National Roundup

 New York

Group files suit against NYC’s e-cigarette ban 
NEW YORK (AP) — A smokers’ advocacy group says it has filed a lawsuit against New York City seeking to overturn the city’s ban on electronic cigarettes.
The NYC Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment said Tuesday it filed the papers in state Supreme Court.
The Smoke-Free Air Act was signed into law in December, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s last month in office. The law prohibits e-cigarettes in all areas where regular cigarettes are banned.
The lawsuit says the ban regulates both tobacco smoke exposure and e-cigarettes. The group says that violates the “One Subject Rule” of the city’s charter.
The FDA plans to regulate e-cigarettes but has not yet issued proposed rules.
The City Council and Law Department did not immediately respond Tuesday to requests for comment.
 
California
Ex-Animal Planet host sentenced for lizard sale 
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The former host of Animal Planet’s “Wild Recon” show has been sentenced to two years’ probation and 200 hours of community service after admitting to trying to sell two endangered Iranian desert monitor lizards without a permit.
City News Service reports Donald Schultz was also ordered to pay $9,000 in fines on Monday. In November he pleaded guilty to violating the Endangered Species Act as part of a deal with prosecutors.
Prosecutors say Schultz sold the rare lizards for $2,500 to an undercover federal wildlife agent who answered his 2010 offer on Facebook. A federal agent received the lizards in Buffalo, N.Y., and took them into custody.
 
California
Woman freed af­ter serving 32 ye­ars in killing 
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A 74-year-old California woman is free after serving 32 years of a life sentence for her role in a 1981 killing.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Mary Virginia Jones walked out of a Southern California prison late Monday and was met by family and friends.
Jones was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole for a killing committed alongside boyfriend Mose Willis, who died on death row.
She has always maintained that Willis forced her to help him at gunpoint, and law students at USC took up her case.
Prosecutors conducted a new investigation and agreed to accept a plea of no contest for involuntary manslaughter.
Earlier Monday, a judge ruled Jones had served well over the 11-year maximum sentence for the lesser crime and ordered her freed.
 
Virginia
Activist compares Redskins’ owner move to ‘bribery’ 
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — An American Indian activist says Dan Snyder’s attempt to assist Native Americans is “somewhere between a PR assault and bribery.”
Suzan Shown Harjo told The Associated Press on Monday night that Snyder is showing the “same arrogance” that he’s shown previously when defending a team nickname that many consider racist.
Snyder is creating the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation, which he says will “provide meaningful and measurable resources that provide genuine opportunities” for Native Americans.
He announced it in a letter to the team’s fans and gave no financial details.
Snyder again gave no indication that he plans to change the team’s name. Harjo has been a lead figure in a case that seeks to strip the Redskins of their federal trademark protection.

Tennessee
Ex-TV Judge Joe Brown arrested over court stunt 
MEMPHIS, Tennessee (AP) — The star of the television show “Judge Joe Brown” has been arrested and charged with five counts of contempt of court in Tennessee, court officials in Memphis said Monday.
Shelby County Juvenile Court officials said the 66-year-old Brown was sentenced to five days in jail after causing an outburst Monday in a child support hearing. Brown is running in the Democratic primary for Shelby County district attorney general.
Magistrate Judge Harold “Hal” Horne charged the former TV judge with contempt of court, said Dan Michael, chief magistrate judge of the Shelby County Juvenile Court.
“He darn near caused a riot in the courtroom, he had people so inflamed,” Michael said of the former TV judge.
Brown could not be reached for comment. Neither jail officials nor juvenile court officials knew whether he had retained a lawyer. WREG-TV was reporting that Brown had been released from jail.
The former TV judge was representing a woman who had been brought in on a warrant in a child support case, Michael said. Brown, he said, was yelling and repeatedly challenging Horne’s authority and even addressing his comments to a crowd of people inside the courtroom.
Brown’s nationally syndicated TV show was canceled last year.
 
Indiana
Man gets 40 years for slaying of romantic rival 
ANGOLA, Ind. (AP) — A Bangladesh native who fled Indiana for his home country nearly 25 years ago after being charged in connection with a romantic rival’s death was sentenced Monday to 40 years in prison.
Mahfuz Huq, 47, expressed remorse and cried before a packed courtroom as Steuben County Superior Court Judge William Fee handed down the maximum sentence under a plea agreement. Huq, a naturalized U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty in November to voluntary manslaughter in the Aug. 9, 1989, fatal stabbing of 19-year-old Todd Kelley at the victim’s home in Hamilton, about 30 miles north of Fort Wayne.
After the slaying, Huq left the U.S. and lived in Bangladesh, where authorities were unable to reach him due to extradition laws. He was arrested in India in February 2011 when he arrived in New Delhi to take part in a table tennis training camp and was returned to Indiana last July after fighting extradition.
In exchange for Huq’s guilty plea, prosecutors dismissed charges of murder and intimidation as well as a six-count burglary case.
Kelley’s body was found by his girlfriend, Christine Mutzfeld, who had been in a previous relationship with Huq. Court documents said cigarette butts at the murder scene indicated Huq waited for Kelley near her home.
Huq, who was 22 at the time, was charged with murder two weeks after the slaying. At the time, Huq already was accused of threatening to kill anyone who dated his former girlfriend.
A report by an Indiana State Police technician said Kelley was first stabbed in the back and it appeared he was “taken by surprise.”

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