needed more time to go through police reports and other documents. He called the hearing unfair.

Missouri
Police union: Don't release blacklisted officers' names

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis police union is requesting a restraining order to prevent the release of the names of officers whose cases prosecutors will no longer pursue.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that union sought the order Tuesday against St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner's office and a police commander. A judge hasn't yet ruled on it.

Gardner said last week that her office drew up a list of 28 officers who won't be permitted as primary witnesses in criminal cases. She hasn't said specifically why other than citing credibility concerns.

The filing came as Police Chief John Hayden met with Gardner to discuss her concerns. Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards said in a statement that the two agreed that credibility issues will "continue to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis."

Illinois
Federal judge tosses Chicago suit over bad online reviews

CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge in Chicago has ruled that a lawyer can't sue more than a dozen people who posted rude criticism of him and his law firm on Yelp and similar sites that feature online reviews.

The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin reports that Judge Harry Leinenweber tossed the libel suit last week. He concluded that the comments about David Freydin and the Law Offices of David Freydin were opinions and amounted to protected speech.

Freydin alleged the comments were "salacious, false and libelous." Some were anti-Semitic. The Chicago-area lawyer also noted the reviewers gave him and his firm one-star ratings out of a possible five even though he never worked with them.

The lawsuit names four defendants and refers to 10 others as "John Does."

Illinois
Judge denies acquittal to jurist convcited of fraud

CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge has refused to overturn the fraud conviction of an Illinois judge.

Earlier this year, a jury convicted Cook County Circuit Judge Jessica O'Brien of fraudulently obtaining mortgages for Chicago investment properties and illegally pocketing more than $300,000.

U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin on Tuesday denied several motions made by defense lawyers for O'Brien, including those seeking an acquittal or a new trial.

Defense attorney Steve Greenberg said he was disappointed by Durkin's 45-page ruling.

Prosecutors say O'Brien lied to lenders and concealed facts to obtain more than $1.4 million in mortgages. They were obtained for properties she purchased and sold. She is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 9.

The Illinois Supreme Court suspended O'Brien's law license in April, yet she continues to draw a salary. She filed paperwork to seek retention in November's election.


Mississippi
Court: No special status for Confederate group on symbols

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Confederate heritage group has no special status to try block the University of Mississippi from adding historical context to Old South symbols, a state appeals court said Tuesday.

Sons of Confederate Veterans sued the university in September 2014 in chancery court, weeks after Ole Miss administrators announced the university was taking steps to distance itself from plantation-era images on the Oxford campus.

In an effort to promote racial diversity, the school renamed a street that had been called Confederate Drive and installed plaques to provide historical background, including on a Confederate soldier statue that has stood for generations in a prominent spot on campus.

A chancery judge moved the lawsuit to state circuit court, and a circuit judge dismissed it in March 2017.

The Mississippi Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld the dismissal, saying Sons of Confederate Veterans has "no interest separate from or in excess of that of the general public" in the university's actions.

"This matter affects the public interest and may be brought, if at all, only by the Attorney General or a district attorney," the appeals court judges wrote. "We find that SCV's members have no private right that entitles them to require that UM refrain from implementing its diversity plan."

In July 2017, the university announced it would put up signs acknowledging that some buildings on campus were built with slave labor. The university also announced then that it would remove the name of James K. Vardaman from a building. Vardaman, a white supremacist, was Mississippi's governor from 1904 to 1908 and a U.S. senator from 1913 to 1919.

The move to add historical context to some places and to rename others at Ole Miss has been happening amid debate in many parts of the U.S. about how to deal with the public display of symbols and monuments tied to slavery and the Confederacy. New Orleans is among the places that have recently removed Confederate monuments. Harvard University last year acknowledged its ties to colonial-era slavery, and Yale University rebranded a residential college that had been named for a 19th century U.S. vice president who supported slavery.
 

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