SUPREME COURT NOTEBOOK

Court won't hear Argentina appeal over unpaid debt

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court has turned away Argentina's first appeal of a lower court ruling ordering it to pay hedge funds that bought up some of the country's unpaid debt from its default in 2001.

But Argentina retains other legal options, including a second appeal pending in federal court in New York

The justices did not comment on their order Monday.

The case stems from Argentina's financial crisis a dozen years ago, when the government defaulted on $100 billion in debts, and some investors scooped up nearly worthless Argentine bonds.

The country eventually offered creditors new bonds that initially paid less than 30 cents for each dollar of bad debt. More than 90 percent of bondholders agreed; the rest sued and won their case in the lower courts.

Appeal from former Newark mayor turned down

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from former Newark, N.J., Mayor Sharpe James.

The high court on Monday refused to hear from James, convicted in 2008 of illegally steering sweetheart land deals to his then-mistress and sentenced to 27 months in federal prison. He was released in the spring of 2010.

James was mayor of New Jersey's largest city from the mid-1980s until 2006. James' appeal focused on a juror at his 2008 trial who failed to disclose that both his parents worked for the city and had been hired by James. But the courts said James could not prove that meant that the juror was biased against him, and the Supreme Court refused to review those rulings.

Justices won't hear appeal of landmark 1996 lawsuit

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal of a Florida lawsuit making it easier for sick smokers or their survivors to pursue lawsuits against tobacco companies.

The court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from Philip Morris USA Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., and Liggett Group LLC. They wanted the court to consider overturning a $2.5 million Tampa jury verdict in the death of smoker Charlotte Douglas.

The state courts said tobacco companies knowingly sold dangerous products and hid the hazards of cigarette smoking, and ruled that individual smokers can file their own suits but don't have to prove those factors again in their cases. Plaintiffs still have to show they or their dead relatives were addicted to smoking, couldn't quit and that cigarettes caused illness or death.

Attorney Scruggs' appeal won't be heard by court

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from disbarred Mississippi attorney Richard "Dickie" Scruggs.

The high court on Monday decided not to hear from the architect of the multibillion dollar tobacco lawsuits of the 1990s. Scruggs was convicted of improperly influencing a Mississippi judge, saying that he would recommend him to Scruggs' brother-in-law, then-Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott, for an appointment to the federal bench. The judge was presiding over a lawsuit between Scruggs and another lawyer who were fighting over money.

Scruggs pleaded guilty in 2009 to honest services fraud, but appealed his conviction after the high court limited the scope of honest services laws in June 2010. But federal judges have refused to overturn his conviction, and the high court refused to reconsider their rulings.

Appeal from ex-Abramoff associate denied hearing

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from the only lobbyist to be tried on charges of bribing public officials related to the Jack Abramoff scandal.

The court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from Kevin Ring, who was sentenced to 20 months in prison.

Ring was the only lobbyist defendant to go to trial rather than make a deal with the government to plead guilty and cooperate. All the other lobbyists and most of the public officials charged cooperated with prosecutors and received plea deals, most of which did not include prison terms. Abramoff, the ringleader, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years in prison.

Ring, who worked under Abramoff, was convicted of giving meals and event tickets to public officials with an intent to corrupt them.

Court won't get involved in Hutterites case

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court won't get involved in a Montana decision to force a Hutterite religious colony to pay worker compensation insurance for jobs outside the commune.

The high court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from the Big Sky Colony of Hutterites, which is fighting a 2009 state law requiring religious organizations to carry workers' compensation insurance.

The Hutterites say the law targeted their religion and infringed on their beliefs. Its members have no personal property and make no wages as part of their communal life, and a member can't make a claim against the colony or take money for himself without risking excommunication.

The Montana Supreme Court ruled that the workers' compensation requirement does not interfere with the Hutterites' religious practices but only regulates their commercial activities.

Appeal over Va. sodomy law turned away by court

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal of a lower court ruling striking down Virginia's anti-sodomy law.

The high court on Monday refused to hear from Virginia state officials who wanted to get the state's ban on oral and anal sex reinstated.

In March, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond declared Virginia's law unconstitutional.

In 2005, a judge convicted William Scott MacDonald of criminal solicitation for allegedly demanding oral sex from a 17-year-old girl. His conviction occurred two years after the landmark Lawrence v. Texas decision effectively struck down anti-sodomy laws in that state and several others.

Virginia officials said the Texas ruling did not apply to sex acts between adults and minors. The lower court rejected that interpretation and justices won't reconsider that decision.

Published: Wed, Oct 9, 2013

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