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An Eastern Shore judge who was about to be arrested at his home was found dead Friday, officials said.

Federal and local officials said FBI agents went to the residence of Caroline County Circuit Court Judge Jonathan Newell in Henderson, Maryland, early Friday morning to arrest him on a federal criminal complaint.

He was under investigation for sexual exploitation of a child, according to a federal affidavit.

“Upon entering the residence the agents found Newell suffering from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound,” a joint statement from Acting Maryland U.S. Attorney Jonathan Lenzner and other officials said. “He was pronounced dead at 6:43 a.m. Maryland State Police will lead the investigation into the apparent suicide.”


The Ohio Supreme Court is deciding whether the insurance company for a drug distributor should be forced to provide a legal defense in the company’s fight against government lawsuits related to the opioid epidemic.

Justices on Wednesday heard arguments in a dispute between Hamilton County-based Masters Pharmaceutical and its insurer from 2010 to 2018, Wisconsin-based Acuity Insurance.

Beginning in 2012, West Virginia and local governments in Michigan and Nevada sued Masters and other opioid distributors, seeking compensation for the cost of increased public services incurred during communities’ battle against the painkiller epidemic. Those included necessary increases in policing, court cases, substance abuse treatment, emergency responses and medical services.

Masters argues it did nothing wrong. But it also says that under its contract with Acuity, the company must defend Masters against the allegations. Masters argues that previous court rulings have upheld the notion that insurance companies must provide a defense for businesses for plausible claims of alleged damages.

Acuity’s policy with Masters requires it to defend lawsuits alleging “damages because of bodily injury,” lawyers for the drug company argued in a court filing earlier this year.

Because governments are suing Masters for the cost of medical care and treatment for citizens allegedly harmed by the company’s distribution of opioids, Acuity must defend Masters against those lawsuits, the lawyers said.

Allegations against Masters include specific references to injuries, including the cost of 116 opioid-related hospitalizations in Saginaw County, Michigan; 24 hospitalizations in Mason County, Michigan; and 243 doses of the overdose antidote Narcan administered by the Lansing, Michigan, fire department, Masters attorney Paul Rose said during Wednesday’s hearing before the state Supreme Court.


The justices are putting the “court” back in Supreme Court. The high court announced Wednesday that the justices plan to return to their majestic, marble courtroom for arguments beginning in October, more than a year and a half after the in-person sessions were halted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The justices had been hearing cases by phone during the pandemic but are currently on their summer break. The court said that oral arguments scheduled for October, November and December will be in the courtroom but that: “Out of concern for the health and safety of the public and Supreme Court employees, the Courtroom sessions will not be open to the public.”

“The Court will continue to closely monitor public health guidance in determining plans,” the announcement said.

The court said that while lawyers will no longer argue by telephone, the public will continue to be able to hear the arguments live. Only the justices, essential court personnel, lawyers in the cases being argued and journalists who cover the court full-time will be allowed in the courtroom. The court that returns to the bench is significantly different from the one that left it.

When the justices last sat together on the bench at their neoclassical building across the street from the U.S. Capitol on March 9, 2020, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the court’s most senior liberal and conservatives held a narrow 5-4 majority. But Ginsburg died in September 2020, and her replacement by conservative Amy Coney Barrett in the final days of the Trump administration has given conservatives a significant 6-3 majority.

Because of the pandemic, Barrett has yet to be part of a traditional courtroom argument, with the justices asking questions of lawyers in rapid succession, jockeying for an opening to ask what’s on their minds. The arguments the court heard by telephone were more predictable and polite, with the justices taking turns asking questions, one by one, in order of seniority. That often meant the arguments went longer than their scheduled hour.

It also meant that lawyers and the public heard from the previously reticent Justice Clarence Thomas in every telephone argument. Before the pandemic Thomas routinely went years without speaking during arguments and had said he doesn’t like his colleagues’ practice of rapid-fire questioning that cuts off attorneys. “I don’t see where that advances anything,” he said in 2012.

One change from the remote arguments will stay for now. The justices said they will continue their practice during the pandemic of allowing audio of oral arguments to be broadcast live by the news media. Before the pandemic, the court would only very occasionally allow live audio of arguments in particularly high profile cases.

That meant that the only people who heard the arguments live were the small number of people in the courtroom. The court releases a transcript of the arguments on the same day but, before the pandemic, only posted the audio on its website days after.


Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro got a rousing reception from tens of thousands of people gathered in the capital Tuesday in an Independence Day show of support for the right-wing leader embroiled in a feud with the country’s Supreme Court.

Bolsonaro, in an address inaudible to many in the crowd far from the loudspeakers, lashed out at the high court and said the nation can no longer accept what he characterized as political imprisonments — a reference to arrests ordered by Justice Alexandre de Moraes. He warned that the court could “suffer what we don’t want.”

The crowd began chanting, “Alexandre out!”

His speech followed a helicopter flyover, with those on the ground seized with euphoria at the sight. They applauded and shouted, “Legend!” and “I authorize!” — a slogan widely understood as blanket approval of his methods.

