National Roundup

Report: Former justices aided lawmakers in nominee rejection

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Two former Connecticut Supreme Court justices advised Republican state lawmakers in last month’s successful effort to reject Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s nominee for chief justice, according to emails and a state lawmaker.

Hearst Connecticut Media reports that former Justices C. Ian McLachlan and Peter T. Zarella aided lawmakers in defeating the nomination of Andrew McDonald, who would have been the first openly gay state chief justice in the country. Both McLachlan and Zarella were nominated by Republican governors.

The media group obtained emails showing Republican lawmakers asked the former justices about McDonald’s legal decisions.

McLachlan, a justice on the state’s highest court from 2009 to 2012, provided advice to GOP legislators on strategies to defeat McDonald’s nomination, and Zarella, who served from 2001 to 2016, took part in the effort, the media group reported.

McLachlan did not respond to requests for comment. Zarella said he didn’t have any contact with legislators regarding McDonald. Both now work at a Hartford law firm.

McLachlan’s cousin, Republican state Sen. Michael McLachlan, said they and Zarella did discuss McDonald’s nomination.

Malloy on Friday said McLachlan and Zarella were “cowards” who “undermined” the judiciary by conspiring with Republicans instead of testifying before the legislature.

McDonald’s nomination narrowly cleared the House, but the Senate voted 19-16 against it. The votes were mostly along party lines, with Republicans opposing McDonald.

Republicans said they were concerned McDonald was a liberal “activist” judge and was too close with Malloy. McDonald was the governor’s legal counsel before joining the Supreme Court in 2013, and previously was a Democratic state senator.

Malloy and Democrats accused Republicans of having an anti-gay bias — which the GOP denied.

Malloy has nominated Supreme Court Justice Richard Robinson for the judiciary’s top job. Robinson would be the state’s first black chief justice.

Man gets prison for selling stolen rhinoceros horn

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — A Louisiana man has been sentenced to six months in prison for selling a stolen black rhinoceros horn to undercover federal agents, according to court records.

U.S. District Judge Donald Walter also on Tuesday sentenced Patrick Dylan Drawl, 31, of Lake Charles, to one year of supervised release after his prison term ends.

Drawl pleaded guilty in December to violating the federal Lacey Act, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The head of McNeese State University’s biology department contacted campus police in March 2017 to report that a horn had been stolen from a mounted black rhinoceros head on display in the department’s Lake Charles building, a court filing says.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents later found a black rhinoceros horn for sale on a website, with the seller’s contact information in Sulphur, Louisiana. An undercover agent called Drawl last May and arranged to meet him in Lafayette, Louisiana, to purchase the horn for $800. Police officers arrested him as he drove away from federal agents.

The black rhinoceros is listed as an endangered species covered by the Endangered Species Act, which prohibits the sale of the animal or any of its parts without a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The black rhinoceros is a species native to eastern and central Africa and is on the brink of extinction, a court filing says.

Supreme Court rejects Missouri man with 241-year prison term

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has turned down an appeal from a man who committed robbery and other crimes on a single day when he was 16 and now isn’t eligible for parole until he’s 112 years old.

The justices on Monday left in place defendant Bobby Bostic’s 241-year sentence. Bostic’s lawyers argued that the prison term violated the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The former St. Louis judge who sentenced Bostic had urged the high court to hear the case. She now believes Bostic’s prison term is unjust.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that outlawed life sentences for people under 18 who didn’t kill anyone applies only to a sentence for one crime. Bostic was sentenced for his role in 18 crimes.

South Carolina
Lawsuit, response debate definition of the word ‘crony’

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) — What’s a crony? The definition of that word is playing a role in lawsuit filed against the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce.

The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reports lawyers for Karon Mitchell have responded to the chamber’s request to strike the words “crony” and “crony companies” from a lawsuit filed in early April.

The lawsuit accuses the chamber of paying more than $30 million in tax money to “crony companies” started by former or current employees over the last three years without competitive bidding.

The lawsuit says the money came from the tourism development fee and accommodations tax.

Chamber lawyers said the use of the word “crony” is “impertinent, improper and scandalous.”

Mitchell’s lawyers responded, saying the dictionary definition is “a close friend, especially of long standing.”

Prosecutor’s Wikipedia edits traced to spokesman

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — The spokesman for Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist has been barred from making edits to his boss’s Wikipedia page after trying to delete unfavorable references.

The News Tribune reports that spokesman James Lynch tried to make the changes in March, removing references and links to articles that questioned some of Lindquist’s actions. The articles removed included a Seattle Times editorial calling for his resignation.

Anonymous Wikipedia editors returned the page to its previous version and blocked Lynch from making additional edits. They referred to the changes as “vandalism” originating from a Pierce County government online address.

Lynch acknowledged making the changes and told The News Tribune in an email that he did it because the page was “heavily weighted in the negative, which provided an entirely one sided, unfair view of the office.”