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    The U.S. imposed a new round of sanctions on high-level Venezuelan officials, this time targeting eight Supreme Court judges that Washington accused of damaging their nation's democracy by steadily stripping the opposition-controlled congress of any authority.

    The executive order issued Thursday marked the second time the U.S. has sanctioned leaders of Venezuela's socialist government since Donald Trump became president this year. In February, the U.S. announced it was freezing the assets of Vice President Tareck El Aissami, accusing him of playing a major role in international drug trafficking.

    Those blacklisted under the latest decree include Maikel Moreno, the president of the government-packed Supreme Court, as well as all seven justices who signed a ruling in late March nullifying congress. The ruling was later partially reversed amid a surge of international criticism, but it sparked a protest movement that has seen almost daily street demonstrations for nearly two months — sometimes violent unrest that recorded its 45th death Thursday.

    "By imposing these targeted sanctions, the United States is supporting the Venezuelan people in their efforts to protect and advance democratic governance in their country," U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said.

    Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez decried the U.S. sanctions on Twitter as "outrageous and unacceptable." She said the order was one more example of U.S. attempts to destabilize Venezuela's government, adding that Maduro strongly backs the Supreme Court magistrates who are "victims of U.S. imperial power."

    Trump's administration has repeatedly raised concerns that Maduro is moving toward one-party, authoritarian rule. Earlier Thursday, the U.S. leader expressed dismay about Venezuela's troubles, asking aloud how a nation holding the world's largest oil reserves could be stricken by so much poverty and turmoil.


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    The Supreme Court struck down two congressional districts in North Carolina Monday because race played too large a role in their creation.

    The justices ruled that Republicans who controlled the state legislature and governor's office in 2011 placed too many African-Americans in the two districts. The result was to weaken African-American voting strength elsewhere in North Carolina.

    Both districts have since been redrawn and the state conducted elections under the new congressional map in 2016. Even with the new districts, Republicans maintained their 10-3 edge in congressional seats.

    Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the court, said the state did not offer compelling justifications to justify its reliance on race in either district.

    The issue of race and redistricting one is a familiar one at the Supreme Court and Kagan noted that one of the districts was "making its fifth appearance before this court."

    States have to take race into account when drawing maps for legislative, congressional and a host of municipal political districts. At the same time, race can't be the predominant factor without very strong reasons, under a line of high court cases stretching back 20 years.

    A three-judge federal court had previously struck down the two districts. The justices upheld the lower court ruling on both counts.

    The court unanimously affirmed the lower court ruling on District 1 in northeastern North Carolina. Kagan wrote that the court will not "approve a racial gerrymander whose necessity is supported by no evidence."

    The justices split 5-3 on the other district, District 12 in the southwestern part of the state. Justice Clarence Thomas joined the four liberal justices to form a majority. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy dissented. Justice Neil Gorsuch did not part in the case.

    The state insisted that race played no role at all in the creation of one district. Instead, the state argued that Republicans who controlled the redistricting process wanted to leave the district in Democratic hands, so that the surrounding districts would be safer for Republicans.

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    Court documents show the family of a Colorado man killed by police has settled its lawsuit against the city and the officer.

    The Pueblo Chieftain says it obtained documents Thursday which showed the settlement resolved “all pending claims” against officer James Ashby and the city of Rocky Ford.

    Reports say Ashby fatally shot 27-year-old Jack Jacquez. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison for the murder.

    Jacquez’s mother, his estate and the mothers of his minor children filed a lawsuit against Ashby and the city in October.

    The settlement is waiting on the approval of the Otero County Probate Court judge to include the children in it.

    A court filling from this week does not show the terms of the settlement.

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    Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch acknowledged Friday that there is "a lot of skepticism about the rule of law" in the country but defended the United States judicial system as "a blessing" and "a remarkable gift" during a talk at Harvard University.

    The court's newest justice marveled that in America "nine old people in polyester black robes" and other judges can safely decide cases according to their conscience and that the government can lose cases without resorting to the use of armed force to impose its will.

    "That is a heritage that is very, very special," he said. "It's a remarkable gift. Travel elsewhere. See how judges live. See whether they feel free to express themselves."

    Gorsuch, made the comments during his first public appearance since joining the high court in a conversation with fellow Justice Stephen Breyer at Harvard University.

