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under investigation by the judicial branch.

Julie Introcaso, a Bedford judge who was suspended in October, was charged Thursday with two felony counts of falsifying physical evidence and three misdemeanors alleging tampering with public records or information and unsworn falsification.

The attorney general’s office said Introcaso will be arraigned at a later date. It wasn’t immediately known if she had a lawyer, and a number could not be found for her.

The attorney general’s office began an investigation last fall after the state Judicial Conduct Committee released a document alleging that Introcaso violated the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct.

That complaint alleges that Introcaso oversaw a child custody case for about six months despite having a friendship with a lawyer who was serving as a guardian ad litem in the matter. She approved rulings on the guardian’s fees and method of payment.

She eventually recused herself, citing a conflict of interest, but a party in the case made a complaint about her to the committee, which started an investigation. The committee alleges she altered the court orders during the investigation.



A new legal challenge to Gov. Tony Evers’ latest mask mandate is before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, filed less than a week after the Legislature struck down a previous order and the governor quickly issued a new one.

Prominent Republican donor Jere Fabick asked the court late Tuesday to issue a temporary injunction to block  the mask order Evers issued on Feb. 4, just after the GOP-controlled Legislature voted to repeal an earlier order. Fabick’s lawsuit challenging Evers’ authority to issue multiple emergency orders remains before the Supreme Court, which heard arguments in November but has yet to issue a ruling.

Republicans and Fabick contend that the Democratic governor exceeded his authority by issuing multiple public health emergencies due to the coronavirus pandemic. Evers tied the mask mandates to each emergency order.

Fabick and the GOP-controlled Legislature argue that Evers must get legislative approval to extend a health emergency beyond 60 days if it’s for the same event. Evers contends the changing nature of the pandemic warranted him issuing new health orders.

Fabick’s attorneys argued in the filing Tuesday that the Supreme Court needed to take “immediate action” to stop the latest order from Evers. Republicans in the Legislature have said they are awaiting a court rule before taking any action to strike down the latest mask order, which runs until March 20.

Nearly 60 organizations opposed repeal of the mask mandate, including groups representing hospitals, doctors, nurses, EMTs, school administrators, businesses, children, unions, Milwaukee schools, American Indian tribes, pharmacists, firefighters, local health departments, senior citizens, churches and dentists.

Fabick is a board member and policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank, and also the president of a multistate Caterpillar equipment and engine dealer. He has given more than $350,000 to Republican or conservative candidates in Wisconsin between 1994 and the middle of 2020, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Wisconsin’s COVID-19 cases have been trending downward since mid-November. The seven-day average of new cases on Tuesday was its lowest in five months and the state ranks 11th nationally in the percentage of its total population that has received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The UW Health System reported Wednesday that thanks to wearing masks and other coronavirus precautions, cases of influenza are “practically nonexistent.” As of Wednesday, there had been one positive flu test at UW Health. That compares with 1,183 at this point last year and 149 in 2019, the health system said.


A Polish court on Monday ordered a record high compensation of nearly 13 million zlotys ($3.4 million) to a man who had spent 18 years in prison for a rape and murder of a teenager he didn’t commit.

Tomasz Komenda’s case has shocked Poland, and the right-wing government highlighted it as an example of why it says the justice system needs the deep changes it has been implementing.

Komenda, now in his mid-40s was arrested in 2000 over a 1997 rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl at a New Year’s village disco party. He was initially handed a 15-year prison term, which was later increased to 25 years, despite him protesting his innocence.

As a result of family efforts, the prosecutors reviewed the case and came to the conclusion that he couldn’t have committed the crime. Komenda was cleared after DNA tests, among other factors, showed that he wasn’t involved.

Komenda was acquitted of all charges and released in 2018, having wrongfully served 18 years of his term. He had been seeking 19 million zlotys ($5 million) in damages and in compensation.

A court in Opole ruled Monday that he should receive most of that amount — the highest ever compensation awarded in Poland. The verdict is subject to appeal.

Two other men have been convicted and handed 25-year prison terms in the 1997 case.  Komenda’s story was told in 2020 Polish movie “25 Years of Innocence. The Case of Tomek Komenda.”



The Supreme Court is telling California that it can’t bar indoor church services because of the coronavirus pandemic, but it can keep for now a ban on singing and chanting indoors.

The high court issued orders late Friday in two cases where churches had sued over coronavirus-related restrictions in the state. The high court said that for now, California can’t ban indoor worship as it had in almost all of the state because virus cases are high.

The justices said the state can cap indoor services at 25% of a building’s capacity. The justices also declined to stop California from enforcing a ban put in place last summer on indoor singing and chanting. California had put the restrictions in place because the virus is more easily transmitted indoors and singing releases tiny droplets that can carry the disease.

