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Arkansas court tosses conviction in woman's meth case
Securities Class Action | 2015/10/10 11:38
The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday overturned the conviction of a woman who was sentenced to 20 years in prison after giving birth to a baby with methamphetamine in his system.

Melissa McCann-Arms, 39, was convicted by a jury in Polk County after she and her son tested positive for meth when she gave birth at a Mena hospital in November 2012. She was convicted of a felony crime called introduction of controlled substance into body of another person.

In January, the Arkansas Court of Appeals upheld the conviction, ruling that even if the statute doesn't apply to unborn children, McCann-Arms still transferred the drug to her child in the moments between his birth and when hospital staff cut the umbilical cord.

But Arkansas' highest court reversed the conviction and dismissed the case, ruling there is no evidence McCann-Arms directly introduced methamphetamine into her baby's system by causing the child to ingest or inhale it. Likewise, there is no evidence of an ongoing transfer of methamphetamine in McCann-Arms' system after the child was born, the court ruled.

"The jury would thus have been forced to speculate that Arms was 'otherwise introducing' the drug into the child at that point," the ruling states. "When a jury reaches its conclusion by resorting to speculation or conjecture, the verdict is not supported by substantial evidence."

The court also ruled state law does not criminalize the passive bodily processes that result in a mother's use of a drug entering her unborn child's system.

"Our construction of criminal statutes is strict, and we resolve any doubts in favor of the defendant," the decision states. "The courts cannot, through construction of a statute, create a criminal offense that is not in express terms created by the Legislature."

Farah Diaz-Tello, a staff attorney with the New York-based National Advocates for Pregnant Women, had urged the court to reverse McCann-Arms' conviction and said the decision sends a message to state prosecutors about expanding the law beyond what was intended by state lawmakers.



Kentucky court session planned in former women's coach case
Securities Class Action | 2015/09/08 23:03
A pretrial conference is planned in the case of a former college women's basketball coach accused of groping a player.

The session has been scheduled for Tuesday morning in a Kenton County court for Bryce McKey. McKey's attorney has entered a not-guilty plea for him on a charge of third-degree sexual abuse, a misdemeanor.

Hours after his arraignment Aug. 14, the University of Maryland announced that he had resigned as an assistant women's basketball coach.

According to a sworn affidavit, a player McKey coached as an assistant at Xavier said McKey asked her to come to his home in Covington, Kentucky, in May. She said during the evening, he repeatedly touched her inappropriately.

McKey has been ordered to stay away from her, and from Xavier's campus and events.



Juvenile court decision due in Slender Man stabbing case
Securities Class Action | 2015/08/09 23:56
A pivotal decision is due this week in the case of two 13-year-old Wisconsin girls accused of stabbing a classmate to please online horror character Slender Man — keep them in adult court or move them into the juvenile system.

The stakes are enormous: Each girl faces a charge of attempted first-degree homicide in adult court and could spend up to 65 years in the state prison system if convicted. Should Waukesha County Circuit Judge Bohren move them into the juvenile system, they could be held for only five years and all records of the proceedings would be sealed, giving them a chance to restart their lives.

Bohren, due to rule Monday, faces thorny questions about how young is too young to face adult consequences for crimes. Defense attorneys for both girls argue their clients are mentally ill — one attorney says his client is a schizophrenic who still believes fictional characters such as Slender Man and Harry Potter truly exist — and will receive better treatment in the juvenile system. Prosecutors say transferring them out of adult court would depreciate the seriousness of the crime.

"It's obviously a very tough decision for him," said former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske, who attended law school with Bohren. "They're very young. They clearly have some serious mental health issues. That pushes you toward putting them in juvenile court.



In Supreme Court loss, death penalty foes see an opening
Securities Class Action | 2015/07/01 16:01
A strongly worded dissent in the U.S. Supreme Court's narrow decision this week upholding the use of an execution drug offered a glimmer of hope to death penalty opponents in what they considered otherwise a gloomy ruling. One advocate went so far Tuesday as to call it a blueprint for a fresh attack on the legality of capital punishment itself.

But even those who see Justice Stephen Breyer's dissent as a silver lining think it will take time to mount a viable challenge.

And Breyer's words don't change the fact that the Supreme Court has consistently upheld capital punishment for nearly four decades. The five justices forming the majority in Monday's decision made it clear they feel that states must somehow be able to carry out the death penalty.

In disagreeing with the 5-4 ruling that approved Oklahoma's use of an execution drug, Breyer, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, called it "highly likely that the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment," which protects against cruel and unusual punishment.

"It was a sweeping and powerful dissent that issues an invitation that we should accept, which is to make the case for why today the death penalty itself is no longer constitutional," said Cassandra Stubbs, director of the Capital Punishment Project of the American Civil Liberties Union.


US court agrees Apple violated antitrust law in e-book entry
Securities Class Action | 2015/06/28 16:01

Apple violated antitrust laws by colluding with publishers to raise electronic book prices when it entered a market in 2010 that had been dominated by Amazon.com, a federal appeals court said Tuesday.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled 2-to-1 that a lower court judge was right to find Apple Inc. violated the laws to upset Amazon.com Inc.'s control of the market.

The appeals court also agreed that U.S. District Judge Denise Cote was right to order injunctive relief to ensure the Cupertino, California-based company didn't commit additional violations of antitrust laws.

An Apple lawyer said in an email that comment would be issued soon.

Cote ruled against Apple after a civil trial in summer 2013. She ordered the technology giant to modify contracts with publishers to prevent price fixing and appointed a monitor to review the company's antitrust policies. The appeals court weeks ago upheld the appointment of the monitor.



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