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Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Cornelia Clark has died at the age of 71, the court announced Friday. She had been diagnosed with cancer.

According to a news release, Clark died overnight after 16 years in her role, serving the longest tenure of her counterparts on the court while she was on the bench for more than 1,100 Supreme Court cases. Republican Gov. Bill Lee, who selects Clark’s replacement, called her a “trailblazer for women in the legal profession.”

Clark was appointed to her seat in 2005 by former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen and served as chief justice from 2010 to 2012. Chief Justice Roger Page said Clark, better known as Connie, “loved the Tennessee judicial system and has made it better in immeasurable ways.”

“As her colleague for the past five and one-half years, I observed her tremendous work ethic,” Page said in the news release. “Her keen mind was surpassed only by her kind and caring heart. She truly tried her best to decide each case based on the applicable law and nothing else.”


As the South Carolina Supreme Court mulls the legality of a state rule that effectively bans masks in most schools, health care workers and educators are renewing calls for state lawmakers to repeal the provision altogether.

Pediatricians and school nurses joined state education groups at a news conference Tuesday to warn that lawmakers’ inaction will only continue to impede in-person learning as more than 88,000 students and staff have been forced to quarantine and dozens of schools have reverted to online lessons since the start of the school year.

The Republican-controlled Legislature put the one-year provision, which prevents school districts from using state money to enforce a rule requiring masks, into the state budget earlier this year. The state was averaging 150 COVID-19 cases a day at the time.


But in the following months, a new surge driven by the highly contagious delta variant triggered thousands of new cases. Schools have recorded more than 21,000 student cases this fall so far, almost 7,000 more than they counted for all of the previous academic year.

“We want to be sure that the policymakers are no longer using yesterday’s information to make today’s decisions,” said Dr. Robert Saul, the South Carolina chapter president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The state’s Republican education superintendent, bipartisan groups of lawmakers, doctors and nurses, the state parent-teacher association, and multiple teachers groups have all opposed the state mask provision, saying it prevents locally elected school boards from deploying a critical tool in limiting the spread of the virus.

In addition to the state Supreme Court case, disability rights groups and parents of children with disabilities have also mounted a challenge to the law in federal court.

But every day the courts take to consider the cases is another day of disrupted learning for students and extra work for school staff, said Sherry East, president of the South Carolina Education Association.


The retired conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court justice leading a Republican-ordered investigation into the 2020 presidential election released a video Monday threatening to subpoena election officials who don’t comply and saying the intent was not to overturn President Joe Biden’s narrow victory in the battleground state.

The unusual six-minute video from Michael Gableman comes after election clerks were confused by an email his office sent last week that was flagged in at multiple counties as junk, a possible security risk and not forwarded to municipal clerks as he wanted.

Gableman said Monday that if the state’s 1,900-plus municipal and county election officials did not cooperate with his investigation, he would “compel” them to comply. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has said he would sign subpoenas requested by Gableman as part of the investigation. Vos hired Gableman at a cost of nearly $680,000 in taxpayer money to conduct the investigation.

Vos declined to sign subpoenas sought by Rep. Janel Bandtjen, chair of the Assembly elections committee, seeking ballots, voting machines and other data in Milwaukee and Brown counties.

Gableman said local clerks who run elections in Wisconsin will be required to prove that voting was done legally.

“The responsibility to demonstrate that our elections were conducted with fairness, inclusivity and accountability is on the government and on the private, for-profit interests that did work for the government,” Gableman said. “The burden is not on the people to show in advance of an investigation that public officials and their contractors behaved dishonestly.”

Gableman, in his video where he appears to be standing in front of an image of the state Capitol, said his intent was not to challenge the results of the 2020 election that Biden won in Wisconsin by nearly 21,000 votes over former President Donald Trump. Some Republicans have called for a broader audit and said they believe there was widespread fraud, despite no evidence of that. Only two people out of about 3.3 million people who cast ballots have been charged with election fraud.

Those pushing for an audit similar to one done in Arizona’s Maricopa County have pushed the false claim that the election was stolen from Trump.


Spain’s Supreme Court refused Monday to suspend a government decision allowing a former Venezuelan spymaster to be extradited to the United States.