The justices were acting on emergency requests to halt the restrictions from South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista and Pasadena-based Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry, which has more than 160 churches across the state.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that “federal courts owe significant deference to politically accountable officials” when it comes to public health restrictions, but he said deference “has its limits.”

Roberts wrote that California’s determination “that the maximum number of adherents who can safely worship in the most cavernous cathedral is zero—appears to reflect not expertise or discretion, but instead insufficient appreciation or consideration of the interests at stake.”

In addition to Roberts, Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Amy Coney Barrett also wrote to explain their views. Gorsuch and Justice Clarence Thomas would have kept California from enforcing its singing ban. Barrett, the court’s newest justice, disagreed. Writing for herself and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, she said it wasn’t clear at this point whether the singing ban was being applied “across the board.”

She wrote that “if a chorister can sing in a Hollywood studio but not in her church, California’s regulations cannot be viewed as neutral,” triggering a stricter review by courts. The justices said the churches who sued can submit new evidence to a lower court that the singing ban is not being applied generally.

The court’s three liberal justices dissented, saying they would have upheld California’s restrictions. Justice Elena Kagan wrote in a dissent for herself, Justice Stephen Breyer and Justice Sonia Sotomayor that the court’s action “risks worsening the pandemic.” She said that the court was “making a special exception for worship services” rather than treating them like other activities where large groups of people come together “in close proximity for extended periods of time.” In areas of California where COVID-19 is widespread, which includes most of the state, activities including indoor dining and going to the movies are banned.



Georgia court officials say they are hopeful jury trials will resume in March given the recent decline in coronavirus cases along with the rollout of vaccines.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold D. Melton signed an order on Sunday extending for another 30 days a statewide judicial emergency that suspends the trials because of concerns about COVID-19.

But the order says the surge in virus cases that led to the suspension appears to be declining, and it is anticipated that superior and state courts will get the green light to resume the trials at their discretion in March.

Online payment of court costs, fines expands in Kentucky

The Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts has expanded its online payment options.

As of last week, people who owe court costs, fines, fees or restitution on eligible cases can make full or partial payments, the office said in a news release. Previously the ePay program only allowed payment in full in prepayable cases, which is one that doesn't require a court appearance.

"The primary advantage is that anyone who owes court costs can now pay online," Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. said. "We're also easing the financial strain for those who have a prepayable case by allowing them to pay over time, if needed."



A Polish court on Monday ordered a record high compensation of nearly 13 million zlotys ($3.4 million) to a man who had spent 18 years in prison for a rape and murder of a teenager he didn't commit.

Tomasz Komenda's case has shocked Poland, and the right-wing government highlighted it as an example of why it says the justice system needs the deep changes it has been implementing.

Komenda, now in his mid-40s was arrested in 2000 over a 1997 rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl at a New Year's village disco party. He was initially handed a 15-year prison term, which was later increased to 25 years, despite him protesting his innocence.

As a result of family efforts, the prosecutors reviewed the case and came to the conclusion that he couldn't have committed the crime. Komenda was cleared after DNA tests, among other factors, showed that he wasn't involved.

Komenda was acquitted of all charges and released in 2018, having wrongfully served 18 years of his term. He had been seeking 19 million zlotys ($5 million) in damages and in compensation.

A court in Opole ruled Monday that he should receive most of that amount — the highest ever compensation awarded in Poland. The verdict is subject to appeal.

Two other men have been convicted and handed 25-year prison terms in the 1997 case. Komenda's story was told in 2020 Polish movie “25 Years of Innocence. The Case of Tomek Komenda.”


Three families demanding that the state pay tuition for religious schools are taking their appeal to a U.S. Supreme Court that looks much different than when the lawsuit was filed more than two years ago.

The conservative shift of the U.S. Supreme Court and a ruling in a Montana case make attorneys for the Maine families more optimistic that they'll prevail in changing the state's stance, which dates to 1980. The Supreme Court will decide whether to hear the appeal, filed Thursday.

“The court should grant this case and resolve this issue once and for all,” said the families' attorney, Michael Bindas, from the Institute for Justice.

The Maine Department of Education currently allows families who reside in towns without their own public schools to receive tuition to attend a public or private school of their choice. But religious schools are excluded.

There have been several lawsuits over the years, but the courts always have sided with the state, which contends using taxpayer dollars to fund religious education violates the separation of church and state.

The latest lawsuit targeting Maine's tuition program was filed in August 2018 after the Supreme Court held that a Missouri program was wrong in denying a grant to a religious school for playground resurfacing.


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