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The Supreme Court reported Friday that the nine justices are healthy and trying to stay that way.

To that end, when the court held its regularly scheduled private conference Friday morning, some of the justices participated remotely, and those who were in the building did not engage in the tradition of shaking hands, court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said.

The court plans to issue opinions Monday in cases argued during the fall and winter without taking the bench, Arberg said. The last time that happened was when the court decided Bush v. Gore late in the evening of Dec. 12, 2000, essentially settling the disputed 2000 presidential election in favor of Republican George W. Bush.

Arberg wouldn't say who showed up in person Friday to the justices' conference room, adjacent to Chief Justice John Roberts' office. Six of the nine justices are 65 and older, at higher risk of getting very sick from the illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who turned 87 on Sunday, and Stephen Breyer, 81, are the oldest members of the court.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, 54, flew on a commercial flight last week between Washington, D.C., and Louisville, Kentucky, for a ceremony in honor of U.S. District Judge Justin Walker, a former law clerk whom President Donald Trump named to the federal bench last year.


Texas’ highest criminal court on Thursday delayed the scheduled execution of a second death row inmate as the state tries to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered a 60-day delay of Tracy Beatty’s scheduled March 25 execution “in light of the current health crisis and the enormous resources needed to address that emergency.”

Beatty was sentenced to death for the 2003 slaying of his 62-year-old mother, Carolyn Click, near Tyler, in East Texas. The ruling noted that the court previously upheld Beatty’s conviction and sentence.

The court on Monday ordered a 60-day delay in the execution of John William Hummel, who had been scheduled to die on Wednesday for the 2009 stabbing of his pregnant wife, Joy Hummel, 45, and fatal bludgeoning of his father-in-law, Clyde Bedford, 57, with a baseball bat.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday declared a state of emergency, ordering schools closed until April 3, banning dine-in eating at restaurants, and ordering bars and gyms to close. Abbott said state government would remain open.

The order also banned public gatherings of 10 or more people, which could have affected the state’s ability to carry out executions, which involve a number of people, including correctional officers, attorneys, physicians, and family members or friends of the inmates and victims.


A federal appeals court is ordering a U.S. district judge in New Mexico to reconsider a case involving a fight over critical habitat for the endangered jaguar in the American Southwest.

Groups representing ranchers had sued, arguing that a 2014 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to set aside thousands of acres for the cats was arbitrary and violated the statute that guides wildlife managers in determining whether certain areas are essential for the conservation of a species.

With the order released this week, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an earlier ruling that had sided with the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Jaguars are currently found in 19 countries. Several individual male jaguars have been spotted in Arizona and New Mexico over the last two decades but there's no evidence of breeding pairs establishing territories beyond northern Mexico.

Shrinking habitats, insufficient prey, poaching and retaliatory killings over livestock deaths are some of the things that have contributed to the jaguar’s decline in the Southwest over the past 150 years.

Under a recovery plan finalized last year, Mexico as well as countries in Central and South America would be primarily responsible for monitoring jaguar movements within their territory. Environmentalists have criticized the plan, saying the U.S. government is overlooking opportunities for recovery north of the international border.



The New Mexico Game and Fish Department has been ordered to release information about hunters to individuals who sought the records as part of separate court cases.

A state district judge is ordering the agency to turn over the names and addresses of those who won big game draws between 2015 and 2019 to a Los Alamos County resident who had petitioned the court for the information.

In the second case, the state Court of Appeals said the email addresses of individuals who applied for hunting licenses between 2015 and 2016 must be turned over to former Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn.

The agency said Thursday that both courts concluded that information collected from the public in connection with the administration of the agency's public duties fall within the definition of public records and are subject to disclosure.

“The department argued against the release, but ultimately lost,” Game and Fish Director Michael Sloane said. “We value the privacy of our customers’ personal information but recognize that is the courts' interpretation of the current IPRA law.”

The department said it wanted to notify its customers that the information was being released and offered the number of the state attorney general's complaint hotline in case anyone is harassed by solicitors or others as a result of the disclosure.

In 2017, Dunn had requested the names and email addresses of more than 300,000 applicants for New Mexico hunting licenses. James Whitehead of Los Alamos had requested draw results, names and addresses of all successful applicants and units applied for and units drawn.


Three people who planned to attend political and religious events are challenging New Hampshire's statewide ban on gatherings of 50 people or more to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

David Binford, Eric Couture and Holly Rae Beene filed a lawsuit Tuesday, the day after Republican Gov. Chris Sununu issued the order. They argue that there is no emergency and that the governor is violating their constitutional rights.

A spokesman for Sununu said Thursday that the order is consistent with actions taken across the country and is clearly within the governor's authority.  A hearing is scheduled for Friday.


Illinois Supreme Court Justice P. Scott Neville Jr. has won the primary election to keep his seat on the state’s highest court, emerging from a field of a six other Democrats.

No Republicans ran, making him the presumed winner in November for the 10-year term.

Democrat Charles Freeman, who died earlier this month at 86, held the post from 1990 to 2018, when he retired. He was the court’s first black judge. Neville, who is black, was appointed to complete the term. He was formerly an Illinois First District Appellate Court justice, “Illinois’ population is diverse, and our courts, at all levels, should reflect our diversity,” Neville said in a Wednesday statement. “I applaud Cook County’s voters because your votes indicate that you are committed to diversity.”

The other challengers included five 1st District appellate justices: Cynthia V. Cobbs, Shelly A. Harris, Nathaniel Roosevelt Howse, Margaret Stanton McBride and Jesse G. Reyes. Also running was former private-practice attorney Daniel Epstein.

Neville was in the lead late Tuesday with Reyes trailing him, but the race was too close for The Associated Press to call.

In the other Supreme Court race, David K. Overstreet defeated state appellate court colleague John Barberis Jr. for the Republican nomination in the southern Illinois district held by retiring Republican Justice Lloyd Karmeier. In November, Overstreet faces another appellate court justice, Judy Cates, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary.


A would-be candidate for a seat on Georgia's highest court on Wednesday asked the state's lower appeals court to step in after a judge this week said the governor had the right to fill the position even though a judge who's resigning won't leave until November.

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Keith Blackwell, whose six-year term ends in December, told Gov. Brian Kemp last month that he planned to resign but would remain on the bench until Nov. 18. Kemp's office then told Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger that the Republican governor intended to fill the seat by appointment, and Raffensperger canceled the scheduled May 19 election for the position.

John Barrow, a former Democratic congressman from Athens, and former Republican state lawmaker Beth Beskin of Atlanta had both planned to challenge Blackwell. They filed separate lawsuits in Fulton County Superior Court saying the election had been illegally canceled and asking a judge to order Raffensperger to put it back on the calendar and allow candidates to qualify.

Judge Emily Richardson on Monday ruled that according to the Georgia Constitution and state law, Blackwell's seat became vacant Feb. 26, when Kemp signed a letter accepting the justice's resignation. Raffensperger was no longer required to hold an election for the seat once the governor signaled his intent to appoint someone to fill it, she wrote.

Even though the effective date of Blackwell’s resignation is after the May election, it is still within his current term, which ends Dec. 31, meaning Kemp has the authority under the state Constitution to fill the vacancy by appointment, Richardson wrote.

Barrow on Wednesday filed an emergency request with the Georgia Court of Appeals, arguing that Richardson was wrong and asking the court to take up the case. Beskin's lawyer, Cary Ichter, said in an email that they intend to do the same on Thursday.

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