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The Supreme Court is leaving in place a decision that a man freed after more than 40 years in prison can't sue for damages.

The high court on Monday turned away a lawsuit by Louis Taylor. Taylor was convicted of starting a 1970 fire at the Pioneer Hotel in Tucson, Arizona, that killed nearly 30 people. He was serving a life sentence when he was freed in 2013 after an expert determined the fire was not arson, a finding the government disputed.

In order to be released, Taylor entered a no contest plea to the original charges against him. Lower courts ruled that because of the no contest plea Taylor could not sue for damages.

As is usual, the Supreme Court did not comment in turning away the case. The high court announced its decision not to hear the case and many others in an order posted online. The court previously postponed arguments that had been scheduled for this week and next because of the coronavirus and closed the Supreme Court to the public.


PolyMet Mining Inc. said Thursday it will ask the Minnesota Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that canceled three permits needed for its proposed copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota.

PolyMet President and CEO Jon Cherry said in a statement that Monday's decision from the Court of Appeals has far-reaching impacts for Minnesota and any future project that depends on state permits

The appeals court gave environmentalists a big victory by sending the dispute back to the Department of Natural Resources for a trial-like contested case hearing before a neutral administrative law judge on the project's environmental risks.

PolyMet pointed out that the DNR has already held a 15-year-long environmental review and permitting process that included numerous chances for the public to weigh in.

“No other company in the history of the state has been subjected to anywhere near the time and cost that was associated with this permitting process,” Cherry said. “We did everything the state and the law required, and more. And the process confirmed that our project will be protective of human health and the environment."

The company said it will file its petition with the Supreme Court within the 30-day deadline.
DNR spokesman Chris Niskanen said the agency has not decided whether to appeal.


The Nebraska Supreme Court has rejected the latest appeal of a Texas man on Nebraska’s death row for killed two Grand Island men in 2007.

Marco Torres Jr., formerly of Pasadena, Texas, had sought post-conviction relief for a third time after being sentenced to death for two counts of first-degree murder and other counts in the robbery and shooting deaths of 48-year-old Timothy Donohue and 60-year-old Edward Hall. In his latest appeal, Torres argued that his death sentence should be converted to life in prison based on the Legislature’s vote to repeal the state’s death penalty in 2015. Nebraska voters later reinstated the death penalty.

Torres argued in the appeal that the referendum process to reinstate Nebraska’s capital punishment and his death sentence amounted to violations of his constitutional due process rights and against cruel and unusual punishment.

The state’s high court on Friday rejected Torres’ arguments, saying it found no merit to his claims.


The state Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that drivers must use their signal every time they turn or change lanes on a roadway.

Thursday’s ruling reverses a Court of Appeals ruling that said a signal is required only when public safety is affected. The high court ruled that the plain language of the law requires drivers “to ensure turns and lane changes are done safely and with an appropriate turn signal."

The ruling was issued in the case of David Brown, who was arrested for driving under the influence in Kennewick in March 2015. State patrol officers pulled him over after he briefly turned on his left turn signal while approaching a light in a designated left turn lane but turned it off and did not reactivate it while at the light or making the turn. He was arrested after his breath test showed .26 breath alcohol content, more than triple the legal limit.

Brown had argued that the evidence of the breath test should be suppressed because the underlying traffic stop was without cause, and a lower court agreed and dismissed the case. The only issue before the Supreme Court was whether Brown violated traffic laws. The case now goes back to the lower courts to proceed in accordance with the high court's guidance on the initial stop.


Kansas' Democratic governor on Monday named a veteran trial-court judge who is opposed by the state's most influential anti-abortion group to the state Supreme Court — an appointment that's likely to further stoke conservatives' efforts to change how such positions are filled.

Gov. Laura Kelly's selection of Shawnee County District Judge Evelyn Wilson comes with many Republican lawmakers already seeking to give the GOP-controlled Legislature power it doesn't have now to block appointments to the state's high court. Abortion opponents also are pushing for a change in the state constitution that would overturn the court's April ruling that protected abortion rights.

Kelly passed over two veteran lawyers working for Republican state Attorney General Derek Schmidt. Kansans for Life, an anti-abortion group long influential in GOP politics, opposed Wilson's appointment because of her husband's past political contributions to Kelly and other abortion-rights candidates.

“It’s my sense that Judge Wilson is more than qualified to fill this role,” Kelly told reporters during a Statehouse news conference. “Ideology was not really part of the conversation with any of the nominees. "

Kansans for Life said Wilson's selection shows the need to overturn the high court's abortion-rights ruling to protect "women and their babies." Lobbyist Jeanne Gawdun said the group is not surprised that Kelly would make an appointment to further her "vision for unlimited abortion.”

Wilson has not ruled on major abortion cases and declined to comment on the court's abortion-rights ruling declaring that access to abortion is a “fundamental” right under the Kansas Constitution. She will replace former Justice Lee Johnson, who retired in September and was a member of the 6-1 majority in that case.


A committee of judges has recommended that all Georgia courts require judges and court employees to participate in sexual harassment prevention training at least once a year.

A Georgia Supreme Court news release says the Ad Hoc Committee to Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Judicial Branch of Government was appointed by Chief Justice Harold Melton in February and released a report Friday outlining best practices.

The committee, chaired by Justice Sarah Hawkins Warren, was made up of eight judges, representing each class of court in Georgia. It reviewed and evaluated anti-harassment policies before making recommendations.

Among other recommendations, the committee recommends that courts "mandate that judges and judicial branch employees participate in sexual harassment prevention training at least once a year."

But the report also acknowledges that the differences in the way the different classes of courts in Georgia operate and how court staffs are employed make it difficult to promote a single policy to be applied uniformly to all courts.



New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Barbara Vigil is asking legislators to boost spending on the state court system.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Vigil joined other court officials Friday in Santa Fe to request an 8.9% increase in appropriations from the state’s general fund.

Vigil says the money would be used to hire five new district judges, expand pretrial services that supervise defendants awaiting trial and improve security, especially for magistrate courts.

If the request is approved, the judiciary will receive about $199 million in the fiscal year that begins in July.

It’s part of a broader state budget expected to exceed $7 billion. Two of the five new judges would be stationed in Albuquerque, and the other three would be based in Santa Fe, Las Cruces and Alamogordo

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