National Roundup

 Minnesota

State high court to hear assisted suicide case 
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Supreme Court will consider the case of a national right-to-die group accused in the 2007 suicide of an Apple Valley woman.
The Star Tribune reports the high court agreed to hear Dakota County prosecutors’ appeal of an Appeals Court ruling. That ruling said the state law that prohibits advising or encouraging suicide is unconstitutional.
The Appeals Court ruling, however, didn’t dismiss charges of aiding and abetting suicide against the Florida-based group Final Exit Network and two members.
The Supreme Court also agreed to hear the cross-appeal of Final Exit Network that all of the charges are unconstitutional.
All proceedings were stayed pending a ruling in an ex-nurse who was convicted in 2011 of “advising and encouraging” two suicides. The Court of Appeals upheld the conviction last year.
 
North Dakota
Supreme Court says search with dog was legal 
FARGO, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Supreme Court says a judge made a mistake by throwing out evidence obtained by police who brought a drug-sniffing dog into a secure Fargo apartment a month after a resident complained about the smell of marijuana.
Lawyers for the state appealed the ruling by East Central District Judge Wickham Corwin, who said after an April hearing that police should have obtained a search warrant before conducting the sweep.
Matthew Nguyen was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Police in plain clothes had entered Nguyen’s building after a woman had opened the door.
The Supreme Court says Nguyen could not expect the common hallways of the apartment building to be free from any intrusion, including a search by police.
 
Indiana
Ex-rep. reg­ains his law license after 22 years 
MUNSTER, Ind. (AP) — A former lawmaker from northwestern Indiana has had his law license restored 22 years after it was suspended.
The Times of Munster reports the Indiana Supreme Court reinstated former state Rep. William Drozda, D-Gary, to the practice of law on Dec. 19.
Court records show Drozda had his law license suspended in 1991 following a determination by the court’s disciplinary commission that he committed 10 counts of misconduct involving client neglect, including failing to show for court and missing deadlines.
The 1995 Supreme Court order suspending Drozda awarded credit time dating back to his initial 1991 suspension, meaning he could have sought reinstatement immediately. Court records indicate he filed for reinstatement Sept. 13.
Drozda represented Gary in the Indiana House from 1976 to 1982.
 
California
San Diego sued over stinky sea lion body waste 
SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego’s La Jolla Cove stinks and the culprit is sea lion poop.
That’s according to a lawsuit filed last week by a hotel and restaurant. U-T San Diego reports the suit says the stench is driving away customers and poses a public health risk. It claims the city hasn’t acted promptly to deal with the problem.
Alex Roth, a spokesman for interim Mayor Todd Gloria, says the city is working toward a solution.
He says the smell is probably more pungent recently because the sea lions have been snacking on anchovies.
Last year, businesses complained that guano from pelicans, gulls and other birds was raising a stink. The city eventually hired a company to spray a bacterial solution to dissolve the waste.
 
North Carolina
Inmate wins lawsuit against administrator 
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A former inmate at the Craggy Correctional Center has won a federal sexual abuse lawsuit against a former prison supervisor.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that a federal jury in Winston-Salem ruled that the male inmate’s constitutional rights were violated by 57-year-old Edith Pope, the assistant superintendent at the prison in Buncombe County.
The jury awarded the inmate just $1 in compensation.
Pope had pleaded guilty to sexual battery by a custodian in 2006 and was sentenced to about two years in prison.
The inmate’s lawyer, D.J. O’Brien, says the verdict shows Pope forced his client to have a nonconsensual sexual relationship with her.
The inmate had been convicted in 1990 in Polk County of second-degree murder, arson and burglary and was sentenced to life in prison.
 
North Dakota
Corps says s­uit against div­er­sion is without merit 
FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Attorneys for the federal government are asking a judge to throw out a lawsuit by a group opposed to a plan to divert high water from the Red River around Fargo and neighboring Moorhead, Minn.
The Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority in September filed a complaint against the nearly $2 billion project, which would require a staging area south of the two cities during major floods.
The group has said it is not trying to stop the project but wants the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to come up with a cheaper plan that doesn’t flood farmland in Richland County in North Dakota and neighboring Wilkin County in Minnesota.
The corps said in its response filed earlier this week that other options were studied and the group has failed to make a valid claim.
“Plaintiffs lack standing to make the claims asserted,” the corps lawyer state in court documents.
Nathan Berseth, spokesman for landowners south of Fargo, said Thursday that he’s waiting to see how the corps and government lawyers “justify their hopeful conquest to rob the rural land owners of their rights and land for the sake of urban sprawl.”
The response by the government denies claims by the Richland-Wilkin group that construction of a planned ring dike around three communities south of Fargo before the diversion is approved by the state of Minnesota will cause “irreparable harm.”
The corps says Oxbow routinely floods under existing conditions, and Hickson and Bakke flood in times of major high water, regardless of whether the diversion is built.
The project has been authorized by Congress, which technically allows construction to begin. Federal funding needs to be appropriated each year to cover construction costs, which would be shared by local, state and federal governments.

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