National Roundup

Massachusetts
Cabbie credited with saving 87-year-old woman from scammer

QUINCY, Mass. (AP) - A Massachusetts cab driver is being praised by police for helping an 87-year-old woman from being taken by a classic scam.

Richard Spencer, who drives for Yellow Cab of Quincy, tells The Patriot Ledger he sensed something was wrong when the woman he was driving Wednesday told him she was going to Walmart to purchase thousands of dollars in gift cards.

Instead of taking her to the store, he drove her to the police station.

The woman told police she had received a phone call saying her grandson was in trouble and needed the money to stay out of jail.

Unfortunately, the woman had already been scammed out of $4,000, but police say "it could have been much, much worse."

Spencer says what he did was not a big deal.

New Jersey
Prosecutors: ­Couple plead guilty to child sex ­trafficking

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Federal prosecutors in New Jersey say a New York City couple has admitted to the human trafficking of a child.

Richard Ortiz and Gabriella Colon, both of the Bronx, New York, pleaded guilty Thursday to a conspiracy count. Each could face a life term when they are sentenced in May.

Prosecutors say Ortiz and Colon recruited and enticed the child, and posted the youth's photos on a website advertising the child for sexual services. The couple also admitted collecting money from numerous people who paid to have sexual relations with the child.

Prosecutors have not disclosed information about the child, including its age or gender.

New Hampshire
Court sides with registered sex offender who hired juvenile

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A registered sex offender who argued he did not break the law by hiring a child to work for his landscaping business has won an appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

Edward Proctor was convicted under a law prohibiting certain sex offenders from undertaking employment involving the care, instruction or guidance of children. He had hired a male juvenile in May 2016 but was arrested after the boy's mother found out Proctor was a registered sex offender.

In a ruling Friday, the court said the law doesn't bar such hiring because landscaping is not a service that by its nature provides access to children. It reversed Proctor's conviction and sent the case back to the lower court.

The state had argued that the nature of the work was immaterial.

New Hampshire
State Supreme Court upholds women's topless conviction

New Hampshire's highest court on Friday upheld the conviction of three women who were arrested for going topless on a New Hampshire beach, arguing their constitutional rights were not violated.

In a 3-2 ruling Friday, the court found Laconia's ordinance does not discriminate on the basis of gender or violate the women's right to free speech. In a dissenting opinion, Associate Justice James P. Bassett with Senior Associate Justice Gary E. Hicks found the ordinance was unconstitutional because it treats men and women differently.

Heidi Lilley, Kia Sinclair and Ginger Pierro are part of the Free the Nipple campaign - a global campaign advocating for the rights of women to go topless. They were arrested in 2016 after removing their tops at a beach in Laconia and refusing to put them on when beachgoers complained. Pierro was doing yoga, while the two others were sunbathing.

The Laconia law on indecent exposure bans sex and nudity in public but singles out women by prohibiting the "showing of female breast with less than a fully opaque covering of any part of the nipple." A lower court judge refused to dismiss the case, and the women appealed to the state Supreme Court.

"We are extremely disappointed in the Court's ruling that treating women differently than men does not amount to sex discrimination. The court has effectively condoned making it a crime to be female," the women's lawyer, Dan Hynes, said in a statement. "Since the N.H. Constitution, which prohibits sex discrimination, was not enough to prevent this unequal, and unfair treatment, we are hopeful the New Hampshire legislature steps up to correct this injustice by outlawing Laconia's ordinance."

Hines said he would have to talk to the women about their next step, including possibly appealing the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The attorney general's office, which defended the ordinance in court, said it would have no comment beyond the brief it submitted. It had argued the city was trying to avoid a public disturbance resulting from bare-breasted women on the beach and that it narrowly tailored the law to requiring only the covering of nipples - not requiring women to wear shirts. It questioned the First Amendment argument

The ruling is the latest setback for the movement, which has had mixed success fighting similar ordinances in other parts of the country.

A federal judge ruled in October 2017 that a public indecency law in Missouri didn't violate the state constitution by allowing men, but not women, to show their nipples. In 2013, a public nudity ban in San Francisco was also upheld by a federal court. But in February 2017, a federal judge blocked the city of Fort Collins, Colorado, from enforcing a law against women going topless, arguing it was based on gender discrimination.

Georgia
Court: Suits ­challenging state's voting machines can proceed

ATLANTA (AP) - A decision by a federal appeals court in Atlanta clears the way for two lawsuits challenging Georgia's use of paperless electronic voting machines to go forward.

The lawsuits, filed by Georgia voters and an election integrity group, seek to bar Georgia from using the machines in future elections. In motions last year, they sought to force the state to use paper ballots in the November midterm elections.

A federal judge denied those requests, saying the time period was too short for a switch. But she found that the machines pose a "threat of real harms" to voters' constitutional rights.

The state appealed, saying state officials had immunity from the suits. A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday rejected those arguments.

Published: Mon, Feb 11, 2019

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