SUPREME COURT NOTEBOOK

Court declines to review Michigan murder case

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court said Monday that it won't consider reinstating the conviction of a Michigan man charged with a 1988 murder in a drug dispute.

The justices rejected Michigan's appeal of a federal court ruling that overturned the conviction of Junior Fred Blackston.

A federal district judge ruled in 2013 that Blackston was denied a fair trial in state court because he wasn't allowed to attack the credibility of two key witnesses who recanted their testimony between his first and second trials. The earlier testimony was read to jurors during the second trial.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that Blackston had a right to challenge the earlier testimony with written statements from the witnesses saying it was wrong.

Justice Antonin Scalia issued a written dissent, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, saying the high court should have taken up the case. Scalia said the constitutional right to cross-examine witnesses does not include a right to admit written statements recanting previous testimony.


Justices won't hear fee dispute in redistricting case

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from lawyers for former Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis and others seeking $360,000 in legal fees after challenging state redistricting plans.

The justices on Monday let stand a federal appeals court ruling that said the lawyers were not entitled to fees.

A three-judge district court blocked the state's redistricting plan ahead of the 2012 elections after Davis and voting rights groups challenged it. But in a separate case, the Supreme Court later eliminated the Justice Department's ability under the Voting Rights Act to identify and stop potentially discriminatory voting laws before they take effect.

Texas eventually repealed the contested plan, making the challengers' lawsuit moot.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the challengers were not prevailing parties entitled to fees.


Court turns down challenge to Hawaii campaign finance laws

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court won't hear a challenge to Hawaii campaign finance laws that require a private company buying campaign ads to register as a political action committee.

The justices on Monday rejected an appeal from a Hawaii electrical construction company that spent about $9,000 on political newspaper advertisements during the 2010 election cycle. The ads from A-1 A-Lectrician, Inc. were critical of Blake Oshiro, a Democratic incumbent candidate for Hawaii's state legislature.

Hawaii law requires any entity that spends more than $1,000 to influence elections to register as a PAC, triggering reporting and disclosure requirements. The company argues that the law is too burdensome and should apply only to entities whose primary purpose is political activity.

State officials say the law encourages transparency and prevents corruption in political campaigns.


Justices rebuff veterinarian who gave advice online

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a retired Texas veterinarian who was barred from evaluating animals and giving advice over the Internet.

The justices on Monday let stand lower court rulings against Ronald Hines of Brownsville, Texas. Hines' online clients included pet owners overseas who had limited access to veterinary services.

The Texas veterinary board suspended Hines' license for a year after finding that his Internet practice violated state laws.

Hines claimed that the board's action violated his right to free speech.

The case is Hines v. Alldredge, 14-1543.


Mexican states' suit over Gulf spill rejected

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from three Mexican states seeking damages from BP and other companies over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The justices on Monday let stand a lower court ruling that said the states of Veracruz, Tamaulipas and Quintana Roo can't bring a lawsuit because Mexico's federal government owns the affected property.

The Mexican federal government filed a similar lawsuit in 2013, which is progressing through the court system.

The lawsuit filed by the states sought damages for the costs of responding to the spill, lost tourism and contamination of water, plants and shoreline.

Published: Wed, Dec 02, 2015

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