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Man granted new trial in 2006 triple murder freed after plea
Court Center | 2022/11/21 18:45
An man granted a new trial in the murders of three men in Ohio more than a decade and a half ago has been released after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Stoney Thompson, 43, was originally sentenced in Lucas County to three consecutive life terms in the October 2006 slayings of Todd Archambeau, 44, Kenneth Nicholson, 41, and Michael York, 44, who were found shot and stabbed in a boarded-up house in Toledo.

Thompson, originally convicted of complicity to commit murder, was resentenced on involuntary manslaughter convictions under the plea agreement, The (Toledo) Blade reported. He submitted an Alford plea, in which a defendant does not acknowledge guilt but concedes that prosecutors have sufficient evidence for conviction.

Judge James Bates sentenced Thompson to six years for each involuntary manslaughter count to be served consecutively for a total of 18 years. The judge allowed his release but ordered him to remain on probation for the remaining two years of the sentence.

The Sixth U.S. District Court of Appeals in July had ordered a new trial for Thompson, citing evidence not turned over to the defense by prosecutors that included other potential suspects, recorded testimony of other parties, and a photo of a bloody shoe print that didn’t match Thompson’s own shoes. Thompson’s brother, Goldy, was acquitted in the same case following a separate trial in which the evidence hadn’t been withheld, the newspaper reported.

The appeals court judges also cited a lack of physical evidence tying the defendant to the crimes and noted as “strange” the jury’s decision to acquit Thompson of firearms specifications in each death, given that the victims were all shot and one died of a gunshot wound.


Justices asked to hear dog toy dispute. Will they bite?
Law Firm Business | 2022/11/15 08:20
The company that makes Jack Daniel’s is howling mad over a squeaking dog toy that parodies the whiskey’s signature bottle. Now, the liquor company is barking at the door of the Supreme Court.

Jack Daniel’s has asked the justices to hear its case against the manufacturer of the plastic Bad Spaniels toy. The high court could say as soon as Monday whether the justices will agree. A number of major companies from the makers of Campbell Soup to outdoor brand Patagonia and jeans maker Levi Strauss have urged the justices to take what they say is an important case for trademark law.

The toy that has Jack Daniel’s so doggone mad mimics the square shape of its whisky bottle as well as its black-and-white label and amber-colored liquor while adding what it calls “poop humor.” While the original bottle has the words “Old No. 7 brand” and “Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey,” the parody proclaims: “The Old No. 2 on Your Tennessee Carpet.” Instead of the original’s note that it is 40% alcohol by volume, the parody says it’s “43% Poo by Vol.” and “100% Smelly.”

The toy retails for about $13 to $20 and the packaging notes in small font: “This product is not affiliated with Jack Daniel Distillery.”

The toy’s maker says Jack Daniel’s can’t take a joke. “It is ironic that America’s leading distiller of whiskey both lacks a sense of humor and does not recognize when it — and everyone else — has had enough,” lawyers for Arizona-based VIP Products wrote the high court. They told the justices that Jack Daniel’s has “waged war” against the company for “having the temerity to produce a pun-filled parody” of its bottle.

But Jack Daniel’s lead attorney, Lisa Blatt, made no bones about the company’s position in her filing.

“To be sure, everyone likes a good joke. But VIP’s profit-motivated ‘joke’ confuses consumers by taking advantage of Jack Daniel’s hard-earned goodwill,” she wrote for the Louisville, Kentucky-based Brown-Forman Corp., Jack Daniel’s parent company.

Blatt wrote that a lower court decision provides “near-blanket protection” to humorous trademark infringement. And she said it has “broad and dangerous consequences,” pointing to children who were hospitalized after eating marijuana-infused products that mimicked candy packaging.


Montana vote adds to win streak for abortion rights backers
Court Center | 2022/11/11 22:45
Abortion rights supporters secured another win Thursday as voters in Montana rejected a ballot measure that would have forced medical workers to intercede in the rare case of a baby born after an attempted abortion.

The result caps a string of ballot defeats, months after the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade galvanized abortion-rights voters.

Michigan, California and Vermont voted to enshrine abortion rights in their state constitutions, and Kentucky voters rejected an anti-abortion amendment in a tally that echoed a similar August vote in Kansas.

Abortion rights groups said the outcomes show that voters across the political spectrum support access to abortion, even after a dozen Republican-governed states legislatures adopted near-total bans in the wake of the Roe decision. Anti-abortion groups, on the other hand, say they were outspent in the state races and point out anti-abortion candidate victories.

Like voters nationwide, only about 1 in 10 voters in California, Michigan, Montana Kentucky or Vermont said abortion should generally be illegal in all cases, according to AP VoteCast.

The Montana ballot measure would have raised the prospect of criminal charges carrying up to 20 years in prison for health-care providers unless they take “all medically appropriate and reasonable actions to preserve the life” of an infant born alive, including in the rare case of a birth after an abortion.

Doctors and other opponents argued the law could keep parents of babies born with incurable diseases from spending peaceful moments with their infants if doctors were forced to attempt treatment.


