National Roundup

North Dakota
3 justices vie to take over top spot on high court

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Three North Dakota Supreme Court justices are vying to lead the state’s high court.

Justices Daniel Crothers, Lisa Fair McEvers, and Jon Jensen filed to fill the chief justice position by the Wednesday midnight deadline.

The vacancy was created after 86-year-old Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle announced in September he will not seek reappointment by his colleagues when his term expires at the end of the year.

There are five justices on the high court. The new chief justice will be chosen by their colleagues and district court judges later this month.

Justice Jerod Tufte was the only justice who did not express interest in the court’s top position.

VandeWalle was elected chief justice five times since 1993.

The chief justice is appointed to five-year terms.

Trump attorneys file notice of porn actress settlement

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Attorneys for President Donald Trump have notified the court overseeing a settlement between Ohio’s capital city and porn actress Stormy Daniels of money owed to him by Daniels.

A federal judge last year said Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, must pay Trump nearly $293,000 for his attorneys’ fees and another $1,000 in sanctions after her defamation suit against him was dismissed.

Earlier this year, the city of Columbus reached a $450,000 settlement with Daniels over the porn actress’ arrest at a strip club in 2018.

Her federal lawsuit alleged officers conspired to retaliate against her over her claims she had sex with Trump before he became president.

Trump’s lawyers said in a Wednesday filing that Clifford owes him $293,052.

Orangutan granted human status settles into new home

WAUCHULA, Fla. (AP) — A 33-year-old orangutan granted legal personhood by a judge in Argentina is settling into her new surroundings at the Center for Great Apes in central Florida.

Patti Ragan, director of the center in Wauchula, Florida, says Sandra is “very sweet and inquisitive” and adjusting to her new home. She was born in Germany and spent 25 years at the Buenos Aires Zoo before arriving in Florida on Nov. 5.

In 2015 Judge Elena Liberatori ruled that Sandra is legally not an animal, but a non-human person with rights. She remained at the zoo, which closed in 2016, until leaving for the U.S.

New Mexico
New Mexico Supreme Court hears medical damages debate

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Attorneys in New Mexico have argued in front of state Supreme Court justices over the legality of a state law limiting medical malpractice damages.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Wednesday that the argument was on whether the state Legislature exceeded its constitutional authority by imposing a $600,000 cap on compensatory damages and not medical costs.

Some opposing the cap outlined in the Medical Malpractice Act say it interferes with a plaintiff’s right to a jury verdict and serves as a deterrent to misconduct.

Advocates say the cap cannot be stripped from the larger act ensuring physicians can find malpractice insurance and harmed patients can continue care.

Officials say the case could shape the legal landscape for physicians accused of misconduct. The court did not issue a decision in the case Wednesday.

Lawsuit claims restaurant forced out employee with HIV

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — An employee of a Kansas City area restaurant chain alleges in a lawsuit that he was forced out after telling a manager that he had been diagnosed with HIV.

The Kansas City Star reports that Armando Gutierrez filed the lawsuit Tuesday in federal court. It says he had been working as a serving for a year at The Big Biscuit restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas, when he approached a manager because he needed proof that he didn’t have employer-provided health insurance to be eligible for a state program that helps people with HIV.

The next day, Gutierrez was informed that he was being transferred and would begin working on Sundays, which he had been getting off because of family commitments. The lawsuit says he protested the schedule change and was fired.

Sandusky resentencing  delayed 2 weeks

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s resentencing on a 45-count child sexual abuse conviction is being delayed another two weeks.

Judge Maureen Skerda on Thurs­day pushed the hearing back to 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, at the county courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

Skerda acted after Sandusky’s defense lawyer and prosecutors filed a joint request. They said they need a little more time to prepare for argument about Sandusky’s designation as a sexually violent predator, among other things.

The 75-year-old Sandusky is expected to be at the courtroom.

State Superior Court turned down much of Sandusky’s appeal in February but determined that mandatory minimum sentences had been misapplied after his 2012 trial, so a new sentencing is needed.

It’s not clear whether Sandusky’s sentence will change significantly.

Man guilty of killing girlfriend, faces life term

MILLCREEK, Pa. (AP) — A man accused of fatally stabbing his girlfriend amid an impending breakup has been convicted of murder.

James Gilbert was also convicted Wednesday of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and possession of an instrument of crime by a jury that deliberated for about 90 minutes. The murder count carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.

Prosecutors say the 25-year-old Gilbert purposely killed 20-year-old Marinda Matasowski at her mother’s Millcreek home in August 2018, stabbing her 27 times with a kitchen knife before he stabbed himself in the chest.

But his attorney argued that Gilbert didn’t plan the killing and suggested Gilbert may have been on drugs. Gilbert previously said his own mental illness may have contributed to the killing.