National Roundup

Missouri
Teacher fired after becoming pregnant while unwed testifies

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A teacher who lost her job at a Catholic school in Kansas City, Missouri, after becoming pregnant has testified that she believed administrators decided not to renew her contract because she wasn’t married but created a paper trail of evidence to justify the decision.

The Kansas City Star reports that Michelle Bolen took the stand Monday in her lawsuit against the former principal of St. Therese Catholic elementary school and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. Bolen had worked for the school for nearly 15 years when she lost her job in July 2015.

Bolen now works at another school. Her attorney said the former principal had never failed to renew a teacher’s contract after having overseen 330 performance reviews over nearly a decade.

A lawyer representing the diocese has said the case wasn’t about her pregnancy, and that Bolen was intent on getting “revenge.”

New York
Federal ­prosecutors ­target possible NYC taxi loan fraud

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors have opened an investigation into possible lending fraud in New York City’s troubled yellow taxi industry.

The New York Times reports the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan is investigating the lending practices that led thousands of cab drivers to take out high-risk loans that left them buried in debt.

Drivers who took out large loans to buy the medallions that allow a person to operate a yellow taxi were crushed by debt when the value of a medallion plunged from more than $1 million in 2014 to less than $200,000 today.

More than 950 medallion owners have filed for bankruptcy, and the crisis has been blamed for a string of driver suicides.

The emergence of Uber and other ride-hail services has been a major cause of the medallions’ drop in value. But critics say the credit unions and other lenders that encouraged immigrant drivers with little command of English to take out risky loans are partly to blame for the crisis.

Federal prosecutors have not commented on the investigation, but two drivers told the Times they had been interviewed by federal agents as part of the probe.

“I told them everything,” said driver Mohammed Hoque, an immigrant from Bangladesh who said he drove six days a week, 12 hours a day, but still fell behind on his payments.

Taxi industry leaders including the lenders who provided the loans have denied any wrongdoing and blamed the medallion owners for taking on too much debt.

Missouri
Former student sues ex-girlfriend’s father for school attack

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former student is suing his ex-girlfriend’s father for an attack at a Kansas City area high school that left the teen critically injured.

The Kansas City Star reports that Cullen Landis filed a lawsuit last month against 40-year-old Josiah Wright, who is awaiting sentencing for first-degree assault. His daughter, Jonay Wright, is serving a seven-year prison sentence for the September 2017 attack at Ruskin High School in the Hickman Mills School District.

Police reports indicate that Landis and Jonay Wright had a violent on-again-off-again relationship. Landis had received a municipal citation for assaulting her before the school attack in which he was kicked and hit.
Landis, now 20, says he suffered a traumatic brain injury. He previously sued the district and several school leaders, saying they failed to keep him safe. That suit is pending.

Georgia
High court affirms ­conviction of man who killed a doctor

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — The Georgia Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a man who killed a doctor he lured to his home through a Craigslist ad for sex.

The Augusta Chronicle reports the court on Monday affirmed the murder and armed robbery conviction of Glenn V. Riggs II in the 2013 death of Dr. Charles Man III.

Riggs admitted to soliciting sex from Mann in order to rob him. Riggs testified that he feared Mann was going to rape him, so he choked the surgeon and struck him in the head with a 25-pound weight.

Riggs’ appeal says his attorney wasn’t allowed to ask him questions about a past sexual assault. Riggs says that attack was why he was afraid of being raped.

Riggs is serving life in prison without parole.

North Carolina
Chief justice announces new parental leave for attorneys

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s chief justice will be announcing new rules for attorneys that quadruple the amount of time they can take off from court appearances after the birth or adoption of a child.

Chief Justice Cheri Beasley will provide details of the change Tuesday. But online changes made to rules for attorney appearances in appellate, Superior and District courts show that attorneys will be able to take 12 weeks off within 24 weeks of the birth or adoption. The change is in addition to the three weeks of leave attorneys can already take.

Under the rule, attorneys will tell the courts when they’re unavailable so that their cases aren’t scheduled.

The change comes after a meeting in February between various legal groups and the chief justice’s professionalism commission.

New Jersey
Judge admits ‘poor judgment’ in not recusing from cases

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey municipal judge has acknowledged using “poor judgment” in failing to recuse herself from cases involving a lawyer from whom she was renting office space.

Last month a judicial ethics panel faulted Lilia Munoz, who sits on the bench in Union City and Guttenberg.

In a response published Monday, Munoz said not stepping aside from those cases was a “serious failure” that created an appearance of impropriety.

The panel alleged that Munoz violated several rules of conduct because the lawyer appeared in front of her numerous times during the 10 years she rented space from a company owned by the lawyer and his wife.

Munoz next faces a formal hearing in the matter.

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