Court Roundup ...

PENSYLVANIA
Judge: Philly must put $6.7M into firefighter fund
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A judge has ordered Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration to put $6.7 million into the health-care fund of the city’s firefighters union.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Common Pleas Judge Idee C. Fox on Wednesday also ordered the city to increase its contribution to the fund by about $350 per member; the union says that would amount to an additional $1 million a month.
Officials say the fund has shrunk amid a four-year contract dispute with the city, going from $28 million in 2009 to $2 million.
The judge, however, denied the union’s request to force Nutter’s administration to fully implement the arbitration award firefighters won in 2010. The city has appealed the award, which it says would cost $200 million over five years.
Nutter says the city will evaluate the ruling.

LOUISIANA
Woman accused of being drunk in court with kids
THIBODAUX, La. (AP) — Officials say a 27-year-old woman received 150 days in jail when she appeared drunk in a Lafourche Parish court and argued with the judge.
Assistant District Attorney Ben Caillouet said the court staff could smell alcohol.
The Courier reports Jessica Wood, of Larose, appeared in court Wednesday for an arraignment on traffic charges and had brought her two young children with her.
The judge held Wood in contempt of court and entered a not guilty plea on her behalf to the traffic charges.
A pretrial hearing on the traffic charges of failure to secure registration, driving under suspension and no insurance was set for Nov. 12.
The Department of Children & Family Services took custody of the children.

RHODE ISLAND
Narragansett tribe seeking dismissal of suit
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Narragansett Indian Tribe has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought by its former lawyer accusing it of reneging on more than $1 million in legal fees.
The Providence Journal reports that lawyer John F. Killoy Jr. said Wednesday that sovereign immunity prohibits civil actions against the Indian tribe. He says the tribe never explicitly waived its sovereign rights when it entered an agreement for work by lawyer Douglas J. Luckerman.
Anthony Muri, a lawyer for Luckerman, says the tribe waived its sovereign rights when it hired a lawyer to help represent it after state police smoke-shop raid in 2003.
He says that although the tribe enjoys some sovereignty, such as the power to make its own laws and oversee membership, it does not enjoy sovereignty over non-members such as Luckerman.

MASSACHUSETTS
Secretary of State faulted by judge on ethics issues
BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin has been ordered by a judge to cover more than $100,000 in legal fees for a group of lobbyists who challenged his interpretation of the state’s revamped ethics laws.
The judge found that Galvin overstepped his authority by trying to force lobbyists to report every time they spoke to a legislator or state official, even casual, chance meetings.
The lobbyists represented a variety of business interests as well as a government watchdog organization that advocates for stricter lobbying rules.
Plaintiff Robert Gibbons, a health industry lobbyist, tells The Boston Globe he might have 45 or 50 conversations a day with legislators and cannot remember them all, let alone report them to Galvin’s office.

ARIZONA
Mexican activists released from federal custody
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Nine activists arrested after attempting to cross the border from Mexico into the U.S. in protest of American immigration policy were released Wednesday from federal custody in Arizona.
The National Immigrant Youth Alliance announced that the so-called “Dream 9” were freed from the Eloy Detention Center.
They were arrested July 22 in Nogales, Ariz., as they tried to call attention to hundreds of thousands who have been deported during President Barack Obama’s administration.
Earlier this week, the Homeland Security Department tentatively approved asylum requests for the nine immigrants. The department ruled the nine have a “credible fear” of being persecuted if they are sent back to Mexico.
An immigration judge will have the final say on whether they can remain permanently in the U.S., but such a ruling could take years.
 

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