National Roundup

Massachusetts
Suspect in 1992 slaying of teacher’s aide pleads guilty

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — The suspect in the 1992 abduction, rape and killing of a Massachusetts teacher’s aide has changed his plea to guilty.

Gary Schara pleaded guilty Wednesday to first-degree murder in the death of 24-year-old Lisa Ziegert.

Ziegert was a teacher’s aide at Agawam Middle School when she disappeared from her second job at a card and gift store where she was working alone. Her body was found in a nearby wooded area four days later.

The case remained unsolved until the now 50-year-old Schara was arrested in September 2017 after testing confirmed his DNA matched evidence found at the crime scene.
Schara had previously pleaded not guilty.

When the judge asked Schara if he knew he was giving up his right to a jury trial, he said “Yes, I do.”

Ohio
Complaint: Justice still voting from wife’s house

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Supreme Court Justice Pat DeWine didn’t live at the address where he was registered to vote in the past two elections, including one in which his father was elected governor, a citizen has alleged in an election board complaint.

The complaint, which has gained little traction with local election officials, was lodged this month by Toledo resident Nathaniel Livingston. It asks the Hamilton County Elections Board to investigate the 51-year-old DeWine, the son of Republican Gov. Mike DeWine.

Livingston said he based the complaint on information in an Aug. 23 divorce filing by DeWine’s wife of 10 years, Rhonda Dayton DeWine. She told the court that DeWine “abruptly moved out” of their Hyde Park home in February 2018, which was before last year’s gubernatorial election, and that the couple continues to live “separate and apart.”

According to the secretary of state’s office, falsifying a voter registration record is a fifth-degree felony. A violation can mean six to 12 months in prison.

In court documents, his wife accuses Pat DeWine of adultery and says her husband “cut me off financially” — along with her two children, whom he’d parented for a decade — after they separated.

Rhonda DeWine says she is without cable and internet services, rarely eats out and has “no money for gas, food, clothing, or to pay expenses for my children.”

She declined to comment on the filing, which states that DeWine continues to pay the mortgage and taxes on the house, as well as the gas and electric bills.

Hamilton County Elections Director Sherry Poland said Ohioans may list an address on their registrations even if they don’t live there, so long as they intend to return. It’s a situation faced by many college students, as well as married couples who are separated or divorcing, she said.

“That seems to be the situation Mr. Livingston is describing,” Poland said. She said, without further information, that it’s unlikely the board will pursue the complaint further.

Spokesman Ryan Stubenrauch said DeWine had always intended to return to that house, but that he now plans to change the address on his registration to the condo where he’s been staying in Franklin County.
Justices are elected statewide and so face no residency requirement.

“In each of the elections he has voted in, Justice DeWine has voted from the address where he intended to return and live,” Stubenrauch said. “As divorce proceedings have now been filed, Justice DeWine doesn’t believe he’ll be able to return to his home, and he plans to update his voting address before the registration deadline.”

Poland said DeWine did not request an absentee ballot be sent to the Franklin County address, as Livingston had alleged. He voted early and in person in Hamilton County.

Massachusetts
State probes judge’s actions in straight pride parade case

BOSTON (AP) — The board that oversees judicial conduct in Massachusetts is investigating the Boston judge who came under scrutiny for the way he handled arraignments for counterprotesters at a “straight pride” parade.

The Massachusetts Commission on Judicial Conduct announced the probe of Boston Municipal Court Judge Richard Sinnott on Tuesday.

Prosecutors sought to dismiss a disorderly conduct charge against one counterprotester at the parade over Labor Day weekend, but Sinnott decided to move forward with the case. A single justice of the state’s highest court later ruled he had “no authority” to do so.

Sinnott also ordered one defense attorney taken into custody on a contempt charge when she said he was interfering with prosecutors’ discretion.

Sinnott, through a court spokeswoman, said “I look forward to a rapid resolution of this matter.”

Ohio
Court: Video of judge being shot not public record

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio appeals court says a video recorded by a courthouse security camera showing a county judge being shot and wounded is a security record and shouldn’t be released to The Associated Press.

A three-judge panel with the Seventh District Court of Appeals in Youngstown ruled earlier this month in an appeal filed by Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin, who argued releasing the video could endanger lives of judges and their staffs.

The video shows Jefferson County Judge Joseph Bruzzese  Jr. being shot outside a Steuben­ville courthouse in August 2017 and 51-year-old Nathaniel Richmond killed by a probation officer.

The Ohio Court of Claims previously ruled the video doesn’t contain information used to protect a public office from “attack, interference or sabotage” and should be released.

New Mexico
Attorney disbarred over handling of client money

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court has revoked an Albuquerque attorney’s law license, saying she mishandled client money and had a “dishonest and selfish motive.”

The court’s ruling Monday said Jennie Deden Behles violated attorney professional conduct rules by spending client money she’d been ordered to hold in trust and by failing to maintain complete records of her client trust account.

The court said Behles also failed to keep client money separate from her own and unreasonably charged a contingent fee on the return of her client’s court bond.

The ruling says disbarment was appropriate because Behles had a prior discipline record, a pattern of misconduct involving multiple offenses and failed to acknowledge her conduct was wrongful.

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