Jackson, in dissent, issues first Supreme Court opinion
Headline News | 2022/11/08 17:51
New Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson has issued her first Supreme Court opinion, a short dissent Monday in support of a death row inmate from Ohio.

Jackson wrote that she would have thrown out lower court rulings in the case of inmate Davel Chinn, whose lawyers argued that the state suppressed evidence that might have altered the outcome of his trial.

Jackson, in a two-page opinion, wrote that she would have ordered a new look at Chinn’s case “because his life is on the line and given the substantial likelihood that the suppressed records would have changed the outcome at trial.”

The evidence at issue indicated that a key witness against Chinn has an intellectual disability that might have affected his memory and ability to testify accurately, she wrote.

Prosecutors are required to turn over potentially exculpatory evidence to the defense. In this case, lower courts determined that the outcome would not have been affected if the witness’ records had been provided to Chinn’s lawyers.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the only other member of the court to join Jackson’s opinion. The two justices also were allies in dissent Monday in Sotomayor’s opinion that there was serious prosecutorial misconduct in the trial of a Louisiana man who was convicted of sex trafficking.

Jackson joined the high court on June 30, following the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer, her onetime boss.

The court has yet to decide any of the cases argued in October or the first few days of this month. Jackson almost certainly will be writing a majority opinion in one of those cases.


Indiana Democrats pin legislative gains on abortion debate
Top Legal News | 2022/11/03 20:57
Even before Republican legislators this summer made Indiana the first state to pass an abortion ban since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Democrats started urging angry voters to take their revenge at the ballot box.

Indiana Democrats haven’t let up on that push in the final days of this year’s elections, although a limited number of competitive races on the Nov. 8 ballot for the currently Republican-dominated Legislature leave them with slim chances of being able to do much about abortion access that is also being debated during campaigns across the country.

Indiana Republicans, meanwhile, argue that voters are more worried about other issues such as inflation and crime — concerns widely believed to favor the GOP.

Democratic candidate Joey Mayer said the abortion ban has remained a top issue as she’s talked with voters in a northern Indianapolis suburban district where she’s challenging a four-term Republican House member who voted in favor of the ban when it passed in August.


Same-sex marriage is now legal in all of Mexico’s states
Headline News | 2022/10/27 21:18
Lawmakers in the border state of Tamaulipas voted Wednesday night to legalize same-sex marriages, becoming the last of Mexico’s 32 states to authorize such unions.

The measure to amend the state’s Civil Code passed with 23 votes in favor, 12 against and two abstentions, setting off cheers of “Yes, we can!” from supporters of the change.

The session took place as groups both for and against the measure chanted and shouted from the balcony, and legislators eventually moved to another room to finish their debate and vote.

The president of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, Arturo Zaldívar, welcomed the vote. “The whole country shines with a huge rainbow. Live the dignity and rights of all people. Love is love,” he said on Twitter.

A day earlier, lawmakers in the southern state of Guerrero approved similar legislation allowing same-sex marriages.

In 2015, the Supreme Court declared state laws preventing same-sex marriage unconstitutional, but some states took several years to adopt laws conforming with the ruling.


Idaho Supreme Court won’t weigh legality of child marriage
Legal Watch | 2022/10/25 00:08
A legal loophole in Idaho that allows parents of teens to nullify child custody agreements by arranging child marriages will remain in effect, under a ruling from the state Supreme Court on Tuesday.

In a split decision, the high court declined to decide whether Idaho’s child marriage law — which allows 16- and 17-year-olds to marry if one parent agrees to the union — is unconstitutional. Instead, the justices said that once a child is emancipated by marriage, the family court loses jurisdiction over custody matters.

The case arose from a custody battle between a Boise woman and her ex-husband, who planned to move to Florida and wanted to take their 16-year-old daughter along. The ex-husband was accused of setting up a “sham marriage” between his daughter and another teen as a way to end the custody fight.

It’s not a rare scenario — all but seven states allow minors below the age of 18 to marry, according to Unchained At Last, an organization that opposes child marriage. Nevada, Idaho, Arkansas and Kentucky have the highest rates of child marriage per capita, according to the organization. Although minors are generally considered legally emancipated once they are married, they generally still have limited legal rights and so may be unable to file for divorce or seek a protective order.

Erin Carver and William Hornish divorced in 2012, and only their youngest was still living at home last year when both sides began disputing the custody arrangements.

Carver said she learned Hornish was planning a “sham marriage” for the teen to end the custody battle, and asked the family court magistrate to stop the marriage plans. Several days later, the magistrate judge agreed, but it was too late. The teen had already married.

The high court heard arguments in March, and Carver’s attorney contended that the child marriage law is unconstitutional because it allows one parent to terminate another parent’s rights without due process. Hornish’s attorney, Geoffrey Goss, countered that his client had acted legally and followed state law.

In Tuesday’s ruling, a majority of the Supreme Court justices said that because the marriage had occurred before an initial ruling was made, the family court lost jurisdiction. Once a child is married, they are emancipated and no longer subject to child custody arrangements, the high court said.


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