National Roundup


Court orders new look at Pa. city immigration regs

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court has ordered a federal appeals court to take a new look at a Pennsylvania city's crackdown on employment and housing for illegal immigrants following the high court's recent decision upholding an Arizona employer sanctions law.

The court on Monday threw out the ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia preventing the city of Hazleton from enforcing regulations that deny permits to business that hire illegal immigrants and fine landlords who rent to them.

The measures inspired similar laws around the country, including the one in Arizona that deals only with penalties for employers.

The justices typically order lower courts to re-examine cases in light of a high court decision on a similar topic.


Court says Halliburton lawsuit can go forward

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court says Halliburton Co. shareholders can pursue a class-action lawsuit claiming the oil services company inflated its stock price.

The high court on Monday overturned a lower court ruling against the shareholders, who want to represent all investors who bought Halliburton stock between June 1999 and December 2001.

The lawsuit argues that Halliburton deliberately understated the company's liability in asbestos litigation, inflated how much money its construction and engineering units would bring in and overstated the benefits of a merger with Dresser Industries.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans refused to let the lawsuit go forward as a class-action but the high court overturned that decision.


Utah High Court hears app eal on inmate death

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Utah Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of an inmate appealing his death sentence in the killing of a fellow prisoner.

Troy Michael Kell was convicted and sentenced to death in the 1994 fatal stabbing of Lonnie Blackmon at the Central Utah Correctional Facility. Authorities say Kell is a white supremacist who had been involved in race-related altercations with several black inmates, including Blackmon. The murder was captured on videotape.

This was Kell's third appeal to Utah's high court.

The court also heard an appeal Monday in the case of Robert Cameron Houston, who, at 17, was sentenced to life for raping and murdering an employee in a group home for troubled youth. He claims his sentence was cruel and unusual punishment for a juvenile.

New Hampshire

UNH to offer dual law/MBA degree

DURHAM, N.H. (AP) -- The University of New Hampshire School of Law is responding to the rapidly changing global economic environment by giving students the opportunity to pursue a dual law and MBA degree.

Law school dean, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice John Broderick, says the dual degree that will be offered starting next fall will offer students a valuable and cost-effective way to become better business leaders and better lawyers.

He says the two disciplines are increasingly interconnected in the modern world.

Broderick tells The Portsmouth Herald that discussions between the law school and business schools began last August.

For most students, the dual degree will take three and a half years.

The program is among steps being taken to bring a stronger interdisciplinary approach to the law school.

New Mexico

Court: Elected official removed upon conviction

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) -- The state Supreme Court says former Public Regulation Commissioner Carol Sloan automatically forfeited her office last year when she was convicted of felonies.

In a written opinion issued last week, the court explained why it ordered Sloan's removal last June when she refused to step down.

Sloan was convicted in April 2010 of battery and burglary for attacking a woman who allegedly had an affair with her husband. Sloan was sentenced to five years, but that was suspended and she was placed on probation.

Sloan argued that impeachment was the only way to remove her from office.

The court said Sloan's removal took effect when she was convicted. The state Constitution required her to be a "qualified elector" to hold office and that ended with the felony convictions.


Political map case returns to federal court

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A lawsuit involving Minnesota's political maps is back in federal court.

Democratic lawyers are asking a federal judge Monday to let the case proceed. It was paused earlier in the year while the Legislature tried to sort out a redistricting plan that will determine political boundaries for the next decade.

Republican attorneys oppose the effort to revive the federal case, arguing that redistricting matters must move through state court first.

The process matters because the new maps will determine how competitive congressional and legislative districts are and which party could have an advantage heading into the next election.

The GOP-led Legislature approved redistricting plans but Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed them. In all likelihood, a court panel will redraw the maps.


'Personhood' before Mississippi court

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- The Mississippi Supreme Courth heard arguments Monday from attorneys for plaintiffs hoping to get the "personhood" amendment off the November ballot.

A Hinds County judge ruled last fall that the proposed "personhood" constitutional amendment seeking to define life as beginning at conception could be placed before voters in November.

Opponents have argued that the initiative process can't be used to change the state constitution's bill of rights. They said the amendment would change the bill of rights by reshaping the definition of the term "person," which is not specifically defined now.

Supporters say "no right is tinkered with" under the proposed amendment and that the amendment "merely supplies a definition" of personhood.

Published: Tue, Jun 7, 2011