National Roundup

Pennsylvania
2 men jailed in fatal ODs linked to tranquilizer

BEAVER, Pa. (AP) — Two Pennsylvania men have been jailed on charges they caused separate overdose deaths linked to abuse of an opioid-based sedative for elephants and other large animals.

County Coroner David Gabauer says the deaths, which occurred in Beaver Falls in late November and New Brighton in mid-December, are the first in Pennsylvania linked to carfentanil.

Nineteen-year-old Hakeem Shamier Stuckey is charged with drug delivery resulting in death and other charges for the November overdose and 29-year-old Reginald Bernard Davis faces similar charges in the December death.

Carfentanil is considered 100 times more powerful than fentanyl and 10,000 times stronger than morphine.

Davis faces a preliminary hearing Jan. 27 and his attorney didn’t immediately return a call for comment Monday. Stuckey, of Aliquippa, doesn’t have an attorney listed in court documents and faces a hearing Jan. 31.

Ohio
Charge dropped against man who burned flag at GOP convention

CLEVELAND (AP) — The man whose case led to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the burning of the American flag being protected by free speech no longer faces a charge over another flag-burning at last summer’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Cleveland.com reports court filings show prosecutors last week dropped the misdemeanor assault charge against Gregory “Joey” Johnson. A city spokesman didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.

The 60-year-old San Francisco man was arrested after he set an American flag on fire during a July 20 protest near an RNC security entrance.

Johnson’s attorney says the charges were politically motivated.

Johnson’s torching of a flag at a GOP convention three decades ago led to the landmark 1989 U.S. Supreme Court decision that said flag-burning is protected by the First Amendment.

South Dakota
State lawmaker resigns over sex with interns

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota legislator who acknowledged having sexual contact with two interns resigned on Monday, saying he regrets his actions.

Republican Rep. Mathew Wollmann announced his resignation in a letter, which was first reported by the Mitchell Daily Republic. The 26-year-old former Marine didn’t immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press.

Last week, he said both interns were over age 21 and that the contact was consensual. But his colleagues had voted to set up a committee to investigate his actions and were scheduled to meet Tuesday. Majority Leader Lee Qualm told the AP that Wollmann, from the eastern South Dakota city of Madison, informed him in person on Monday that he would resign.

“I have nothing but the greatest respect for those that I have grown so close to these past two years, and even in these early days of the 92nd legislative session,” Wollmann wrote in the letter. “Those that read this should know that it is my wrongdoing that has put this institution in a sour light. Those responsible for me have displayed nothing but the highest honor for this establishment.

Qualm, House Speaker Mark Mickelson and Minority Leader Spencer Hawley said in a statement that Wollmann decided “this was best for him, his fiancé, his family and the young ladies involved.”

“Every legislator has an obligation to refrain from behavior unbecoming to the Legislature and inconsistent with maintaining the public’s trust,” the House leaders said.

In South Dakota, legislative interns are college students, some 21 or older. Legislative rules don’t explicitly ban sexual contact or relationships between lawmakers and interns, although they do prohibit sexual harassment and call on lawmakers to maintain “the highest of moral and ethical standards.”

Wollmann’s public admission came shortly after a legislative committee voted down a new rule — proposed by a lawmaker who had raised questions privately about Wollmann’s conduct — to explicitly bar legislators from sexual contact with interns and pages. One lawmaker who spoke against the change said he felt the current rules were sufficient.

The House leaders said they will meet with lawmakers, interns and staff to discuss potential improvements that could be made to legislator and employee training and any updates to legislative rules. Hawley told the AP that he supports discussing new rules.
Wollmann is the second South Dakota lawmaker in roughly a decade to be investigated for alleged misconduct involving interns or pages.


Georgia
Court dismisses car crash lawsuit against Snapchat

GRIFFIN, Ga. (AP) — A lawsuit claiming Snapchat’s “speed filter” tempted a woman to drive too fast before she crashed into a couple’s car has been dismissed by a judge who says the Communications Decency Act provides the social media company with immunity.

Wentworth and Karen Maynard sued Snapchat and the driver, Christal McGee, in Spalding County State Court in April. They said McGee was driving on a highway south of Atlanta in September 2015 while using a Snapchat filter that puts the rate at which a vehicle is traveling over an image.
It says McGee was trying to reach 100 mph when her car hit theirs, sending it across the left lane and into an embankment, and injuring Wentworth Maynard. The judge’s action on Friday leaves pending the claims against McGee.

Louisiana
Legal work for marijuana? Court suspends lawyer

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Louisiana lawyer who worked in exchange for marijuana has been suspended from practice for a year. The state’s Supreme Court rejected a disciplinary board’s recommendation to let attorney James Mecca keep working.

Mecca pleaded guilty in 2014 to a misdemeanor first-offence charge of possessing marijuana in 2013. His six-month jail sentence was suspended and he has served a year of probation.

The license suspension is a separate matter.

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office set up a sting after an informant reported that she’d paid Mecca earlier in marijuana, and he had offered to represent her again for the “same old, same old.”

Two justices recommended lighter measures Friday, noting that Mecca cooperated with investigators and went through drug treatment.

A third justice said he deserved harsher discipline.

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