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American Scene

- - Wednesday, December 29, 2010

CALIFORNIA

Jackson case lawyer: Suicide to be issue

LOS ANGELES | A prosecutor says defense lawyers for Michael Jackson's doctor will claim at his involuntary manslaughter trial that the singer killed himself.

The statement by Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney David Walgren came at a hearing Wednesday where a lawyer for Dr. Conrad Murray clashed with the prosecutor over who should test residue from two syringes found in Jackson's bedroom.

Defense attorney J. Michael Flanagan said a huge amount of the anesthetic Propofol was found in Jackson's body but his client has said he gave him only 25 milligrams of the drug.

Mr. Walgren suggested the defense will claim Jackson killed himself by injecting more of the drug. A preliminary hearing in the case begins Jan. 4.

IDAHO

IPhone dispute leads to charges

BOISE | Police say a man on a Southwest Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Boise struck a teenager who refused to turn off his cellular phone.

Officers arrested 68-year-old Russell E. Miller at the Boise airport on suspicion of misdemeanor battery Tuesday. He has been released from jail on bond.

KBOI-TV reports witnesses told police the 15-year-old was playing games and listening to music on an iPhone when flight attendants instructed passengers to turn off their electronic devices. Boise police spokesman Charles McClure say the plane was leaving the Las Vegas airport at the time.

Witnesses say when the teen didn't respond, Mr. Miller got angry and struck the boy in the arm. According to the Idaho Statesman, Mr. Miller says he "tapped" the teen on the shoulder after he refused to turn off the phone. He told the paper that he may have "overreacted" but did not punch the teen.

NEVADA

Robbery-hit casino to unvalue big chips

LAS VEGAS | Las Vegas casino bosses are serving notice to the bandit who made off with $1.5 million in chips from the Bellagio: Try to redeem those worth $25,000 soon or they'll become worthless.

Bellagio owner MGM Resorts International is giving public notice that it's discontinuing its standard chip valued at $25,000 and calling for all gamblers holding the chips to redeem them by April 22.

After that, gambling regulators say each red chip with a gray inlay won't be worth more than the plastic it's cast from.

NEW YORK

Judge nixes anti-tobacco law

NEW YORK | The city's campaign to scare smokers with grotesque images of decaying teeth or a diseased lung wherever tobacco products are sold was struck down Wednesday by a federal judge who concluded that only the federal government can dictate such warnings.

U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff rejected the legality of a 2009 city Board of Health code change requiring the display of smoking cessation signs where tobacco products are sold. The federal Labeling Act was first enacted in 1965.

"Even merchants of morbidity are entitled to the full protection of the law, for our sake as well as theirs," Judge Rakoff said. He released the written decision just days before an agreement among the parties to delay enforcement of the rule was to expire Saturday.

Nicholas Ciappetta, a city attorney who handled the case, said the city was "disappointed" and was "considering our legal options."

From wire dispatches and staff reports