SUPREME COURT NOTEBOOK

No appeal for Detroit contractor Ferguson

DETROIT (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a Detroit contractor who was convicted of corruption along with former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Kilpatrick often went to bat for his buddy, Bobby Ferguson, and punished contractors who didn't make room for him on city excavation projects.

The Supreme Court said Monday that it won't take an appeal from Ferguson, who is serving a 21-year prison sentence. He and Kilpatrick were convicted of conspiracy, extortion and other crimes in 2013.

The government accused Kilpatrick of conspiring to give city business to Ferguson and getting a share of the spoils. The former mayor is serving a 28-year prison sentence.


Court turns down appeal over $5.7M jury award to felon

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from the city of Los Angeles seeking to overturn a $5.7 million jury verdict awarded to a convicted felon who was shot by police.

The justices on Monday let stand a lower court ruling that upheld the award to Robert Contreras, who was left paralyzed after police shot him multiple times when he fled the scene of a drive-by shooting in 2005.

Contreras allegedly turned toward officers with what they believed was a gun, but it turned out to be a cellphone. A federal appeals court ruled that police used excessive force when they shot Contreras in the back even though he was unarmed and trapped.

The city says deadly force was justified because Contreras had earlier shot at two people.


Justices block Alabama court order in adoption case

WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States Supreme Court on Monday sided with a lesbian mother who wants to see her adopted children, blocking, at least temporarily, an Alabama court's order that declared the adoption invalid.

The justices issued an order in a case that puts on display legal challenges facing gay and lesbian parents even after the Supreme Court decided that same-sex couples have the right to marry.

The case involves a soured relationship between two women, and the three children they raised until the breakup. While they were together, a Georgia court in 2007 approved the woman's adoption of the children to whom her partner gave birth during their 16-year-relationship. After the couple split, the children's birth mother contested regular visits between the children and her former partner.

In September, Alabama's highest court refused to recognize the other woman as a parent, saying the adoption they obtained in Georgia was not valid and that the Georgia court was wrong under that state's adoption laws to grant it.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court set aside the Alabama decision as the justices decide whether to hear the woman's appeal.

The noncustodial parent, known in court filings by her initials, V.L., said in a statement issued through her lawyer that she was overjoyed at the prospect of seeing her children again.

"I adopted my children more than eight years ago to be sure that I could always be there to protect them. This terrible Alabama decision has hurt my family and will hurt so many other families if it is not corrected," she said.

Her ex-partner fought her visitation, saying the couple lived in Alabama but rented a home in Georgia only because they believed the court there to be friendlier to adoption petitions by gay couples.

Alabama justices ruled that the Georgia adoption law didn't allow a, "non-spouse to adopt a child without first terminating the parental rights of the current parents."

The Alabama Supreme Court earlier this year directed probate judges to refuse marriage licenses to gay couples even though a federal judge ruled the state's ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. The directive brought a stop to the weddings until the U.S. Supreme Court said gay and lesbian people have a fundamental right to marry.


Chicago paper's bid to end officers' lawsuit rejected

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from the Chicago Sun-Times that sought to block a lawsuit from police officers over the newspaper's coverage of a case involving the nephew of Chicago's former mayor.

The justices did not comment Monday in allowing the lawsuit to proceed over whether the newspaper violated the privacy of the officers by publishing identifying information about them from state driver license records. The officers contend that publishing the information violates a federal law intended to protect driver license data.

The article used the information to suggest that the police put together a lineup that made it unlikely that the nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley would be selected. Daley nephew Richard Vanecko eventually pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the 2004 death of David Koschman.


Court says Kentucky death sentence wrongly overturned

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Kentucky officials seeking to reinstate the death sentence of a man convicted in the 1997 murders of a Louisville couple.

The justices ruled Monday that a federal appeals court was wrong to overturn Roger Wheeler's sentence based on the exclusion of a juror who expressed reservations about the death penalty.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the sentence after ruling the juror should not have been dismissed. The 2-1 ruling said the juror eventually said he could consider the full range of punishment.

Kentucky officials argue the juror never "unequivocally" said he could consider the death penalty.

The high court said in an unsigned opinion that the appeals court did not give enough deference to the state court ruling.

Published: Wed, Dec 16, 2015

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