Court overrules judge in Coryell County hospital explosion dispute
Court News | 2019/04/12 15:49
An appeals court in Waco has ruled that a district judge in Gatesville abused his discretion in rulings he made in a lawsuit related to the June 2018 explosion at the Coryell County Memorial Hospital.

In a five-page opinion written by 10th Court of Appeals Justice Rex Davis and released Wednesday evening, the three-judge court granted a writ of mandamus requested by AP Gulf States, the general contractor overseeing the hospital renovation and expansion project.

The court ruled that 52nd State District Judge Trent Farrell’s pretrial order in February requiring AP Gulf States’ insurance carrier to deposit $6.8 million into the court’s registry was “a clear and prejudicial error of law and an abuse of discretion” and ordered him to remedy the error within 21 days.

Tenth Court Chief Justice Tom Gray concurred in part and dissented in part. Gray noted that he agrees with the court’s judgment ordering Farrell to withdraw his February registry order but he disagreed with the order compelling him to rule on other pretrial motions with a prescribed time frame.

AP Gulf States took out a builder’s risk insurance policy with Zurich American Insurance Co. when the project began. In December, five months after the explosion that killed three workers and injured more than a dozen, AP Gulf States initiated an arbitration proceeding against the hospital seeking to recover funds it alleged it was owed from the project.



Chief Justice Unveils Opioid-Related Court Initiative
Court News | 2019/04/11 22:49
Kentucky’s chief justice has unveiled a statewide initiative to help the judicial system respond to the opioid epidemic that has put a strain on courts.

Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. said Thursday that the effort aims to better equip judges, circuit court clerks and court personnel to deal with the challenges caused by drug addiction.

Minton says the program will help judges as they steer drug offenders into recovery programs. He says the initiative will help provide evidence-based information on best court practices to support treatment of drug addiction.

Kentucky has been hard hit by the wave of addictions to opioid painkillers.

Judges and court officials from across the state attended the announcement at the state Capitol.


Judges reject Afghanistan probe; cite lack of cooperation
Court News | 2019/04/10 22:49
In a decision decried as a "devastating blow for victims," International Criminal Court judges on Friday rejected a request by the court's prosecutor to open an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan and alleged crimes by U.S. forces linked to the conflict.

In a lengthy written ruling, judges said an investigation "would not serve the interests of justice" because an investigation and prosecution were unlikely to be successful, as those targeted, including the United States, Afghan authorities and the Taliban, are not expected to cooperate, the court said in a statement.

Human Rights Watch slammed the ruling, calling it "a devastating blow for victims who have suffered grave crimes without redress."

The ICC decision does acknowledge that the November 2017 request from Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to open a probe "establishes a reasonable basis to consider that crimes within the ICC jurisdiction have been committed in Afghanistan and that potential cases would be admissible before the Court."

In a written reaction, the court's prosecution office said it "will further analyze the decision and its implications, and consider all available legal remedies."

The decision comes a month after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would revoke or deny visas to ICC staff seeking to investigate alleged war crimes and other abuses committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere.



Loughlin, Huffman due in court in college admissions scam
Court News | 2019/04/02 01:18
Actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman faced court appearances Wednesday on charges they took part in the college bribery scandal that has ensnared dozens of wealthy parents.

The actresses along with Loughlin’s fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, and dozens of others were charged last month in a scheme in which authorities say parents paid an admissions consultant to bribe college coaches and rig test scores to get their children into elite universities.

Huffman, Loughlin and Giannulli, whose Mossimo clothing had long been a Target brand, have not publicly commented on the allegations. They were set to make their first appearances in Boston’s federal court along with other parents charged in the scheme.

Loughlin, who played Aunt Becky on the sitcom “Full House” in the 1980s and ’90s, and Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 to have their two daughters labeled as recruits to the University of Southern California crew team, even though neither participated in the sport.

The Hallmark Channel — where Loughlin starred in popular holiday movies and the series “When Calls the Heart” — cut ties with Loughlin a day after her arrest.

Loughlin and Giannulli’s daughter, social media star Olivia Jade Giannulli, was dropped from advertising deals with cosmetics retailer Sephora and hair products company TRESemme.



Coaches, others due in court in college admissions scam
Court News | 2019/03/26 23:24
A dozen athletic coaches, test administrators and others charged in a nationwide college admissions scam are in due in court. The group will be arraigned Monday in federal court in Boston on a charge of racketeering conspiracy.

They were among 50 people charged this month in the FBI investigation dubbed Operation Varsity Blues. The coaches are accused of accepting bribes in exchange for labeling students as recruited athletes to help them get into elite universities.

The coaches worked at schools including the University of Southern California and Georgetown. Parents charged with paying bribes are due in court on later dates. They include Hollywood Stars Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin (LAWK'-lin).

The admissions consultant at the center of the admissions scam has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors.


Opera singer, husband appear in court on sex assault charge
Court News | 2019/02/12 17:40
A renowned Michigan opera singer and his husband have appeared in a Texas court to face charges of sexually assaulting another man in 2010.

University of Michigan professor and countertenor David Daniels and William Scott Walters each made an initial appearance in a Harris County court Monday and were released on $15,000 bonds. A Harris County District Attorney spokesman says they were ordered to surrender their passports.

Daniels and Walters were arrested in Ann Arbor, Michigan, last month on warrants arising from the criminal complaint of Samuel Schultz. He told The Associated Press the couple drugged and assaulted him when he was living in Houston as a 23-year-old graduate student.

Lawyer Matt Hennessy says his clients are innocent and looking forward to a court hearing on Schultz's "false claims."



Man accused of kidnapping Wisconsin girl to appear in court
Court News | 2019/02/06 18:10
A man accused of kidnapping a 13-year-old Wisconsin girl and killing her parents is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing.

Jake Patterson, 21, is accused of killing James and Denise Closs on Oct. 15 and kidnapping their daughter , Jayme Closs, from their Barron home. Jayme escaped on Jan. 10, after 88 days.

Patterson is expected to be in the courtroom Wednesday, according to Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald. The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to determine whether there's grounds for a trial. Both sides can present evidence.

According to the criminal complaint, Patterson told investigators he knew Jayme "was the girl he was going to take" after he saw her getting on a school bus near her home. He made two aborted trips to the family's home before carrying out the attack in which he killed Jayme's mother in front of her.

In the days that followed, thousands of people volunteered to search for Jayme. Investigators believe Patterson hid Jayme in a remote cabin in Gordon, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) north of Barron, before she escaped and got help from a woman walking her dog.

Jayme told police that on the night she was abducted, she awoke to her dog's barking, then woke her parents as a car came up the driveway. Her father went to the front door as Jayme and her mother hid in a bathtub, according to the complaint. Jayme told police she heard a gunshot and knew her dad had been killed.



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