    Gorsuch said that particularly in tumultuous times it's important to convince the next generation "that the project (of justice) is worth it because many of them have grave doubts."

    "I think there is a lot of skepticism about the rule of law, but I see it day in and day out in the trenches — the adversarial process of lawyers coming to court and shaking hands before and after, the judges shaking hands as we do, before we ascend to the bench," he said. "That's how we resolve our differences in this society."

    Gorsuch, who was nominated to the high court earlier this year by Republican President Donald Trump, said he believes there is still confidence in the judicial system. He said that 95 percent of all cases are decided in the trial court, while only 5 percent are appealed, and the Supreme Court hears about 80 cases in a good year.

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    As a man convicted of murder tries to prove to the North Carolina's innocence commission that he didn't commit the crime, his attorney says the commission has misled a judge in order to keep its files secret, causing delays in the case.

    Attorney Chris Mumma represents Robert Bragg, who's serving a sentence of life without parole for a 1994 slaying. Bragg contends he's innocent. Last September his case came before the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, a state agency established to investigate and evaluate post-conviction innocence claims. The commission referred it to a three-judge panel, which is scheduled to hold a hearing in July — 10 months after the original commission hearing and two months after the original May hearing date.

    The delay came, in part, as Bragg's attorney fought a protective order that the commission said was necessary to shield a confidential investigative file. The commission said evidence in the file was obtained through methods that require it to be kept under a stricter level of judicial protection than other criminal investigative files.

    But in a court filing, Mumma says the commission misrepresented the file's contents. In fact, only one protective order was found in the documents, and defense attorneys already had received that file, Mumma said in the court filing last month in Bragg's case.

    While Mumma now has the full commission file and can use it in this appeal, the protective order means she can't use it again in the future without seeking a judge's permission.

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    Two electric utilities seeking to reduce their property taxes in dozens of towns across New Hampshire lost an appeal Friday to the state Supreme Court.

    Eversource and the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative sought tax abatements from 64 towns in 2011 and 2012, but the state Board of Tax and Land Appeals rejected most of those requests, and the utilities appealed.

    The utilities argued that towns' property tax assessments were too high and that their property taxes instead should be based on a valuation formula used by the state Department of Revenue Administration in levying a separate utility tax.

    In the ruling released Friday, the court sided with the towns, though it said it was troubled by substantial differences in assessments by towns for property tax purposes and assessments by the state for utility taxes. The court said such disputes could be avoided by adopting a uniform appraisal method, a decision for the Legislature, not the courts.

    Eversource spokesman Martin Murray said the company has a duty to dispute valuations made by communities the company considers extreme outliers compared to the state assessments. He said the company remains concerned about the wide discrepancies.


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    The Supreme Court is limiting the government's ability to seize assets from people who are convicted of drug crimes but receive little of the illegal proceeds.

    The justices ruled Monday that a Tennessee man convicted for his role selling iodine water purification filters to methamphetamine makers does not have to forfeit nearly $70,000 in profits.

    Terry Honeycutt helped sell more than 20,000 filters at his brother's hardware store. Prosecutors said the brothers knew the iodine was used by local meth cooks.

    Honeycutt's brother pleaded guilty and forfeited $200,000 of the $270,000 in profits. But Honeycutt argued he wasn't responsible for the rest since he didn't personally see any profits.

    A federal appeals court ruled against Honeycutt, saying everyone who joins a drug conspiracy can be required to give up profits.



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    The California Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday over a ballot initiative designed to speed up executions that could fundamentally change the way the court handles death penalty appeals.

    Death penalty opponents are challenging a ballot measure passed by a slim majority of voters in November that aimed to reform a dysfunctional system that hasn't executed a condemned killer in more than a decade.

    Foes of capital punishment argue that Proposition 66 was unconstitutional because it would take power away from the state's high court to decide how it handles cases and it would disrupt the court system, cost the state more money and undermine the appeals process.

    If allowed to take effect, the measure would require more lawyers to take death penalty appellate cases, some trial court judges would be assigned appeals and all state appeals would have to be completed in five years, which is about a third of the time it typically takes.

    With a backlog of 380 death penalty appeals, there's concern judges would be overwhelmed trying to speed through appeals, said Elisabeth Semel, a law professor at University of California, Berkeley, who consulted for death penalty opponents on the case.

