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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a 15-week abortion ban into law Thursday as the state joined a growing conservative push to restrict access ahead of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that could limit the procedure nationwide.

The new law marks a significant blow to abortion access in the South, where Florida has provided wider access to the procedure than its regional neighbors.

The new law, which takes effect July 1, contains exceptions if the abortion is necessary to save a mother’s life, prevent serious injury or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. It does not allow for exemptions in cases where pregnancies were caused by rape, incest or human trafficking. Under current law, Florida allows abortions up to 24 weeks.

“This will represent the most significant protections for life that have been enacted in this state in a generation,” DeSantis said as he signed the bill at the “Nación de Fe” (“Nation of Faith”), an evangelical church in the city of Kissimmee that serves members of the Latino population.

DeSantis, a Republican rising star and potential 2024 presidential candidate, signed the measure after several women delivered speeches about how they chose not to have abortions or, in the case of one, regretted having done so.

Some of the people in attendance, including young children, stood behind the speakers holding signs saying “Choose life,” while those who spoke stood at a podium to which was affixed a sign displaying an infant’s feet and a heartbeat reading, “Protect Life.”

Debate over the proposal grew deeply personal and revealing inside the Florida legislature, with lawmakers recalling their own abortions and experiences with sexual assault in often tearful speeches on the House and Senate floors.


A second defendant has pleaded guilty in federal court to a hate crime and making false statements in connection with a 2018 racially-motivated assault in the Seattle area.

U.S. Attorney Nick Brown said Jason DeSimas, 45, of Tacoma, Washington, is one of four men from across the Pacific Northwest being prosecuted for punching and kicking a Black man at a bar in Lynnwood, Washington.

U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones scheduled sentencing for July 8.

According to the plea agreement, DeSimas was a prospective member of a white supremacist group. DeSimas believed that he and his group could go into bars and initiate fights, so that the rest of the members of the group could join in.

On Dec. 8, 2018, the men went to a bar in Lynnwood, Washington and assaulted a Black man who was working as a DJ. The group also assaulted two other men who came to the DJ’s aid. The attackers shouted racial slurs and made Nazi salutes during the assault.

DeSimas also admitted making false statements to the FBI during the investigation of the case.

Under terms of the plea agreement, both sides will recommend a 37-month prison term. The judge is not bound by the recommendation.

Daniel Delbert Dorson, 24, of Corvallis, Oregon, has already pleaded guilty in the case and is scheduled for sentencing Aug. 19. Jason Stanley, 44, of Boise, Idaho, and Randy Smith, 39, of Eugene, Oregon, are also charged in the case and are in custody awaiting trial.


New York’s highest court ruled Tuesday that fantasy sports contests like those run by FanDuel and DraftKings are allowed under the state constitution, turning back a challenge to the popular games.

The state Court of Appeals reversed an appeals court’s decision last year that found interactive fantasy sports violated the state constitution’s ban on gambling. The games allow players to assemble a roster of athletes in a sport, using individuals performance statistics to determine the winner. They annually bring in hundreds of millions in entrance fees statewide.

The lawsuit was bought several years ago and did not target mobile sports betting, which began in New York earlier this year.

In a 4-3 ruling, New York’s top court clarified the scope of that the state’s constitutional prohibition on gambling. Chief Judge Janet DiFiore wrote that the gambling prohibition doesn’t include skill-based competitions in which players who win a prize exercise “substantial influence” over the contest’s outcome.

DiFiore wrote that the outcome of a interactive fantasy sports contest “turns — not on the performance of real-life athletes, as it would with respect to a bet or wager — but on whether the participant has skillfully composed and managed a virtual roster so as to garner more fantasy points than rosters composed by other participants.”

The fantasy sports measure signed into law by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2016 cleared the way for companies like DraftKings and FanDuel to operate and be regulated in New York. DraftKings and FanDuel both said they were pleased with the decision.


The Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles and court officials have scrambled to close a gap in tracking and sharing information about criminal convictions that should result in license suspensions.

The problem surfaced when a man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter following a fatal crash during a police pursuit was arrested for causing another crash while being chased by police. Two others were injured, one of them critically, in the crash on March 4 in Paris, Maine.

The man being chased by police shouldn’t have had a license after pleading guilty last summer to the earlier crash that killed a 70-year-old driver.

A one-page document that would have allowed the BMV to process his suspension was never sent by court staff despite the BMV’s requests, and court officials suggested it was not their duty to send the paperwork because the conviction was not technically considered a driving offense under state law, the Portland Press Herald reported.

