Daily Briefs (March 23)

Court refuses Asian carp injunction request

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has turned down a second request to immediately close shipping locks to prevent invasive Asian carp from infesting the Great Lakes.

The court on Monday refused a renewed request by Michigan to issue a preliminary injunction that would order the locks closed. The justices turned down the original request in January.

Asian carp have been migrating up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers toward the Great Lakes, swarming waterways leading to Lake Michigan.

Scientists fear that if they reach the lakes, they could disrupt the food chain and endanger the $7 billion fishery.

The biggest Asian carp can weigh 100 pounds and consume up to 40 percent of their body weight daily in plankton, the base of the food chain for Great Lakes fish.

Appeals court says judge should have listened to both sides

DETROIT (AP) — Justice isn’t served by a one-sided judge, the Michigan Court of Appeals said last Friday.

The court threw out personal-protection orders against an Oakland County couple who were drawn into a dispute with neighbors. A judge had signed the orders without giving the pair a chance to fully defend themselves.

“In civil cases, due process generally requires notice of the nature of the proceedings, a meaningful time and manner to be heard and an impartial decision maker,” an appeals panel said.

Andrea and Nelson Najer wanted to show a video, and 13 neighbors wanted to testify in the couple’s defense at a court hearing in August 2008. But a transcript shows Judge Charles Simon wasn’t interested.

“Because the animosity exists here, it’s obvious there’s got to be a personal-protection order,” said Simon, a 78-year-old retired judge from Montcalm County who was handling the Oakland County case as a visiting judge.

The judge said court hearings on personal-protection orders are the “worst thing” in the U.S. justice system.

The protection orders against the Najers expired in 2009 while the appeal was pending, but their attorney, Chuck Kronzek said the ruling by the appeals court is important.

In October, a different three-judge panel on the appeals court overturned a protection order issued by Simon because of a “dearth of relevant findings.”

Simon stopped hearing cases as a visiting judge in Oakland County after 2008 because other retired local judges were available, court administrator Kevin Oeffner said.

Michigan fugitive found in bar in hospital gown

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A fugitive wanted for bank robbery in Michigan is in custody after police say he walked out of a Pittsburgh hospital and into a bar wearing only his hospital gown, with an intravenous needle still his arm.

Authorities say police were called to JR's Bar Friday night after 20-year-old Elbert Lewis Thompson II walked in from Allegheny General Hospital. Thompson was taken into custody a short time later.

Police in Vandergrift say Thompson had been detained by officers after fleeing a traffic stop there, about 25 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. He was initially hospitalized after complaining of feeling sick and losing consciousness.

Thompson is wanted in Oakland County, Michigan, for armed robbery and other charges. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.