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The city of Norman violated the state’s Open Meeting Act when it approved a budget that cut the police budget by $865,000, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

The court upheld a circuit judge’s December ruling that a required notice for the June 16 meeting was worded deceptively. The notice said the council would consider adopting the city’s proposed operating and capital budgets, but it did not say an amendment to slash the police budget by 3.6% would be discussed.

“We find that the language used in the agenda was deceptively vague and likely to mislead regarding the meeting and therefore was a willful violation of the (Open Meetings) Act,” according to the opinion by Chief Justice Richard Darby.

The ruling also found that the city’s budget is invalid.

“We are reviewing it and will comply with the Supreme Court ruling,” city spokesperson Annahlyse Meyer said.

The cut came in the midst of calls to “defund the police” after the May death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The money was to be used for community outreach programs.

“These budget amendments reflect an intentional effort to tackle systemic racism in our community and to be proactive as opposed to reactive in meeting the social service needs of our residents,” Mayor Breea Clark said at the time.

The vote to cut the police budget also led to a failed petition effort to recall Clark and four members of the eight-person City Council.


The former police chief of Connecticut’s largest city was sentenced Monday to one year and one day in prison for rigging the hiring process that led to his appointment in 2018.

A federal judge in Bridgeport handed down the punishment to Armando “A.J.” Perez, who rose through the ranks of Bridgeport police to lead the department as its first Hispanic chief over a nearly four-decade career there. He and the city’s former acting personnel director, David Dunn, resigned in September and pleaded guilty the following month to defrauding the city and making false statements to FBI agents in connection with the scheme.

Perez, dressed in a suit, tie and a mask in court due to coronavirus precautions, apologized to the city, his family and federal investigators for the crimes during the sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge Kari Dooley.

“I accept responsibility. I am so sorry,” he said. “I spent all my life on the right side of the table and I betrayed myself. I should have said no. ... I did this to myself, your honor. I did this to myself. I betrayed myself and then I panicked.”

Perez, who had asked for a sentence of home confinement and probation, also was ordered to pay nearly $300,000 in restitution to the city and perform 100 hours of community service after the prison sentence, which he will begin serving on May 24.

Prosecutors said Perez, 65, received confidential information about the police chief’s examination stolen by Dunn, including the questions for an oral examination and the scoring guide for written essays. Perez, who was the acting chief at the time, also admitted that he had two officers complete his essays, passed the work off as his own and lied to federal authorities in an effort to cover up his actions.

Perez ended up being ranked among the top three candidates for the police chief’s job and was appointed by Mayor Joe Ganim, who has been close to Perez for years. Ganim, who served seven years in prison for corruption committed during his first stint as mayor from 1991 to 2003, has denied wrongdoing in Perez’s appointment and has not been charged.


A Baltimore financier accused of spending at least $90,000 for sex with women, including some of whom he supplied with drugs, has pleaded guilty to a prostitution charge, according to federal prosecutors.

Charles “Chuck” Nabit, 64, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison after pleading guilty on Friday to transporting a person to engage in prostitution. U.S. District Judge George L. Russell III is scheduled to sentence him on June 24.

Nabit owns homes in Bethany Beach, Delaware; and Deerfield Beach, Florida. He owns Westport Group LLC and previously owned a Baltimore drug treatment center.

Seven women whom Nabit paid for sex either regularly used narcotics or had serious substance abuse problems, prosecutors said in a news release. A court filing that accompanied his plea agreement says Nabit regularly transported victims to and from his Baltimore office for sex and recorded sexual encounters with a camera despite women’s objections to being filmed.

“Charles Nabit used his wealth, his business and his position in society to facilitate his pattern of commercial sex, including with women suffering from narcotics addiction,” Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan Lenzner said in a statement. “Rather than use his resources to assist these victims, Nabit paid thousands of dollars to engage them in commercial sex acts.”

Nabit was arrested in June. The case against him grew out of charges against an alleged trafficker, Deangelo Johnson, who was indicted in October 2019. Nabit paid Johnson at least $90,000 for sex with women beginning in March 2019, according to his plea agreement.

Nabit said in a statement that he fully accepts responsibility for his behavior and expressed remorse for the “incredible sadness, shame, and hurt to those I love the most,” the Baltimore Sun reports.

Steven Allen, Nabit’s attorney, said his client has completed hundreds of hours of therapy since he was charged.


Ramsey Clark, the attorney general in the Johnson administration who became an outspoken activist for unpopular causes and a harsh critic of U.S. policy, has died. He was 93.

Clark, whose father, Tom Clark, was attorney general and U.S. Supreme Court justice, died on Friday at his Manhattan home, a family member, Sharon Welch, announced to media outlets including The New York Times and The Washington Post.

After serving in President Lyndon Johnson’s Cabinet in 1967 and ’68, Clark set up a private law practice in New York in which he championed civil rights, fought racism and the death penalty, and represented declared foes of the United States including former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. He also defended former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

New York civil rights attorney Ron Kuby, who worked with Clark on numerous cases, called the death “very, very sad in a season of losses.”

