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Court fight over lost dog survives after dog's owner dies
Headline News | 2020/02/10 03:29
A federal appeals court has ruled that a legal fight over a lost dog could continue in Mississippi, even after the dog's owner has died.

The dispute is over a German shepherd named Max who jumped out a window and escaped from his owner's Hattiesburg home in 2015. Max got loose when people were providing medical help to his owner, Charles Holt, who had fallen and could not get up.

Holt was more than 90 years old at the time. He was hospitalized after the fall. Max was captured weeks after he escaped, and he was impounded in an animal shelter. More weeks passed before Holt was notified that his dog was in the shelter, according to court papers. When Holt tried to reclaim his dog, the shelter refused, based on orders from the city.

A city court judge ordered the shelter to keep Max because the dog allegedly posed a threat to the people taking care of Holt. A county court judge later agreed with that decision.

Holt then filed a federal lawsuit saying the city had deprived him of his property, Max, without due process. A district court judge threw out his claim, and Holt appealed.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that although Holt has died, questions about his property claim survive. The appeals court sent it back to a district court for the possibility of further consideration.


Ruling ends court fight over merger of 2 school districts
Law Firm Business | 2020/02/06 11:30
A court ruling is ending a legal fight over the voluntary merger of two school districts in south Mississippi.

The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Thursday that opponents waited too long to file a lawsuit, the Hattiesburg American reported.

In April 2017, the Lumberton Public School District and the Lamar County School District voted to consolidate. The plan included some territory and affected some students in Pearl River County.

The Mississippi Board of Education approved the plan in June 2017, and the two districts consolidated in July 2018. Lamar County schools officials agreed to keep Lumberton schools open and have Lumberton students attend those schools. The officials also hired Lumberton teachers.

Pearl River County officials filed a lawsuit to oppose the Lamar and Lumberton merger. They aregued that students who live in Pearl River County should attend school in Pearl River County. A chancery judge ruled against the Pearl River County plaintiffs, and they appealed to the state Supreme Court. The consolidation remains in place.


Edwards takes treasurer to court over blocked fund transfer
Court Center | 2020/02/03 11:33
Gov. John Bel Edwards sued Louisiana's state treasurer Friday for blocking a $25 million fund transfer the governor and lawmakers earmarked for government operating expenses, asking the courts to settle who has ultimate authority over the dollars.

Republican state Treasurer John Schroder repeatedly said if the Democratic governor wanted to spend the unclaimed property dollars included in the state's budget, he'd have to take him to court. After months of disagreement, Edwards complied, filing the lawsuit requesting a judge to declare Schroder's actions are illegal.

Lawmakers appropriated the unclaimed property dollars in Louisiana's $30 billion-plus operating budget. But Schroder has refused to shift the money for spending, and he similarly blocked a $15 million fund transfer last year.

“He doesn't have the discretion not to abide by an appropriation that has been lawfully made by the Legislature,” the governor said ahead of the lawsuit's filing in Baton Rouge district court.

Louisiana collects unclaimed dollars from old savings accounts, payroll checks, stocks and dividends, insurance proceeds, oil royalty payments and utility deposits on behalf of residents. The treasurer's office, designated as custodian of the property, tries to locate people owed the cash and return the money.

Though governors and lawmakers for decades have spent money from the unclaimed property escrow account on programs and services, Schroder said he and his office's lawyers don't believe Louisiana law permits the transfers.


Man Stirs the Pot by Lighting Joint in Court
Law Firm Business | 2020/01/30 18:49
The rapper Afroman famously sang about how getting high on marijuana prevented him from going to court. A Tennessee man decided to combine the two when he lit a marijuana cigarette in the courtroom, authorities said.

Spencer Alan Boston, 20, was arrested Monday and charged with disorderly conduct and simple possession after sparking up in the courtroom, news outlets reported.

Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan said Boston was in court Monday on a simple drug possession charge. Boston approached the bench to discuss his sentence but instead expressed his views on legalizing marijuana.

Boston reached in his pocket, pulled out a marijuana cigarette, lit it, smoked it and was immediately taken into custody, Bryan said.

Sheriff’s Office Lt. Scott Moore said the courtroom crowd chuckled. It’s unclear whether Boston lit up a joint or a blunt but Bryan said the defendant’s marijuana did have a strong odor.



Wood County commissioner reprimanded by Supreme Court
Headline News | 2020/01/29 02:49
The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday reprimanded a part-time Wood County circuit court commissioner for not removing himself from hearing a case involving an attorney who was a personal friend.

The court reprimanded part-time commissioner Kenneth Gorski after agreeing with the Wisconsin Judicial Commission's determination that Gorski had willfully violated several rules of the judicial conduct code. Gorski works about two afternoons a month as a part-time circuit court commissioner, a job he started in 2014.

The complaint stems from a small claims case that Gorski should have recused himself from because he was personal friends for more than 20 years with the attorney, the Supreme Court said. They went on four overseas vacations together between 2015 and 2018 as well as frequent overnight golfing trips, the Supreme Court said.

During the trial, Gorski lost his temper with the defendant who was opposed by his attorney friend, groaning in anger and making sarcastic comments, the Supreme Court said.


Court takes another look at Native American adoption law
Law Firm Business | 2020/01/23 00:14
A 1978 law giving preference to Native American families in foster care and adoption proceedings involving American Indian children was getting a second look Wednesday from a federal appeals court in New Orleans.

A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act in August in a 2-1 ruling.

Opponents of the law ? including non-Indian families who have sought to adopt American Indian children ? sought and got a re-hearing. On Wednesday, the court's 16 active judges were expected to hear arguments.

A 1978 law giving preference to Native American families in foster care and adoption proceedings involving American Indian children was getting a second look Wednesday from a federal appeals court in New Orleans.

A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act in August in a 2-1 ruling.

Opponents of the law ? including non-Indian families who have sought to adopt American Indian children ? sought and got a re-hearing. On Wednesday, the court's 16 active judges were expected to hear arguments.


Supreme Court rejects fast-track review of health care suit
Headline News | 2020/01/20 08:14
The Supreme Court refused Tuesday to consider a fast-track review of a lawsuit that threatens the Obama-era health care law, making it highly unlikely that the justices would decide the case before the 2020 election.

The court denied a request by 20 mainly Democratic states and the Democratic-led House of Representatives to decide quickly on a lower-court ruling that declared part of the statute unconstitutional and cast a cloud over the rest.

Defenders of the Affordable Care Act argued that the issues raised by the case are too important to let the litigation drag on for months or years in lower courts, and that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans erred when it struck down the health law's now toothless requirement that Americans have health insurance.

The justices did not comment on their order. They will consider the appeal on their normal timetable and could decide in the coming months whether to take up the case.


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