National Roundup

2 Baltimore men get life in prison for Christmas shooting

BALTIMORE (AP) - Two Baltimore men have been sentenced to life in prison for their role in a Christmas Day shooting.

The state's attorney for Baltimore County says Darrell Burrell and William Johnson were sentenced Monday by a judge in Baltimore County Circuit Court. Earlier this month, a jury convicted them of attempted first-degree murder and various gun charges.

Prosecutors say the pair got into a verbal dispute with other patrons of a Catonsville sports bar on Dec. 25, 2017.

They left the bar and attacked the group when they exited. Johnson shot one man in the chest at point blank range. Burrell fired upon the rest. They fired more shots as they fled in two separate cars. Much of the attack was captured by security cameras.

Court hears case of inmate who killed girlfriend's parents

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The Ohio Supreme Court has set oral arguments in the case of a man convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend's parents with a sledgehammer 10 days after stabbing their daughter.

Shawn Ford Jr. was convicted by a Summit County jury in 2015 of aggravated murder and other charges in the slayings of Margaret and Jeffrey Schobert two years earlier.

That same jury recommended the 24-year-old Ford receive the death penalty for killing Margaret Schobert, and the judge agreed.

Death penalty cases in Ohio are automatically appealed to the state Supreme Court, which has set arguments for Jan. 8.

Defense attorneys unsuccessfully argued that Ford's low IQ should have prevented the judge from sentencing their client to death.

Court:­ ­Annotations to legal code not protected by copyright

ATLANTA (AP) - Annotations to Georgia's legal code are "intrinsically public domain material" and cannot be copyrighted, a federal appeals court in Atlanta has ruled.

The opinion Friday from a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reverses the ruling of a lower court judge who found the annotations included in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated were protected by copyright.

"After a thorough review of the law, and an examination of the annotations, we conclude that no valid copyright interest can be asserted in any part of the OCGA," the 11th Circuit opinion says.

The question arose in a legal dispute between the state of Georgia and Public.Resource.Org Inc. The nonprofit is run by Carl Malamud, an internet public domain advocate who argues for free access to legally obtained files.

The nonprofit distributed and made available online copies of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated. The state sued in July 2015, arguing the annotations include analysis and guidance added by a third-party publisher and are protected by copyright.

Malamud's organization countersued two months later, asking the judge to rule that its activities didn't infringe upon copyright laws because laws enacted by government agencies are not copyrightable and are in the public domain.

U.S. District Judge Richard Story ruled in March 2017 that the annotations were protected by copyright and that the nonprofit's use of them wasn't protected by fair use laws.

Malamud had argued that the Official Code of Georgia Annotated is the only official code in the state of Georgia and constitutes the "definitive statement of the law" in the state. He noted that every piece of legislation filed in the state legislature begins by saying that it is intended to amend the Official Code of Georgia Annotated.

The annotations are created and adopted each year by the state's legislative body and, while they don't carry the weight of law, they "undeniably are authoritative sources on the meaning of Georgia statutes," the opinion says. The legislature has declared them "official" and "has chosen to make them an integral part of the official codification of Georgia's laws."

"The resulting work is intrinsically public domain material, belonging to the People, and, as such, must be free for publication by all," the opinion says. "As a result, no valid copyright can subsist in these works."

"We are very pleased the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the law belongs to the people," Malamud said in an email Monday.

Lawyers representing the state did not respond to emails seeking comment.

State attorney general won't be charged in alleged groping

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill will not be criminally charged in the alleged drunken groping of a lawmaker and three legislative staffers at a party to mark the end of the legislative session earlier this year, a special prosecutor announced Tuesday.

A confidential legislative memo leaked to the media alleges Hill groped the four women at an Indianapolis bar during a March 15 party to mark the end of the legislative session. Three of the women later went public, including Democratic Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, who described Hill's behavior as "deviant" when she encountered him in the early morning hours.

She said Hill leaned toward her, put his hand on her back, slid it down and grabbed her buttocks. The Munster lawmaker says she told Hill to "back off," but he approached again later in the night, put his hand on her back and said: "That skin. That back."

Hill, who was elected to a four-year term in 2016, has denied the allegations and rejected calls to resign from Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and legislative leaders.

A Marion County judge appointed Sigler in July to review the state inspector general's findings and determine whether the Republican officeholder should face criminal charges.

Indiana's constitution allows for a public official to be removed from office, "for crime, incapacity or negligence" either by "impeachment by the House of Representatives, to be tried by the Senate," or by a "joint resolution of the General Assembly" with two thirds voting in favor.

But there's debate whether that applies to Hill, because the attorney general - unlike the state auditor, treasurer and secretary - is not specifically listed as a "state officer" in the constitution.

Hill could still be impeached "for any misdemeanor in office" under a different Indiana law. But that would likely require criminal charges or a conviction - a higher threshold than the "incapacity or negligence" standard in the constitution.

Legal observers have suggested that Hill could be removed from office if he is found to have violated the state court's code of professional conduct.

Published: Wed, Oct 24, 2018