Supreme Court Notebook

Convicted killer of Houston girl, 2, loses at high court

HOUSTON (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review an appeal from a 56-year-old Houston man on Texas death row for the rape and fatal beating of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter 16 years ago.

The high court made no comment Monday in rejecting the case of Kerry Dimart Allen.

Allen’s attorneys had argued that his lawyers at his Harris County trial in 2001 were deficient and that Texas, its death penalty law and the trial court’s actions during jury selection all violated Allen’s constitutional protections.

Allen already was a convicted sex offender when he was arrested for the May 2000 slaying of Kienna Lashay Baker. He’d been living with the child's mother and watched her four children when she went to work.

Allen does not yet have an execution date.


Court dismisses GOP appeal over Virginia districts

WASHINGTON (AP) — A unanimous Supreme Court has dismissed a Republican appeal over congressional districts in Virginia.

The justices on Monday left in place a decision by a lower court that said Virginia illegally packed black voters into one district to make adjacent districts safer for Republican incumbents.

Republican members of Congress wanted the court to reinstate the districting map. But the justices ruled that the elected officials did not have the right to challenge the court ruling.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the court that there is no “record evidence that supports their claim of harm.”

The same three-judge court that threw out the map drawn by the state Legislature in 2012 has since created new districts that are in place for the 2016 congressional elections.

The dispute concerned the old boundaries of Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District, which is the only one in the state with a majority of African-American residents. Represented by Democrat Bobby Scott, the district ran from north of Richmond to the coastal cities of Norfolk and Newport News, and its shape has been described as a “grasping claw.”

Scott’s seat is one of 11 congressional districts in Virginia. Republicans who controlled the state Legislature when the new map was drawn in 2012 created districts that elected eight Republicans and three Democrats. At the same time, Democrats carried Virginia in the past two presidential elections and hold both Senate seats and the governor’s office.

The lower court has since drawn a new congressional map, in which Scott’s district is more compact and no longer includes Richmond, for use in this year’s elections.

Republican House members wanted to preserve the map as it was adopted because they fear that a redrawn map could water down minority strength in Scott’s district and increase the number of Democratic-leaning black voters in neighboring Republican districts.

The case is Wittman v. Personhuballah, 14-1504.


High court will not reconsider  Blagojevich case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court won’t reconsider its decision to reject former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s appeal of his corruption convictions.

The justices on Monday denied without comment a long-shot petition urging the court to take another look at the case.

The court first turned down Blagojevich’s appeal on March 28. He challenged an appeals court ruling that said Blagojevich crossed the line when he sought money in exchange for naming someone to fill the vacant Senate seat once occupied by President Barack Obama.

Blagojevich argued that circumstances have changed because prosecutors said they won’t retry him on five counts tossed by a federal appeals court. He said eliminating the possibility of retrial made his case a better candidate for the high court because there are no longer concerns about “piecemeal litigation.”


High court lets conviction stand in $46M scheme

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand the conviction of a Rhode Island man who ran a $46 million investment scheme that targeted the terminally ill.

The high court on Monday denied Joseph Caramadre’s request to review his guilty plea.

Caramadre was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay $46 million in restitution after pleading guilty in 2013. He later tried to withdraw his plea, saying he was innocent and had received an inadequate defense.

Caramadre took out bonds and annuities using the personal information of terminally ill people, then collected when they died.

Terry McAuliffe, now governor of Virginia, and Rhode Island U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin were among his investors. There was no evidence they knew it was illegal. Both later donated the money to charity.


Sotomayor to graduates: Learn from mistakes

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (AP) — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has advised the class of 2016 at the University of Rhode Island to hold onto the memories they’ve created and learn from their mistakes.

Sotomayor spoke at the Sunday commencement ceremony at the public university’s campus in South Kingstown. She also received an honorary degree.

Sotomayor spoke of the importance of what she called “aha” and “uh-oh” moments. She said these moments provide life-long lessons in asking for help to reach important goals.

Sotomayor is the first Hispanic and third woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

More than 3,300 students received their degrees from the school on Sunday. URI says 57 percent of the 2016 graduates are women and 43 percent are men.



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