Nation - National Round Up

Ohio

Not guilty plea from man in house blast

CLEVELAND (AP) -- A Cleveland man has pleaded not guilty to charges he broke into the vacant house next door and caused it to blow up, resulting in damage throughout the neighborhood.

Fifty-seven-year-old William Calderwood was indicted earlier this month on one count of burglary and 72 counts of aggravated arson. During his arraignment, a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge set bond at $250,000.

Authorities say the fiery Jan. 25 blast damaged 72 homes on Cleveland's west side.

Prosecutors say Calderwood stole appliances, furniture and pipes from the vacant house and tampered with its gas line before the explosion.

Pennsylvania

Forest Service wants judge to reverse ruling

ERIE, Pa. (AP) -- The U.S. Forest Service wants a federal judge in Erie to reverse his December ruling which temporarily lifted a ban on oil and gas well drilling in the Allegheny National Forest.

U.S. District Judge Sean McLaughlin's ruling says Forest Service officials were wrong to ban drilling in April until an environmental assessment could be done. The Forest Service agreed to the ban to settle litigation brought by environmentalists.

Meanwhile, oil and gas companies who stood to lose millions of dollars under the ban have asked the judge to make his December order permanent.

McLaughlin has scheduled arguments on both requests March 9.

Iowa

Mennonite boy charged in steel wheel case

OSAGE, Iowa (AP) -- A Mennonite boy is charged with violating an ordinance in Mitchell County that bans steel wheels on county roads.

On Tuesday, county supervisors refused to consider a compromise to the ordinance.

Supervisors say steel wheels damage the roads. Mennonite and Amish farmers say the use of conventional wheels would violate rules set by their governing bodies.

Thirteen-year-old Matthew Zimmerman was issued four citations on Jan. 31. He was traveling on a county road on a tractor pulling a two-wheeled wagon carrying hay bales.

Zimmerman pleaded not guilty, and will go to trial in magistrate court on March 3.

Wisconsin

High court urged to rule on sick leave ordinance

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Supreme Court is being asked to decide the validity of an ordinance requiring private employers to provide sick leave for workers in the city of Milwaukee.

Voters approved the measure in 2008, but Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Thomas Cooper struck it down last year after a business group filed a lawsuit claiming it was improperly enacted. He ruled the ballot question did not contain enough information about the ordinance.

A group called 9to5, National Association of Working Women, is appealing.

Rather than rule on the appeal, the District 1 Court of Appeals on Thursday asked the high court to take the case immediately because of its significance. Justices now have the discretion to decide whether to do so.

Connecticut

Prosecutors drop sex case against lacrosse players

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) -- Prosecutors have dropped their case against three Sacred Heart University lacrosse players accused of sexually assaulting a student in her dormitory room.

Senior Assistant State's Attorney Pamela Esposito asked a judge to nolle the charges Wednesday after the three players, Nicholas Travers, 18, of Smithtown, N.Y.; Zachari Triner, 18, of Mansfield, Mass., and Timothy Sanders, 19, of Ashburn, Va., issued public apologies to the woman in court.

Prosecutors say there were differing accounts of what took place in the dorm room, and they could not proceed to trial.

A lawyer for one of the men has said accusations of sexual assault were a gross exaggeration of alcohol-fueled hijinks.

North Carolina

State High Court considers barring judge from bench

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina's Supreme Court is considering if a former judge who stepped down after allegations of misconduct can ever again hold judicial office.

The Charlotte Observer reported Thursday that Supreme Court justices questioned a lawyer for former Mecklenburg County District Court Judge Bill Belk.

The state Judicial Standards Commission accused Belk of misconduct that included staying on the board of Sonic Automotive after being told to step down. He earned $143,000 in stock and fees from the auto retailer.

Attorney Kevin Byrnes argued the judicial conduct rule against serving on a corporate board was unclear.

Belk resigned as a judge in November after hearings held by the standards commission.

North Dakota

Murder conviction upheld in fatal Fargo stabbing

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- North Dakota's Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of a Fargo man despite his lawyer's argument that it was racially biased.

The lawyer for Elijah Addai said his client was stopped for questioning in the stabbing of David Delonais, of Moorhead, Minn., because Addai is black.

Police had been told to look for a black male suspect. Addai's attorney says the car he was riding in was stopped near the scene of the stabbing even though the driver wasn't breaking any laws.

The Supreme Court unanimously upheld Addai's conviction. The justices concluded police had a number of reasons to stop the car Addai was riding in.

North Dakota

Arguments in Fighting Sioux lawsuit scheduled

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- North Dakota's Supreme Court has scheduled arguments March 23 in a lawsuit about the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Wednesday that the arguments will begin at 2:45 p.m. in the Supreme Court's courtroom in the state Capitol.

A group of eight Spirit Lake Sioux tribal members filed the lawsuit. They want to delay any Board of Higher Education decision on whether to drop the nickname. They contend the board shouldn't act until Nov. 30 at the earliest.

A district judge threw out the lawsuit. Tribal members are appealing. Attorneys for both sides have agreed to a speeded-up appeal schedule.

Published: Fri, Feb 19, 2010

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