National Roundup

New York
Judge orders NYC jails chief to appear at status conference

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge ordered the head of New York City’s jails to appear at an upcoming status conference on conditions at the troubled Rikers Island jail complex, after prosecutors said the situation had become so dire that it might be necessary to install court supervision over the beleaguered system to institute necessary reforms.

U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain directed city Department of Correction Commissioner Louis Molina to attend the session scheduled for Tuesday.

She issued the order after getting a letter earlier in the week from the office of U.S. Attorney Damian Williams.

In the letter, prosecutors said, “The jails are in a state of crisis, inmates and staff are being seriously injured, and action is desperately needed now,” and questioned whether the city and corrections department had “the ability, expertise, and will to swiftly make the changes necessary to bring true reform.”

Sixteen inmates died at Rikers last year, and three have died so far in 2022.

Prosecutors went on to suggest that more aggressive steps could be sought, including putting an independent authority in place to implement reforms.

In her order handed down Thursday, the judge noted “the gravity and urgency of the security situation,” and “the consequent need for clarity as to planned changes and the implementation.”

In a statement, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said Molina “is laying the groundwork for long-term change.”

“Fixing Rikers is critically important, a moral imperative, and we need to get it right. But to do that, we need the opportunity to implement our plan,” he said. “These are generational challenges, deeply ingrained, and no administration can solve them in less than four months. We look forward to continuing our close collaboration with the federal monitor and all other stakeholders.”


2 men admit to pepper-spraying officers at U.S. Capitol riot

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two New York men pleaded guilty Friday to discharging chemical spray at police officers inside the U.S. Capitol during the January 2021 insurrection.

Cody Mattice, 29, and James Mault, 30, each admitted to breaking through police barriers and entering the building during a trip to Washington they had planned for several days and prepared for by acquiring batons and pepper spray.

Under plea agreements with federal prosecutors, each faces between 37 and 46 months in prison after pleading guilty to felony charges. Each also will pay $2,000 toward the cost of repairing the Capitol. Sentencing is scheduled for July 15.

Mattice and Mault, both from the Rochester area, were indicted in October after authorities said they appeared in photos and videos spraying a chemical agent toward police officers in a Capitol building hallway.

Mault was arrested in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he had been stationed with the U.S. Army. Mattice was arrested at his home in Hilton, New York.

The two appeared at a joint hearing Friday before U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, Mault in person and Mattice remotely. Both acknowledged exchanging text messages in the days prior to the insurrection, with Mault telling Mattice and others in a group to bring batons, knives, “ass-kicking boots” and protective clothing.

Once at the Capitol, Mault tried to convince police officers to join the rioters, assuring them they would still have jobs “after we kick the (expletive) out of everyone,” according to the plea agreement.

“What we’re doing is right,” he told the officers, “or there wouldn’t be this many ... people here.”

In exchange for their guilty pleas, prosecutors agreed to drop additional felony charges.


Judge ordered removed from bench for abuse of power

OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky judge was ordered to be removed from the bench on Friday for abusing her position, in particular attempting to influence criminal cases involving her adult son.

The Judicial Conduct Commission voted unanimously to permanently remove Daviess Family Judge Julie Hawes Gordon, writing that she abused her position “over an extended period of time and over her entire tenure as judge,” The Messenger-Inquirer reported.

The ruling goes into effect 10 days from Friday, unless Gordon files an appeal. Gordon’s attorney said on Friday they are reviewing the ruling.

Among the findings, the conduct commission panel said Gordon had tried to arrange for the release of her son, Dalton Gordon, and tried to influence both the judge and prosecutor in his case to get the outcomes she wanted. Commissioners also found Gordon had used her position to get special visitation with her son while he was incarcerated in the Daviess County Detention Center and had appointed her son’s defense attorney as a paid guardian ad litem in family court where she presided.

Outside of the abuses involving her son’s criminal case, the commission found that Gordon retaliated against social workers in her courtroom and was untruthful with the Judicial Conduct Commission.

“There is no doubt that she has brought the integrity and respect for the judiciary within Daviess County into disrepute,” Commission Chairman Carroll “Trip” Redford III wrote.


City agrees to reinstall Confederate stones

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jefferson City has agreed to reinstall two paving stones that contained a reference to a Confederate general to settle a lawsuit filed after the stones were removed, according to attorneys in the case.

Edith Vogel, a former city council member, sued the city and Mayor Carrie Tergin in March after the pavers were removed. Vogel paid for the stones to be installed at a park on a city greenway known as Adrian’s Island as part of a fundraising campaign.

Vogel’s attorneys at Bradbury Law Firm said a federal judge approved a settlement Thursday, KOMU reported.

Under the settlement, the city agreed to reinstall the pavers within 15 days and pay Vogel’s attorney’s fees.

Vogel contended in her lawsuit that her free speech rights were violated when the stones were removed.

The stones read: Union Camp Lillie notes: deciding against attack the confederate army under Gen. Sterling Price turned from Jefferson City Oct. 7, 1864.”

The city council voted in October 2021 to remove a similar paving stone from a roadway.

Although she is not required to, Vogel will donate $2,000 to the Parks Foundation, which was the amount the city refunded to her when it removed the pavers.