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Eleven states are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Connecticut's appeal in the murder case of Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel and reinstate his conviction.

The states filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Monday, saying a ruling in Connecticut's favor is needed to thwart excessive appeals that focused on mistakes made by defense lawyers. The court has not yet decided whether to hear Connecticut's appeal.

Skakel, a nephew of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy, cited his trial lawyer's failure to contact an alibi witness in his successful appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

The state court in 2016 upheld Skakel's 2002 murder conviction in the bludgeoning death of Martha Moxley in their wealthy Greenwich neighborhood in 1975, when they were teenagers. But the court reversed that ruling in May and vacated the conviction, after a justice in the 4-3 majority retired and a new justice sided with Skakel - a move that has also drawn scrutiny.

Connecticut prosecutors argue the state high court did not properly weigh the overall performance of Skakel's defense, which they described as vigorous. They say the U.S. Supreme Court needs to correct a misperception by other state and federal courts that any mistake by defense counsel demonstrates incompetence and warrants a new trial.

The friend-of-the-court brief, filed by Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes' office, said allowing the nitpicking of defense lawyer performance produces a variety of problems, including flooding the courts with appeals as a result of lower legal standards and making it harder for defendants to find lawyers willing to undergo such scrutiny.


A juvenile has been waived to adult court to face charges in the fatal shooting of an Indiana University doctor and educator last year.

Online court records say 16-year-old Tarius Blade faces three felony burglary charges in the Nov. 20, 2017, slaying of Dr. Kevin Rodgers.

Blade was arrested in December along with Ka'Ron Bickham-Hurst, then 18. Court records show Bickham-Hurst has agreed to plead guilty to three burglary charges.

Two other men were arrested last month. Eighteen-year-old Nehemiah Merriweather was charged with felony murder and two counts of burglary and 17-year-old Devon Seats was charged with murder, felony murder and two counts of burglary.

The 61-year-old Rodgers was the program director emeritus of the emergency medicine residency at the Indiana University School of Medicine.


The name of the physician picked to attend a state inmate's execution can remain secret, even from drug makers suing to ban the use of their products in the twice-postponed lethal injection, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled Monday.

In a twist, lawyers for three pharmaceutical companies who won the right to obtain the name last week — and had promised to sue the doctor once they got it — told a judge in Las Vegas that they welcomed Monday's high court order.

Attorney Todd Bice, representing drug firm Alvogen, told Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez the high court decision to protect the doctor's identity, coupled with a recent sworn statement from Nevada prisons chief James Dzurenda, bolsters companies' arguments that their business would be hurt if their drugs are used.

"We aren't going to get into the identity of the doctor. We do intend to argue strongly that having your name associated with capital punishment is harmful to reputations," Bice said. "The director testified that it would be ruinous of the doctor's reputation."

Gonzalez had ruled last week that drug companies could learn the name, but it would not be disclosed to the public.


A judge has declined to immediately decide whether a Chicago police officer charged with murder in the 2014 shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald should have his bail revoked or increased because he talked to the media .

Judge Vincent Gaughan held a hearing Saturday and told both sides to return to court Thursday.

Jason Van Dyke gave interviews just days before jury selection is set to begin Wednesday. Prosecutors accused Van Dyke of violating the judge's longstanding order prohibiting all parties from talking about the case outside of court.

Defense attorney Daniel Herbert says Van Dyke has free-speech rights. He says Van Dyke feels threatened and is "scared to death" that the public won't know his "personal feelings" about being charged with murder.

Van Dyke spent six nights in custody before being released on $1.5 million bond in November 2015.



A court in Cambodia has extended by six months the pre-trial detention of Kem Sokha, the leader of the now-dissolved main opposition party who already has been held for a year on a treason charge.

One of Kem Sokha's lawyers says the court ruled Thursday that his continued detention was necessary for the sake of national security and further investigation.

Kem Sokha was arrested last September on the basis of videos from several years ago showing him at a seminar where he spoke about receiving advice from U.S. pro-democracy groups. His opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party denied the treason allegation, calling it politically motivated.

Another court last November dissolved the opposition party, saying it was plotting with U.S. assistance to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen.


Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has frequently supported giving the U.S. government wide latitude in the name of national security, including the secret collection of personal data from Americans.

It's a subject Democrats plan to grill Kavanaugh about during his confirmation hearings scheduled to begin next Tuesday. Beyond his writings as an appeals court judge, some senators suspect Kavanaugh was more involved in crafting counterterrorism policies during the George W. Bush administration than he has let on.

Kavanaugh stated in past congressional testimony that he wasn't involved in such provocative matters as warrantless surveillance and the treatment of enemy combatants in the years immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

But legal experts say he could shift the court on national security issues, if he is confirmed to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Stephen Vladeck, a University of Texas law professor whose expertise includes national security and counterterrorism, cites opinions he says show Kavanaugh "is a lot less willing (than Kennedy) to look at international law as a relevant source of authority and constraint." He said on matters such as Guantanamo detention, Kavanaugh is "much more deferential to the executive branch in this context than Kennedy would have been."

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, calls Kavanaugh "incredibly well-qualified." The former U.S. trade representative and White House budget director knows Kavanaugh from their time together in the Bush administration. He said Kavanaugh "believes strongly in the Constitution" and the Bill of Rights.

"I think he's in the mainstream with regard to these issues, and frankly, I don't think it's a difference with any meaning between where he is and where the court is currently," Portman said.

Democrats facing an uphill battle in blocking Kavanaugh's nomination have focused less on his judicial counterterrorism record than whether he misled senators about his role in Bush policies while testifying in 2006 confirmation hearings.

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and Vermont Sen. Pat Leahy are among Democrats who want to see more records from Kavanaugh's White House days, saying news media accounts after he was seated on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia raised new questions. White House spokesman Raj Shah said Durbin has been doing the misleading by taking Kavanaugh's answers out of context.


Zimbabwe's Constitutional Court said it will rule on Friday after hearing the main opposition party's challenge to the results of last month's presidential election, the first without longtime leader Robert Mugabe on the ballot.

Police barricaded streets in the capital, Harare, on Wednesday amid high tensions over the case which will decide if the victory of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former Mugabe enforcer, is valid. The opposition claims "gross mathematical errors" and seeks a fresh election or a declaration that its candidate, 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa, won.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission declared Mnangagwa narrowly won with 50.8 percent of the vote, avoiding a runoff. It said Chamisa received 44.3 percent.

Many hoped the peaceful vote on July 30 would launch a new era for Zimbabwe after Mugabe stepped down in November under military pressure, but two days later six people were killed when troops swept into the capital to disperse opposition protesters.

Western election observers and diplomats condemned the "excessive" use of force. European Union election observers were in court on Wednesday; the 75-year-old Mnangagwa badly needs a credible electoral process as a key step in removing international sanctions.

The opposition claims the electoral commission bumped up Mnangagwa's figures through double counts and the creation of "ghost" polling stations. It also alleges that some polling stations recorded more voters than those registered.

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