Court Roundup


Dallas mayor sues city over release of police call

DALLAS (AP) -- Dallas' new mayor has sued the city to try to prevent the release of police records related to a Jan. 2 disturbance call at his home.

Mayor Dwaine Caraway sought a temporary restraining order Tuesday and a state judge agreed to withhold the records until a March 22 hearing to determine whether a temporary injunction should be granted.

Court records show that six requests have been made to city officials for details about the incident. No charges were filed.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott ruled last week that the records must be released.

Caraway's attorney, Michael Payma, says the material should be withheld because it involves an "intimate family-related matter" not of public interest.

Caraway became mayor last month after his predecessor resigned. He had been mayor pro tem.


Woman assaulted by uncle awarded $10 million

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) -- A Minnesota woman who filed a civil lawsuit against an uncle who sexually assaulted her as a child has been awarded more than $10 million in damages.

A Stearns County jury made the award to Cathy Olson of Avon this week. Olson tells the St. Cloud Times she's speaking publicly about the assault to help other victims and remind them they have a voice.

William Holden was convicted in 1986 of sexually assaulting the woman in Brainerd when she was under the age of 14. Holden was sent to prison and later released.

The woman's attorney, Michael Hall, said his client decided to sue Holden after her grandparents died in 2008. Holden was the executor of their will and he and Olson had renewed contact. Holden's attorney did not immediately return a call seeking comment.


Ex-cop says SF police wrongfully arrested him

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A former policeman has filed a wrongful arrest federal lawsuit claiming San Francisco officers roughed him up while he was on a four-mile jog in Golden Gate Park.

The lawsuit alleging assault, battery and false imprisonment says the incident led to the firing of 27-year-old Bret Cornell, who had graduated from the police academy about two months earlier.

Cornell's suit says he was jogging on a park path last summer when a man pointed a weapon at him and threatened to shoot. Cornell says he continued running, not realizing the armed man was a police officer.

The San Francisco Chronicle says Cornell then identified himself as a policeman, but he was taken to jail for resisting arrest. Cornell, who was fired two days later, was never charged.


Lawyer named to panel he's suing over bias charge

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- A lawyer who is suing the Iowa Judicial Nominating Commission for some Iowa clients has been named to the commission by Gov. Terry Branstad.

In their lawsuit, the clients of William Gustoff (GUHS'-tahf) allege that the makeup of the commission is biased against nonlawyers because they have no say in the selection of half the commission.

The Des Moines Register says that half the commission is lawyers, elected by lawyers; the other half traditionally is made up of nonlawyers appointed by the governor. Gustoff's appointment is a departure, but it is not barred by Iowa law.

Gustoff says he has almost nothing to do with the lawsuit now.

Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht says Gustoff was selected because "we thought he was a good person to do the job."


Judge tosses suit against police in pursuit death

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) -- A federal judge has tossed a New Jersey man's suit against a Pennsylvania police department over the 2008 death of his wife in a head-on crash with a suspect being pursued by officers.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel dismissed last month the $20 million suit filed by Daniel LaBar against Palmer Township police. Stengel found the department hadn't violated the constitutional rights of Jolene LaBar during their pursuit of a man suspected of shoplifting.

Jolene LaBar, of Washington Township, N.J., was on her way to home from her job at the Lehigh County Courthouse when she collided with a pickup truck being pursued the wrong way on Route 22. The pickup's driver, Kevin Messinger, was also killed.


ACLU files lawsuit in dispute over inmate meetings

FAYETTE, Ala. (AP) -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama has filed a lawsuit against Fayette County Sheriff Rodney Ingle after ACLU lawyers said they were denied access to meet with inmates at the Fayette County Jail.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, states that ACLU lawyers were unconstitutionally denied the right to consult with inmates.

ACLU of Alabama Law Fellow Jared Shepherd said ACLU attorneys have been hearing complaints from inmates about medical care and other issues, but their access to meet with inmates to learn more has been cut off.


AG: settlement will hopefully fund mental health

JACKSON, MS (AP) -- Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood says he hopes a new $20 million boost to the state from a pharmaceutical lawsuit will go to mental health services.

House Appropriations Committee chairman Johnny Stringer agrees with the idea. He says the budget just happens to be short $20 million and that the funds would help support community mental health centers.

The funds come from recently settled litigation over Medicaid fraud and consumer protection violations with four drug companies: GlaxoSmithKline, Aventis, Schering/Warring and Mylan.

Hood says putting the money into the mental health budget would help resolve the mental-health crisis and prevent future lawsuits against the state.


MCLU files suit challenging state election regs

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- The Maine Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit challenging state election rules on behalf of one of the creators of a political website that took aim at a candidate in last fall's gubernatorial campaign.

The complaint in Cumberland County Superior Court was filed on behalf of Dennis Bailey, a political consultant who was fined $200 by Maine's election commission for his role in the "Cutler Files" website that was critical of independent Eliot Cutler.

MCLU Legal Director Zachary Heiden said the website was a political blog that would have been exempt from reporting its expenses had it been a newspaper, broadcast station or other media outlet. Heiden said Maine's election rules requiring Bailey to disclosing his identity were a violation of free speech.


State pays $1M for freak accident that killed mom

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- The state of Alabama has paid $1 million to relatives of a South Carolina woman who was killed when a chunk of concrete from a pothole flew through the windshield of a vehicle on Interstate 20 almost a year ago.

State officials confirm to The Associated Press that the money was paid to compensate for the death of Jo Maureen Fisher in the freak accident. It occurred as the 33-year-old woman was traveling through the state with her husband and two young children on their way home to Goose Creek, S.C.


Mom sues teacher who assaulted her daughter sexually

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- The mother of a Billings girl who committed suicide at age 16 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the former teacher who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the girl.

The Billings Gazette reports Auliea Hanlon filed the lawsuit in District Court against Stacey Dean Rambold, who last year acknowledged committing a felony sexual offense against Hanlon's then 14-year-old daughter.

Rambold pleaded guilty as part of a three-year deferred prosecution reached five months after the girl's February 2010 death. He had been charged with three counts of rape.

The civil lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for the loss of the girl's life, her pain and mental anguish, her family's grief and loss of companionship and medical and funeral expenses. It also seeks punitive damages.

Published: Fri, Mar 11, 2011