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A federal appeals court on Friday ordered that statewide elections for two Georgia public service commissioners be put back on the November ballot, only a week after a federal judge postponed the elections after finding that electing the five commissioners statewide illegally diluted Black votes.

A three judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the lower court’s order after an appeal by the state, which follows a U.S. Supreme Court decision saying judges shouldn’t order changes close to elections.

The 2-1 split decision came at the state’s deadline for finalizing ballots ahead of the election, so there is enough time to print ballots before the first ballots are mailed to voters living outside the country in late September.

District 3 Commissioner Fitz Johnson and District 2 Commissioner Tim Echols, both Republicans, are seeking reelection to six-year terms. Johnson is being challenged by Democrat Shelia Edwards while Echols faces Democrat Patty Durand and Libertarian Colin McKinney.

Circuit Judges Robert Luck and Adalberto Jordan found that U.S. District Judge Steven Grimberg’s decision came too close to the election, that having Johnson and Echols remain on the commission past the end of their terms is an improper fundamental alteration of the state’s election system, and that not only did Grimberg need to issue his decision before the ballot printing deadline but far enough in advance “to allow for meaningful appellate review.”

Friday’s decision is not the 11th Circuit’s final word on Grimberg’s decision, but only a stay. Luck and Jordan clearly anticipate the plaintiffs will appeal to the nation’s highest court, writing in a short opinion that “if we are mistaken on this point, the Supreme Court can tell us.”

Circuit Judge Robin Rosenbaum dissented, saying the other judges were extending the doctrine barring changes close to an election to a whole new category of cases without “a sufficient explanation.” She said the majority is, in effect, letting the state conduct an election under a system that a judge already determined is illegally discriminatory.

“If we (as I think likely) determine that the current system violates the Voting Rights Act, then Black Georgians in Districts 2 and 3 are stuck — for the next six years, until 2029 — with commissioners whom they didn’t have their full role in selecting,” Rosenbaum wrote.


Recently retired Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has become the honorary co-chairman of a nonpartisan group devoted to education about the Constitution, joining Justice Neil Gorsuch at a time of intense political polarization and rising skepticism about the court’s independence.

The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia said Thursday that Breyer and Gorsuch, who has served since 2019, will be spokesmen for civics education and civility in politics.

The justices’ decision to work together “is especially meaningful in this polarized time,” Jeffrey Rosen, the center’s president and CEO, said.

The 84-year-old Breyer retired at the end of June after nearly 28 years as a justice. His seat was taken by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the high court’s first Black woman.

Breyer has been a constant voice for seeing the court as something other than “politicians in robes” even as the court has issued a string of conservative-driven decisions topped by eliminating the constitutional right to abortion and overturning Roe v. Wade.

In recent months, the court with six Republican-appointed conservatives and three liberals appointed by Democrats also has expanded gun rights, weakened the separation of church and state and constrained the Biden administration’s efforts to combat climate change and the coronavirus pandemic.


A company can proceed with plans to build what will be the first freshwater offshore wind-powered electric-generation facility in North America, in Lake Erie off the coast of Cleveland, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

At issue is the 2020 approval by the Ohio Power Siting Board of the project by Icebreaker Windpower, which proposed the six-turbine development about 10 miles north of Cleveland.

Residents of the Cleveland-area village of Bratenahl sued to stop the project, arguing the siting board didn’t have enough evidence to determine the project’s environmental impact and that the project doesn’t serve the public interest as defined in Ohio law.

The court ruled 6-1 that the board had multiple studies before it that found a low impact on birds and bats. The court also said the board properly determined the project would have “a minimal impact” on the public’s ability to enjoy Lake Erie.

A message was left with an attorney representing the residents who sued.

The U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a 2019 environmental assessment that found no significant environmental concerns.


A judge is considering whether Georgia officials should once again be prohibited from enforcing the state’s restrictive abortion law while a legal challenge against it is pending.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney heard arguments Monday from lawyers for the state and for doctors and advocacy groups who filed a lawsuit challenging the law. He said he needed to think about the issues but that he would issue a ruling soon.

“I understand that this is something that needs immediate attention and I will give it that,” McBurney said at the end of the hearing.

The hearing focused on whether the judge has the power to block the law temporarily while the litigation plays out and whether the law was invalid from the start because it violated the U.S. Constitution and U.S. Supreme Court precedent when it was enacted.

