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The Supreme Court is about to confront a new elections case that could dramatically alter voting in 2024 and beyond. A Republican-led challenge is asking the justices for a novel ruling that could significantly increase the power of state lawmakers over elections for Congress and the presidency. The court is hearing arguments Wednesday in a case from highly competitive North Carolina, where Republican efforts to draw congressional districts heavily in their favor were blocked by a Democratic majority on the state Supreme Court. The question for the justices is whether the U.S. Constitution’s provision giving state legislatures the power to make the rules about the “times, places and manner” of congressional elections cuts state courts out of the process.

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A jury in Maine has awarded a former state trooper $300,000 after determining the state police wrongly retaliated when he raised concerns about its intelligence gathering work. George Loder filed a whistleblower lawsuit claiming he was reassigned and then denied a transfer after he took his concerns about the Maine Intelligence Analysis Center to his superiors. Loder said the center had gathered intelligence on power line protesters, gun buyers and others who had committed no crime. The Bangor Daily News reported the jury deliberated for more than five hours Friday before finding in Loder's favor. State police had defended the intelligence work and denied that any retaliation occurred.

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Indiana's Republican attorney general can continue his investigation of an Indianapolis doctor who spoke publicly about providing an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim. The girl had traveled from Ohio after its more-restrictive abortion law took effect this summer. A judge on Friday rejected an attempt to block Attorney General Todd Rokita's investigation of Dr. Caitlin Bernard. Rokita alleges Bernard violated child abuse reporting and patient privacy laws. Bernard denies wrongdoing. The same judge also ruled Friday in a separate lawsuit that Indiana’s abortion ban adopted in August violates the state’s religious freedom law. The Indiana abortion ban was already on hold because of another legal challenge.

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A Kentucky man has been convicted of strangulation and domestic violence, three years after he was one of hundreds pardoned during former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s last days in office. Twenty-year-old Joheim Bandy was found guilty by a jury in Kenton County this week. The Kentucky Enquirer reports Bandy has been charged in three strangulation cases since he was pardoned in 2019. Bandy was serving a 13-year sentence in prison for robbery and assault when he was pardoned. Kenton Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders called the pardon “shockingly” irresponsible and said it had nearly cost a 22-year-old woman her life.

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A rural Arizona county has certified its midterm election results after blowing past the deadline in state law. The Cochise County Board of Supervisors voted Thursday to follow the orders of a judge who ruled that they broke the law when they refused to sign off on the vote count by this week’s deadline. Two Republicans on Cochise County’s three-member board of supervisors did not cite any problems with the election results as a reason to delay. Rather, they say they weren’t satisfied that the machines used to tabulate ballots were properly certified for use in elections, though state and federal election officials have said they were.

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An Australian prosecutor on Friday dropped the rape charge of a woman who was allegedly assaulted in a parliamentary office after he determined that the stress of the trial would put her life at risk. Former government staffer Brittany Higgins alleges a more senior colleague, Bruce Lehrmann, raped her in a minister’s office after a night of heavy drinking in March 2019. The Associated Press does not usually identify alleged victims of sexual assault, but Higgins has chosen to identify herself in the media. Higgins' friend said she was in a hospital receiving mental health treatment. Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold said he dropped the case based on medical evidence that a trial could cost Higgins’ life.

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The Supreme Court says the Biden administration program to cancel student loans will remain blocked for now, but the justices have agreed to take up the case in late winter. The court’s decision to hear arguments relatively quickly means it is likely to determine whether the widespread loan cancellations are legal by late June. That’s about two months before the newly extended pause on loan repayments is set to expire. The administration had wanted a court order that would have allowed the program to take effect even as court challenges proceed. But as a fallback, it suggested the high court hold arguments and decide the issue.

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A federal appeals court has halted an independent review of documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate, removing a hurdle the Justice Department said had delayed its criminal investigation into the retention of top-secret government information. The decision by the three-judge panel represents a significant win for federal prosecutors, clearing the way for them to use as part of their investigation the entire tranche of documents seized during an Aug. 8 FBI search of Mar-a-Lago. It also rejects the arguments of Trump’s lawyers, who had said the former president was entitled to have a so-called “special master” conduct a neutral review of the thousands of documents taken from the property.