The state court’s response hinged on a technicality — he was convicted not of a driving offense but manslaughter. In Maine, there’s no separate conviction for “vehicular manslaughter.”

On Friday, officials including Secretary of State Shenna Bellows and Valerie Stanfill, chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, came to an agreement on correcting the problem, the newspaper reported.

But the Portland Press Herald reported that representatives of the courts and secretary of state declined to discuss specifics.

The agreement with the courts will encompass convictions connected to use of a vehicle but not specifically included in the driving statute, said Emily Cook, spokesperson for Bellows.


A juror told a judge Tuesday that failing to disclose his child abuse history during jury selection at the trial of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was one of the biggest mistakes of his life — but an unintentional one.

“I didn’t lie in order to get on this jury,” the juror said.

A U.S. judge questioned the juror extensively as part of an effort to decide whether the revelation about his personal history as a sex abuse survivor will spoil the verdict in the sex trafficking trial.

Maxwell was convicted in late December of helping the financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse multiple teenage girls from 1994 to 2004.

Sitting in a courtroom witness box, the juror repeatedly expressed regret as U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan asked him dozens of questions about why he didn’t reveal the abuse on a questionnaire during the jury selection process.

The juror said he didn’t mention it because he “skimmed way too fast” through the questionnaire.

“This is one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made in my life,” the juror identified only as Juror No. 50 said as he looked directly at the judge.

Lawyers for Maxwell — who was present in the courtroom, clad in a dark blue jail smock — say the verdict should be thrown out. Maxwell’s lawyers potentially could have objected to the man’s presence on the jury on the grounds that he might not be fair to a person accused of a similar crime.


A federal judge has ruled that a Maine hospital violated the state’s equal pay law by paying a female psychologist barely half the wage of her male colleagues.

The judge ruled that Northern Light Acadia Hospital violated the Maine Equal Pay Law and must pay back wages and damages to psychologist Clare Mundell. She filed the lawsuit after learning her hourly rate of $50 was less than the $90 to $95 per hour made by men in her department.

The judge, Lance Walker of U.S. District Court in Maine, wrote Tuesday that Mundell was “unlawfully underpaid by Acadia,” a psychiatric hospital in Bangor. Mundell said in a statement that she only learned of the wage difference because of a discussion with a male coworker in a shared office space about hourly rates. She said she encourages “all workers to share this information freely with one another.”

Northern Light Acadia Hospital is part of Northern Light Health, a health network that includes some of the biggest hospitals in northern New England. Northern Light Health disagrees with the ruling and intends to appeal it, vice president Suzanne Spruce said.

She said Northern Light is “committed to treating all of its employees, regardless of gender, or any other protected class, fairly and equitably.”


The Alabama Supreme Court has raised the maximum bail amount a judge can set for a state murder charge to $1.5 million.

The change to Alabama’s criminal rules was approved by the high court on Friday, news outlets reported. It means murder defendants now face bail that’s 10 times higher than the previous limit of $150,000.

Alabama prosecutors had pushed for the change, saying the old bail limit was too low to keep some dangerous criminal defendants in jail while awaiting trial.

In Mobile County, Dayvon Bray was released from jail on bond last year after being charged with murder, to be arrested again and charged with fatally shooting his girlfriend. Higher bails for those charged with murder could prevent similar cases in the future, said Mobile County Chief Assistant District Attorney Keith Blackwood.

“It’s a better opportunity to keep these offenders incarcerated while they await trial rather than have them make a very low bond and be out,” Blackwood told WKRG-TV. “It’ll be really large bonds for people accused of murder, one of the most horrific crimes that we have.”

Alabama’s bail schedule is a recommendation for judges, who have some discretion to set higher or lower amounts. But magistrates are bound by the upper limits of the rules, and they’re often the first to set bail for criminal defendants.

Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey said he’s spent seven years advocating a higher bail amount for murder charges.

“I’m very satisfied with the change,” Bailey told the Montgomery Advertiser. He added: “I think it’s ridiculous that you can be caught with drugs and get a $1.5 million bail, but if you murder someone the max is $150,000.”

Another measure aimed at keeping more criminal defendants locked away until their cases go to trial will be decided by Alabama voters in November. Voters on the fall ballot are being asked to approve Aniah’s Law, named for Aniah Blanchard, an Auburn teenager who was abducted and killed in 2019. That constitutional amendment, approved by state lawmakers, would give judges more discretion to deny bail to people accused of violent crimes.

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