“The progressive legal community has lost its elder dean and statesman,” Kuby said. “Over many generations, Ramsey Clark was a principled voice, conscience and a fighter for civil and human rights.”

In courtrooms around the country Clark defended antiwar activists. In the court of public opinion, he charged the United States with militarism and arrogance, starting with the Vietnam War and continuing with Grenada, Libya, Panama and the Gulf War.

When Clark visited Iraq after Operation Desert Storm and returned to accuse the United States of war crimes, Newsweek dubbed him the Jane Fonda of the Gulf War.


President Joe Biden on Friday ordered a study of adding seats to the Supreme Court, creating a bipartisan commission that will spend the next six months examining the politically incendiary issues of expanding the court and instituting term limits for its justices.

In launching the review, Biden fulfilled a campaign promise made amid pressure from activists and Democrats to realign the Supreme Court after its composition tilted sharply to the right during President Donald Trump’s term. Trump added three justices to the high court, including conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was confirmed to replace liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg just days before last year’s presidential election.

During the campaign, Biden repeatedly sidestepped questions on expanding the court. A former chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden has asserted that the system of judicial nominations is “getting out of whack,” but has not said if he supports adding seats or making other changes to the current system of lifetime appointments, such as imposing term limits.

The 36-member commission, composed largely of academics, was instructed to spend 180 days studying the issues. But it was not charged with making a recommendation under the White House order that created it.

The panel will be led by Bob Bauer, who served as White House counsel for former President Barack Obama, and Cristina Rodriguez, a Yale Law School professor who served in the Office of Legal Counsel for Obama.

The makeup of the Supreme Court, always a hot-button issue, ignited again in 2016 when Democrats declared that Republicans gained an unfair advantage by blocking Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to fill the seat left empty by the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, refused to even hold hearings on filling the vacancy, even though it was more than six months until the next presidential election.

In the wake of McConnell’s power play, some progressives have viewed adding seats to the court or setting term limits as a way to offset the influence of any one president on its makeup. Conservatives, in turn, have denounced such ideas as “court-packing” similar to the failed effort by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s.



A private funeral will be held Friday for the Mississippi judge who handed down a life sentence to the white supremacist convicted of killing civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

Retired Hinds County Circuit Court Judge L. Breland Hilburn died Monday at the University of Mississippi Medical Center of complications from COVID-19, according to a news release from the state Administrative Office of Courts. He was 79.

Hilburn presided over the 1994 murder trial of former fertilizer salesman Byron De La Beckwith in the killing of Evers three decades earlier.

The Mississippi NAACP leader was shot to death in his own driveway shortly after midnight on June 12, 1963, while his wife and their three small children were inside the home in Jackson. President John F. Kennedy had given a televised speech about civil rights hours earlier. Prosecutors said Beckwith staked out the Evers home, waiting across the street to assassinate the World War II veteran.

Two all-white juries tried Beckwith in the 1960s, but they deadlocked and mistrials were declared. The case was reopened in the early 1990s after new witnesses came forward. In 1994, an integrated jury convicted  Beckwith of murder, and Hilburn sentenced him to life in prison. Beckwith died in prison in 2001.

Hilburn retired May 31, 2002, after spending 30 years as a city, county or circuit judge. He continued working part-time in retirement as senior status judge until 2017 — a position appointed by the state Supreme Court. In that role, Hilburn helped Hinds County deal with a long criminal docket when the jail was crowded with pretrial detainees.

William Gowan, another retired Hinds County circuit judge who has worked as a senior status judge, said in the state courts’ news release that Hilburn was “a public servant who could identify with the public.”

“He never tried to impress people with being a judge,” Gowan said.


Prosecutors are asking a New York City court to throw out 90 drug convictions following a review of arrests involving a former narcotics detective charged with corruption.

The mostly low-level cases investigated by Joseph Franco while a NYPD officer in Brooklyn from 2004 to 2011 should be vacated because of his ongoing criminal case in Manhattan, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said Wednesday. A 2019 indictment accuses Franco of perjury and other charges alleging he framed innocent people.

The review of the mostly low-level Brooklyn cases dating back a decade or more found no similar misconduct on Franco’s part or that the defendants were innocent, prosecutors said Wednesday. But because of the Manhattan case, “I have lost confidence in his work,” Gonzalez said in a statement.

“I cannot in good faith stand by convictions that principally relied on his testimony,” he added.

Tina Luongo, attorney-in-charge of the Legal Aid Society’s criminal defense practice, lauded Gonzalez’s decision to vacate the convictions. She urged other district attorneys in the city to perform similar reviews.

Franco “touched thousands of cases throughout New York City, and we may never know the full extent of the damage he caused and lives he upended,” Luongo said in a statement.

During a virtual hearing on Wednesday morning, a judge began the process of vacating the cases at the request of defense attorneys. At issue were 27 felony and 63 misdemeanor convictions, most resulting from guilty pleas.

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