National Roundup

Mississippi: Fed. magistrate recommends dismissal of suit
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — A federal magistrate has recommended the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a Petal man who was seeking damages from a Forrest County judge and prosecutor for a banishment sentence that was later overturned by a Mississippi court.

In 2007, Ronnie Mackey pleaded guilty to a drug charge. Circuit Judge Robert Helfrich sentenced him to 30 years in prison. The prison term was suspended with Helfrich imposing several conditions, one of which was that Mackey was to leave Hattiesburg within forty-eight hours and was to remain outside of a 100-mile radius of Hattiesburg for 30 years.

Mackey, for reasons unexplained in the court, remained in jail for about 50 hours after sentencing. When he was released from jail, he was already in violation of the banishment order. He was still in town six days later when he was arrested by police.

Helfrich revoked the suspension and imposed the full 30-year sentence.

During the 39 months Mackey was imprisoned, he appealed to the State Court of Appeals, which upheld Helfrich’s judgment. The Mississippi Supreme Court overturned Helfrich’s ruling in June.

The Mississippi court, in a split decision, found the banishment from a “large geographical area” fails to rehabilitate criminals and could raise problems for other jurisdictions.

The court also found the banishment condition lacked adequate factual basis.

Mackey sued Helfrich and District Attorney Patricia Burchell in July for lost wages and punitive damages totaling more than $84.3 million.

U.S. Magistrate Michael T. Parker, in a report filed Dec. 13, said Burchell and Helfrich enjoy judicial immunity from civil claims.

“For over one hundred years, the (U.S.) Supreme Court has recognized that judges are immune from liability in civil actions for their judicial acts,” Parker said.

He said Mackey failed to show Helfrich acted outside his capacity as a judge. Likewise, Parker said Mackey didn’t show how Burchell, an assistant prosecutor at the time, acted outside of her authority.

Parker also said Mackey’s claims against Forrest County should be dismissed.

U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett has not yet acted on the magistrate’s recommendation.

Mackey, who has since be released from prison, has filed a motion asking he be given until Jan. 27 to respond to Parker’s recommendations.

Connecticut: U.S. high court declines to hear cadet’s appeal
NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of a former Coast Guard Academy cadet convicted of extortion and indecent assault charges.

Webster Smith is the only Coast Guard Academy cadet ever court-martialed.

He was convicted in 2006, but acquitted of a rape charge. The conviction had been upheld by the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals and by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

Smith sought a Supreme Court review based largely on the Sixth Amendment argument that he had not been able to question the credibility of one of his accusers.

The appeals court ruled that cross examination of that person was “neither material nor vital.”

The Day of New London reports that the Supreme Court declined to hear the case without saying why.

Montana: No bail for Kalispell double homicide suspect
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — A 34-year-old Kalispell man suspected of shooting and killing his former girlfriend and her 15-year-old daughter has been ordered jailed without bail.

Tyler Michael Miller made an initial appearance before District Judge Stewart Stadler Monday on two counts of deliberate homicide for the Saturday shooting deaths of 35-year-old Jaimi Hurlbert and Alyssa Burkett.

Stadler scheduled an arraignment for Jan. 13.

Court records say Miller, who was on parole, had threatened Hurlbert and her family beginning on Friday morning and confronted her at work. Butch Hurlbert tells the Daily Inter Lake that the shooting took place as his daughter and granddaughter arrived at the home of Miller’s mother to pick up the 17-month-old daughter of Miller and Jaimi Hurlbert.

Washington: Sheriff’s deputy wants prosecutor off his rape case
YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — A Yakima County sheriff’s deputy who’s accused of rape, burglary and assault wants the prosecutor’s office thrown off his case.

Deputy Sean Moore says Yakima County Prosecutor Jim Hagarty has a conflict of interest in part because he met with Moore before charges were filed to discuss Moore’s relationship with the woman he’s accused of raping.

Moore’s lawyer, Jeffrey Lustick, says all eight Yakima County Superior Court judges have recused themselves from the case. A visiting judge from Kittitas County Superior Court scheduled a hearing Tuesday afternoon to hear arguments about whether the Yakima County prosecutor should be recused as well.

Moore is being held at the Kittitas County Jail on $500,000 bail. He’s charged with raping a woman in October, as well as assaulting her and threatening her male friend at gunpoint.

Missouri: Cheerleaders sue school district over discipline

SENECA, Mo. (AP) — Two cheerleaders have sued a southwest Missouri high school district after being removed from the squad over alleged cyber-bullying.

The cheerleaders filed a federal lawsuit against the Seneca school district, seven school board members, Superintendent Rick Cook and principal Tosha Fox. They are seeking  a jury trial and unspecified damages.

The cheerleaders, who are not identified in the lawsuit, alleges their constitutional rights were violated when they were taken off the squad. The Newton County Sheriff’s Department investigated the allegations of cyber-bullying and no charges were filed.

Both plaintiffs also claim they have suffered from alienation from fellow students and cheerleaders.

The district’s attorney, Tom Mickes, told The Joplin Globe that several court rulings have found that extracurricular activities are not protected by the Constitution.