Georgia’s law was passed by state lawmakers and signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in 2019 but it had been blocked from taking effect. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the state to begin enforcing it last month, just over three weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which had protected the right to an abortion for nearly 50 years.

The law bans most abortions once a “detectable human heartbeat” is present. Cardiac activity can be detected by ultrasound in cells within an embryo that will eventually become the heart as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. That means most abortions in Georgia are effectively banned at a point before many women know they are pregnant.

The law includes exceptions for rape and incest, as long as a police report is filed, and allows for later abortions when the mother’s life is at risk or a serious medical condition renders a fetus unviable.


The white man who fatally shot Ahmaud Arbery after chasing the 25-year-old Black man in a Georgia neighborhood was sentenced Monday to life in prison for committing a federal hate crime.

Travis McMichael was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood in the port city of Brunswick. His punishment is largely symbolic, as McMichael was sentenced earlier this year to life without parole in a Georgia state court for Arbery’s murder.

Wood said McMichael had received a fair trial.

“And it’s not lost on the court that it was the kind of trial that Ahmaud Arbery did not receive before he was shot and killed,” the judge said.

Before the sentencing, she heard from members of Arbery’s family. His mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said she feels every shot that was fired at her son everyday.

“It’s so unfair, so unfair, so unfair that he was killed while he was not even committing a crime,” she said.

McMichael declined to address the court, but his attorney, Amy Lee Copeland, said her client had no convictions before Arbery’s slaying and had served in the U.S. Coast Guard.

She said a lighter sentence would be more consistent with what similarly charged defendants have received in other cases, noting that the officer who killed George Floyd in Minneapolis, Derek Chauvin, got 21 years in prison for violating Floyd’s civil rights, though he was not charged with targeting Floyd because of his race.



A former dean at a Boston high school known affectionately by students as “Rev” has been ordered by a federal judge to pay more than $10 million in damages to a former student he was convicted of trying to kill in a dispute over drug sales.

The default judgment Friday against former English High School Dean Shaun Harrison includes $7.5 million in damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress; $2.5 million in punitive damages; and more than $80,000 for the victim’s medical bills.

Harrison was convicted in state court in 2018 of assault and other charges, and sentenced to up to 26 years in prison.

Harrison, who had a background as a community organizer and youth minister, was dean of academics, a job that required keeping order and mentoring students, according to testimony at trial.

But he was leading a double life, authorities said. He had ties to the violent Latin Kings gang, recruited students to sell drugs for him, and kept a gun at his apartment.

Harrison denied the charges, telling a Boston television station that he “never lived a double life.”

The victim, who had been recruited by Harrison to sell marijuana, was 17 when he was shot in the back of the head at point-blank range on a snowy Boston street in March 2015.

The bullet barely missed the victim’s brain stem and carotid artery, but shattered his jaw. He underwent two surgeries, had his jaw wired shut for nine months, remains paralyzed on half of his face, suffers from facial neuropathy, hearing loss, and requires weights on his eyelids to help with opening and shutting his eyes, according to court documents. He continues to experience pain from the bullet that remains lodged in his head and developed an addiction to opioids prescribed for the pain.


A Florida woman who was acquitted of murdering her husband, a prominent official at the University of Central Florida, was sentenced Friday to a year of probation for tampering with evidence.

A judge sentenced Danielle Redlick in state court in Orlando.

Last month, a jury acquitted Danielle Redlick of second-degree murder in the death of her husband, Michael Redlick. Danielle Redlick said she had killed her husband out out of self-defense during a fight inside their home in which he had tried to “smother her to death.”

Jurors found Danielle Redlick guilty of evidence tampering for cleaning up her husband’s blood after stabbing him. Detectives found a pile of bloody towels, a bloody mop, bloody footprints and the strong smell of bleach in the house. She spent three years in jail prior to the trial.

Michael Redlick was the director of external affairs and partnership relations for the DeVos Sport Business Management Program at the University of Central Florida. He had previously worked for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Cleveland Browns and Memphis Grizzlies.

Court records showed that the Redlicks had been going through a divorce before the case was dismissed from a lack of action by Danielle Redlick, who initiated the court proceeding.

In a divorce petition, Danielle Redlick said the marriage was “irretrievably broken” and she was asking for alimony because she said she was unable to support herself without assistance. She listed herself as an unemployed photographer and multimedia professional.

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