National Roundup

Appeals court allows lawsuit in 1983 killing to move forward

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A federal appeals court has denied a request by North Carolina police officers to throw out a lawsuit filed by two brothers who spent decades behind bars after being wrongfully convicted in the 1983 killing of an 11-year-old girl.

Henry McCollum and Leon Brown were convicted of rape and murder in the death of Sabrina Buie in Red Springs, North Carolina. The intellectually disabled brothers spent years on death row before being cleared by DNA evidence linking another man to the crime. They were released in 2014 and later pardoned.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that their lawsuit alleging false arrest, malicious prosecution and other claims can move forward and be decided by a jury.

The court upheld a ruling by a U.S. District Court judge.

Court rules against militant formerly known as H. Rap Brown

ATLANTA (AP) — A federal appeals court has rejected an attempt by the 1960s black militant formerly known as H. Rap Brown to challenge his imprisonment for the killing of a sheriff’s deputy.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday in the case of the man now known as Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin.

He was convicted in 2002 of killing Fulton County sheriff’s deputy Ricky Kinchen and wounding Kinchen’s partner, Deputy Aldranon English. The deputies had been trying to serve a warrant on him in March 2000.

Al-Amin argued his constitutional rights were violated at trial by a prosecutor and the judge.

A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit found that the prosecutor did violate Al-Amin’s constitutional rights. But the opinion also says it’s unlikely that the error substantially affected the verdict.

North Dakota
No answers 1 year later in American Indian woman’s death

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A year after an American Indian woman’s body was found in a submerged truck, authorities still aren’t providing details on the cause of death.

The FBI’s refusal to release information in the case of Olivia Lone Bear has been frustrating for her family, and tribal and state officials, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

Thirty-two-year-old Lone Bear disappeared from the Fort Berthold Reservation in 2017. The Newtown mother of five was found July 31, 2018 in the pickup truck pulled from Lake Sakakawea.

Matt Lone Bear, her brother, is working on a missing persons protocol for tribes, which his family began drafting a year ago. He has expressed frustration about law enforcement’s late water searches and failure to release information.

FBI spokesman Kevin Smith declined to discuss the cause of Lone Bear’s death because the case is still being investigated.

“Because this case is ongoing, any comment about it could cause a chilling effect on future developments,” Smith said. “In addition, any details made public now could significantly inhibit the family’s pursuit of justice for Olivia,” Smith said.

North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission Executive says the Lone Bear case “has floundered,” which he says is common when the federal government investigates crimes in Indian Country.

Three Affiliated Tribes Chairman Mark Fox said he hopes to soon get “some answers to some degree.” But he wonders whether Lone Bear’s case would be treated differently if it occurred off the reservation.

“I think in Indian Country, that’s generally the thought that people have, that for whatever reason adjudication and justice and investigations don’t always seem to follow the same path in timeliness and effectiveness as they sometimes do off the reservation,” Fox said.

Smith conceded federal cases conducted by the FBI “are exhaustive in nature and do take a long time to complete.”

“Since the FBI became involved in the case — and acknowledging the significant violence against women on reservations — our office prioritized this investigative effort,” he said.

Kane, once state attorney general, released from jail

EAGLEVILLE, Pa. (AP) — A former Pennsylvania attorney general who served about eight months in jail for leaking grand jury material and lying about it was released Wednesday.

Kathleen Kane left the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in the Philadelphia suburbs about 8:20 a.m. When asked by a reporter how she felt, Kane replied “grateful.”

A Scranton native, Kane was the first Democrat and first woman elected to be the state’s top prosecutor. She resigned after being convicted in 2016 of perjury, obstruction and other counts for leaking grand jury material and lying about it.

A special counsel was named to investigate Kane after former prosecutors with the attorney general’s office reported that secret grand jury material had been leaked to a newspaper.

Kane had said during her unsuccessful appeals that her defense should have been allowed to use a pornographic email scandal within the state’s attorney general’s office and judicial community as well as evidence about the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case that her former office prosecuted before she was elected.

She had also argued that she was wrongly turned down in an effort to keep all Montgomery County judges from handling her case, that evidence against her was illegally obtained and that she had been the victim of selective and vindictive prosecution.

After appeals failed, she turned herself in to the jail in the Philadelphia suburb of Eagleville at the end of November and began serving a 10- to 23-month term. She eventually had a couple months shaved off for good behavior.

North Dakota
U.S. Senate confirms Welte as federal judge

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — An attorney and former Grand Forks County prosecutor has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as a federal judge in North Dakota.

The Senate voted 68-22 Tuesday to select Peter Welte to fill the vacancy left by former U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Erickson, who was confirmed last year to serve on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Welte was the Grand Forks County state’s attorney from 2002 to 2015. He received his undergraduate degree in agricultural economics from North Dakota State University in 1989 and graduated from the University of North Dakota law school in 1997.

Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota says Welte has the “right background” for the position and brings “a wealth of experience” to the bench.