Nation - National Round Up

Wyoming

State Supreme Court upholds conviction in fight

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) -- The Wyoming Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a man who was accused of biting off part of another man's ear during a fight at a Casper bowling alley.

The court on Friday affirmed the aggravated assault and battery convictions against Jason Gerald Phillip. Phillip was sentenced in October 2008 to more than four years probation, according to the Department of Corrections.

Authorities say Phillip and another man got into a fight in July 2008 at El Mark-O Lanes. The trial focused partly on whether Phillip fought in self defense.

Phillip appealed the conviction citing error in the jury instructions and the improper admission of statements in an Affidavit of Indigency that violated his constitutional rights.

New Jersey

Homeowners lose another round in "view feud" case

NORTH BERGEN, N.J. (AP) -- Some northern New Jersey townhouse owners have lost another round in their fight to block construction of three towers they fear will interfere with their view of the Manhattan skyline.

A state appeals court recently rejected the Bergen Ridge Homeowners Association's request for an administrative law hearing into the proposal to build three, 95-foot-high residential towers on the Hudson River. They're challenging the developer's application for a waterfront development permit, which has been issued by state officials.

Besides blocking their views, the North Bergen residents claim the towers would reduce their property values by 20 percent and worsen traffic in the area.

But the appellate panel found they had no particular rights that would entitle them to a hearing -- such as ownership of an easement or "enforceable deed restriction" that would be affected by the development.

Association members are deciding whether to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

Alaska

Iditarod champ Mackey misses court appearance

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- Iditarod champion Lance Mackey was idue in court last week on a minor marijuana possession, according to an online court records database, but was instead racing in the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.

A spokesman for Mackey told the Anchorage Daily News the musher thought the court date was later this month.

Mackey is a throat cancer survivor who carries a medical marijuana card. He has acknowledged using marijuana on the Iditarod, the 1,100-mile race between Anchorage and Nome.

On Jan. 13, he was found with 7.8 grams of marijuana at the Anchorage airport as he boarded a flight, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Mackey told a a state airport security officer that he had a medical marijuana card in his checked baggage, but the card had expired, said Transportation Department spokesman Roger Wetherell. Also, the card was for a different form of the drug than what Mackey was carrying, Wetherell said.

Mackey was charged with sixth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance and allowed to continue to Bethel.

He was originally scheduled to appear in court Feb. 17, according to court records. Earlier this month the appearance date was changed to last Friday.

Mackey thought the court appearance was not until Feb. 23, a time he planned on being in Anchorage, said Theresa Daily, who handles public relations for Mackey and other mushers.

"They prescribed the pill form for him, and he's trying that," Daily said. "He's quit everything right now just to be on the good, up and up with Iditarod."

Mackey has won the Iditarod three years in a row. Organizers this year plan to give mushers a drug test.

Wyoming

Fire cadets file

suit over claims of molestation

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) -- A $150 million lawsuit has been filed against the Campbell County Fire Department by 15 plaintiffs who said they were molested by a former Gillette fire chief.

Each person is seeking $10 million, according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in November and unsealed on Friday.

The plaintiffs said they were sexually abused by former Campbell County fire chief Gary Scott, who in September pleaded no contest to 14 state charges of sex abuse and is awaiting sentencing.

Scott, 55, already is serving a 24-year federal sentence on 10 felony convictions of taking children across state lines for sexual abuse.

Attorney Jeremy Michaels of Gillette said his clients have been psychologically scarred, and the abuse caused them to seek counseling.

Seattle attorney Michael Patterson is representing the fire department and said the agency isn't liable because it had no knowledge of Scott's acts.

"He was considered to be a pillar in the community and basically fooled everybody," Patterson said.

A trial date has not been scheduled. Officials said that if there is a verdict in the plaintiffs' favor, the money will be paid by the fire department's insurance carrier.

For more than a year, both sides tried to negotiate a settlement before talks broke down.

Authorities said most of Scott's victims were cadets in a junior firefighter program that was started by Scott after he became fire chief in 1991.

The abuse began in 1992 and continued until 2007, when Scott was arrested.

Two plaintiffs said they were molested after being sentenced to community service at the fire department.

Published: Tue, Feb 16, 2010