National Roundup

Massachusetts
Judge sides with city in discrimination, civil rights suit

LOWELL, Mass. (AP) — A judge has ruled against a former library assistant who sued a Massachusetts city claiming civil rights violations, discrimination and retaliation.

The Sun reports that Diane Cloutier sued the city of Lowell in 2015 seeking more than $500,000 in damages. She now has to pay more than $2,000 in legal costs.

Cloutier was dismissed from the Pollard Memorial Library in 2013 due to a doctor’s note saying she could not lift or grasp items with her right hand.

The city hired an agency to conduct video surveillance of Cloutier. Court records show footage captured Cloutier using both arms to lift grocery bags and close car doors.

A city lawyer says Cloutier’s claims were meritless. Cloutier could not be reached for comment.

Virginia
Post spurs ire, says guns may have thwarted Holocaust

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — A Facebook page claiming to be the Republican Party of Virginia Beach promoted a debunked theory over the weekend that the Holocaust could have been prevented if Jewish people had guns.

Republican Party of Virginia Beach Chairwoman Tina Mapes says the page is a copycat and not official, denouncing its posts.

The Washington Post reports the Saturday morning post was directed at students who have walked out of school in recent weeks in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and called for stricter gun laws. It was posted along with a photograph of hundreds of shoes belonging to Holocaust victims and said “These are the shoes of Jews that gave up there firearms to Hitler.”

Page operator James Cohen said it was posted on accident by someone else.

South Carolina
Prosecutor won’t give officers’ names in police shootings

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — A prosecutor in South Carolina said he will no longer release the names of police officers who shoot at people unless they are criminally charged because they deserve the same right of privacy as a regular citizen.

But police shooting and free press experts said Solicitor Walt Wilkins’ policy for Greenville and Pickens counties is unusual and runs counter to the transparency people have been calling for in police shootings and other law enforcement matters.

Officers in other places have been threatened when their names are public, Wilkins told The Greenville News in a story that did not specify any problems in his jurisdiction.

“We’re not going to subject him to scrutiny by the public until a case has been vetted and completed. They still have the same rights as everybody else,” Wilkins said.

There has been a movement toward keeping officers’ names private, but it remains a rare policy, said Seth Stoughton, who studies police use of force as a professor at the University of South Carolina.

Stoughton said police officers are public citizens who usually know when taking their jobs they will be held to a higher standard. He also calls the move anti-democratic.

“Particularly with the relatively extreme action of taking someone’s life or attempting to by shooting at them, there’s a strong public interest in knowing relevant details and that includes an officer’s name,” Stoughton said.

A 2004 South Carolina Supreme Court ruling found police officers are public employees and their behavior is of vital public interest that outweighs the right to privacy.

Police officers have a badge and a name tag for a reason and their actions and whereabouts aren’t private, said Taylor Smith, an attorney with the South Carolina Press Association.

“These individuals are public officials who have made it their job to protect South Carolina residents, and they don’t enjoy any privacy protections in what they do by fulfilling those admirable duties,” Smith said.

There are no consistent policies for prosecutors in South Carolina handling officer shootings. The solicitor who leads Cherokee and Spartanburg counties and the solicitor in Anderson and Oconee counties send any officer shooting cases in their jurisdictions to be reviewed by prosecutors in other places to avoid a conflict of interest.

New York
Trump lawyers launch appeal in ‘Apprentice’ contestant suit

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump’s lawyers are asking a New York state appeals court to throw out or freeze a defamation lawsuit by a former contestant on “The Apprentice” who has accused Trump of unwanted kissing and groping.

Notice of the appeal was filed Sunday.

Trump’s lawyers are challenging a Manhattan judge’s refusal last month to halt the lawsuit by former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos.

Trump’s lawyers want the appeals court to put the case on hold during his presidency.

Trump has denied subjecting Zervos to unwanted sexual advances.

She is suing him for calling her a liar. Zervos wants an apology and at least $2,914.

The Republican’s lawyers say his remarks were “non-defamatory opinions.”

Zervos’ lawyer, Mariann Wang, said she believed the lower-court’s “well-reasoned” decision will be upheld.

Illinois
2 sue cops they say framed them in slayings

CHICAGO (AP) — Two men whose murder convictions were overturned and walked out of prison after spending more than 20 years behind bars are alleging in lawsuits that the same Chicago police detective helped frame them.

In federal lawsuits, Roberto Almodovar Jr. and Jose Maysonet allege that now-retired Detective Roberto Guevara beat them into false confessions and coerced witnesses against them.

Last April,  Almodovar was freed  after a judge dismissed charges against him in a 1994 double homicide. In November, Maysonet was set free when charges were dropped against him in a 1990 double homicide.

The lawsuits name other former Chicago police officers but the key player in both suits is Guevara — a former detective linked to at least nine convictions that have been tossed out in less than two years.
 

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