Court Roundup



Carver farmers, EPA settle cranberry bog case

CARVER, Mass. (AP) -- A Carver cranberry growing family has settled a decade-long dispute with federal environmental regulators over the filling in of wetlands.

Under the consent decree filed in Boston federal court Friday, the Johnson family agreed to restore 26 acres of wetlands and pay a $75,000 penalty to resolve claims they violated the Clean Water Act at two sites at their farm.

The Patriot Ledger reports that a proposed settlement terms are similar to those included in a court order issued in 2005 and revived last year after a jury ruled that the federal Clean Water Act did apply to the Johnsons' farm.

The case dates to 1999 when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sued the Johnsons for allegedly improperly filling wetlands The Johnsons said they hadn't done anything wrong.


Third student admitted role in football bus hazing

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) -- The final Glacier High School freshman football player charged with hazing his teammates on a bus trip last year has admitted to misdemeanor assault in Youth Court and been sentenced to six months of probation.

District Judge Stewart Stadler signed the consent order Friday for the 15-year-old boy. He was one of three charged with dog-piling four teammates in the back seats of a school bus while the team was traveling home from a game in Missoula. Prosecutors alleged the boys were held against their will with their mouths covered while they were punched in the groin and poking them through their pants.

As part of his probation, the student must participate in victim-offender conferencing with the four victims and their parents, or write letters of accountability.


Judge to rule on DA recusal in child murder case

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) -- Caddo District Court Judge Mike Pitman is expected to rule March 19 on a defense motion to recuse the Caddo Parish District Attorney's Office from prosecuting a child murder case.

The Times reports Pitman heard arguments from the defense and prosecution Monday.

Lawyers for Alasundria Avery, who faces a first-degree murder charge in the Oct. 21 death of her 1-year-old daughter, Denise, say the DA should not prosecute the case due to a conflict of interest. They claim the DA's office can't prosecute Avery on the murder charge while representing her interest as a victim in another case.

Prosecutors contend the office has two distinct cases and is able to proceed without prejudice in both. Prosecutors say the office can be fair in each case.


Life sentence in 2001 St. Paul homicide

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- A man convicted twice for a 2001 fatal shooting in St. Paul has been sentenced to life in prison, plus 7 ? years for wounding of the victim's brother .

Jerry Vang was sentenced Monday for killing 15-year-old David Vang. The two are not related. The victim's brother, Kou Vang, was wounded when they encountered the shooter in an alley behind their homes in St. Paul.

A jury in Ramsey County convicted Vang for a second time in January. His 2001 conviction was overturned by the state Supreme Court, based in part on procedural errors.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports the wife of the surviving brother, Molly Chang, told the judge that even though more than 10 years have passed, her husband struggles every day with the death of his brother.


Mom pleads not guilty in drunk toddler case

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- An Iowa City mother arrested after her 23-month-old son was found to be legally drunk has pleaded not guilty to child endangerment charges.

Twenty-six-year-old Natasha Kriener was charged in February after doctors found the toddler had a blood-alcohol level of .09 percent, above the state's legal limit of .08 percent.

The Gazette in Cedar Rapids says Kriener, who's also charged with neglect of a dependent person, faces a June 12 trial in Johnson County District Court.

Kriener was arrested after police said the toddler's father took him to the hospital because he was crying and had poor balance.

Court records show Kriener is accused of leaving alcoholic beverages within the reach of her son.

North Carolina

NC city to revise rules after abortion foes sue

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (AP) -- A federal judge is approving a settlement after anti-abortion protesters claimed a Jacksonville city ordinance violates free-speech rights by giving police too much leeway in deciding where and when demonstrations are allowed.

A court order filed Tuesday says Jacksonville has agreed to change its local public assembly ordinance, which required a police permit for protests that involve three or more people.

A group of anti-abortion protesters from nearby Craven County sued in November, claiming the ordinance violated their rights to free speech as they attempted to picket a Jacksonville women's clinic.

The agreement approved by U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle says the lawsuit will be dismissed 30 days after Jacksonville's city council modifies the ordinance.


League's lawsuit over voter ID proceeds

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Dane County judge has ruled the League of Women Voters' lawsuit challenging the state voter identification law can proceed and that Gov. Scott Walker is a proper defendant.

Lawyers for Walker and the Government Accountability Board argued League president Melanie Ramey is not directly affected by the law and has no legal standing. Circuit Judge Richard Niess disagrees. He ruled that whether Ramey was affected or not was beside the point because the photo ID requirement creates an extra impediment to voting that's not included in the state Constitution.

The State Journal reports Niess wrote in his decision that Walker is a proper defendant because he has ultimate authority over rule making by state agencies.

Wisconsin Department of Justice spokeswoman Dana Brueck says the agency will "continue to defend on the merits."

Published: Wed, Mar 7, 2012