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The judge who oversaw the trial of a man convicted of killing six people when he drove his SUV through a Christmas parade last year says national exposure and encouragement she got for her handling of the case is not why she is running for a pivotal Wisconsin Supreme Court seat. But Dan Kelly, one of her challengers and a fellow conservative, said Thursday that the case is the only reason Waukesha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Dorow got in the race. Dorow and Kelly are the two conservative candidates for the open seat to be determined in the April 4 election. Two liberal judges are also running.

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The United Nations’ highest court has found little to rule on in a long-running dispute over a small river which flows from Bolivia to Chile as the Latin American neighbors had mostly resolved their conflict during the 6-year proceedings. The International Court of Justice spent most of the hour-long hearing announcing the legal claims over the Silala River — a short waterway in the Atacama Desert — were “without object” as both countries now agree on how the water system should be managed.  Chile’s president says the ruling “recognized that Chile’s historical and current use of the waters” is in line with international law. His Bolivian counterpart says the decision has confirmed “our rights over the waters of Silala.”

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The Dutch prosecutor’s office says it won't appeal the acquittal of a man charged in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 as it flew over eastern Ukraine in 2014. Earlier this month, a court in the Netherlands convicted three other men in absentia for supplying the Russian surface-to-air missile which was used to bring down Flight 17, killing all 298 people on board the Boeing 777. Russian Oleg Pulatov, the only suspect represented by defense lawyers at the trial, was acquitted for lack of evidence. In forgoing an appeal, the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service on Thursday cited concerns about added stress on the families of the airliner's late passengers and crew members.

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The International Court of Justice says it had little to rule on in a long-running dispute over the Silala River which flows from Bolivia to Chile as the Latin American neighbors have mostly resolved their differences. The United Nations' highest court spent most of the hour-long hearing on Thursday explaining that the two countries’ legal claims over the short waterway in the Atacama Desert were “without objection” since both parties now agree that the Silala River is “an international watercourse." Chile's president said the ruling “recognized that Chile’s historical and current use of the waters” is in line with international law. His Bolivian counterpart said the decision has confirmed “our rights over the waters of Silala.”

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Jurors have convicted a man in the killings of eight people from another Ohio family after weighing his denials and other testimony against the word of witnesses including his brother and mother, who previously pleaded guilty for their roles. Thirty-one-year-old George Wagner IV was found guilty Wednesday of all 22 counts he faced in southern Ohio’s Pike County, including eight counts of aggravated murder in the 2016 shootings of seven adults and a teenager from the Rhoden family. Wagner sat motionless as the verdicts were read, closing his eyes or looking down. Prosecutors say the slayings, which initially spurred speculation about drug cartel involvement, stemmed from a dispute over custody of Wagner’s niece. His father awaits trial in the killings.

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Kentucky Democrats say they’re taking the next steps in their redistricting fight. They said Wednesday that includes asking the state’s highest court to immediately take up their lawsuit. The suit challenges new Republican-drawn boundaries for legislative and congressional districts. The moves to appeal come about three weeks after a circuit judge ruled the new congressional and state House maps did not violate the state constitution. The state Democratic Party says a notice of appeal was being filed with the Court of Appeals. In a separate motion, Democrats said they’re asking the state Supreme Court to take up the case immediately.

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The seditious conspiracy convictions of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and another leader in the far-right extremist group show that jurors are willing to hold accountable not just the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, but those who schemed to subvert the 2020 election. Tuesday verdict, while not a total win for the Justice Department, gives momentum to investigators just as the newly named special counsel ramps up his probe into key aspects of the insurrection fueled by President Donald Trump’s lies of a stolen election.

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A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit brought by a former University of Connecticut women’s soccer player who lost her scholarship after giving the middle finger to a television camera. Three judges on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City ruled Wednesday that Noriana Radwan presented sufficient evidence to go to trial on her claim that she was punished more harshly than male athletes who violated conduct rules. A lower court judge dismissed Radwan's lawsuit in 2020. The case returns to the federal trial court. UConn officials say they're confident they will prevail in court.

