Supreme Court Notebook

Court says dying witness statement OK at trial

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court has ruled against a defendant in a murder trial who wanted to exclude the victim's identifying statements because the accused shooter had no chance to cross-examine the victim.

The court voted 6-2 Monday that when the statements are made to police officers who are trying to deal with an "ongoing emergency," they can be admitted at trial without violating the Constitution's mandate that the accused have the chance to confront the witnesses against them.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the court's majority opinion over a furious dissent from Justice Antonin Scalia.

Court won't hear appeal over blocked taxicab rule

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court won't let New York City force taxi operators to go green.

The high court refused Monday to hear an appeal by city officials who want to make cab companies buy more fuel efficient vehicles.

Federal judges had blocked the city's new taxicab fuel regulations.

City officials first wanted new taxicabs in 2008 to get at least 25 miles per gallon and 2009 taxicabs to achieve 30 miles a gallon. They then tried to force taxicab companies to go to hybrid cars by making it more expensive for them to buy fuel.

But federal judges say it's up to federal agencies, not local officials, to regulate fuel economy and emissions standards.

The case is New York City v. Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, 10-618.

Texas killer of 2 loses high court appeal

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court has turned down an appeal from a death row in inmate in Texas whose lawyers say they have been unable to get a court to consider claims that their client is mentally retarded, and thus ineligible for execution.

The court did not comment Monday in rejecting an appeal from Milton Mathis, who was convicted in the shooting deaths of two men in 1998.

Mathis' lawyers said courts have never ruled on their contention, backed by expert testimony, that Mathis is mentally retarded. In 2002, the high court outlawed the execution of the mentally retarded.

The case is Mathis v. Thaler, 10-855.

High court nixes church appeal in defamation case

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court has refused to toss a defamation award to a fired pastor, despite claims by the church that dismissed him that its actions are protected by the Constitution's religious freedom guarantees.

The court on Monday rejected an appeal from the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel in Vernonia, Ore., asking the justices to throw out a $355,000 jury award.

Tim Tubra was fired as an interim pastor in 2004 after church officials accused him of misappropriating church money. Tubra sued the church for defamation after he learned that church officials had made the accusation public in a letter read aloud to the congregation.

The church argued it has a right to speak to members about church matters without any interference from the courts.

An Oregon appeals court disagreed.

Published: Tue, Mar 1, 2011

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