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Pa. man who attacked police on Jan. 6 gets 46-month sentence
Court Watch | 2022/08/29 11:46
A Pennsylvania man was sentenced Friday to 46 months in federal prison for attacking a police officer with a Donald Trump flag during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The newspaper reported that Howard Richardson, 72, of King of Prussia, told the court in Washington “there’s no excuse” for his behavior and pleaded for mercy.

But U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly responded, “Your presence and actions in joining other insurrectionists was an inexcusable attack on our democracy.”

Richardson’s sentence is one of the longest yet among those who have been prosecuted for storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 to disrupt the certification of President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. In addition to the nearly four-year prison sentence, Richardson was ordered to serve three years under court supervision after his release and to pay $2,000 in restitution.

Richardson never entered the Capitol, the Inquirer reported, but prosecutors said his attack on a Washington, D.C., police officer merited a lengthy prison term.

According to the paper, police body camera footage showed Richardson bludgeoning an officer outside the Capitol with a metal flagpole. NBC News reported that Richardson also joined a mob using a giant Trump billboard as a battering ram.

Approximately 850 people have been charged with federal crimes for their conduct on Jan. 6. Over 350 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanors, and over 230 have been sentenced. Dozens of Capitol riot defendants who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor offenses have been sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from seven days to five months.


Lobster fishing union drops lawsuit about new whale closure
Stock Market News | 2022/08/26 10:57
A lobster fishing union in Maine has decided to drop part of its lawsuit against the federal government over new restrictions meant to protect rare whales.

The Maine Lobstering Union sued the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration after the government instated a seasonal ban on lobster fishing gear in a nearly 1,000-square-mile area off New England to try to protect North Atlantic right whales. The whales are vulnerable to entanglement in the gear.

Lawyers for the lobster fishing union told WCSH-TV the union wants instead to focus on other ongoing litigation about new rules intended to protect whales. New fishing rules meant to protect the whales are the subject of other lawsuits that are still under consideration by federal court.

A federal court ruling last month came down in favor of stronger protections for the animals. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled in July that the federal government hasn’t done enough to protect the whales, and must craft new rules. The lobstering union and other fishing groups have pledged to follow that process closely with an eye to protecting the industry.


Judge rules teen was justified in shooting assailant 7 times
Court Watch | 2022/08/23 09:28
A Georgia judge has dismissed a murder charge against a teen after concluding that he was legally justified in shooting a man seven times in 2021 because the man was trying to kidnap him.

The Ledger-Enquirer of Columbus reports that Muscogee County Superior Court Judge John Martin dismissed charges Wednesday against the unnamed teen at the behest of prosecutors who concluded from witnesses and video footage that the boy had a right to defend himself to stop a forcible felony under Georgia’s “stand your ground” law.

The boy, then 16, shot and killed Iverson Gilyard in August 2021 at a Columbus park. The newspaper withheld the boy’s name because he was a juvenile and has now been cleared of charges.

The boy was indicted as an adult in February for murder, aggravated assault, and possessing a gun while committing a felony. But prosecutors later concluded that Gilyard was the primary aggressor, entering the park and hitting the boy over the head with a handgun three times as the boy tried to get away.

Assistant District Attorney Robin Anthony said Gilyard, 22, also threatened to shoot the teen, saying “I’m going to bust you in the kidney.” When parents at the park complained, Anthony said Gilyard told the teen to follow him, stuck the gun in his waistband, and said, “You’d better not run, either.” Anthony said when Gilyard turned to walk away, the teen took a gun from his backpack and shot Gilyard. The 22-year-old was shot seven times, four times in the back, his family has said.


Appeals court puts Georgia PSC elections back on ballot
Court News | 2022/08/18 14:59
A federal appeals court on Friday ordered that statewide elections for two Georgia public service commissioners be put back on the November ballot, only a week after a federal judge postponed the elections after finding that electing the five commissioners statewide illegally diluted Black votes.

A three judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the lower court’s order after an appeal by the state, which follows a U.S. Supreme Court decision saying judges shouldn’t order changes close to elections.

The 2-1 split decision came at the state’s deadline for finalizing ballots ahead of the election, so there is enough time to print ballots before the first ballots are mailed to voters living outside the country in late September.

District 3 Commissioner Fitz Johnson and District 2 Commissioner Tim Echols, both Republicans, are seeking reelection to six-year terms. Johnson is being challenged by Democrat Shelia Edwards while Echols faces Democrat Patty Durand and Libertarian Colin McKinney.

Circuit Judges Robert Luck and Adalberto Jordan found that U.S. District Judge Steven Grimberg’s decision came too close to the election, that having Johnson and Echols remain on the commission past the end of their terms is an improper fundamental alteration of the state’s election system, and that not only did Grimberg need to issue his decision before the ballot printing deadline but far enough in advance “to allow for meaningful appellate review.”

Friday’s decision is not the 11th Circuit’s final word on Grimberg’s decision, but only a stay. Luck and Jordan clearly anticipate the plaintiffs will appeal to the nation’s highest court, writing in a short opinion that “if we are mistaken on this point, the Supreme Court can tell us.”

Circuit Judge Robin Rosenbaum dissented, saying the other judges were extending the doctrine barring changes close to an election to a whole new category of cases without “a sufficient explanation.” She said the majority is, in effect, letting the state conduct an election under a system that a judge already determined is illegally discriminatory.


Post-Roe differences surface in GOP over new abortion rules
Stock Market News | 2022/08/14 15:01
When the U.S. Supreme Court repealed in June a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, Wisconsin’s 1849 law that bans the procedure except when a mother’s life is at risk became newly relevant.

Republicans in the Legislature blocked an attempt by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to overturn the law. Yet there’s disagreement inside the GOP over how to move forward when they return to the state Capitol in January.

The state’s powerful Republican Assembly speaker, Robin Vos, supports reinforcing the exception for a mother’s life and adding protections for instances involving rape and incest. Others, including GOP state Rep. Barbara Dittrich, say the law should stay as it is, without exceptions for rape and incest.

For decades, Republicans like Vos and Dittrich appealed to conservative voters — and donors — with broad condemnation of abortion. But the Supreme Court’s decision is forcing Republicans from state legislatures to Congress to the campaign trail to articulate more specifically what that opposition means, sometimes creating division over where the party should stand.


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