    "There's an enormous ripple effect to that," said Semel, who directs the school's death penalty clinic. "The attention the justices can pay to each individual case is significantly diminished. When you're talking about life and death, that's important."

    The ballot initiative supported by 51 percent of voters was designed to "mend not end" capital punishment in California, where nearly 750 inmates are on Death Row and only 13 have been executed since 1978.

    A competing measure to repeal capital punishment lost by a slightly wider margin. Both sides acknowledged the current system is broken.


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    The Supreme Court is limiting the government's ability to seize assets from people who are convicted of drug crimes but receive little of the illegal proceeds.

    The justices ruled Monday that a Tennessee man convicted for his role selling iodine water purification filters to methamphetamine makers does not have to forfeit nearly $70,000 in profits.

    Terry Honeycutt helped sell more than 20,000 filters at his brother's hardware store. Prosecutors said the brothers knew the iodine was used by local meth cooks.

    Honeycutt's brother pleaded guilty and forfeited $200,000 of the $270,000 in profits. But Honeycutt argued he wasn't responsible for the rest since he didn't personally see any profits.

    A federal appeals court ruled against Honeycutt, saying everyone who joins a drug conspiracy can be required to give up profits.



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    The California Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday over a ballot initiative designed to speed up executions that could fundamentally change the way the court handles death penalty appeals.

    Death penalty opponents are challenging a ballot measure passed by a slim majority of voters in November that aimed to reform a dysfunctional system that hasn't executed a condemned killer in more than a decade.

    Foes of capital punishment argue that Proposition 66 was unconstitutional because it would take power away from the state's high court to decide how it handles cases and it would disrupt the court system, cost the state more money and undermine the appeals process.

    If allowed to take effect, the measure would require more lawyers to take death penalty appellate cases, some trial court judges would be assigned appeals and all state appeals would have to be completed in five years, which is about a third of the time it typically takes.

    With a backlog of 380 death penalty appeals, there's concern judges would be overwhelmed trying to speed through appeals, said Elisabeth Semel, a law professor at University of California, Berkeley, who consulted for death penalty opponents on the case.

    "There's an enormous ripple effect to that," said Semel, who directs the school's death penalty clinic. "The attention the justices can pay to each individual case is significantly diminished. When you're talking about life and death, that's important."

    The ballot initiative supported by 51 percent of voters was designed to "mend not end" capital punishment in California, where nearly 750 inmates are on Death Row and only 13 have been executed since 1978.

    A competing measure to repeal capital punishment lost by a slightly wider margin. Both sides acknowledged the current system is broken.


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    A pot farm's neighbor can sue them for smells and other nuisances that could harm their property values, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

    The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling revives a lawsuit between a Colorado horse farm and a neighboring marijuana-growing warehouse.

    The horse farm's owners, the Reillys, sued in 2015, claiming that the pot-growing warehouse would diminish their land's value by emitting "noxious odors" and attracting unsavory visitors. A federal district court dismissed the Reillys' claim, and the pot warehouse opened in 2016.

    The horse farm owners appealed, and a three-judge appeals panel agreed Wednesday that their claims should be heard. But the judges said the Reillys can't sue Colorado to force the state to enforce federal drug law and not allow the pot warehouse in the first place.

    The southern Colorado horse-vs-pot case is interesting because the horse farm owners are trying to use a 1970 federal law crafted to fight organized crime. The Reillys say that federal racketeering laws entitle them to collect damages from the pot farm, even though the pot farm is legal under state law.

    "The landowners have plausibly alleged at least one (racketeering) claim," the judges wrote.

    Pot opponents say the racketeering strategy gives them a possible tool to break an industry they oppose. It could give private citizens who oppose pot legalization a way to sue the industry out of business, even as federal officials have so far declined to shut down most pot businesses operating in violation of federal drug law.

    "This is a tremendous victory for opponents of the marijuana industry," said Brian Barnes, a Washington-based lawyer who represents the Reillys on behalf of the anti-crime nonprofit group Safe Streets Alliance.

    Owners of the pot warehouse, owned by a company called Alternative Holistic Healing, did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday. An attorney representing them in the case could not be reached, either.

    The case now goes to back to a federal district court that had earlier dismissed it.

