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Pennsylvania's highest court will decide whether a woman's use of illegal drugs while pregnant qualifies as child abuse under state law.

The Supreme Court recently took up the case of a woman who tested positive for suboxone and marijuana at the time she gave birth early last year at Williamsport Hospital.

A county judge ruled that did not qualify as child abuse under the state's Child Protective Services Law, but the intermediate Superior Court said drug use while pregnant can make bodily injury to a child likely after birth.

Court records indicate the child spent 19 days in the hospital being treated for drug dependence, exhibiting severe withdrawal symptoms.

"Mother's actions were deplorable but this court must follow the law," wrote Clinton County Judge Craig Miller in May, ruling the county child welfare agency had not established child abuse occurred.

The mother's lawyers argue lawmakers never intended the child protection law to apply to acts during pregnancy.

"No one thinks using drugs while pregnant is good, but using the criminal justice system and the civil child abuse system to punish people for doing so just makes a bad situation much, much worse," said the woman's lawyer, David S. Cohen.

Amanda Beth Browning, lawyer for the Clinton County Department of Children and Youth Services, declined comment.

In a filing with Supreme Court, the woman's lawyers said most states, with a few exceptions, "have taken a non-punitive approach to the issue."

"Almost every major medical and public health organization has recognized that punishing women for drug use during their pregnancies is counterproductive to public and private health," wrote lawyers for the mother, identified by initials in court records.


The European Union’s top court has ruled that member states can ban taxi services like UberPop without prior notification to the Commission.

The ruling came after France banned the UberPop service, which allowed drivers without a taxi license to pick up passengers, in 2014 to avoid unfair competition. A court in the French city of Lille then asked the European Court of Justice whether French authorities should have notified the Commission before passing the law.

The court said in a statement Tuesday that member states “may prohibit and punish the illegal exercise of a transport activity such as UberPop without having to notify the Commission in advance of” any laws penalizing such services. It’s another blow for Uber after the ECJ ruled it should be regulated like a taxi company.


Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush has become virtually housebound, barely eats and wakes each morning with a "terrible sense of dread" since a Sydney newspaper alleged inappropriate behavior toward an actress, his lawyer swore in an affidavit.

Lawyer Nicholas Pullen's affidavit submitted to the Australian Federal Court in Sydney on Monday said the 66-year-old Australian actor had suffered "tremendous emotional and social hardship" since The Daily Telegraph accused him in December of inappropriate behavior toward actress Eryn Jean Norvill during the Sydney Theatre Company's production of "King Lear" in 2015.

Rush has denied the allegation. He is suing the newspaper over the articles, which he says portray him as a pervert and sexual predator. Details of the alleged behavior remain vague.

Rush "suffers lack of sleep and anxiety requiring medication" and believes his worth to the entertainment industry "is now irreparably damaged," his lawyer wrote.

He rarely left home in the three months after the articles and "has been virtually housebound," his lawyer said.

Rush "has lost his appetite and barely eats" and "wakes up every morning with a terrible sense of dread about his future career," Pullen added.

Rush has performed in the Sydney Theatre Company for 35 years. He won the 1997 best actor Academy Award for "Shine" and has three other Oscar nominations. He is perhaps best known as Captain Barbossa in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films.



Neil Gorsuch became the Supreme Court’s newest member a year ago this Tuesday. President Donald Trump’s pick for the high court, its 113th justice, has now heard more than 60 cases on issues including gerrymandering, fees paid to unions and the privacy of certain cellphone records.

It’s generally unwise to predict anything about a justice so early into his or her tenure, with few opinions written and votes in a small number of cases. But so far Gorsuch has been what Republicans believed and hoped he would be — a reliably conservative vote.

Beyond that, the public has gotten a glimpse of what Gorsuch may be like as a justice, from chances to see him spar with lawyers in court arguments, speak to groups and even tackle his first issue on the cafeteria committee.

A look at what observers have seen from Gorsuch inside and outside the court in the past year: Frequent readers of Gorsuch’s writing as a justice say his style is designed to attract attention and reach an audience beyond law professors and experts.

So far, he’s written three opinions, two separate opinions where he agreed with the majority’s result and several dissents.

Earlier this year Gorsuch began a dissent by citing English writer G.K. Chesterton, an opening that drew mixed reviews. He started an opinion involving water rights with a humorous quote attributed to actor Will Rogers, who is said to have called the Rio Grande “the only river I saw that needed irrigation.”

