National Roundup

Louisiana
Diverse support for amendment requiring ­unanimous ­verdicts

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Politically diverse supporters are backing a proposed constitutional amendment that would require unanimous jury verdicts in Louisiana felony trials.

Conservative organizations such as Louisiana Family Forum and Americans for Prosperity are on board with progressive groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union in pushing for voter passage on Nov. 6.

The amendment's supporters say the law allowing non-unanimous jury verdicts in Louisiana was adopted in the Jim Crow era to make it easier to convict non-white defendants. They also question whether anyone should have their freedom stripped from them when one or two jurors disagree.

Several prominent district attorneys back the amendment. Others say passage will make convicting serious felons more difficult.

Oregon is the only other state allowing split verdicts.

Washington
Rehnquist once proposed to O'Connor, ­biographer says

WASHINGTON (AP) - A biographer has discovered the future chief justice of the United States once proposed marriage to the woman who would become the first woman to serve on the court.

NPR's "Morning Edition" reports author Evan Thomas found William Rehnquist's letter to Sandra Day O'Connor while researching his upcoming book, "First." The two dated while students at Stanford Law School in the early 1950s. They had broken up but remained friends.

Rehnquist graduated and in a March 29 letter, wrote: "To be specific, Sandy, will you marry me this summer?" She said no.

She was dating another student, John O'Connor. They married in 1952.

O'Connor's son Jay says he and his siblings were "surprised," although they knew they had dated. He says they enjoyed a wonderful working relationship and friendship.

Mississippi
Man gets nearly 20 years in prison for fraud

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A Mississippi man was sentenced on Tuesday to nearly 20 years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to running a Ponzi scheme in which investors lost more than $85 million.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves sentenced Arthur Lamar Adams on wire fraud charges in Jackson following a two-day hearing. Adams pleaded guilty in May after deciding not to fight the charges.

You hurt a lot of innocent people," Reeves told Adams. "Many of these victims incurred a substantial hardship."

Adams remains under house arrest and was ordered to report to prison in January.

Reeves ordered Adams to pay restitution for the losses, but that amount will be decided later. A receiver is trying to round up assets for defrauded investors, but it appears doubtful she will identify enough to fully repay them. She's currently suing salesmen to whom Adams paid millions in commissions, seeking return of that money.

Adams and salesmen sold bogus timber rights, promising interest rates of 12 percent or more. In reality, though, Adams was using new money to pay off old investors.

More than 250 investors in at least 14 states lost money, prosecutors have said. They argued during the sentencing hearing that at least 34 investors sustained "substantial financial hardship." The minimum investment was generally $10,000, but some invested much more.

Disabled veteran Eric Orth of Canton, who used a walker to make his way before the judge, said Adams' Ponzi scheme left his family almost destitute.

"It left me in a terrible position," the 49-year-old testified according to the Clarion Ledger. "It took most of what I had."

"Between my parents and myself we lost $1.2 million," Orth said.

Among other investors who were defrauded was U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, the Mississippi Republican.

Kim Mitchell, an auditor who works for prosecutors, testified that Adams diverted millions to himself just in the last year of the scheme, using the money to make payments on his house and other properties, pay credit card bills that averaged nearly $13,000 a month, and withdraw nearly $50,000 in cash.

Reeves rejected arguments by defense attorney John Collette that probation officials had overestimated how much investors lost in the scam. Collette argued that Adams should get credit for earlier interest payments to investors, reducing the amount of money they had lost.

"How much money someone made in the life of a Ponzi scheme over what they invested is not one of the considerations," Assistant U.S. Attorney Dave Fulcher told Reeves.

Ohio
Court: Ex-Notre Dame player's widow can sue over concussions

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The Ohio Supreme Court says the widow of a former University of Notre Dame football player can sue the school and the NCAA over allegations her husband was disabled by concussions during his college playing days in the 1970s.

Steve and Yvette Schmitz filed a lawsuit in 2014 alleging the institutions showed "reckless disregard" for player safety and failed to protect them from concussions.

Steve Schmitz died in February 2015. The lawsuit says the Cleveland Clinic diagnosed him with a brain disease related to numerous concussions.

The NCAA and Notre Dame argued too much time has passed to allow the lawsuit to proceed.

The Supreme Court said Wednesday it couldn't say the couple missed the two-year statute of limitations without more facts, and returned the case to the trial court.

West Virginia
Suspended high court justice wants federal convictions ­overturned

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A suspended West Virginia Supreme Court justice who was convicted of 11 federal criminal charges has asked for a new trial.

News outlets reported Allen Loughry filed the request last week in a motion that was sealed. Prosecutors acknowledged his request in a brief this week asking for time to file a full response. Because Loughry's motion is sealed, it's not clear why he believes he deserves a new trial.

A federal jury convicted Loughry on Oct. 12 of seven wire fraud counts involving his personal use of state cars and fuel cards. He was also found guilty of two counts of making false statements and one count each of mail fraud and witness tampering.

Loughry's attorney, John Carr, declined to comment. His sentencing is scheduled for January.

Published: Thu, Nov 01, 2018

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