- The Washington Times - Friday, September 19, 2008


Gun rights advocates seek relaxed rules

Gun rights advocates are urging the D.C. Council to further relax the city’s firearms regulations.

At a committee hearing Thursday, they asked that city lawmakers to allow guns to be carried outside the home, streamline the registration process and do away with a ban on magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

The hearing was held as the council works on permanent legislation amending the District’s gun regulations, after the Supreme Court struck down the city’s 32-year-old handgun ban in June.

King memorial group set to seek permits

The group working to build a memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. plans to apply for building permits after getting positive feedback on the project’s overall design.

The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts said Thursday that it still wants to review certain details, such as the sculpture’s surface and the fonts that will be used to inscribe King’s quotes in stone.

The memorial group will apply for building permits next week, architect Ed Jackson Jr. said.

The group must have its construction permits approved by Nov. 12. That’s when its authorization from Congress expires.

Harry Johnson, president of the memorial group, says they may seek an extension from Congress if needed.

Child welfare agency faces deadline

A federal judge has given the Child and Family Services Agency two weeks to come up with a plan to fix its problems or else be held in contempt of court.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan set the deadline Wednesday.

The agency has faced a dramatic increase in cases reported since January, when Banita Jacks was found living with the corpses of her four daughters. Six social workers were fired for not responding to reports about the family. Judge Hogan says there hasn’t been much improvement since then.

Acting D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles says the District is considering the short-term hiring of Kevin Ryan, who was credited with fixing New Jersey’s child welfare agency during his tenure as commissioner.



Town seeks end of Muslim bias suit

The tiny town of Walkersville has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit charging it illegally discriminated against a Muslim group by barring them from building a mosque on land zoned for farming.

The motion filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore contends that town officials have legislative immunity from private civil actions.

The motion also claims the plaintiff, landowner David Moxley, should have filed his claim in state court instead of federal court.

Mr. Moxley is seeking $16.5 million in damages from the Frederick County town and town officials for a zoning decision that blocked the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community from establishing a worship center and recreational facilities on land Mr. Moxley had agreed to sell them.

The town and town officials have denied Mr. Moxley’s claims.


Shirtless man hit with fine, court fees

An Easton man who was cited in June for not wearing a shirt has been ordered to pay a $25 fine and court fees.

A related charge of failing to obey a lawful order has been dropped.

Sean Cephus, 18, was arrested June 4 when an officer spotted him going topless on South Street. A 1974 ordinance requires women and men to wear a top while on public property. The arrest drew the attention of a San Diego-based national campaign called GoTopless.org. Member Nadine Gary calls the Easton law “backwards.”

Police acknowledge the ordinance is very rarely enforced but say it is sometimes used as a means of stopping repeat offenders.

Mr. Cephus pleaded guilty to an unrelated assault charge last month and is serving an 18-month sentence.


Teacher accused of sex with student

An Allegany County teacher from Frostburg has been indicted on charges that she had a sexual relationship with a male student.

Autumn Leathers, 24, was indicted Wednesday on charges that included sex abuse of a minor and second-degree child abuse.

Prosecutors charge she was involved with the victim, 15, over several months at her Frostburg residence.

Miss Leathers was arrested in August. She taught at Mountain Ridge High School, but officials said last month that she was placed on leave and faced termination proceedings.


Budget shortfall caps school hiring

Montgomery County School Superintendent Jerry D. Weast is freezing many categories of spending and hiring to help the county close its projected budget shortfall.

The school system announced a similar freeze last November that saved $15 million in the last fiscal year. This year’s freeze comes two months earlier.

Many vacant positions won’t be filled, Mr. Weast said, but added there are exceptions for principals, bus drivers and some others. Teachers who leave will be replaced by substitutes. The county is facing an expected $251 million budget gap.



Jury pool surprised by ‘guilty’ outburst

A robbery suspect surprised about 30 potential jurors in Stafford County when he thrust his hands into the air and loudly announced, “I plead guilty to everything.”

Carl Jermain Baker’s outburst came Wednesday as attorneys were about to begin jury selection. Circuit Judge Gordon Willis eventually accepted Mr. Baker’s guilty pleas to six charges stemming from the January robbery of a woman, 82.

Mr. Baker’s plea came after he cursed at his attorney and a couple of his supporters were removed for comments a deputy deemed inappropriate.

One deputy drew a Taser in case the situation deteriorated. Mr. Baker, 23, will be sentenced Nov. 24.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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