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Supreme Court takes up cases about race in redistricting
Law Firm Press | 2016/12/06 23:53
The Supreme Court is taking up a pair of cases in which African-American voters maintain that Southern states discriminated against them in drawing electoral districts.

The justices are hearing arguments Monday in redistricting disputes from North Carolina and Virginia.

The claim made by black voters in both states is that Republicans created districts with more reliably Democratic black voters than necessary to elect their preferred candidates, making neighboring districts whiter and more Republican.

A federal court struck down two North Carolina districts as unconstitutional because they relied too heavily on race. In Virginia, a court rejected a constitutional challenge to 12 state legislative districts. The justices have frequently considered the intersection of race and politics.




Virginia executes serial killer who claimed to be disabled
Law Firm Press | 2015/10/04 16:25
A twice-condemned serial killer who claimed he was intellectually disabled was executed in Virginia on Thursday after a series of last-minute appeals failed.

Alfredo Prieto was pronounced dead at 9:17 p.m. at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt. The 49-year-old was injected with a lethal three-drug combination, including the sedative pentobarbital, which Virginia received from the Texas prison system.

Prieto, wearing glasses, jeans and a light blue shirt, did not resist and showed no emotion as he was strapped to the gurney.

"I would like to say thanks to all my lawyers, all my supporters and all my family members," he said, before mumbling, "Get this over with."

The El Salvador native was sentenced to death in Virginia in 2010 for the murder of a young couple more than two decades earlier. Rachael Raver and her boyfriend, Warren Fulton III, both 22, were found shot to death in a wooded area a few days after being seen at a Washington, D.C., nightspot.

Prieto was on death row in California at the time for raping and murdering a 15-year-old girl and was linked to the Virginia slayings through DNA evidence. California officials agreed to send him to Virginia on the rationale that it was more likely to carry out the execution.

He has been connected to as many as six other killings in California and Virginia, authorities have said, but he was never prosecuted because he had already been sentenced to death.



Court cuts prison sentence for Memphis 'sovereign citizen'
Law Firm Press | 2015/09/01 15:16
An appeals court has reduced the prison sentence for a self-described sovereign citizen who was convicted of assaulting two police officers during a traffic stop.

Tabitha Gentry was convicted in April 2014 of two counts of aggravated assault and one count of evading arrest in an automobile.

The judge sentenced Gentry to consecutive prison sentences of six years on each assault charge and two years on the evading arrest charge, totaling 14 years.

Tennessee's Court of Criminal Appeals ruled Monday that the judge should have ordered that the sentences run at the same time, reducing her sentence in that case to six years.

Gentry also is serving a 20-year sentence for illegally taking over a Memphis mansion. The appeals court ruling cuts her total prison time from 34 years to 26 years.



Supreme Court won't revive North Carolina abortion law
Law Firm Press | 2015/06/17 16:07
The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from North Carolina to revive a requirement that abortion providers show and describe an ultrasound to the pregnant woman before she has an abortion.
 
The justices on Monday left in place an appeals court decision that said the 2011 North Carolina law was "ideological in intent" and violated doctors' free-speech rights.

The North Carolina law would have required abortion providers to display and describe the ultrasound even if the woman refused to look and listen — a mandate that the court found particularly troublesome.

The Guttmacher Institute says North Carolina is among 23 states, mostly in the South and the Midwest, that passed laws dealing with the administration of ultrasounds by abortion providers.

Justice Antonin Scalia voted to hear the appeal.


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