- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Judges must explain ban on cameras

PHOENIX | A rules change approved by the state Supreme Court could lead to news media cameras being permitted in more Arizona courtrooms.

The change announced Tuesday and taking effect Jan. 1 requires Arizona trial judges to explain in writing when they keep news media cameras out of their courtrooms.

The issue was decided in the state high court’s annual package of court rules changes.

News media advocates say the change should lead to more public access to proceedings while preserving protections for fair trials, privacy rights and other concerns.

Numerous judges objected, citing concerns about logistics, potential delays and difficulties in protecting the fairness and dignity of court proceedings.


College president’s letter irks regents

TOPEKA | Some Washburn University regents are criticizing the school’s president over a letter he sent on official stationery asking a judge to give a sex offender probation instead of prison.

Three of Washburn’s nine regents told the Topeka Capital-Journal that they consider President Jerry Farley’s letter inappropriate, and the Board of Regents’ chairman said the matter would be discussed further.

“I think it’s probably a letter at this point he rather would not have sent and probably regrets,” said Topeka Mayor Bill Bunten, one of the regents.

Mr. Farley defended his actions, saying the letter was “an act of compassion, an act of kindness and an act of friendship” to a university employee whose husband pleaded no contest to aggravated indecent solicitation of a child younger than 14.


Governors, premiers OK resolutions

BAR HARBOR | Meeting in Maine on Tuesday, New England’s governors and the premiers of Canada’s eastern provinces adopted a resolution urging transportation systems that avoid greenhouse-gas emissions.

The resolution at the 32nd meeting of the state and provincial leaders calls for better coordination between environmental and transportation agencies and transportation systems.

The leaders also agreed on a resolution acknowledging the importance of population growth to maintain an adequate labor force in the region.


Mayors teaming up on legislative issues

JEFFERSON CITY | The mayors of Missouri’s largest cities are coming together in an attempt to gain clout at the state Capitol.

The mayors of St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, Columbia, St. Joseph, Joplin and Jefferson City met behind closed doors Tuesday in the capital city. Also at the meeting was the St. Louis County executive.

Their mission: to develop a unified agenda to press in the Missouri legislature.

The local leaders outlined three priorities Tuesday: protecting municipal control against state efforts to intercede, seeking more money for city transit and focusing on work-force development.


Special election set to fill Kilpatrick term

DETROIT | The Detroit City Council says a special election will be held next year to fill the balance of outgoing Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s term.

Kilpatrick leaves office Thursday after pleading guilty to two felonies. The council voted unanimously Tuesday to hold a primary election Feb. 24, followed by another election May 5 between the two top candidates.

The winner will serve through 2009.

An election for a new four-year term will be held in November 2009.

Council President Ken Cockrel Jr., a Democrat, becomes mayor Friday.

Kilpatrick, also a Democrat, resigned earlier this month and pleaded guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice. He also pleaded no contest to one count of assault.

He will serve four months in jail and five years’ probation after an Oct. 28 sentencing.


Sick witness returns in Simpson trial

LAS VEGAS | The witness who fell ill during the first day of testimony in the O.J. Simpson trial returned to the stand Tuesday morning, giving defense lawyers another crack at cross-examination.

Bruce Fromong, one of two memorabilia dealers Mr. Simpson is accused of robbing, apologized when he returned Tuesday.

“No problem. No problem,” Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass responded.

Paramedics were summoned after Mr. Fromong, 54, became lightheaded while undergoing cross-examination Monday. They examined Mr. Fromong but left without taking him to a hospital.

Mr. Simpson, 61, and co-defendant Clarence “C.J.” Stewart, 54, have pleaded not guilty to 12 charges, including kidnapping, armed robbery, coercion and assault with a deadly weapon.


Aiming laser at plane could bring charges

OLYMPIA | A Tenino man accused of shining a laser at a State Patrol plane could be charged with a felony.

The patrol says the plane was flying at about 2,000 feet on a traffic assignment Saturday night when the pilot and flight officer aboard the Cessna noticed a green beam on the wing.

They took steps to avoid being blinded, and circled long enough to identify where the beam was coming from.

Sheriff’s deputies went to a home and found the man who acknowledged using the laser. He says it’s not very powerful, and he was just waving it around, not targeting the plane.

Deputies confiscated the laser. Thurston County prosecutors will decide whether to file a charge of first-degree unlawful discharge of a laser.

Compiled from staff and wire reports.

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