    The appeals panel handed pot opponents a defeat on another case Wednesday, however. The judges ruled that a lower court was right to dismiss a claim from a group of sheriffs in Colorado, Nebraska and Oklahoma, who had asked the federal court to block Colorado's pot law.

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    ECOT's reported enrollment of 15,000 Ohio students makes it one of the largest online charter schools in the U.S.

    Democrats jumped on the court's decision to pile criticism on the school, which has struggled for years against attacks on its enrollment practices and student performance ratings.

    "This sham, unaccountable school is a clear waste of taxpayer money and needs to be shut down," said Democratic gubernatorial candidate Betty Sutton. "The main thing that they seem to do well is shower Republican candidates and committees with political donations instead of educating children. Unfortunately, it is a symptom of a much larger disease facing Ohio's education system."

    ECOT spokesman Neil Clark said the school didn't get a fair shake in court. He took particular aim at one of the three deciding judges, Gary Tyack, as being biased against the school, online learning and school choice.

    "Today, Judge Tyack confirmed that he would put his agenda before the law," Clark said in a statement. "He is desperate to destroy ECOT and is unwilling to even wait for the judicial system to play out before advancing his vendetta."

    Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor rebuked Tyack after oral arguments were held in the case before the state's high court. She wrote that his comments against the school, its founder and online education were derogatory, extrajudicial, unnecessary and unacceptable.

    The school's efforts to revisit the issue of Tyack's impartiality came as it braced for Monday's important school board vote, which comes amid the long-running legal dispute over what attendance-tracking practices should be used to determine state funding.

    A state hearing officer ruled against the school in its appeal of the state Education Department's determination that the school owes $64 million for enrollment that can't be justified due to lack of documentation.

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    The victim of Roman Polanski's sex assault 40 years ago is going to appeal directly to a judge to end the long-running case against the fugitive director, his lawyer said Thursday.

    Samantha Geimer, 13 at the time of the crime, has long supported Polanski's efforts to end the legal saga that limits his freedom, but Friday will be the first time she's appeared in Los Angeles Superior Court on his behalf, attorney Harland Braun said.

    "She's tired of this case," Braun said. "The judge is just playing games with him."

    The Oscar-winner has been a fugitive since he fled to France in 1978 on the eve of sentencing for the crime of having unlawful sex with a minor. Prosecutors dropped charges that he drugged, raped and sodomized the girl.

    Polanski feared the judge was going to renege on a plea agreement and send him away for more time than the six weeks he served in prison during a psychiatric evaluation prior to sentencing.

    His lawyers have been fighting for years to end the case and lift an international arrest warrant that confined him to his native France, Switzerland and Poland, where he fled the Holocaust.

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    Fighting to save his job, Brazilian President Michel Temer has received a huge boost from a decision by the country's top electoral court to reject allegations of illegal campaign finance and keep him in office.

    The Superior Electoral Tribunal's 4-3 vote late Friday gave Temer a lifeline amid widespread calls that he resign in the face of a corruption scandal.

    Last month, a recording emerged that apparently captured Temer endorsing hush money to ex-House Speaker Eduardo Cunha, a former Temer ally serving 15 years in prison for corruption and money laundering. Soon after, details of another bombshell emerged: that Temer was being investigated for taking bribes.

    Temer has denied wrongdoing and vowed to stay in office.

    However, the fallout from the scandals was so great that many observers expected that the electoral court judges would be swayed to remove Temer from office over unrelated campaign finance allegations. While in theory Brazilian justices are impartial, in reality they are often highly political. Indeed, two of judges who voted in Temer's favor were his appointees.

    "While Temer is hard for many people to digest, he will likely remain in office," said Alexandre Barros, a political risk consultant with the Brasilia-based firm Early Warning. "Instability is bad for everybody. So many will say at this point, 'If we have to pay the price for sticking with Temer, let's do it.'"

    While Temer has crossed a huge hurdle to staying in power, he is still facing threats on many fronts. The attorney general is considering pressing charges against him for allegedly receiving bribes, over the audio recording and for allegedly trying to obstruct a colossal investigation into billions of dollars in inflated contracts and kickbacks to politicians. Temer's approval rating is hovering around 9 percent and he has a tenuous hold on his ruling coalition.

