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Detroit’s 36th District Court drops ban on pens, pencils

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan courts soon must allow visitors to carry phones. A Detroit court is lifting a ban on something even simpler: pens and pencils.

Chief Judge William McConico erased the ban on writing instruments Thursday at 36th District Court, the Detroit Free Press reported. It was adopted in 2017 under a different chief judge, apparently for security reasons.

McConico said the policy was an "unnecessary hardship on the public." The Detroit court is one of the busiest in the U.S., serving a city of nearly 700,000 residents.

“It is my hope that our users will now be able to move through security more expeditiously, and appreciate the increased access to resources while conducting business within the building,” McConico said.


Judge: State didn’t violate suspect’s right to a speedy trial

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The right of a Fairbanks murder case suspect to a speedy trial was not violated by delays in transporting him from Maine to Alaska, a judge ruled recently.

An attorney for Steven Downs, 45, said it took 82 days to transport him to Alaska, making it impossible for Downs to be tried within 120 days, Fairbanks television station KTVF reported.

Downs is charged with first-degree murder and sexual assault in the 1993 death of Sophie Sergie, 20. She was found dead in a bathtub of a University of Alaska Fairbanks dorm bathroom. She had been shot and stabbed.

Downs was arrested in Maine in February.

Defense attorney James Howaniec at a hearing said Downs’ right to a speedy trial had been violated.

Following a hearing, Superior Court Judge Thomas Temple agreed with state prosecutors that the rule was not violated because of extenuating circumstances.

Court records show there were at least two mechanical issues with the aircraft used to transport Downs to Alaska. In addition, a building where Downs was housed was under a medical quarantine on the day he was supposed to be transported.


Christmas crystal: Man charged with mailing meth to inmate

MACON, Ga. (AP) — A man sent some illegal holiday cheer to a woman in jail and he ended up getting arrested himself, officials in a Georgia county say.

News outlets report 40-year-old Timothy Lee Snow sent the woman a Christmas card filled with drugs.

Bibb County Jail inmate Mary Beth Odum, 40, had told Snow over the phone how to put meth and other drugs into a card to send to her in jail, officials said.

Deputies intercepted a contraband-filled card filled with methamphetamine and Suboxone and began investigating Snow.

Deputies later followed Snow as he left his residence and found him with meth, Xanax and a revolver. When they searched his home, deputies found more meth, Suboxone, marijuana, steroids, packing materials, a shotgun and a rifle.

Snow was arrested and jailed on a variety of charges, including possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and giving an inmate drugs, news outlets reported.

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