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Walker signs bill inspired by cabin-owners' court fight
Legal News Center | 2017/11/28 05:19
Just five months after an adverse ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court had her in tears, Donna Murr was celebrating Monday after Gov. Scott Walker signed into law a bill that gives Wisconsin property owners more rights.

The Murr family fought for more than a dozen years, and all the way to the Supreme Court, for the ability to sell undeveloped land next to their cottage along scenic Lake St. Croix in western Wisconsin.

One of two property rights bills Walker signed Monday will give the family the right to sell or build on substandard lots if the lots were legal when they were created.

The Supreme Court ruled against the Murrs in June, but hours later state Rep. Adam Jarchow was on the phone with Donna Murr promising her he would take the fight to the Legislature.

"It's been a long road," Murr said after she and six other family members came to Walker's Capitol office for his signing of the bill Jarchow and Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, introduced. "It just felt like a culmination of everything we've worked for, coming to a head today after so many years of struggling and battling."

Donna Murr's parents bought two adjacent lots in the early 1960s and built a cottage on one but left the other vacant as an investment. In 2004, Donna Murr and her siblings wanted to sell the undeveloped lot to help pay for renovations to the cottage, but county officials barred the sale because conservation rules from the 1970s treat the two lots as a single property that can't be divided.

The regulations were intended to prevent overcrowding, soil erosion and water pollution. The county argued before the Supreme Court that not enforcing the rules would undermine its ability to minimize flood damage and maintain property values in the area.

But the family claimed those rules essentially stripped the land of its value and amounted to an uncompensated seizure of the property. They sought compensation for the vacant property they were forbidden to sell. The government argued, and the Supreme Court agreed in June, that it's fair to view the property as a whole and said the family is owed nothing.

Now with the law changed in Wisconsin, the Murr family can sell the vacant section. Donna Murr said she and her siblings will take some time to decide what to do next.



Court: State, Not Counties Accountable for Poor School Funds
Legal News Center | 2017/09/19 23:56
A North Carolina appeals court says students and parents still fighting for sufficient school funding decades after they were guaranteed the right to a sound, basic education should make demands of the governor and legislators, not county officials.

A divided state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that schoolchildren can't sue Halifax County commissioners over funding for the county's segregated public school districts.

Lawyers say though substandard Halifax County Schools' buildings sometimes force students to walk through sewage to reach their lockers, they get less local tax dollars than the majority white Roanoke Rapids schools.

Judges split 2-1 in ruling that local families should take their problems to Raleigh. The dissenting judge said counties can be sued since the legislature assigned them responsibility for funding buildings and supplies.



High court won't hear appeal from former Qwest CEO
Legal News Center | 2017/06/11 13:01
The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from former Qwest Communications International Inc. CEO Joseph Nacchio seeking an $18 million tax refund on money he gained from illegal stock sales.

The justices on Monday left in place a lower court ruling that said the money was not tax deductible.

Nacchio was convicted in 2007 of selling $52 million in stock of Denver-based Qwest based on inside information. He was ordered to forfeit $44 million and to pay a $19 million fine. He also was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison.

Nacchio claimed the $44 million he forfeited was deductible as a business expense or loss and that he should get a refund. A federal judge agreed, but a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., overturned that ruling.


Doctor arrested at Trump hotel on gun charges due in court
Legal News Center | 2017/06/02 01:57
The tip received by police was vague, but potentially dire: a Pennsylvania physician was on his way to the nation's capital with a carload of weapons, planning to visit the president.

As a result, Bryan Moles, 43, of Edinboro, Pennsylvania, was arrested on weapons charges after checking in to the Trump International Hotel in Washington, a few blocks from the White House.

He is expected to make an initial court appearance Thursday afternoon.

While the Secret Service interviewed Moles and determined he posed no threat to the president or anyone else they protect, D.C.'s police chief said the tip averted a potential disaster.

"I was very concerned about this circumstance," Chief Peter Newsham said. When people come to the District "armed with those types of weapons, it's a serious concern. ... He doesn't have a really good reason for being here."

Moles was charged with carrying a pistol without a license and having unregistered ammunition. A police report said authorities seized a Glock 23 pistol, a Bushmaster assault-style rifle and 90 rounds of ammunition from Moles' vehicle.

Newsham added that the department does not presently have enough evidence to charge Moles with making threats.

Newsham declined to comment on what may have motivated Moles. He said he did not have a license to carry firearms in the District, which has strict gun laws. He did not know whether he was licensed to carry in Pennsylvania.



Ohio high court will review full autopsies from 8 slayings
Legal News Center | 2017/04/17 12:48
The Ohio Supreme Court wants to see unredacted autopsy reports from eight slayings in one family as justices consider media lawsuits seeking access to those full reports from the year-old, unsolved case.

The court on Wednesday ordered the Pike County coroner in southern Ohio to submit the reports within two weeks for justices to review outside of public view.

The case involves seven adults and a teenage boy from the Rhoden family who were found shot to death at four homes near Piketon last April.

The Columbus Dispatch and The Cincinnati Enquirer separately sued for access to the full autopsies.

Authorities want to shield information, arguing that its release could compromise the investigation. The coroner also says victims' relatives raised concerns about sharing details of how their loved ones died.



Court bars release of videos made by anti-abortion group
Legal News Center | 2017/03/25 01:10
A federal appeals court on Wednesday barred the release of videos made by an anti-abortion group whose leaders are facing felony charges in California accusing them of recording people without permission in violation of state law.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling blocking the recordings made by the Center for Medical Progress at meetings of the National Abortion Federation, an association of abortion providers.

The Center for Medical Progress previously released several secretly recorded videos that it says show Planned Parenthood employees selling fetal tissue for profit, which is illegal. Planned Parenthood said the videos were deceptively edited to support false claims.

The videos stoked the American abortion debate when they were released in 2015 and increased Congressional heat against Planned Parenthood that has yet to subside.

It's not clear what's on the bulk of the recordings the group made at National Abortion Federation meetings.

A leader of the Center for Medical Progress, David Daleiden, said in a statement that the 9th Circuit was preventing the release of footage of Planned Parenthood leadership discussing criminal conduct at the meetings and its ruling was an attack on the First Amendment.


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