National Roundup

Stylist accused of giving man unwanted ‘Stooges’ hairdo

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Police in Madison, Wisconsin, arrested a hairstylist after he gave a customer a very unwanted Larry Fine hairdo.

Police spokesman Joel DeSpain says the 22-year-old victim told officers the stylist asked him to stop fidgeting and moving his head during the Friday haircut. The Wisconsin State Journal reports that DeSpain says the stylist then nicked the customer’s ear with his clippers before running them down the middle of the man’s head on their shortest attachment, “leaving him looking a bit like Larry from ‘The Three Stooges.’”

DeSpain says officers arrested the 46-year-old hairstylist, Khaled A. Shabani, who pleaded not guilty to disorderly conduct Wednesday. DeSpain says Shabani told officers it was an accident.

Case targets use of drug-sniffing dogs on visitors

BOSTON (AP) — The decision years ago to use dogs in Massachusetts prisons to search visitors for drugs caused uproar among advocates and family members of those behind bars. Now the state’s highest court is wading into the fight.

The Supreme Judicial Court this month will consider whether the Department of Corrections overstepped its authority when it implemented the policy in 2013 without giving the public a chance to weigh in.

Advocates for prisoners and their relatives have been fighting the use of drug-sniffing dogs for years, arguing the searches are demeaning, could discourage people from visiting and unfairly pushes the blame for the prison drug problem onto families.

“People don’t want to be treated like suspects,” said Lois Ahrens, a prisoner advocate and director of the Real Costs of Prisons Project. “They aren’t the people who are convicted.”

The Department of Correction says it hasn’t received any formal complaints from visitors about the policy. Prisons officials say the dogs — Labrador retrievers and German shorthaired pointers — aren’t aggressive or intimidating. The leashed dog walks past the line of visitors and sits down when it detects drugs. That person then faces additional searches or else can’t enter the prison.

Between 2013 and 2017, prison officials found drugs on visitors nearly 170 times, according to data provided by the department.

“This case is litigated against the tapestry of a deadly opioid crisis that continues to plague the commonwealth,” an attorney for the department said in court documents. “Addressing opioid addiction is a public health and criminal justice imperative.”

The dogs are also used to search prison officers and other staff, the department said.

At issue before the Supreme Judicial Court when it hears the case on Jan 8. is whether the department unlawfully implemented the policy by failing to go through a regulatory process that would include a public hearing.

A lower court judge last year sided with the department, saying that the commissioner has a “duty to institute policies that are effective in preventing the smuggling of contraband in the prison facilities and he is
empowered to use the full extent of his statutory power to accomplish this goal.”

But the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts, which sued the department in 2014, says the public should be given a chance to share their worries and recommended change to the policy.

“People feel like they want to have the opportunity to formally express their concerns about the use of these dogs. That has been denied to them,” said James Pingeon, litigation director for Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts.

Supreme Court denies appeal in killing of family

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court will not consider an appeal from a man convicted of killing a family southeast of Yakima when he was 14 years old.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reported Thursday that Joel Ramos had argued that a Yakima County Superior Court judge wrongfully sentenced him to consecutive adult sentences because he was a juvenile when the 1993 killings occurred.

Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney Joe Brusic says the court recently rejected his appeal.

Ramos pleaded guilty to murder charges in the deaths of Lynn and Michael Skelton and sons Jason, 12, and Bryan, 6 in their Outlook home.

Prosecutors say Miguel Gaitan stabbed the couple and older son, while Ramos killed Bryan.

Ramos was sentenced to four consecutive 20-year sentences, and during a 2013 hearing the sentences were reaffirmed with an extra five years added for Bryan’s murder.

West Virginia
Sex abuse case against Mormon Church leaders to go to trial

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — A jury in West Virginia will hear the evidence against the Mormon Church in a lawsuit accusing local church officials of covering up allegations that the son of officials abused 12 children over more than five years.

The Journal reports that the lawsuit filed by children who were between the ages of 3 and 12 when they say they were sexually abused by Christopher Michael Jensen will go to trial Jan. 8 in Berkeley County. Jensen was sentenced in 2013 to 35 to 75 years in prison for sexually abusing two minors.

The lawsuit was initially filed in 2013, and accuses the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and its leaders of covering up the abuse, enabling Jensen to commit further acts and trying to intimidate plaintiffs’ families.

Inmates and reporters appeal order ending interviews lawsuit

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Inmates and reporters have appealed a judge’s order that ended a lawsuit over a ban on face-to-face media interviews with prisoners convicted for their roles in Ohio’s deadly 1993 prison riot.

Federal Judge Edmund Sargus said earlier this month that the state prison system clarified the media policies that were criticized in the 2013 lawsuit by the Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The lawsuit said the former system was inconsistent, especially when backgrounds of other high-security prisoners granted access to reporters are reviewed.

Attorney Ray Vasvari is representing those who challenged the ban. He Wednesday filed a notice of appeal to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The state is expected to oppose the move.

The 11-day siege left one guard and nine inmates dead.