In some cases, Gorsuch has been criticized for seemingly talking down to readers or to his colleagues on the opposite side of an issue, but he’s also won praise for being clear and engaging. Opinion writing isn’t new for Gorsuch, who spent a decade as a federal appeals court judge before joining the Supreme Court. Now, however, it comes with higher stakes and a broader audience.

Court observers caution against reading too much into Gorsuch’s first Supreme Court writings. “One year is not that much of a sample size on a justice,” said Dan Epps, who co-hosts the First Mondays podcast about the court.



A gun openly carried by a spectator at a school concert in 2015 has turned into a major legal case as the Michigan Supreme Court considers whether the state's public schools can trump the Legislature and adopt their own restrictions on firearms.

The case from Ann Arbor has been on the court's docket for more than a year. But arguments set for Wednesday are getting extra attention in the wake of a Florida school shooting in February that killed 17.

There's no dispute that Michigan law bars people from possessing a gun inside a weapon-free school zone. But there's a wrinkle: Someone with a concealed pistol permit can enter school property with a gun that's openly holstered.

Though rare, it happened three years ago at a choir concert at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School, scaring teens, staff and spectators. The school board responded by banning all guns, with exceptions for police.

"If a student were to bring a gun into a school, that would be worthy of an expulsion," said Jeanice Kerr Swift, superintendent of Ann Arbor schools. "So why would it be different for other folks? ... What this case is about is local communities having a choice."

Separately, the Clio district, north of Flint, has a similar policy. The Supreme Court is hearing challenges from gun owners in both communities.

Gun-rights advocates argue that local governments, including elected school boards, can't step into an area reserved for the Michigan Legislature under state law. They point to a Lansing-area library whose ban on the open display of guns was struck down by the state appeals court in 2012.

But in Ann Arbor and Clio, another three-judge panel at the appeals court said schools are in a different category and have freedom to further restrict guns. The districts won that round.

Ken Herman, a paramedic and gun-owning parent who sued the Clio district, believes the appeals court got it wrong. In a filing at the Supreme Court, his attorney said schools have a duty to keep students safe, but lawmakers have "chosen to reserve the power to regulate the possession of firearms."

Herman, 36, said he carries a gun for protection wherever it's allowed. He said fears would be eased if more adults educated kids about proper gun ownership.


Visitors attending Supreme Court arguments surrender their electronics on entering the courtroom. So if something rings, chimes or buzzes, it's likely the device's owner is dressed in a black robe.

Last year, a justice's cellphone went off. But last month, when four electronic pings sounded during an argument, the device was different. It belonged to Justice Sonia Sotomayor and was alerting the justice, who is diabetic, that her blood sugar was urgently low.

The 63-year-old justice has had diabetes since childhood, but the sound was the first public notice that she was using a continuous glucose monitor.

Sotomayor's use of the device doesn't indicate a change in her health, experts told The Associated Press, but it does show her embracing a technology that has become more popular with Type 1 diabetics.

In 2013, when Sotomayor did an interview with the American Diabetes Association's "Diabetes Forecast," the magazine reported she was not using one. But in recent years the devices, which use sensors inserted under the skin, have become more accurate, said Cleveland Clinic endocrinologist Kevin Pantalone.

Monitors give users continuous information about glucose levels, rather than the snapshot they get from testing their blood with a finger prick. Information from the sensor gets sent every few minutes to a device where a user can see it charted. Most devices sound alarms at low and high glucose levels. Some monitors work with an insulin pump, which continuously delivers insulin.

It's not clear when Sotomayor began using the technology. She declined comment through a court spokeswoman. But the dinging during arguments on March 21 followed an incident in January where emergency medical personnel treated her at home for symptoms of low blood sugar.

Aaron Kowalski, an expert in diabetes technologies, said an event like that can prompt a person to try a monitor, but even people using the devices can experience low blood sugar that might result in an emergency call. Kowalski, who leads the research and advocacy efforts of JDRF, the Type 1 diabetes research organization, said about 15 percent to 20 percent of Type 1 diabetics now use such a device.


The clerk of court in one North Carolina county says she never meant to require any of her employees to work for her re-election even though that's what a leaked memo said.

After the memo was published, Surry County Clerk of Court Teresa O'Dell told the Mount Airy News that she doesn't require staff to work for her campaign. She acknowledged that the memo "seemed to indicate otherwise" and sent a follow-up note.

A memo distributed March 27th said employees would be required to campaign for her, including taking vacation time so they weren't doing political work while on the clock.

She also told staffers that she wouldn't be in the office before the primary. O'Dell is facing a challenge from Neil Brendle in the May 8 Republican primary.

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