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    Just because a man previously convicted of methamphetamine-related crimes didn't know it was now illegal for him to buy over-the-counter allergy medicine given his criminal history doesn't mean his rights were violated, a divided North Carolina Supreme Court ruled Friday.

    A majority of the seven justices reversed a lower appeals court decision overturning the conviction of Austin Lynn Miller for buying one box of capsules at a Walmart in Boone in early 2014, barely a month after an expanded purchase prohibition law took effect.

    Miller was barred from buying anything beyond minuscule amounts of the medicine because it contained pseudoephedrine, which can be used to make meth, due to his 2012 convictions on possession of meth and keeping a car or house to sell controlled substances.

    A jury convicted Miller for possessing the allergy medicine. He received a suspended sentence with probation.

    State law already required the nonprescription medicine to be kept behind the counter and mandated electronic record keeping to monitor whether a meth lab was buying up the drugs. Often purchasers follow screen prompts saying they understand buying the medicines in large quantities or too frequently is illegal.

    Miller's lawyer argued his client's due process rights were violated because he had no knowledge the purchasing law had changed in December 2013 and that he didn't intend to violate the law. There were no signs in pharmacies about the changes, either, the attorney said.

    A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in March 2016 the law was unconstitutional as it applied to a convicted felon like Miller who failed to receive notice from the state that their "otherwise lawful conduct is criminalized" unless there's other proof the person knew about the law.

    State attorneys argued that Miller's ignorance of the law was no excuse and that it was his intentional action of purchasing the medicine that led to the crime.

    Writing the majority opinion, Justice Sam Ervin IV sided with the state and rejected Miller's arguments that the retail purchase was an innocuous act that raised no alarms about whether he was breaking the law.

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    Inmates participating in work-release programs do not quality for workers' compensation benefits, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled has ruled.

    The court on Thursday unanimously affirmed a Workers' Compensation Board of Review's 2015 decision to not grant workers' compensation to a work release inmate named William F. Crawford, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported. Crawford's hand was severely injured in a wood chipper in 2013 while he was working on a road crew for the state Division of Highways.

    He was employed by the Charleston Work Release Center, now called the Charleston Correctional Center. Inmates live and work there as they prepare to re-enter society after leaving prison.

    Crawford's injury required hospitalization and surgery, and his ring and pinky fingers were partially amputated. The state Department of Corrections covered his medical expenses, which exceeded $90,000. He was released on parole shortly after his hospitalization.

    Court documents say Crawford sought workers' compensation benefits because "lack of treatment has put him at a significant disadvantage in re-entering society." He had appealed the board of review's decision, saying state law didn't clarify coverage exclusion for work-release inmates. He also said his equal protection rights had been violated, arguing that inmates working for private businesses would receive the benefits, while inmates working for a state agency would not.

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    Several leading community groups filed a class-action lawsuit against the city of Chicago Wednesday in a bid to bypass or even scuttle a draft agreement between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice that seeks to reform the nation's second largest police force without federal court oversight.

    The more than 100-page lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago argues that an overhaul of Chicago's 12,000-officer force in the wake of a damning civil rights report in January can't work without the intense scrutiny of a court-appointed monitor answerable to a judge.

    "Absent federal court supervision, nothing will improve," the lawsuit says. "It is clear that federal court intervention is essential to end the historical and on-going pattern and practice of excessive force by police officers in Chicago."

    While President Donald Trump's attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has expressed skepticism about court involvement, President Barack Obama's administration saw it as vital to successful reforms. Obama's Justice Department typically took a city reform plan to a judge to make it legally binding in the form of a consent decree.

    Wednesday's lawsuit — which names Black Lives Matters Chicago among the plaintiffs — asks for a federal court to intervene and order sweeping reforms to end the "abusive policies and practices undergirding the alleged constitutional and state law violations."

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration said earlier this month that a draft deal negotiated by the city and the Justice Department — one that foresees a monitor not selected by a court — is being reviewed in Washington. Justice Department spokesman Devin O'Malle cautioned last week that "there is no agreement at this time."

    A lead attorney in the new lawsuit, Craig Futterman, a University of Chicago law professor and outspoken advocate for far-reaching police reforms, said in a telephone interview that reports about the draft influenced the decision to sue now.


