National Roundup

Louisiana
Judge resigns amid harassment investigation

NEW ORLEANS (AP) —  A  suspended New Orleans judge has resigned amid an investigation into accusations he displayed inappropriate sexual behavior in the courthouse.

Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Byron C. Williams submitted his resignation to Louisiana’s Secretary of State on Wednesday, news outlets reported.

He was initially suspended from the bench, with pay, in 2018 as the Louisiana Judiciary Commission investigated reports he groped and harassed a clerk, according to a letter from the head of the Orleans Public Defenders office that was obtained by news outlets. In a separate complaint, he was accused of making comments about a female staff attorney’s appearance in front of a courtroom full of defendants, a letter describing the account alleged.

Williams has denied harassment allegations.

The Judiciary Commission hasn’t publicly commented on Williams’ case and the status of its investigation wasn’t disclosed.

Williams didn’t reference the accusations in his resignation letter. News outlets also reported they couldn’t immediately reach him for comment.

New York
Longest-serving federal judge, named by LBJ, retires at 98

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge in New York City who was nominated by President Lyndon Johnson and who contributed to the landmark case that struck down racial segregation in public schools is retiring at age 98.

U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein was known for favoring lenient sentences and rehabilitation. He retired this week after moving his remaining cases to his fellow jurists in the federal court based in Brooklyn, The New York Daily News reported  Wednesday.

He was the longest-serving incumbent federal judge, the newspaper reported. He spent nearly 53 years on the bench.

Weinstein, who was appointed in 1967, was the last federal judge named by Johnson. Weinstein said he often pushed for the shortest prison sentences possible so people could try to build a better life.

“We need to rule from a place of love, not hate,” he told the Daily News.

Weinstein moved to Brooklyn with his family when he was 5. He enlisted in the Navy after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and served on a submarine where he helped sink a Japanese cruiser.

He graduated from Brooklyn College and enrolled at Columbia Law School after World War II. He contributed research and briefs to aid future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall’s argument in the landmark Brown v. Topeka Board of Education ruling.

In his retirement, Weinstein said he plans to spend more time with his wife, Susan Berk, and work with one of his three sons on a book about Jim Crow laws.


Wisconsin
Man sentenced for trying to buy nuclear material

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin political activist who admitted to trying to buy a lethal dose of a radioactive substance online was sentenced to two years of supervised release.

Jeremy Ryan, 31, also was sentenced Wednesday to time served, WISC-TV reported. Ryan has been in custody since his arrest in October 2018. He pleaded guilty last month to one federal count of attempting to receive a nuclear material. The plea was made about 10 days before Ryan’s trial was scheduled to start.

He was arrested after picking up a package that he bought from an undercover FBI agent on the dark web, according to court records.

Prosecutors alleged Ryan was looking for the radioactive material so he could kill someone, but his attorneys said he had cancer and intended to use the material to kill himself.

Ryan twice unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for former House Speaker Paul Ryan’s congressional seat in Wisconsin.

Ryan is known to many as “Segway Jeremy” for riding a Segway scooter at state Capitol rallies.

Massachusetts
Loughlin, Giannulli: No college bribery trial until 2021

BOSTON (AP) — Lawyers for “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin, her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli and other prominent parents charged in the sweeping college admissions bribery case say they won’t be ready to go to trial until next year.

Federal prosecutors in Boston have said the first trial for the wealthy parents still fighting the charges should begin in October and that Loughlin and Giannulli should be tried in the first group.

But the substantial amount of evidence, outstanding pretrial motions and “general complexity” of the case make a trial this fall impossible, attorney Sean Berkowitz, who’s representing Loughlin and Giannulli, said in a response filed Wednesday. The first trial should begin no sooner than next February, Berkowtiz said.

The judge will ultimately decide when the trials will begin.

Prosecutors have provided the defense with more than 1.9 million documents, consisting of more than 3.2 million pages, and more than 300 hours of audio and video, said Robert Popeo, an attorney for another parent charged in the case, media executive Elizabeth Kimmel.

Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 to get their daughters into the University of Southern California as crew recruits even though neither was a rower. Authorities say the money was funneled through a sham charity operated by college admissions consultant Rick Singer, who has pleaded guilty to orchestrating the scheme.

Loughlin’s lawyers have indicated they will argue that the couple believed their payments were legitimate donations and have accused prosecutors of hiding evidence that would support their claims of innocence while trying to bully them into pleading guilty.

Other parents are accused of paying to have someone cheat on their children’s entrance exams or similarly paying bribes to get them admitted to schools as fake recruited athletes.

Lawyers for Loughlin, Giannulli and other parents are also challenging prosecutors’ proposed groupings of the parents for the trials, saying “it lacks an organizing principle and makes no effort to treat like defendants alike.” Berko­witz also indicated that some parents will argue they should have their own separate trials because “a joint trial will result in substantial prejudice.”

A status hearing in the case is scheduled for Feb. 27.
 

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