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An Australian judge ruled on Friday that best-selling author Colleen McCullough's widower was the sole beneficiary of her estate following a bitter court wrangle.

The author of the novel "The Thorn Birds," which sold 33 million copies worldwide, died on Norfolk Island in 2015 aged 77.

Her husband of 32 years, Ric Robinson, had been battling the executor of the author's estate and close friend, Selwa Anthony, in the New South Wales state Supreme Court over who was entitled to her 2.1 million Australian dollar ($1.5 million) estate.

McCullough wrote a will in 2014 leaving everything to The University of Oklahoma Foundation, of which she was a founding board member. Anthony alleged Robinson took advantage of his wife's ill health to change her will in October 2014, leaving him everything, before her death four months later.

Anthony maintained the foundation was the rightful beneficiary according to the earlier will signed in Sydney, around the time McCullough said she had "kicked Ric out for good" because he had a mistress.

Justice Nigel Rein on Friday found McCullough had intended to bequeath her entire estate to Robinson.

He found the foundation will was later revoked following the couple's reconciliation, when McCullough signed or initialed documents leaving everything to her husband.


A proposal for a high-voltage power line carrying wind energy across the Midwest received a jolt of new life Tuesday as the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that state regulators had wrongly rejected it.

The ruling is a major victory in the quest by Clean Line Energy Partners to build one of the nation's longest electric transmission lines. The $2.3 billion project would carry power harnessed from the wind-whipped plains of western Kansas on a 780-mile (1,255 kilometer) trek across Missouri and Illinois before hooking into an electric grid in Indiana that serves the eastern U.S.

"The project has been on standby while we awaited the Missouri Supreme Court decision," Clean Line President Michael Skelly said. "Now with this decision, we can get back after it."

Missouri had been the lone state blocking the project. But during Missouri's protracted regulatory and legal battle, an Illinois appeals court in March also overturned that state's approval.

Skelly said the Houston-based renewable energy firm still has a clear path toward winning Illinois approval by first acquiring ownership of some utility property and then reapplying.

Attorney Paul Agathan, who represents more than 1,000 members of the Missouri Landowners Alliance, said his clients would continue fighting the power line before state regulators and county commissioners, who still would eventually have to sign off on permits for the power line to cross roads.



A judge has given prosecutors until Thursday to formally charge a man who's being held in the 1988 slaying of an 8-year-old Indiana girl.

Fifty-nine-year-old John D. Miller of Grabill was arrested Sunday on preliminary murder, child molesting and criminal confinement charges in the abduction, rape and killing of April Marie Tinsley.

The Fort Wayne girl's body was found three days after her April 1988 abduction in a ditch about 20 miles (32 kilometers) away.

Court documents say Miller's DNA matches DNA recovered from Tinsley's underwear. WANE-TV reports Miller appeared Monday morning before an Allen County judge, who gave prosecutors 72 hours to formally charge Miller in the killing.

He's being held without bond. It wasn't clear if Miller has a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.



Harvey Weinstein, who was previously indicted on charges involving two women, was released on bail on Monday while fighting sex crime accusations that now include a third woman.

"We fight these battles one day at a time, and today we won this round," defense attorney Ben Brafman said outside court. Brafman said during the arraignment that he expects more charges.

Weinstein pleaded not guilty after he was brought into the courtroom with his hands cuffed behind his back. He was then uncuffed for the proceeding.

An updated indictment unveiled last week alleges the movie mogul-turned-#MeToo villain performed a forcible sex act on a woman in 2006. The new charges include two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison upon conviction.

Attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing the third woman, said outside court that her client will testify if the case goes to trial. She said she doubts Weinstein's lawyer would allow him to do the same because it would subject him to cross examination by prosecutors.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said the 66-year-old Weinstein is charged with "some of the most serious sexual offenses" that exist under state law.

"Mr. Weinstein maintains that all of these allegations are false and he expects to be fully vindicated," Brafman said.

More than 75 women have accused Weinstein, who was one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, of wrongdoing as allegations detailed in Pulitzer Prize-winning stories last October in The New York Times and The New Yorker magazine swelled into the #MeToo movement.



Pennsylvania's highest court on Friday decided against immediately releasing an investigative grand jury's report into allegations of decades of child sexual abuse in six Roman Catholic dioceses, instead saying it would hear arguments from priests and others that making it public would violate their constitutional rights.

The state Supreme Court gave lawyers for those who object to being named in the nearly 900-page report and want to prevent its disclosure until Tuesday to lay out their arguments in writing, and the attorney general's office until July 13 to respond.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro has said he wants the report made public as soon as possible, noting that unindicted people who were cited in the report in a way that "could be construed as critical" were given an unrestricted right to file responses that are expected to be released along with the report. His spokesman declined comment on the court orders.

More than two dozen current and retired members of the clergy have argued to the court that the report is replete with errors and mischaracterizations that would violate their constitutional rights to due process and to protect their reputations.


The Wisconsin Supreme Court is set to rule on whether Marquette University was correct to fire a conservative professor who wrote a blog post criticizing a student instructor he believed shut down discussion against gay marriage.

John McAdams sued the private Catholic school in 2016, arguing that he lost his job for exercising freedom of speech.

Marquette says McAdams wasn't fired for the content of his 2014 post, but because he named the instructor and linked to her personal website that had personal identifying information. The instructor later received a flood of hateful messages and threats.

The court heard arguments in April. The ruling expected Friday has been eagerly awaited by conservatives who see universities as liberal havens and by private businesses that want control over employee discipline.




President Donald Trump spoke with three more potential Supreme Court candidates on Tuesday as a key senator privately aired concerns about one of the contenders.

As Trump weighs his options, he has heard from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who has expressed reservations about one top potential nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, according to a person familiar with the call but not authorized to publicly disclose details of it. The activity around Kavanaugh was an early glimpse of the frenzied jockeying around the short list of candidates in the run-up to Trump's July 9 announcement.

With a narrow 51-49 GOP majority in the Senate, losing any Republican senator could begin to doom a nominee. Paul's objections echo those made by outside conservative groups over Kavanaugh, who is seen as a top contender for the vacancy but who activists warn is too much of an establishment-aligned choice.

Trump has said he'll choose his nominee from a list of 25 candidates vetted by conservative groups. Top contenders include federal appeals judges Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, Amul Thapar and Amy Coney Barrett — all of whom spoke with Trump on Monday.

"These are very talented people, brilliant people," Trump said Tuesday during an appearance in West Virginia. "We're going to give you a great one."

The White House says Trump has spoken to seven candidates. There were the four interviews Monday, as well as a conversation with Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who is not regarded as a top contender but who is being pushed by key conservatives.

Trump has also spoken with Thomas Hardiman, who has served with Trump's sister on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, according to a person familiar with the conversation who also was not authorized to publicly discuss it.

Another candidate considered a top contender is Joan Larsen, who serves on the federal appeals court in Cincinnati.


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