Court Roundup

Alabama: B’ham dropout coordinator faces lawsuit
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A man who launched a program that allows Birmingham high school dropouts to recieve a diploma was slapped with a federal lawsuit that claims he copied his ex-company’s program.

The federal lawsuit filed in Houston accuses Jeremy Vincent Brown of breaching a non-compete agreement by forming his own company nine days after he was fired from Alternatives Unlimited.

The company claims that Brown stole clients, re-created educational programs and swiped educational materials. The lawsuit seeks $1.37 million in damages for defamation, theft and fraud.

Brown could not immediately be reached for comment, but he has denied claims he copied the program. He has said that the two programs are similar, but the Alabama version has a stronger curriculum and uses different technology.

Washington, D.C.: Senate to open impeachment trial against judge
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate on Monday opened its first impeachment trial since the 1999 case against former President Bill Clinton when it takes up a host of corruption allegations against a Louisiana judge.

The House voted unanimously in March to impeach U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous, approving four charges involving payoffs, kickbacks and lying under oath. A two-thirds vote is needed in the Senate to convict him.

Senators on a special impeachment panel appear ready to resolve the case quickly, scheduling three all-day hearings over the next two weeks in which House prosecutors will make their case and Porteous can mount a defense.

Investigators and witnesses who testified before a House task force laid out a damaging case against Porteous, saying he routinely gambled with borrowed money, filed for bankruptcy under a phony name and took cash, trips and home repairs from lawyers and a bail bondsman with business before his court.

Legal experts who testified suggested Porteous is a clear candidate to become just the eighth federal judge in U.S. history to be impeached and tried by Congress.

Porteous, who sits in the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans, offered little in his defense, opting to wait until the Senate trial. His attorney acknowledged that the evidence as presented was unflattering but said the House disregarded key facts and that Porteous' actions don't warrant impeachment.

Mississippi: Judge dismissed countersuit in pastor sex case
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Rev. Jeffery Stallworth is now the only defendant remaining in a woman’s $10 million lawsuit claiming she was sexually assaulted by him.

The woman alleges he sexually assaulted her in August 2001 when he stayed at her Maryland home.

The Clarion-Ledger reports that Anderson United Methodist Church of Jackson and the Mississippi United Methodist Conference have been dropped from the woman’s lawsuit against Stallworth in an order issued last month by a Hinds County judge.

The woman’s attorney, Marjorie Busching of Jackson, said she couldn’t comment on the order.

The Associated Press does not identify sexual assault victims.

Stallworth, then-pastor of Anderson United Methodist Church in Jackson, pleaded guilty in 2002 to a misdemeanor count of sexually assault. He was sentenced to two years’ probation. The conviction later was wiped from his record after he served the mandatory probation period.

Stallworth filed a counter lawsuit against the woman, but it was dismissed in 2008.

Stallworth has alleged the woman tricked him into believing the two had a personal relationship to try to sell insurance policies.

Stallworth is no longer affiliated with Anderson nor with the Mississippi United Methodist Conference. He serves as pastor of an independent, nondenominational congregation in Jackson.

Utah: Man sues over Logan slide that kills 2 children
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The father of two children who were killed along with their mother in a 2009 landslide following a canal break in Logan has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city and others.

Victor Alanis’ complaint, filed Wednesday in 1st District Court, is the second one in the past month alleging that the city and others were aware of the danger but failed to take adequate action.

Last month, homeowner Seth Bartschi sued the city and others for damages to his property.

Alanis, the common-law husband of Evelia Jacqueline Leavey and father of their children, 13-year-old Victor Alanis Jr. and 12-year-old Abbey Alanis, claims various studies showed the bluff that held a portion of the Logan Northern Canal was hazardous and prone to landslides.

Despite being notified in the days before the landslide of excessive water and runoff, the defendants failed to adequately inspect the area or warn residents of the potential danger, according to the lawsuit.

The canal broke July 11, 2009, sending a flood and water and earth onto nearby homes, including the rented house at the foot of the bluff where Leavey and the children lived.

“The landslide ‘flattened’ the residence and buried the family alive,” according to the lawsuit, reported by the Salt Lake Tribune. “All three were crushed and sufffocated by the landslide, resulting in their deaths.”

Also named as defendants were the Utah Department of Transportation, Utah State University and Logan Northern Irrigation Co. The city, UDOT and the company own and operate the canal and land around it. USU owns the hillside.

Spokesmen for UDOT and USU both said they could not comment because of the pending litigation. Kymber Housley, Logan’s attorney, said he had not see the suit.

The suit seeks an unspecified amount of money.

New York: Sentencing set for ex-IBM exec
NEW YORK (AP) — Former IBM executive Robert Moffat faces sentencing for his role in the biggest hedge fund insider trading case in history. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and securities fraud earlier this year.

The 53-year-old Moffat of Ridgefield, Conn., was once considered a candidate for chief executive officer at International Business Machiones Corp.

His lawyers say an intimate relationship with a hedge fund company employee who later “played” him led Moffat to feed her confidential information.

The lawyers have asked a judge to sentence him to probation.

Prosecutors have asked that Moffat be sentenced to six months in prison. They say his crimes were committed out of a misguided belief he could never be caught.

West Virginia: Successor sworn in for judge who won jackpot
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Last month’s Powerball jackpot won in West Virginia has resulted in a new magistrate for Berkeley County.

Jim Humphrey started Monday as a Berkeley County magistrate. The Journal of Martinsburg reported his swearing-in last week as the replacement for William R. “Randy” Smith.

Smith resigned as magistrate Sept. 6 after winning the $79 million Powerball jackpot on Aug. 21.

Humphrey is a retired state trooper as well as a former magistrate. He was first appointed in 2005, and was then elected the following year. He served three years and five months during that previous stint.

Colorado: Judge weighs lawsuit against state patrol
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) — A judge is weighing a lawsuit against the Colorado State Patrol that alleges a trooper’s high-speed pursuit of a suspect was the reason for a crash that killed a pregnant woman’s unborn child.

Mesa County Judge David Bottger will determine after a four-day hearing in April whether the lawsuit against the State Patrol merits going forward. The lawsuit filed by Shea and Sean Lehnen argues that the trooper’s pursuit of a speeding suspect was the “proximate cause” of the accident in 2007 that killed their unborn baby.

The trooper was trying to arrest 26-year-old Logan Lage. Lage’s Jeep collided with the car driven by the Lehnen family. Lage pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.