Court Roundup

Paul Oliver's family sues NFL over his suicide

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The wife and sons of former San Diego Chargers defensive back Paul Oliver sued the NFL for wrongful death, blaming sports-related concussions for his suicide last year.

The suit was filed Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court against the league, the Chargers, the New Orleans Saints and the corporations that own several helmet manufacturers. It also alleges fraud and negligence.

It says that Oliver, 29, shot himself to death in front of his wife, Chelsea, and two sons last September at his home in Marietta, Georgia, about 20 miles northwest of Atlanta.

The suit alleges that his death was a "direct result of the injuries, depression and emotional suffering caused by repetitive head trauma and concussions suffered as a result of playing football, not properly appreciating football's risks with respect to head trauma" and using defective helmets.

The suit claims that Oliver suffered "mood, memory and anger issues" associated with repetitive head trauma and that after his death, a pathologist confirmed that he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

That is a progressive degenerative brain disease found in athletes and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma, according to the CTE Center at Boston University's medical school.

The suit contends that the NFL and others knew for decades about risks associated with such injuries but concealed the information, leaving Oliver ignorant about the risks of play when making football decisions "from his first snap of youth football to his tragic death."

It also claims the NFL encourages players to disregard the results of violent head impacts and glorifies the "brutality and ferocity" of football as a marketing strategy.

The Saints declined to comment. Messages left for representatives of the NFL and Chargers weren't immediately returned after hours Tuesday night.

The NFL has proposed a $765 million settlement of a different concussion-injury lawsuit that could affect thousands of athletes.

Earlier this month, in a report prepared for the federal judge handling that class action case in Philadelphia, the NFL released actuarial data estimating that nearly three in 10 former players will develop debilitating brain conditions, and that they will be stricken earlier and at least twice as often as the general population.

New Mexico
Lawsuit: Inmate not allowed to worship Satan

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A state prison inmate says New Mexico correction officials aren't allowing him to practice his religion and properly worship Satan behind bars.

KRQE-TV reports that Bernard Pritchard recently filed a lawsuit in state court alleging the chaplain and deputy warden at the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Las Cruces treat his faith differently than others.

Pritchard is asking a judge to force the New Mexico Corrections Department to let him worship Satan more freely and wants $140,000 in damages.

The lawsuit doesn't spell out specifically how Pritchard believes his rights were violated.

The New Mexico Corrections Department declined comment on the lawsuit. Anthony Romero, deputy director of adult prisons, says officials try to accommodate all religions.

Pritchard is serving time on aggravated stalking charges.

Supreme Court won't hear appeal in player's death

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee Supreme Court says it won't hear an appeal from a woman convicted of murder in the stabbing death of a Middle Tennessee State University basketball player.

Defense attorney Joe Brandon told the Daily News Journal that justices refused to hear the appeal from Shanterrica Madden in the death of her roommate, Tina Stewart. But Brandon told the newspaper that he is prepared to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

He says justices need to make decisions on issues including juror questions and how judges can use social media.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals in March reaffirmed Madden's conviction on charges of second-degree murder and tampering with evidence.

Scott Co. sued over failure to indict inmates

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union is alleging in a lawsuit that Scott County has illegally held inmates for as long as a year without appointing counsel and without presenting cases to a grand jury.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in federal court in Jackson on behalf of inmates Octavious Burks and Joshua Bassett.

Court records show Burks has been in the Scott County Jail since Nov. 18, 2013; Bassett, since Jan. 16, 2014. Neither has been indicted.

Brandon Buskey, with the ACLU's Criminal Law Reform Project, says in a news release that the county "has tossed these people into a legal black hole."

The ACLU seeks release of individuals not appointed counsel within one week after their initial court appearances and those who remain unindicted 21 days after their arrests.

Murder suspect told to return father's estate

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri lawyer accused of killing her father and his girlfriend has been ordered to remain in jail until she repays part of her father's estate.

Susan Elizabeth Van Note, of Lee's Summit, faces two counts of first-degree murder in the October 2010 shooting deaths of 67-year-old William Van Note and 59-year-old Sharon Dickson. William Van Note was hospitalized after the shooting and prosecutors allege his daughter forged durable power of attorney documents to persuade doctors to take him off life support.

The Jefferson City News-Tribune reports a Missouri appeals court said Tuesday that Susan Van Note sold several pieces of her father's property as the representative of his estate. The court said she should remain jailed until she returns at least part of the estate.

Newell wins new trial in case of manslaughter

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - An Alabama man sentenced to serve 15 years in prison for manslaughter in a 2008 shooting death at a Mississippi bar has won a new trial from the Mississippi Court of Appeals.

James "Chuck" Newell was sentenced in 2012 in Lowndes County Circuit Court in the slaying of Adrian Boyette.

Prosecutors said Newell, of Vernon, Alabama, fatally shot Boyette after an altercation outside the Slab House, a bar on the outer limits of Lowndes County, near the Alabama state line.

Newell had been convicted of manslaughter in 2009, but the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned the verdict and sent the case back for retrial.

In his appeal, Newell argued he acted in self-defense.

In a 6-4 ruling Tuesday, the Court of Appeals found the trial judge erred in allowing forensic pathologist Dr. Stephen Hayne to testify to the position of Boyette's body at the time of the shooting.

The court's majority said Hayne offered no facts or evidence to support his contention that Boyette's gunshot wound was consistent with being in a guarded position.

The dissenting judges said Hayne used various data - including photographs, autopsy body-illustration diagram and the crime scene - and his expertise to testify that Boyette's wound was consistent with the victim putting himself in a guarded position.