National Roundup

Oregon

Occupy Portland trials 'bottleneck' courts

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- People who were arrested during Occupy Portland demonstrations are crowding the court system.

Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Amber Kinney says the system is "bottlenecked."

The Oregonian reports the main holdup is the number of people seeking jury trials on misdemeanor charges, such as interfering with a peace officer, criminal trespassing or disorderly conduct.

The defendants say they were hauled away in handcuffs and they want their day in court.

So far, the district attorney's office has handled nearly 200 Occupy Portland cases. About 90 have been closed through community court or other means, and six are being handled by the juvenile unit. Only five have gone to trial where a judge imposed fines of $100 or $200. Others remain open.

Wyoming

Contempt charge dropped against Casper attorney

RAWLINS, Wyo. (AP) -- A Casper attorney who called a judge a witch in a court filing is no longer facing a contempt charge.

Sublette County Circuit Court Judge Curt Haws dropped the case against Richard Szekely on Thursday because he was denied his right to a speedy trial.

Defendants must go on trial within 180 days of an arraignment. The Rawlins Daily Times reports that the period expired on Jan. 16.

He said he drafted two versions of an order and mistakenly sent the one that stated "Honorable Jane Eakin Circuit Court Witch". He claimed he was under the strain of handling two cases at the time.

Eakin is a judge in Carbon County. Prosecutors didn't return a call seeking comment.

The case was delayed after Szekely was involved in a motorcycle crash.

California

Ex-Modesto officer facing sex charges

MODESTO, Calif. (AP) -- A former Modesto police officer is facing charges that he sexually assaulted a woman while on duty.

Lee Freddie Gaines II was arrested on Thursday and booked into Stanislaus County Jail after a brief court appearance.

His arrest followed his indictment by a grand jury on charges including oral copulation by force.

His alleged victim, a 37-year-old woman, told the Modesto Bee she works as a massage therapist out of a motel and was contacted for her services on Jan. 5.

She said Gaines showed up about 45 minutes later and threatened to arrest her on suspicion of solicitation. He then allegedly putt handcuffs on her and sexually assaulted her.

Modesto police say Gaines was stripped of his law enforcement powers after the allegations surfaced.

It was not immediately clear whether he had an attorney.

Ohio

9 indicted in Ohio in university fraternity hazing

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) -- Nine men have been indicted in Ohio on charges of beating two Youngstown State University fraternity recruits hospitalized with hazing injuries.

The indictments were returned Thursday by a Mahoning County grand jury. Each suspect was charged with two counts of felonious assault.

A Youngstown State sophomore told a judge that he and a friend were beaten so badly during pledging rituals for the Kappa Alpha Psi (seye) fraternity that they were hospitalized. He says pledges were beaten with fists, a paddle and wire clothes hanger.

The university says the fraternity will be suspended 15 years for the alleged off-campus hazing. Messages were left Friday at fraternity headquarters in Philadelphia.

The (Youngstown) Vindicator says the defendants were released on bond. No attorneys for them were listed in court records.

North Carolina

Judge sentences Canadian for scamming elderly

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A Canadian man will spend more than 12 years in a U.S. prison after pleading guilty to being part of a complicated scheme that scammed older people out of money, including a Raleigh couple who lost more than $900,000.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle sentenced Clayton Atkinson to prison Thursday.

Atkinson lived in Montreal. He was sentenced after testimony that he defrauded about 40 victims in a scam that involved convincing older people they had won sweepstakes money.

Atkinson has promised not to appeal. He was charged with conspiracy and mail fraud.

Atkinson said he could not make excuses for his conduct and promised he would not scam again.

Kentucky

Jail employee gets $60K in harassment lawsuit

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- A Fayette County Detention Center employee has been awarded $60,000 in a lawsuit alleging she was sexually harassed her to the point that it interfered with her work.

A jury on Thursday also found that Cpl. Charlotte Trotter couldn't prove that Maj. Michael Korb retaliated against her or that Korb touched her breast without consent in October 2009.

Trotter told the Lexington Herald-Leader she was happy someone listed to her.

Susan Straub, spokeswoman for Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, said declined comment.

Trotter sued the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, former detention center director Ron Bishop and detention center Maj. Michael Korb in November 2009, claiming she was sexually harassed by Korb and was retaliated against after she reported the harassment.

Judge James Ishmael dismissed Bishop after finding that claims of negligent supervision were not supported under the law.

Trotter could have received more than $1 million had the jury voted in her favor on all issues and awarded her the maximum amount allowed.

Vermont

Teen's lawyer challenges police questioning

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) -- A lawyer for a Vermont woman accused of hitting a pedestrian with her car while texting is seeking to have the case dismissed, saying prosecutors are unable to prove she was texting at the time.

The Burlington Free Press reports the lawyer for 19-year-old Emma Vieira also argued in court Thursday that police pressured her into speaking them over four days following the August accident, in effect holding her custody but failing to read Vieira her Miranda rights. Therefore, the lawyer said anything Vieira said should be inadmissible.

Prosecutors disagree with the arguments.

Vieira of Colchester pleaded not guilty to grossly negligent operation of a motor vehicle with serious bodily injury resulting in the crash. The impact left the 53-year-old Debbie Drewniak in a coma for a while.

Published: Mon, Mar 19, 2012

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