National Roundup

New Mexico
Woman gets 11 years in prison in shooting death

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A San Juan County woman has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for second-degree murder in the 2012 shooting death of another woman.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says 21-year-old Krisohn Adakai was convicted of killing 26-year-old Cyrstal Tom at Adakai’s home on the Navajo Reservation during a fight while drinking.
The office says Adakai pleaded guilty on June 13 to the July 28, 2012 killing and that she was sentenced in federal court in Albuquerque last week.

New York
Harper Lee has settled bestseller copyright lawsuit 

NEW YORK (AP) — Harper Lee has settled the lawsuit she filed to secure the copyright to her classic novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
A federal judge in New York City approved the order last week dismissing the case against Samuel L. Pinkus, the son-in-law of Lee’s former literary agent, and companies he allegedly created. Two other defendants had been dropped from the suit a week earlier.
Gloria C. Phares, the Alabama author’s attorney, says the case had ended to Lee’s satisfaction. Defense attorney Vincent Carissimi said many people misconstrued the nature of the case and that Lee’s royalties were never in danger.
Filed in early May in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the suit alleged that Pinkus failed to properly protect the copyright after his father-in-law, Eugene Winick, became ill a decade ago.

Mississippi
Hearing slated in  sheriff witness intimidation case

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) — The attorney for Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd says prosecutors are trying to turn local residents against Byrd and prevent the veteran law enforcement officer from getting a fair trial.
Prosecutors last week asked a judge to revoke Byrd’s bond. They allege Byrd has tried to intimidate witnesses, specifically three Jackson County sheriff’s deputies who testified before the grand jury that indicted Byrd on Aug. 30.
A case status hearing is scheduled for Friday in Pascagoula.
Joe Sam Owen, Byrd’s attorney, described prosecutors’ motion as “reckless filing” filled with “scathing and inflammatory accusations and opinions” prompting pretrial publicity that “tramples” the sheriff’s constitutional right to a fair and impartial jury trial.
Owen said in a response to the motion filed Friday that prosecutors should have filed the motion under seal, or allowed for a review to determine if it should be filed publicly. Owen specifically objected to the way the motion with the attached narratives of deputies made its way into the public domain.
Owen said Byrd did talk to the deputies.
“Mike Byrd was only assisting his counsel in attempting to assimilate accurate facts .,” Owen said. “Mike Byrd has the absolute right to participate in the defense of his case.”
In addition, Owen said, Byrd “does not seek to change venue and the state should not force him to seek a change of venue.”
If a judge agrees with prosecutors, Byrd would go to jail.
Byrd paid a $31,000 bond the day he was arrested. Typically bond is set, allowing the accused to stay out of jail until trial and to ensure they show up in court.
The indictment alleges Byrd pushed an arrest in a murder case, even though a detective thought the suspect was innocent, and snooped on employees at a restaurant that refused to accept a check from him.
It also alleges Byrd used his office to retaliate against people he considered political and personal foes, including an area police chief and an alderman.
Byrd is serving his fourth term as sheriff in Jackson County.

Ohio
Justices give GOP antagonist spot on ballot

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court has ordered a former state senator onto the fall ballot in Summit County, settling the latest round in a long-running dispute involving one of Ohio’s most powerful political leaders.
The high court’s decision allows former Republican state Sen. Kevin Coughlin to run in November for Stow Municipal Clerk of Courts.
It’s a considerable political fall for Coughlin, who once aspired to be Ohio’s next governor. That was before Coughlin and the New Summit County Republicans took on the county Republican party, and its then-chairman Alex Arshinkoff, and lost.
In 2008, the New Summit County Republicans sought to replace Arshinkoff, alleging he had consolidated power for personal benefit. Coughlin went further, accusing Arshinkoff of exploiting his position to steer business to his lobbying firm and to pay for a car and other personal perks.
Arshinkoff, who took charge of the party in 1978 at the age of 23, defended his record and his approach. He called Coughlin “truth-challenged.”
Lacking GOP support, Coughlin chose this year to run for the nonpartisan office of clerk. But the Summit County Board of Elections blocked the effort, voting to reject Coughlin’s candidacy on grounds that his past Republican affiliation disqualified him from running without a party label.
Justices disagreed last week, voting unanimously to overturn the board’s vote and place Coughlin’s name before voters.
“If it was the intention of the bosses to slow my campaign down, they failed,” Coughlin said in a statement. “We have been campaigning hard all throughout the court district, and I’m encouraged by the support we have received, including the endorsements of several Republican and Democratic community leaders.”
He said he intends to run a nonpartisan, professional judicial office if elected.

Florida
Court to decide if legislators must testify on district

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Supreme Court justices sound skeptical about whether state legislators must answer questions in a long-running political battle.
Groups suing over the way legislators drew new districts for the state Senate and Congress want to interview legislators. But lawyers for the Florida Legislature say such a move would violate a long-standing privilege that shields legislators from testifying in lawsuits.
The Supreme Court on Monday spent nearly an hour hearing arguments from both sides.
Several justices made it clear they would be reluctant to allow “open-ended” questions for legislators. But some justices said some limited questioning may be reasonable in redistricting cases.
The decision by the Supreme Court could play a pivotal role in the final outcome of the lawsuit that seeks to overturn the current districts.

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