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Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes has been convicted of seditious conspiracy for a violent plot to overturn President Joe Biden's election, handing the Justice Department a major victory in its massive prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. A Washington, D.C., jury on Tuesday found Rhodes guilty of sedition after three days of deliberations. The nearly two-month-long trial showcased the far-right extremist group’s efforts to keep Republican Donald Trump in the White House at all costs. An attorney for Rhodes says they intend to appeal. Rhodes was also convicted of obstruction of an official proceeding, but acquitted of two other conspiracy charges.

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A Missouri man convicted of ambushing and killing a St. Louis area police officer he blamed in the death of his younger brother has been executed. Kevin Johnson was put to death by lethal injection Tuesday night at the state prison in Bonne Terre. He was 37. It was the state’s second execution this year. Johnson’s attorneys didn’t deny that he killed Kirkwood Police Officer William McEntee in 2005, but contended he was sentenced to death in part because he was Black. The courts and Republican Gov. Mike Parson declined to stop the execution.

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A lawsuit against the maker of an anti-malarial drug blamed for causing psychotic and neurological damage in U.S. servicemembers has been thrown out. U.S. District Court Judge Trina Thompson ruled late Monday that the lawsuit doesn't belong in a California court. An Army veteran said Roche Laboratories Inc. and Genentech Inc. intentionally misled the Department of Defense and the Food and Drug Administration about the dangers of mefloquine, the generic version of the drug Lariam. The U.S. military gave the drug to hundreds of thousands of troops sent to Afghanistan and Somalia. The Pentagon eventually replaced the drug with safer alternatives.

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Court documents released by an Indiana judge say an unspent bullet found between the bodies of two teenage girls slain in 2017 “had been cycled through” a pistol owned by the suspect in their deaths. Documents related to 50-year-old Richard Matthew Allen's arrest in the 2017 killings of 14-year-old Liberty German and 13-year-old Abigail Williams were sealed last month at the request of the local prosecutor. The redacted probable cause affidavit released Tuesday states that investigators seized Allen’s pistol during an Oct. 13 search of his home in Delphi. Allen is charged with two counts of murder.

A former Georgia prosecutor charged with hindering the police investigation into the 2020 killing of Ahmaud Arbery is scheduled to make her first court appearance in the case next month. A superior court judge on Tuesday ordered a Dec. 29 arraignment for former District Attorney Jackie Johnson. More than a year has passed since Johnson was indicted on misconduct charges alleging she used her office to try to protect two of the white men who chased and fatally shot Arbery after he ran past their home on Feb. 23, 2020. One of them, Greg McMichael, had worked for Johnson as an investigator. Johnson has denied wrongdoing and her attorneys have asked the judge to dismiss the charges. Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr's office is prosecuting the case.

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The Supreme Court is wrestling with a politically tinged dispute over a Biden administration policy that would prioritize deportation of people in the country illegally who pose the greatest public safety risk. It was not clear after arguments that turned highly contentious at times Tuesday whether the justices would allow the policy to take effect, or side with Republican-led states that have so far succeeded in blocking it. At the center of the case is a September 2021 directive from the Department of Homeland Security that paused deportations unless individuals had committed acts of terrorism, espionage or “egregious threats to public safety.” The guidance, issued after Joe Biden became president, replaced a Trump-era policy that emphasized deportation.

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A man has been sentenced to 21 months in prison for faking his death in Alabama to avoid criminal charges of impregnating a teenage girl in his home state of Mississippi. Jacob Blair Scott was sentenced Monday. A federal judge in Alabama set the sentence to run at the same time as Scott’s 85-year Mississippi prison sentence. In June, a Mississippi jury convicted him of sexual battery and child abuse charges. Scott's accuser testified Scott sexually assaulted her in 2016 and 2017. Scott was facing charges when he rowed a boat into the Gulf of Mexico off an Alabama coast in 2018, leaving a gun and a suicide note. He was captured in Oklahoma in 2020, living under another person's name.

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A federal appeals court has reinstated an Indiana law adopted in 2016 that requires abortion clinics to either bury or cremate fetal remains. The ruling released Monday overturns an Indiana judge’s decision in September that the law infringed upon the religious and free speech rights of people who do not believe aborted fetuses deserve the same treatment as deceased people. The appeals court cited a 2019 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the fetal remains provisions of the law signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence. Indiana’s Republican-dominated Legislature approved an abortion ban law over the summer, but abortions have been allowed to continue as courts consider whether the ban violates the state constitution.

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