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Court: 'JudgeCutie' nickname doesn't ruffle judicial dignity

A Mississippi jurist can call herself “JudgeCutie” without ruffling the dignity of the legal profession. That’s what the Mississippi Supreme Court says in one of its speediest decisions in years. Only two days after hearing arguments, the court — which often takes months for decisions — dismissed a complaint filed against Gay Polk-Payton. The justice court judge has gone by “JudgeCutie” on social media. The state Commission on Judicial Performance sought to reprimand her, saying she had used her job on the bench and the online persona to promote herself as a motivational speaker and musical entertainer. During arguments to the Supreme Court, her attorney Oliver Diaz pointed out that other Mississippi judges have used names that some might consider less than dignified. One was Noah “Soggy” Sweat, a circuit judge from 1966 to 1974. Court papers say “Judge Cutie” is a play on the name of TV’s “Judge Judy.” Source: Legal News Post Court: 'JudgeCutie' nickname doesn't ruffle judicial dignity

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Justices could take up high-stakes fight over electoral maps

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. Source: Legal News Post Justices could take up high-stakes fight over electoral maps

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After jury deadlocks, Bill Cosby faces 2nd sex assault trial

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. Source: Legal News Post After jury deadlocks, Bill Cosby faces 2nd sex assault trial

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New law clears the way for driverless cars on Texas roads | The Texas Tribune

New law clears the way for driverless cars on Texas roads | The Texas Tribune: Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill Thursday that signals to Google, Uber and carmakers that they are welcome to test self-driving cars on the state’s roads and highways without a driver behind the wheel.�There was nothing in existing law that banned autonomous vehicles from Texas roads. After all, Google has�been testing them since 2015�in Austin, and Arlington is rolling them out. And several Texas sites were chosen by the U.S. Department of Transportation�to test the technology in closed-course settings. Yet because state statutes didn’t address the emerging technology at all, some manufacturers have told state officials they were wary about testing vehicles alongside street and highway traffic in Texas. Source: TTLA E-Clips New law clears the way for driverless cars on Texas roads | The Texas Tribune

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Inadvertent air bag deployment triggers Fiat Chrysler minivan recall

Inadvertent air bag deployment triggers Fiat Chrysler minivan recall: Fiat Chrysler said Thursday that it would recall nearly 300,000 minivans in North America to fix air bags that could inadvertently deploy and have been blamed for at least eight injuries.The recall affects the 2011�and 2012 model-year Dodge Grand Caravan, with 209,135 vehicles located in the U.S. and 87,703 in Canada. Source: TTLA E-Clips Inadvertent air bag deployment triggers Fiat Chrysler minivan recall

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