National Roundup

New Hampshire
Court rules against church in Mary Baker Eddy trust case

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The New Hampshire Supreme Court has ruled that a Christian Science church in Australia lacks standing to sue trusts that were created following the 1910 death of Christian Science movement founder Mary Baker Eddy.

The court on Friday ruled the Second Church of Christ, Scientist, in Melbourne, lacked authority to object to the accounting of the trusts. They’re overseen by the board of directors of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, also known as the Mother Church.

The Australia church wants a judge to appoint an independent trustee.

The New Hampshire-born Baker Eddy’s trusts are filed in state probate court. One left money “for the purpose of providing free instruction for indigent, well educated, worthy Christian Scientists.” The other covers Mother church repairs and “promoting and extending” the religion of Christian Science.

Court rules police can be sued in deadly chase

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that police can be sued for damages when their car chases lead to the death or injury of third parties.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the court’s 6-1 ruling on Thursday overturned a 1952 decision that had granted police blanket immunity. The ruling will align Kentucky practice with that of most other states where juries are allowed to decide whether police are at fault.

In the case at hand, the children of Luis Gonzalez will be allowed to sue the Scott County sheriff and a deputy for damages related to their father’s death.

Gonzalez died in 2014 when a suspected drug dealer crashed head-on into his vehicle during a chase.

Attorney Barry Stilz, representing the sheriff’s office, said they are disappointed with the ruling.

Judge in ‘kids for cash’ case dies

A retired federal judge best known for sending two corrupt judges to prison for their role in a notorious Pennsylvania juvenile justice scandal has died.

Edwin Kosik was 94.

Kosik died Thursday morning at a senior center outside Wilkes-Barre after a brief illness, said his son, Michael Kosik.

Kosik, an Army veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II, was appointed to the federal bench in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan. He became a senior judge in 1996. He heard cases into his early 90s.

Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner called his death a “profound loss to the legacy of our court.”

“His work ethic was extraordinary. He also had a tremendous record of public service as a veteran, as a state court judge and ultimately as a federal court judge in our district. I can say without hesitation that our dear colleague will be sorely missed,” Conner said.

Kosik presided over the “kids for cash” case, in which two local judges were accused of taking money from the developer of a pair of for-profit youth detention centers.

The judges pleaded guilty to corruption charges in a deal with prosecutors that called for a sentence of more than seven years in prison. But Kosik rejected the plea bargain, saying the pair hadn’t fully accepted responsibility for the crimes.

Kosik sentenced one judge to 17 1/2 years and the other judge to 28 years in prison. The scandal led the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to dismiss thousands of juvenile convictions.

High court voids victims’ rights amendment

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A proposed amendment on crime victims’ rights was voided by the Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday because the question posed to voters was too vague.

Voters in November approved the amendment on Kentucky’s version of Marsy’s Law, which would guarantee the rights of crime victims. It passed with 63% of the vote.

But a circuit court judge ruled before last year’s election that the question on the ballot was misleading, and the Supreme Court agreed in a 22-page ruling.

The high court ruled that the General Assembly is required to submit the full text of a proposed constitutional amendment to the electorate for a vote.

Kentucky Sen. Whitney Westerfield, who pushed for the law, said in a statement Thursday that he hopes the General Assembly would offer the voters another chance to “voice their support for crime victims in 2020.”

The question posed to voters on the November ballot said: “Are you in favor of providing constitutional rights to victims of crime, including the right to be treated fairly, with dignity and respect, and the right to be informed and to have a voice in the judicial process?”

The Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers challenged the ballot question, arguing it failed to inform the voters adequately of the substance of the amendment.

The proposed law based on the question would guarantee crime victims have 10 constitutional rights, including the right to be timely notified of all court proceedings, the right to be present for those hearings and the right to be heard in any hearing involving a release, plea or sentencing. It would also give victims the right to ask a judge to enforce those rights.

The Supreme Court wrote in its ruling that the entire amendment should have been included, instead of the question that was presented to voters.

“Because the form of the amendment that was published and submitted to the electorate for a vote in this case was not the full text, and was instead a question, the proposed amendment is void,” the opinion said.

Kentucky was one of six states that approved versions of Marsy’s Law last year.

Man who sold machine-gun converters loses conviction appeal

OGDEN, Utah (AP) — A Utah man has lost an appeal of his conviction for illegally making and selling more than 1,400 machine-gun converter devices for AR-15-style rifles.

The Standard Examiner reports that Scott Ray Bishop had argued that he was wrongly blocked from offering expert testimony about his converter kit, which he said was for educational purposes only.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that argument on Monday, leaving Bishop to continue serving a nearly three-year prison sentence that began in May 2018. The judges ruled that Bishop damaged his own case by not complying with federal criminal court rules of procedure when he represented himself at trial.

An attorney representing Bishop on appeal did not immediately return a call seeking comment.