National Roundup

New York
Appeals court OKs June 23 NY Democratic presidential primary

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court gave the green light Tuesday to New York state’s June 23 Democratic presidential primary.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court judge who ruled two weeks ago that the primary must include the contest over the state’s objections.

Three appeals judges heard arguments Friday in Manhattan, demonstrating through their remarks that they agreed with withdrawn candidates Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang that the primary should occur.

They issued an order Tuesday morning to say they were upholding the lower court’s ruling and said a written opinion would follow.

Elections were already scheduled for June 23 for numerous other races, including for state and Congressional offices.

The Democratic presidential primary had been cancelled on the grounds that the coronavirus posed too big a safety threat, especially since thousands of poll workers would have to be hired and hundreds of thousands of voters might have trouble social distancing.

But U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres said there was enough time before the election to ensure measures were in place to carry it out safely.

Lawyers for the state also conceded last week that no other state canceled its Democratic presidential primary on the grounds that former Vice President Joe Biden was essentially unopposed as the party’s candidate in November’s presidential election.

Lawyers for delegates for Sanders and Yang argued that the election was crucial to ensuring that the candidates who suspended their campaigns would have adequate representation to influence the party’s platform and messaging at the Democrats’ August convention.

Judge: Early end for refuge occupation leader’s supervision

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge has ended Oregon refuge occupation leader Ryan Payne’s federal supervision a year and a half early.

Payne, once described as a pivotal ‘’architect’’ of the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, served his prison term of three years and one month and completed half of three years of ordered supervised release. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to impede federal employees at the wildlife refuge through intimidation, threat or force. He has paid $10,000 in restitution.

Payne has married since leaving prison, has children and is now head of operations at REM Technologies, a start-up company in Belgrade, Montana, that is developing a new method of processing raw materials in the metals supply industry, according to his lawyer Lisa Hay, Oregon’s federal public defender.

Federal prosecutors did not object to ending his supervision. U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown granted Payne’s request, effective May 12.

Payne was one of 18 people who either pleaded guilty or were convicted by a jury in the 41-day Malheur refuge occupation in 2016. Leader Ammon Bundy, brother Ryan Bundy and five others were acquitted of all charges during a trial.

In 2018, a federal judge in Nevada dismissed separate conspiracy charges against Payne, Ammon and Ryan Bundy and their father, Cliven Bundy, after she found prosecutors engaged in “flagrant misconduct” and a “deliberate attempt to mislead” and made several misrepresentations to both the defense and the court about evidence. The U.S. Attorney’s office is appealing the dismissal.

State Supreme Court disbars former Gov. Rod Blagojevich

CHICAGO (AP) — The Illinois Supreme Court officially disbarred former Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Monday, two months after a state panel recommended that the disgraced politician lose his law license.

The court’s decision was hardly a surprise and Blagojevich, whose license was suspended indefinitely after his 2008 arrest, did not fight to regain it. He didn’t attend a March hearing about the matter before the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, and he suggested afterward that he had no intention of practicing law again.

“Imagine yourself sitting on a plane and then the pilot announces before takeoff that he hasn’t flown in 25 years,” Blagojevich said. “Wouldn’t you want to get off that plane? I don’t want to hurt anybody.”

During that hearing, which came days after President Donald Trump commuted his 14-year sentence, the commission panel heard evidence that led to Blagojevich’s convictions for a host of felony charges, including that he tried to sell an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama and that he tried to shake down a children’s hospital CEO and racetrack owner.

Since his release from prison, the 63-year-old Blagojevich has earned money from a website where customers pay for personalized video tributes from celebrities. And earlier this month, he signed on to host a podcast put out by WLS-AM radio in Chicago called “The Lightning Rod.” Blagojevich said in announcing the show that he was “fired up” to speak his mind and share what he’s “learned from the school of hard knocks.”

Suit filed against nursing home over virus deaths

MISSION, Kan. (AP) — The family of an 88-year-old man who died in a COVID-19 outbreak at a suburban Kansas City nursing home has sued.

KCUR reports  that the wrongful death suit that was filed Monday on behalf of the family of Gordan Grohman alleges that the staff at Brighton Gardens in Prairie Village, Kansas, failed to separate residents with COVID-19 symptoms from those without the virus. Grohman died May 1.

It’s the first such suit against the facility, where there have been 76 positive cases and 14 deaths.

“This is not just a failure of one employee, one nurse or anything like that,” said attorney Rachel Stahle.

Similar suits have been filed against Riverbend Post Acute Rehabilitation, a Kansas City, Kansas, facility that is the site of 132 cases and 36 deaths.

A call to Brighton Gardens by KCUR seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned.

State officials reported 8,340 cases Monday, up by 454 from Friday, and 173 deaths. Johns Hopkins University reported 195 deaths.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death.