Court Roundup


Judge approves $7M settlement for couple

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) -- A judge has approved a $7 million settlement for a Shrewsbury family who claimed medical negligence in the birth of their daughter.

The lawsuit filed in 2008 lawsuit against two doctors, a nurse practitioner and a genetic counselor alleged that Ran Zhuang and her husband, Zhiru Guo, were not provided proper prenatal genetic counseling before giving birth on Nov. 11, 2007, at UMass Memorial Medical Center to a baby girl with a rare genetic disorder known as cri-du-chat syndrome.

A lawyer for the family tells The Telegram & Gazette that had the child's chromosomal abnormality been detected early enough Zhuang could have made an informed decision whether to terminate her pregnancy.

The defendants denied any negligence. Their lawyers declined comment.

A judge approved the settlement Thursday in Worcester Superior Court.


Lawyer: Cap keeping client from courtroom

MCDONOUGH, Ga. (AP) -- A DeKalb County man says not being allowed to wear a cap in a Henry County courtroom violates his Constitutional rights.

Attorney Mawuli Davis says his client, 46-year-old Troy Montgomery, is Muslim and wore a tight-fitting cap called a kufi when he went to court last week to defend a speeding charge.

Davis says Henry County State Court Judge James Chafin refused to allow Montgomery to enter the courtroom and that he was not allowed to enter on two previous court dates.

Davis says he tried to explain to Chafin on Thursday that Montgomery wears the cap as a symbol of humility.

Davis says the judge wants to see proof that Montgomery is required to wear the cap.

Davis says decorum and not security is the issue for the judge.


Loyola prof, prosecutor nominated to 5th Circuit

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- President Barack Obama says he will nominate law teacher and prosecutor Stephen Higginson to 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Louisiana's U.S. senators -- Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republican David Vitter -- both applaud the choice.

Higginson is an associate professor of law at Loyola University in New Orleans and a part-time assistant U.S. attorney who handles appeals and mentors younger attorneys.

The president says Higginson has impressive legal and academic credentials and an unwavering commitment to judicial integrity. Vitter says his intellect and work ethic are widely admired. Landrieu says he "has the balance, temperament, compassion, and intellect needed to effectively rule on the 5th Circuit."

If confirmed, Higginson will replace Judge Jacques Wiener of Shreveport, who took senior status last September.


Judge Oks trial against Dr. Phil in Holloway suit

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Two brothers who were among the last people to see Natalee Holloway before her disappearance in Aruba can move forward with their defamation lawsuit against talk show host Phil McGraw.

City News Service reports Thursday that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled that brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe can take their lawsuit to trial and set a trial date for Oct. 12.

The Kalpoes allege that following an interview for the "Dr. Phil" show, they were wrongly portrayed as drugging Holloway, having group sex with her and later helping kill her and dispose of her body.

The Alabama teen disappeared in the Caribbean island during a 2005 trip with friends and is presumed dead.

The Kalpoes were arrested and later released in the Holloway case.


4th marijuana conviction lands life sentence

COVINGTON, La. (AP) -- After getting probation three times for marijuana convictions in New Orleans, a man moved out of the city -- and landed a life prison sentence the fourth time around.

Cornell Hood II was sentenced Thursday in Covington as a repeat offender following his conviction on a charge of attempting to possess and distribute marijuana.

According to The Times-Picayune, Hood moved from New Orleans after he pleaded guilty in 2009 to two marijuana-related charges and received five years of probation. In 2005, he received his first strike -- and five years of probation -- after pleading guilty in New Orleans to possessing and intending to distribute marijuana.

Authorities said Hood's probation officer found about two pounds of marijuana during a routine visit to Hood's Slidell-area home on Sept. 27. Prosecutors charged him with possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

At Hood's one-day trial, the state's evidence included a digital scale and about a dozen bags that had contained marijuana before being seized from the house. Deputies also found $1,600 in cash and a student-loan application with Hood's name on it inside of a night stand.

A jury deliberated for less than two hours and convicted Hood of a reduced charge, which usually carries no more than 15 years' imprisonment. But Assistant District Attorney Nick Noriea Jr. then used Hood's past convictions on Thursday to argue that he was a career criminal.

Drug offenders in Louisiana are subject to life imprisonment after being convicted three or more times of a crime that carries a maximum sentence exceeding 10 years.

Published: Mon, May 9, 2011