National Roundup

UTAH
Ex-judge accused of sexual assault of 16-year-old wants suit tossed

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A former federal judge in Washington, D.C. is asking for dismissal of a lawsuit claiming he sexually assaulted a Utah woman when he was a prosecutor and she was a 16-year-old witness in a high-profile case.

Lawyers for Richard W. Roberts argue the case should be tossed because the statute of limitations is up on the 1981 claims.

The woman's lawyer counters that a new Utah law removed such limitations in civil child sex abuse cases.

Terry Mitchell says Roberts abused her multiple times throughout the trial of a white supremacist who killed two black joggers.

Roberts acknowledged having an intimate relationship, but said it was consensual.

The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they were sexually assaulted, but Mitchell has said she wants to make the allegations public.


SOUTH DAKOTA
Federal district court denies death row inmate's appeal

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A federal court has denied the appeal of a death row inmate seeking to overturn his decades-old murder conviction.

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley on Thursday said the U.S. District Court in South Dakota denied Charles Rhines' appeal to have his penalty amended. Rhines' latest appeal came after the same court denied a separate petition in February.

The court ruling affirms that Rhines' "murder conviction and capital sentence for the horrific murder of Donnivan Shaeffer are constitutional," Jackley said in a statement.

Rhines was convicted of murder and sentenced to death for the March 1992 stabbing of Schaeffer at a Rapid City doughnut shop. Authorities contend Schaeffer, 22, a part-time employee at the shop, had surprised Rhines during the burglary.

The state Supreme Court previously upheld his conviction. Rhines' defense team did not return a request for comment from The Associated Press on Thursday.

In his most recent appeal, Rhines argued that newly discovered evidence provided grounds for relief, including the fact that "at least one juror harbored serious anti-gay bias and that homophobic stereotypes served as a basis for imposing a death sentence." He argued that issue had not been previously raised in either state or federal proceedings because none of his previous attorneys had interviewed the jurors from his trial, but he had now secured affidavits from some members of the jury.

U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier, however, said Rhines' argument failed for several reasons, among them the fact that Rhines' juror bias claim should have been set from the beginning of his earlier petition seeking a writ of habeas corpus.

"Rhines faults each of his attorneys for not developing this evidence sooner... But Rhines's allegations undermine the foundation of his motion," she wrote. "For Rhines to prevail, he must show that his evidence could not have been discovered earlier despite having exercised reasonable diligence to obtain it. Rhines, however, asserts that the evidence should have been discovered earlier if his attorneys were diligent."

Rhines can appeal the federal district court's decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals and, ultimately, to the U.S. Supreme Court.


KANSAS
Jury trial delayed in discrimination case against ­district attorney

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - A jury trial in a federal civil lawsuit against Shawnee County district attorney has been rescheduled.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports federal court records show a continuance was granted June 20 in the lawsuit against Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor. The trial's scheduled to begin in Kansas City, Kansas, on Jan. 4. The trial was previously set to start Sept. 19.

Lisa Anne Moore, of Lawrence, and Krystal L. Boxum-Debolt, of Rancho Rio, New Mexico, filed the lawsuit in 2012, claiming racial and gender discrimination led to their wrongful termination from Taylor's office.

Taylor has claimed they deserved to be terminated because their work emails about colleagues featured "derogatory and unprofessional comments" laced with profanity.

Taylor, a Democrat, has announced he isn't seeking election to a third term.


PENNSYLVANIA
Woman claims probation officer prolonged case, wanted to have sex

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania woman has filed a federal lawsuit against her juvenile probation officer saying he prolonged her supervision in a bid to seduce her after she turned 18.

The Northampton County officer being sued, 32-year-old Ryan Wasser, is already awaiting trial on criminal charges that he sent her text messages asking to have sex with her and included nude pictures of himself when she was a minor.

Northampton County officials haven't commented on the lawsuit filed Thursday in Allentown. Wasser's criminal defense attorney doesn't know whether Wasser has an attorney to defend the lawsuit but says Friday he'll advise Wasser not to comment.

Her lawsuit claims Wasser continued supervising the woman without reviewing her for release when she turned 18 so he could continue to "exert power and leverage over her."


RHODE ISLAND
Murder suspect wins bid to restore his parental rights

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Rhode Island's highest court has reversed a lower court's decision that had revoked the parental rights of a murder suspect.

The state Supreme Court on Thursday vacated a family court judge's decision terminating of rights of Tony Gonzalez to his now 8-year-old daughter and sent the matter back for further proceedings.

The court found that the family court judge had erred by basing the termination on Gonzalez's conviction and double life sentences - both of which have been overturned.

Gonzalez had argued that absent the criminal convictions the family judge could not find by clear and convincing evidence that he was an unfit parent. The high court noted that Gonzalez is now presumed innocent.

Gonzalez remains jailed pending retrial in the January 2012 shooting death of Carl Cunningham Jr. in Warwick.

Published: Mon, Jul 11, 2016

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