Supreme Court won't hear 'Ghost Hunters' appeal

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from some television networks being sued by a paranormal investigator who claims his idea was stolen and turned into the television show "Ghost Hunters."

Without comment, the court turned away an appeal from NBC Universal, Inc., Universal Television Networks and Pilgrim Films & Television, Inc.

Parapsychologist Larry Montz and producer Daena Smoller unsuccessfully shopped around an idea for a show about paranormal investigators in 1981. "Ghost Hunters" appeared on the Sci Fi Channel -- now known as SyFy -- in 2004.

Montz and Smoller sued in federal court. The courts threw out their copyright claims, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that they could sue for breach of an implied contract and breach of confidence claims.

Fla. must weigh arbitration in Madoff case

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court says the Florida courts should reconsider whether arbitration is required for claims against an auditing firm that worked on a fund that invested with Bernie Madoff.

The high court on Monday reversed a decision by a Florida appeals court. KPMG was sued by investors in the Rye Funds, which lost millions of dollars to Madoff's Ponzi scheme. KPMG was the auditor for the Rye Funds, and the investors said the company did not use proper auditing standards.

KPMG says its contract requires arbitration but the state courts would not allow it.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Florida courts only looked at part of the claims being brought against KPMG. The high court ordered the lower courts to investigate all of the claims before making a decision.

Supreme Court

reverses decision throwing out death sentence

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court says a lower court was wrong when it threw out the death penalty and conviction of a man accused of beating his roommate and burying him alive.

The court on Monday issued an unsigned opinion that reverses the dismissal of Archie Dixon's death sentence.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had said Dixon's confession was coerced by police.

Dixon was to be executed by the state of Ohio for the 1993 slaying of Christopher Hammer. Hammer was beaten and robbed on Sept. 22, 1993, and then was driven to a remote area, where he was buried alive in a shallow grave.

The Ohio Supreme Court had upheld his death sentence, a decision the Supreme Court said must be respected.

The case is Bobby v. Dixon, 10-1540.

High court

refuses to hear Texas death case

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from a Texas death row inmate who won a last-minute reprieve from the high court in September.

The justices on Monday turned away the appeal of Duane Buck, who wanted them to consider whether race played an improper role in his sentencing.

Buck, who is black, was sentenced to death for the fatal shootings of his ex-girlfriend and a man in her apartment in July 1995. His attorneys contend Buck deserves a new sentencing hearing because of a psychologist's testimony that black people were more likely to commit violence.

Justice Samuel Alito said that might have been enough for a reversal if Dr. Walter Quijano had been a prosecution witness.

"But Dr. Quijano was a defense witness, and it was petitioner's attorney, not the prosecutor, who first elicited Dr. Quijano's view regarding the correlation between race and future dangerousness," said Alito, who was joined by Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer in his statement.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan said they wanted the court to hear the appeal, saying the death sentence was "marred by racial overtones and a record compromised by misleading remarks and omissions."

"Because our criminal justice system should not tolerate either circumstance -- especially in a capital case -- I dissent and would vote to grant the petition," Sotomayor said.

Five other Texas death row inmates received new punishment hearings because of racially charged statements made during the sentencing phase. Each convict again was sentenced to die.

The case is Buck v. Thaler, 11-6391.

Published: Wed, Nov 9, 2011


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