American Scene: Court suspends license of attorney in scandal

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The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday suspended for one year the law license of an attorney whose emails to Jim Tressel triggered an ongoing scandal and NCAA investigation that cost the football coach his job at Ohio State University.

At issue was whether Columbus attorney Christopher Cicero violated professional rules of conduct that prohibit revealing information from meetings with a client or a prospective client.

The 5-2 court decision followed the recommendation of a disciplinary board that argued Mr. Cicero wrongly discussed interviews with tattoo parlor owner Edward Rife, a potential client. The court, however, overruled the board’s recommendation for a six-month suspension.

TEXAS

State seeks to seize polygamist sect’s ranch

AUSTIN — Texas wants ownership of Warren Jeffs’ massive ranch where prosecutors say the convicted polygamist sect leader and his followers sexually assaulted dozens of children, the state attorney general’s office said Wednesday.

A judge will determine whether to grant the state control of the nearly 1,700-acre property owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. According to local tax records, the total value of the land is appraised at more than $33 million.

Seeking to bolster their case for seizures, prosecutors also allege that FLDS leaders financed the property through money laundering.

Starting with a raid on the secluded Schleicher County ranch in April 2008, the state spent more than $4.5 million racking up swift convictions against Jeffs and 10 of his followers.

First lawsuits filed in deadly veterans crash

LUBBOCK — Two Army veterans and their wives on Wednesday sued the railroad company whose train hit a truck carrying veterans and their spouses during a parade in Texas.

Four veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan were killed and 16 more people were injured in the Nov. 15 collision.

They had been riding on a flatbed truck in the parade organized to honor wounded veterans for their military service and were in the process of crossing the tracks when the crash happened. Officials have said the truck entered the crossing after the warning signals began sounding.

The lawsuit claims negligence and recklessness on the part of Union Pacific Railroad Inc. and Smith Industries Inc., the company that owned the truck, led to the collision.

The lawsuit claims the railroad was negligent in 28 ways, including failing to provide reasonable and timely audible and visual warning of the approaching train and failure to provide a safe railroad crossing. It also says the train did not brake or otherwise attempt to slow and the railroad hadn’t fixed what it claims are hazardous conditions posed by the road grade.

NEW YORK

Bloomberg lights holiday tree that survived Sandy storm

NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Wednesday helped light the Rockefeller Center tree, an 80-foot Norway spruce that made it through Superstorm Sandy.

Thousands of onlookers crowded behind barricades on the streets that surrounded Rockefeller Center. A video screen was provided for those who did not have a direct line of sight of the tree, which was illuminated with more than 30,000 lights and topped by a Swarovski brand star.

“It makes me want to sing and dance,” said Zuri Young, who came several hours early with her boyfriend to watch the lighting for the first time.

The tree came from the Mount Olive, N.J., home of Joe Balku, who lost power and other trees during the storm at his residence about an hour outside of Manhattan.

Bus plows into home, kills 6-year-old boy

HEMPSTEAD — A transit bus hit a pedestrian and then slammed into a suburban New York City house, killing a 6-year-old boy who was inside the home.

Police say the Nassau Inter County Express bus plowed into the multifamily home in Hempstead on Long Island around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. Six-year-old David Granados was pronounced dead at a hospital, and police say his 7-year-old brother suffered minor injuries. The boys had been in the home’s front bedroom.

Police say 8 of 11 bus passengers suffered minor injuries.

The unidentified pedestrian suffered several broken bones.

Police say a preliminary investigation indicates no apparent criminality. Inspector Kenneth Lack, a department spokesman, says it appears the pedestrian disregarded several attempts by the bus driver to alert him, including honking his horn before the accident.

MISSISSIPPI

Abortion clinic asks judge to block law

JACKSON — Attorneys for Mississippi’s only abortion clinic are again asking a federal judge to block a state law that could close the facility.

In court papers Wednesday, attorneys say despite repeated attempts, Jackson Women’s Health Organization has been unable to obtain privileges for most of its physicians to admit patients to a local hospital.

A state law that took effect in July requires such privileges.

The law’s supporters say it’s designed for patients’ safety. The clinic, however, calls the requirement “medically unnecessary.”

The clinic filed suit in June seeking to block the law.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan allowed the law to take effect to see if the clinic could meet the requirements.

The clinic is not expected to close anytime soon.

PENNSYLVANIA

Science classroom blast injures five students

CARLISLE — Authorities say a small explosion and fire in a Pennsylvania eighth-grade science classroom has injured five students.

Cumberland County spokeswoman Meg Silverstrim says two of the children have been taken by helicopter from Wilson Middle School in Carlisle to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. She says the others were driven to Carlisle Regional Medical Center.

Mr. Silverstrim says the cause of the explosion and fire is under investigation. Crews were able to extinguish the fire quickly, and the school continued with its regular day.

She had no information about the children’s medical conditions.

School district officials have not returned messages seeking information about the accident.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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