National Roundup

North Carolina
State high court candidate sues over party label law

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A North Carolina Supreme Court candidate has made good on his threat to sue Republican legislators to challenge a law finalized over the weekend preventing him from having his party designation next to his name on the November ballot.

Chris Anglin filed a lawsuit Monday against Republican legislative leaders and elections officials in state court. He wants the law declared unconstitutional and his GOP designation retained.

The law prevents judicial candidates from having party labels next to their names if they changed affiliations less than 90 days before filing. Anglin switched from a Democratic affiliation three weeks before filing.

Anglin says the law gives unfair benefit to opponent Justice Barbara Jackson, who will have a Republican label. The race's other candidate - Anita Earls - will have a Democratic label.

Louisiana
New Orleans jail director wants protection from lawsuits

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The head of the troubled New Orleans jail has asked a federal judge for protection from lawsuits.

Compliance Director Darnley Hodge Sr. requested Friday that U.S. District Judge Lance Africk declare he's acting as an officer of the court and thus cannot be sued, The New Orleans Advocate reported. Africk oversees the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office 2013 consent decree with the federal government.

Hodge was appointed to lead the jail's operations in February and has already been sued twice. He took over from Gary Maynard, who resigned following a negative report from federal monitors, and was sued six times.

The compliance director is in charge of the decree-mandated reforms, and essentially runs the jail in lieu of sidelined Sheriff Marlin Gusman. Hodge's attorneys argue that he's acting as a court-ordered receiver since he was appointed by Africk, and is thus shielded from civil litigation.

Hodge says litigation "distracts" him from reforms, but plaintiffs' attorneys say shielding him would eliminate a way to hold leadership accountable for problems at the jail.

"It's just a deeply held American value that you get to have your day in court against the person you say wronged you," said attorney Kevin Vogeltanz, who represents a former sheriff's captain suing Hodge for wrongful termination.

Vogeltanz argued in a legal brief submitted Friday that the 2016 court order stripping Gusman of operational control vested him with the power to pick the compliance director, who is thus not shielded from lawsuits. But Hodge's filing said his position only answers to the judge, despite Gusman having a say in his appointment.

Africk has yet to rule on Hodge's motion, and has set an Aug. 14 deadline for interested parties to register opposition.

South Carolina
Forcing Charleston ­history test on tour guides nixed

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - A federal judge says Charleston can't force tour guides to prove they know the history and architecture of the nearly 350-year-old South Carolina port city.

News organizations report U.S. District Judge David Norton ruled Friday that Charleston's tour-guide licensing law violates constitutional free speech rights. The city required hired tour guides to pass a licensing test based on a nearly 500-page manual written by the Historic Charleston Foundation.

One would-be guide complained the book covered facts about 2,000 different houses.

Charleston's attorneys argued in court that tour guides can say what they want, but the city wanted them to know Charleston's past since that's why tourists visit.

But the judge said there's no evidence the city tried to assure quality tours by using less burdensome methods.

Ohio
Judge sued over refusal to OK transgender teens' new names

CLEVELAND (AP) - An attorney for the mothers of three transgender teens in Ohio said in a federal lawsuit filed Friday that a county judge has shown a disturbing pattern and practice of not allowing transgender children to legally change their names, refusals that can prove harmful and violates their constitutional right to equal protection.

The lawsuit names Joseph Kirby, the Probate and Juvenile Court judge in Warren County near Cincinnati. Kirby's bailiff said Friday the judge was out of town and unavailable for comment.

Stephanie Whitaker, of Mason, sued on behalf of her 15-year-old son Elliott after Kirby in June refused to allow him to change his name from Heidi, saying he should come back when he turns 18. Jennifer Saul sued to protect her 15-year-old son James, who has a hearing Aug. 14 before Kirby to change his name from Jenna. A woman listed in the lawsuit as Jane Doe says her 17-year-old son fears that Kirby will reject his name change petition, which hasn't yet been filed.

All three teens have been receiving therapy and medical treatment for gender dysphoria with their doctors fully supporting their name changes.

The lawsuit said Kirby refused to grant two other transgender teens name changes this year because they are minors. The only approval for a transgender minor this year in Warren County came from a court magistrate.

"Forcing children to wait until they're 18 to change their names increases their risk of being outed and bullied, having violence perpetrated against them and having depressive symptoms," attorney Joshua Langdon said.

It's especially important for transgender children to be allowed to use their new names on their driver's licenses, school records and college applications, Langdon said. He added that studies show the more times transgender children are "dead named" - referred to by their birth names - the higher the risk of suicide attempts.

Legal name changes are routine, even for children, if they and their parents are in agreement, Langdon said.

"The only time the court is supposed to step in is if there's a disagreement among the parties," he said.

Langdon noted the inappropriateness and irrelevance of Kirby's questioning of Elliott Whitaker at his June hearing. A transcript shows that Kirby asked the teen about what restroom or locker room he uses at school and whether his transition has anything to do with his sexual interests. Kirby also wondered whether Caitlyn Jenner "set the stage" for people to change their genders.

Kirby's subsequent ruling on Elliott's case mirrored his previous refusals. He noted that judges must take the best interest of a child into consideration when deciding whether to allow a legal name change and wrote that he's not saying, "no," but "not yet," and to try again when he turns 18.

Langdon said he is not aware of any other federal lawsuits that have been filed over such refusals.

Published: Tue, Aug 07, 2018

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