National Roundup

North Carolina
Police: Posting on Facebook of dying man not illegal

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Police in North Carolina say the person who livestreamed a dying man's final moments on Facebook won't be charged because no law was broken.

Sgt. Pedro Orellano tells The Fayetteville Observer that police interviewed the person who recorded the 10-minute video and concluded he or she wasn't involved in the death of 27-year-old Calvin Louis Blackshire Jr.

Blackshire was shot and killed Jan. 19 at a Fayetteville motel.

His mother, Pamela Blackshire, says she's upset that no one can be charged for recording the death of her son, who was the father of a 1-year-old. She says the video lasted about 10 minutes and showed people standing over her son, taking photos.

Facebook removed the video. Orellano says Facebook officials helped identify the person who recorded and posted the video.

Alaska
Lawsuit questionsuse of kids' social security benefits

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A lawsuit is challenging Alaska's practice of using some foster kids' social security benefits to pay for care without notifying the child.

About 160 foster children in Alaska are entitled to social security benefits because they have a disability or one of their parents has died. Often, that money doesn't go to the individual child, but instead goes straight to the state.

If a child's attorney knew the child could get between $700 and $2,000 per month in federal benefits, attorneys argue they could try to find a relative or another person to be a private payee, Alaska Public Media reported Thursday. Then that money wouldn't go toward the care the child is already entitled to from the state.

"You could be (using) these social security monies for tutoring, for therapy," Attorney Jim Davis argued before a superior court judge in late February. "To do the things in life that your kids probably do and my kids probably do - go to the state fair, go to Alyeska, have an iPhone."

Davis represents foster children who are eligible for benefits.

"What smells bad about this is the state seems to be trying to gain federal money that it isn't necessarily entitled to," Superior Court Judge William Morse said during a hearing in late February.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it is legal for state agencies to receive federal benefits on behalf of foster children and use that money to pay for the child's care while they are in custody. The Alaska lawsuit concerns the notification of relatives or other advocates for such children.

Assistant attorney general Leah Farzin argued the state is not required to notify anyone about the potential benefits. She said providing notice would be a burden.

"The state is not doing anything wrong," she said. "And therefore, the state being ordered to do something to correct a problem that doesn't exist is unfair."

The judge has up to six months to issue a ruling.

Ohio
Double amputee sues for access to grave of his cat

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - A double amputee who uses a wheelchair is suing for access to the grave of his two-legged cat, arguing that the Ohio property's new owners discriminated against him by installing landscaping barriers that block his way.

Frank Iannaggi, of Mantua, says he routinely visited the pet cemetery in Hudson after the 2011 death of the cat, named Yetty, who was born without back legs.

The Akron Beacon Journal reports the grave was intentionally located near a driveway for easy access, but that part of the property was sold, and new owners installed the problematic landscaping last summer.

Iannaggi says they offered to temporarily move the barriers for his visits if he provides advance notice, but he thinks that's unreasonable.

The newspaper says the owners and their attorney declined to comment.

Florida
Judge threatens to jail lawyer in Facebook Live hanging case

MIAMI (AP) - A judge threatened to jail a Florida Department of Children & Families lawyer, suggesting in an order that the agency's attorneys lied about the welfare of foster children who may have witnessed a teen hang herself on Facebook live.

Miami-Dade Judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesia said regional child welfare director Clarissa Cabreja could be arrested if she doesn't appear at a March 8 hearing "to show cause why they should not be held in indirect civil contempt of court."

Spokeswoman Jessica K. Sims says the agency "fully intends to comply."

The judge, who leads the court's child welfare division, wrote in uppercase that Cabreja's failure to appear "may result in the court issuing a writ of bodily attachment for your arrest." If arrested, the judge wrote, Cabreja could be held in jail up to 48 hours before a hearing.

The Miami Herald reports the order follows a back-and-forth between the agency and the judge, who requested information about foster children living in the home Jan. 22 when 14-year-old Naika Venant died.

The judge said she wants to make sure the children who were in the Miami Gardens foster home when the suicide was livestreamed on Facebook receive proper counseling or treatment.

Venant had bounced through the foster system after being removed from her mother's home in 2009 for physical abuse.

New Jersey
Boy Scouts to pay 8,000 to transgender boy

OAKLAND, N.J. (AP) - A New Jersey branch of the Boy Scouts has agreed to pay $18,000 and issue a formal apology to a 9-year-old transgender boy who was barred from joining.

The Northern New Jersey Council of the Boy Scouts made the agreement Thursday after Joe Maldonado's mother, Kristie, filed a complaint with the state Division on Civil Rights, The Record reported.

The council also agreed to change its policies in accordance with state laws prohibiting discrimination. The Division on Civil Rights has required the council to distribute the rules to local councils in the state, according to the agreement.

Rebecca Fields, a Scout Executive with the council who signed the agreement, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last year, Joe was refused membership to a Cub Scout pack in Secaucus because he was born a girl. The Boy Scouts of America in January announced it had reversed its ban on transgender boys after Joe's story gained national attention.

He has been accepted by a Maplewood Cub Scout pack. His mother told The Record last month she decided to take her son to Maplewood because she did not want to go back to Secaucus, where she said scouting officials told her some parents had complained last year.

Kristie Maldonado told the newspaper Joe has been doing "phenomenal" as a member of the Maplewood pack.

Published: Mon, Mar 06, 2017

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