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The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider Virginia’s plea to reinstate the life-without-parole sentence of a man who as a teenager participated in sniper shootings that terrorized the Washington, D.C., region in 2002.

The justices said they will take up the state’s appeal in the case of Lee Boyd Malvo, who was 17 when he and John Allen Muhammad fatally shot 10 people in Maryland, Virginia and Washington. Malvo was sentenced to life-without-parole terms in Virginia and in Maryland. Muhammad, who was 41 at the time of the shootings, was sentenced to death and was executed in 2009.

Malvo was sentenced to four life terms for crimes he committed in Virginia. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled last year that while Malvo’s life-without-parole sentences were legal when they were imposed, Supreme Court decisions that followed altered sentencing requirements for juvenile offenders.

The appeals court judges said a resentencing would determine whether Malvo qualifies as “one of the rare juvenile offenders” who can be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole because his “crimes reflect permanent incorrigibility.” They said if his crimes instead “reflect the transient immaturity of youth,” he is entitled to a sentence short of life without parole.

The Supreme Court will review that decision. As is typical, the justices did not make any comment in agreeing to hear the case, which will be argued in the fall.

Regardless of what the Supreme Court decides, it is unlikely that Malvo would get out of prison anytime soon. He isn’t currently getting a new sentencing hearing in Maryland, where he struck a plea deal and was sentenced to six life-without-parole prison terms for shootings that took place in that state.

A judge previously ruled that Malvo would not get new sentencing hearings in Maryland. Malvo, who has been serving his sentences at Red Onion State Prison in Pound, Virginia, has appealed.


An Ohio attorney has been ordered to pay $300,000 to two women whose photos from when they were young girls were manipulated to create fake child pornography used by the attorney in court cases.

Cleveland.com reports a federal appeal court in Cincinnati ruled Wednesday that a bankruptcy judge's 2017 opinion that attorney Jack Boland didn't need to pay the judgment ignored the women's reputation and privacy rights.

Boland once served as an expert witness who would testify that innocent photographs can be manipulated while arguing defendants may not have knowingly viewed or possessed child pornography.

Images of the girls, who are now adults, were taken from a stock photo book. Their guardians sued Boland in federal court in 2007. A $300,000 judgment was rendered in 2011.
Boland declined to comment.


Europe's human rights court on Thursday ordered Italy to pay Amanda Knox financial damages for police failure to provide legal assistance and an independent interpreter during a long night of questioning following the Nov. 1, 2007 murder of her British roommate. But the court said there was insufficient evidence to support claims of psychological and physical mistreatment.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, said in its ruling that Italy hadn't succeeded in proving that "the restriction of Ms. Knox's access to a lawyer ... had not irreparably undermined the fairness of the proceedings as a whole." It said Italy must pay Knox 18,400 euros ($20,000) in damages, costs and expenses.

"Ms. Knox had been particularly vulnerable, being a foreign young woman, 20 at the time, not having been in Italy for very long and not being fluent in Italian," the court noted.

After more than seven years of legal battles and flip-flop decisions, Knox was definitively acquitted of Meredith Kercher's murder by Italy's highest court in March 2015. But a damaging conviction and three-year sentence for falsely accusing a Congolese bar owner of the murder was confirmed, leaving a cloud over her acquittal.


The head of the Iowa court system says technology and the need to ensure justice for everyone demands increased spending.

Speaking Wednesday in his annual speech to the Legislature, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady told lawmakers “we simply can no longer proceed into the future thinking it will be a modest linear extension from where we are today.”

The judicial branch is requesting nearly $185 million, a 4 percent increase from the current year’s budget. Gov. Kim Reynolds is proposing nearly $183 million.

Among the new programs Cady proposes is a $1.6 million rural courts initiative to secure courthouses and upgrade services to ensure court services in all 99 counties.

He also proposes a $2.5 million digital upgrade that would allow judges to send search warrants electronically to investigators, improve an internet-based telephone system and upgrade technology to allow for remote video appearances for witnesses, parties in cases and court reporters.

Cady also seeks $1.9 million to pay for a proposed 4 percent increase in pay for judiciary officers.


Attorneys for a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple on religious grounds — a stand partially upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court — argued in federal court Tuesday that the state is punishing him again over his refusal to bake a cake celebrating a gender transition.

Lawyers for Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver, are suing to try to stop the state from taking action against him over the new discrimination allegation. They say the state is treating Phillips with hostility because of his Christian faith and pressing a complaint that they call an "obvious setup."

"At this point, he's just a guy who is trying to get back to life. The problem is the state of Colorado won't let him," Jim Campbell, an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, said after the hearing. The conservative Christian nonprofit law firm is representing Phillips.

State officials argued for the case to be dismissed, but the judge said he was inclined to let the case move forward and would issue a written ruling later.

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission said Phillips discriminated against Denver attorney Autumn Scardina because she's transgender. Phillips' shop refused to make a cake last year that was blue on the outside and pink on the inside after Scardina revealed she wanted it to celebrate her transition from male to female.

She asked for the cake on the same day the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would consider Phillips' appeal of the previous commission ruling against him. In that 2012 case, he refused to make a wedding cake for same-sex couple Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins.

The Supreme Court ruled in June that the Colorado commission showed anti-religious bias when it sanctioned Phillips for refusing to make the cake, voting 7-2 that it violated Phillips' First Amendment rights.


Poland's president signed legislation Monday that reinstates Supreme Court judges who were forced into early retirement despite the European Union condemning the removals as a violation of democratic standards.

Earlier in the day, the EU's top court, the European Court of Justice, ruled that Poland needed to suspend a law that lowered the retirement age for Supreme Court judges and to put about two dozen justices the law had affected back on the bench.

President Andrzej Duda signed the revisions that removed the early retirement provisions, presidential aide Pawel Mucha said late Monday. The quick response comes amid a broader push by Poland's conservative ruling party, Law and Justice, to ease tensions with the EU.

Monday's ruling confirmed the Court of Justice's interim judgment from October ordering Poland to reinstate justices who were forced to step down when the retirement age was lowered from 70 to 65. The European Commission, which enforces EU law in member countries, had asked the court to review Poland's law.

The commission viewed the forced retirements of the judges as erosions of judicial independence and democratic standards because it gave the legislative and executive branches of government unprecedented control over the courts.

After the interim injunction, Poland's parliament passed the amended legislation to remove the early retirement provisions.

Critics of the government welcomed the backtracking on the issue of the retirement age but argued more must be done to undo what they see as extensive damage to judicial independence under the Law and Justice.

They say the ruling party's overhaul of the judicial system included capturing control of the Constitutional Court and a council that names judges, as well as other steps that increase its sway over the Supreme Court.



A Congressional candidate in Georgia says she's asking a federal court to block one of the state's largest counties from certifying its vote totals before ballot disputes are resolved.

Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux's campaign filed a complaint Sunday night accusing Gwinnett County of improperly rejecting hundreds of absentee ballots in Georgia's 7th Congressional District.

Bourdeaux says those votes should be counted, partly because they were rejected based on "immaterial" information such as missing or inaccurate addresses or birth dates.

The race between Bourdeaux and Republican incumbent Rep. Rob Woodall remains too close to call. With all precincts reporting, Woodall held a lead of about 900 votes out of nearly 279,000 votes counted.

Under Georgia law, Bourdeaux could request a recount. Woodall's campaign on Monday didn't immediately return messages seeking comment.


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