National Roundup

Louisiana
Trial delayed for investigator who sought Trump’s tax returns

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A federal trial has been postponed for a Louisiana private investigator accused of trying to illegally obtain Donald Trump’s tax returns during last year’s presidential campaign.

Jury selection was scheduled to begin Monday for Jordan Hamlett’s federal trial, but a filing from the court says it must be rescheduled due to an “unforeseen conflict with the court.” A new trial date wasn’t immediately set.

The 32-year-old Lafayette resident is charged with misusing a Social Security number while trying unsuccessfully to access Trump’s tax information through a security weakness in a U.S. Department of Education financial aid website.

Hamlett’s attorney says he didn’t have “intent to deceive” — a key element of the charge.

Every president since Jimmy Carter has released their tax returns. Trump has refused to release his.

Nebraska
ACLU lawsuit says governor exceeded powers on death penalty

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A lawsuit says the 11 men on Nebraska’s death row can’t be executed because their death sentences were converted to life in prison when the death penalty was repealed in 2015.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska filed the complaint early Monday, naming Gov. Pete Ricketts and several other officials. The lawsuit seeks a court order barring the state from carrying out any executions.

After lawmakers abolished the death penalty, they overrode Ricketts’ veto. Death penalty supporters responded with a ballot petition drive partially financed by Ricketts. Voters overturned the Legislature’s decision and restored the punishment in November 2016.

The ACLU says Ricketts overstepped the Nebraska Constitution’s separation of powers clause because he funded and controlled the petition drive.

South Carolina
State’s first black chief justice dead at 86

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Ernest Finney, South Carolina’s first Africa-American chief justice since Reconstruction, has died. He was 86.

South Carolina Deputy Supreme Court Clerk Brenda Shealy said Finney died Sunday afternoon. She did not have details on the death.

Finney spent a lifetime breaking racial barriers in South Carolina.

He was one of just a handful of black lawyers in the state when he graduated from the former South Carolina State College law school in 1954. Finney worked as a waiter and other jobs to make ends meet. The first time he attended a State Bar meeting was as a waiter at a Myrtle Beach hotel because the state lawyers’ organization was still all white.

Finney was elected chief justice of South Carolina in 1994 and retired from the court in 2000.

Oklahoma
Woman accused of abandoning disabled husband 

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma woman is accused of abandoning her diabetic and nearly blind husband, leaving him to die and his body to lay undiscovered for months.

The woman was arrested in Sayre last week. Court records don’t show that formal charges have been filed.

Payne County Sheriff’s Investigator Rockford Brown told the Stillwater NewsPress that the man’s body showed no obvious sign of foul play and that an autopsy will determine if he died due to neglect. Two dogs were also found dead in the home.

Brown says the man was diabetic, blind and unable to get food or water that was not inside the home. He has sent the prosecutor complaints of caretaker neglect, financial exploitation and animal cruelty.

Massachusetts
Hernandez lawyers want to keep daughter’s lawsuit separate

BOSTON (AP) — Lawyers for the estate of late NFL star Aaron Hernandez are trying to prevent a $20 million lawsuit against the National Football League from being merged with a wider class-action suit addressing former NFL players’ head injuries.

The Boston Herald reports that the NFL and co-defendants are asking a federal judge to temporarily stay proceedings in Hernandez’s case, which was filed in state court on behalf of his 5-year-old daughter.

The defendants say there’s nothing unique about Hernandez daughter’s case to warrant a separate trial.

The child’s lawyers want her case tried in a state court, arguing their claim is for loss of parental consortium.

Massachusetts
Trial of guards in  death of patient set to begin

BOSTON (AP) — Three former guards at a Massachusetts facility that treats the mentally ill in the state criminal justice system face trial this week in the 2009 death of an inmate with schizophrenia.

The Boston Globe reports that the trial of the former Bridgewater State Hospital guards on involuntary manslaughter charges is scheduled to begin Tuesday.

Inmate Joshua Messier suffered heart failure when the guards forcefully strapped him to a bed.

In 2010, prosecutors determined there was insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges, and none of the guards was disciplined.

But in 2014, Attorney General Martha Coakley appointed a special prosecutor who determined there were grounds for charges.

An attorney for one of the guards says the appointment of the special prosecutor was politically motived and the guards maintain their innocence.
 
Washington
Teen’s letter expresses remorse over 71-year-old’s killing

PORT ANGELES, Wash. (AP) — Prosecutors say an 18-year-old Bainbridge Island man has written a letter to a judge apologizing for the death of a 71-year-old woman.

The Peninsula Daily News reports that a letter from Benjamin George Bonner to Clallam Superior Court Judge Brian Coughenour has been filed in court. In it, he wrote that he’s sorry for the pain he inflicted on his community and said he’s “in pain over what happened.”

Bonner is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Cynthia Little, a child advocate who investigators said was like a grandmother to him. They say he killed her with a fireplace poker at her home near Sequim in May, after she confronted him about taking his adoptive parents’ car without their permission.

Bonner is being held on $1.5 million bail.

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