Wednesday News Roundup

August 18, 2004

Today in Madison, Wisconsin, in an announcement of historic significance, Gov. Jim Doyle will name Louis Butler to the state Supreme Court , making him the first African-American to sit on Wisconsin's highest court. Rep. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) said the racial milestone would be "an awesome moment, wonderful - long overdue."
U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell denied class-action status yesterday in Lane vs. Tennessee, a suit brought by a paraplegic man who refused either to crawl or be carried up the Polk County Courthouse steps to answer to a criminal traffic complaint. He sued after he was charged with failure to appear. The judge wrote that the plaintiffs had not proved the proposed group met the class-action criteria required by law, criteria that require a high degree of commonality among the class.
British authorities charged eight alleged al Qaeda operatives yesterday with conspiracy to commit murder and other counts in connection with a reported plot to attack the International Monetary Fund building in Washington and other sites in New York and Newark. Under British law, terrorism suspects can be detained for two weeks without being charged.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports today that a veteran of the Iraq war whose Army National Guard unit has been ordered back to Iraq filed what his lawyers described as the first suit against the Army's "stop-loss" policy. This policy allows the U.S. military to keep soldiers in combat zones after their enlistments were scheduled to expire. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco by a Bay Area man identified only as John Doe, contends the program violates federal law, Doe's enlistment contract and the constitutional right of due process of law.
On this day in 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which provides for women's suffrage, was ratified by the states.
On Wednesday, there will be witnesses as local election officials check a random sampling of results from 150 voting stations in Venezuela, which is a rare follow-up move to an election which opposition leaders have already said looked clean. Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and other international election monitors pledged to go the extra mile to dispel opposition claims that a failed referendum that sought to oust President Hugo Chavez was rigged, and to prevent further political upheaval.
In Massachussetts, a justice of the state supreme court ordered Hampden County judges to appoint private attorneys to represent poor defendants. The private lawyers in question, known as "bar advocates," assist the state's understaffed public defender agency in representing accused criminals who can't afford a lawyer. In recent months, many of them have refused to take court-appointed cases, especially in central and western Massachusetts, in protest of a state-mandated pay rate that they say is way below the industry standard.