Lawyers for Gen. Hugo Carvajal, who for over a decade was late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez’s eyes and ears in the Venezuelan military, asked the court to put the Spanish government decision — taken 18 months ago — on hold.

But the Supreme Court said in its written decision that Carvajal had presented no new arguments against the government decision, which he had already opposed at the court in May last year.

Carvajal’s extradition procedure is currently on hold at the National Court, after he filed a request for asylum in Spain.

Nicknamed “El Pollo,′ or “The Chicken”, Carvajal was arrested Sept. 9 in a small apartment in Madrid, where he had been holed up for months. His arrest came nearly two years after Carvajal defied a Spanish extradition order and disappeared.

In the United States, he faces federal charges for allegedly working with guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to “flood” the U.S. with cocaine.


Britain’s Court of Appeal ruled Friday that doctors can prescribe puberty-blocking drugs to children under 16, overturning a lower court’s decision that a judge’s approval should be needed.

Appeals judges said the High Court was wrong to rule last year that children considering gender reassignment are unlikely to be able to give informed consent to medical treatment involving drugs that delay puberty. The December 2020 ruling said because of the experimental nature of the drugs, clinics should seek court authorization before starting such treatment.

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, which runs the U.K.’s main gender identity development service for children, appealed against that ruling.

On Friday the Court of Appeal agreed with the trust. The judges said it was “inappropriate” for the High Court to have given the guidance and said it was up to doctors to “exercise their judgment” about whether their patients can properly consent.

The trust welcomed the decision, saying it “affirms that it is for doctors, not judges, to decide on the capacity of under-16s to consent to medical treatment.”

Hormone blockers are drugs that can pause the development of puberty, and are sometimes prescribed to help children with gender dysphoria by giving them more time to consider their options.

The lawsuit against the Tavistock clinic was brought by two claimants including Keira Bell, who was prescribed hormone blockers at 16 and argued that the clinic should have challenged her more over her decision to transition to a male.

Lawyers for Bell and the other claimant argued that children going through puberty are “not capable of properly understanding the nature and effects of hormone blockers.”

Bell, now 24, said she was disappointed by the court of appeal ruling and would seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.


The chief of Vermont’s trial courts is retiring after 17 years as a judge, including seven as chief superior judge, the state Supreme Court has announced.

Chief Judge Brian Grearson will retire Nov. 1.

“Vermont’s judiciary is a vital institution of democracy that ensures equal justice under the law,” Vermont Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Reiber said in a statement on Friday. “Judge Grearson’s work in support of the courts has been distinctive, accruing to the benefit of every person in our great state.”

The court also said that Superior Judge Thomas A. Zonay of Hartland will succeed Grearson.

The chief superior judge supervises and oversees the administrative responsibilities of the judicial officers who serve in the state superior court and trial courts.

Zonay was appointed as a superior judge in 2007. Before being named a judge Zonay practiced law in Rutland and Woodstock for 18 years. Zonay also has served as president of the Vermont Bar Association and the New England Bar Association.

“He is a knowledgeable, hardworking and committed public servant,” Reiber said of Zonay. “I wish him all the best in his new role.”


The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Thursday again ruled that Oklahoma has no concurrent jurisdiction over crimes committed on tribal lands by non-American Indians against American Indians.

The court rejected the state’s appeal of the dismissal of the manslaughter conviction and 19-year sentence of Richard Roth, 42.

The opinion by Judge Robert Hudson cites what is known as the McGirt decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Oklahoma lacks authority over crimes committed on tribal reservations in which the defendants or the victims are tribal citizens.

“Adoption of the State’s theory of concurrent jurisdiction is a political matter that may be addressed by Congress, not this Court,” the opinion said.

Roth, who is not Native American, was convicted in the 2013 death of Billy Jack Chuculate Lord, 12, a member of the Cherokee Nation who died when a vehicle struck him from behind as he rode a bicycle in Wagoner, which is within the Creek Nation.

The state is appealing the state court’s April ruling that it does not have concurrent jurisdiction in the case of Shaun Bosse. Bosse, who is not an American Indian, was convicted of killing a woman and her two young children, who were Native American.

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