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    Bill Cosby, the comedian and actor once known as "America's Dad" for his TV role as paternal Dr. Cliff Huxtable, avoided a conviction on Father's Day weekend as a jury declared itself hopelessly deadlocked on charges he drugged and molested a woman more than a decade ago.

    Prosecutors found themselves back to square one Saturday after the judge declared a mistrial following more than 52 hours of deliberations over six days.

    Excoriated by the defense for charging Cosby in the first place, District Attorney Kevin Steele vowed to put him on trial a second time, saying accuser Andrea Constand supported the decision.

    "She has shown such courage through this, and we are in awe of what she has done," Steele said. "She's entitled to a verdict in this case." Cosby's team declared victory, however temporary.

    By sowing doubt among one or more jurors, Cosby's lawyers managed to overcome two years of unrelenting bad publicity for their client after the public release of his damaging testimony about drugs and sex, as well as a barrage of accusations from 60 women who came forward to accuse him of sexual assault.

    Constand told jurors Cosby gave her pills that made her woozy and then penetrated her with his fingers as she lay paralyzed on a couch, unable to tell him to stop. The 2004 encounter at Cosby's suburban Philadelphia estate was the only one to result in criminal charges.

    Constand is ready to go to trial again, said her lawyer, Dolores Troiani. "She's a very spiritual woman, she believes things happen for a purpose, and I think the purpose is ... it should encourage other women to come forward and have their day in court."

    Troiani acknowledged the difficulty of the case, given the passage of time and the impact of the alleged drugging on Constand's ability to recall details. The jury failed to reach a unanimous decision on any of the three counts against the comedian, ending the trial without a verdict. Cosby's team immediately went on the attack.

    The entertainer's wife of 53 years, Camille, slammed prosecutors for bringing the case to court, calling Steele "heinously and exploitively ambitious" in a statement released after the trial. She also criticized the judge, the accuser's lawyers and the media.

    "How do I describe the judge? Overtly arrogant, collaborating with the district attorney," said her statement, which was tweeted by her husband and read by an associate of the public relations firm representing Cosby.

    Cosby himself didn't comment, remaining stoic as the judge declared a mistrial, but Wyatt declared the star's "power is back. It has been restored." That seemed debatable.

    Cosby's career and good-guy image were already in tatters by the time his chief accuser took the witness stand, and the prosecution's decision to pursue a second trial keeps him in legal limbo.


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    A former Pennsylvania commissioner has been found guilty of indecent assault on a person with a mental disability.

    The Philadelphia Inquirer reports former Radnor Township Commissioner Bill Spingler had been charged with touching the breast of his 103-year-old mother-in-law during visits to her Wayne nursing home in 2016.

    The 75-year-old called it a "stupid, harmless act" during his court hearing Thursday. Spingler declined to comment after the verdict.

    Three nursing home employees had reported seeing Spingler touch the woman during three separate visits in December. Spingler had said he touched the woman to get her attention after she stopped being able to recognize him.

    A judge has set sentencing for Sept. 28 and ordered Spingler to undergo a psychosexual evaluation.


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    In an era of deep partisan division, the Supreme Court could soon decide whether the drawing of electoral districts can be too political.

    A dispute over Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn boundaries for the state legislature offers Democrats some hope of cutting into GOP electoral majorities across the United States. Election law experts say the case is the best chance yet for the high court to put limits on what lawmakers may do to gain a partisan advantage in creating political district maps. The justices could say as early as Monday whether they will intervene.

    The Constitution requires states to redo their political maps to reflect population changes identified in the once-a-decade census. The issue of gerrymandering — creating districts that often are oddly shaped and with the aim of benefiting one party — is centuries old. The term comes from a Massachusetts state Senate district that resembled a salamander and was approved in 1812 by Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry.

    Both parties have sought the largest partisan edge when they control redistricting. Yet Democrats are more supportive of having courts rein in extreme districting plans, mainly because Republicans control more legislatures and drew districts after the 2010 census that enhanced their advantage in those states and in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    In the Wisconsin case, a federal court struck down the districts as unconstitutional in November, finding they were drawn to unfairly minimize the influence of Democratic voters.

    The challengers to the Wisconsin districts say it is an extreme example of redistricting that has led to ever-increasing polarization in American politics because so few districts are genuinely competitive between the parties. In these safe seats, incumbents tend to be more concerned about primary challengers, so they try to appeal mostly to their party’s base.

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