Bolsonaro has called on the Senate to impeach de Moraes, who has jailed several of the president’s supporters for allegedly financing, organizing or inciting violence or disseminating false information.

Massive participation in rallies scheduled across the country would reinforce Bolsonaro’s push to prove he retains strength — despite slumping poll ratings — and recover momentum after a string of setbacks.


A gay substitute teacher was wrongfully fired by a Roman Catholic school in North Carolina after he announced in 2014 on social media that he was going to marry his longtime partner, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn ruled Friday that Charlotte Catholic High School and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Charlotte violated Lonnie Billard’s federal protections against against sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Cogburn granted summary judgment to Billard and said a trial must still be held to determine appropriate relief for him.

“After all this time, I have a sense of relief and a sense of vindication. I wish I could have remained teaching all this time,” Billard said in a statement released Friday by the ACLU, which represented him in court. “Today’s decision validates that I did nothing wrong by being a gay man.”

Billard taught English and drama full time at the school for more than a decade, earning its Teacher of the Year award in 2012. He then transitioned to a role as a regular substitute teacher, typically working more than a dozen weeks per year, according to his 2017 lawsuit.

He posted about his upcoming wedding in October 2014 and was informed by an assistant principal several weeks later that he no longer had a job with the school, according to the ruling.

The defendants said that they fired Billard not because he was gay, but rather because “he engaged in ‘advocacy’ that went against the Catholic Church’s beliefs” when he publicly announced he was marrying another man, the ruling said.

But Cogburn ruled that the school’s action didn’t fit into exemptions to labor law that give religious institutions leeway to require certain employees to adhere to religious teachings, nor was the school’s action protected by constitutional rights to religious freedom.


A Maine nursing home on Deer Isle will close at the end of October, citing both the coronavirus pandemic and the recent struggle to find qualified workers.

At one point, Island Nursing Home dealt with a COVID-19 outbreak that lasted about six weeks and resulted in 100 cases and 14 resident deaths, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I don’t have any idea what we’re going to do,” Jess Maurer, executive director of Maine Council on Aging, told News Center Maine.

A statement written by the Island Nursing Home board of directors said there’s simply not enough qualified workers.

“We have spent months exhausting every staffing resource at our disposal and beginning this fall, we will no longer be able to meet our minimum staffing requirements,” the statement said.

Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Jake Auchincloss is joining with other Democratic members of Congress, including U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, to push for the manufacturing, production, and distribution of vaccines in low- and middle-income countries.

The group launched the COVID-19 Global Vaccination Caucus, which they say will advocate for the one solution that has proven to work and that a majority of Americans and scientists agree is crucial to ending the pandemic: vaccines.

“The world needs America to lead. The fight against COVID-19 is a transnational challenge that calls for vision and boldness,” Auchincloss, who represents the state’s 4th Congressional District, said Friday in a written statement. “The United States can reclaim moral leadership with vaccine diplomacy.”

Auchincloss said the goal is to encourage a U.S.-led program to increase the vaccinated populations of poor countries to protect those populations but also to block the spread of dangerous COVID-19 variants to the United States.

Other members of the caucus include representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, Tom Malinowski of New Jersey and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin.


The road to a Texas law that bans most abortions in the state, sidestepping for now the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, began in a town called Waskom, population 1,600.

The Supreme Court’s decision this past week not to interfere with the state’s strict abortion law, provoked outrage from liberals and cheers from many conservatives. President Joe Biden assailed it. But the decision also astonished many that Texas could essentially outmaneuver Supreme Court precedent on women’s constitutional right to abortion.

Texas’ abortion law S.B. 8 follows a model first used in Waskom to ban abortion within its boundaries in 2019. The novel legal approach used by the city on Texas’ border with Louisiana is one envisioned by a former top lawyer for the state.

Right to Life East Texas director Mark Lee Dickson, 36, a Southern Baptist minister, championed Waskom’s abortion ban. Through his state senator, Bryan Hughes, he met Jonathan F. Mitchell, a former top lawyer for the state of Texas. Mitchell became his attorney and advised him on crafting the ordinance, Dickson said in an interview.

The ordinance shields Waskom from lawsuits by saying city officials can’t enforce the abortion ban. Instead, private citizens can sue anyone who performs an abortion in the city or assists someone in obtaining one. The law was largely symbolic, however, because the city did not have a clinic performing abortions.

Nearly three dozen other cities in the state followed Waskom’s lead. Among them is Lubbock, where a Planned Parenthood clinic stopped performing abortions this year as a result.

Mitchell has declined interviews, but Dickson called him a “brilliant guy” and said he was “extremely grateful” for his help. Hughes, who later became the author of the Texas law, echoed those sentiments. The two have known each other for years.

Though Hughes would not assign credit for Texas’ approach to a single person, saying many lawyers and law professors advised on the legislation, ultimately S.B. 8 followed the Waskom model in terms of how the law is enforced.

The law, signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in May, prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, usually around six weeks and before many women know they’re pregnant. At least 12 other states have enacted bans early in pregnancy, but all have been blocked from going into effect.

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