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The Michigan Supreme Court has given new life to a lawsuit by a Flint police officer who says he was put on road patrol in a dangerous area because he criticized how tax dollars were spent.
 
The court reversed a decision by the state appeals court and sent Kevin Smith's case back to a Genesee County judge.

Smith was a full-time police union president until Flint's emergency manager eliminated the position in 2012. He says he later got in trouble when he criticized how Flint was spending a special property tax for public safety.

In an order Friday, the Supreme Court says Smith has sufficiently alleged discrimination under Michigan's whistleblower law on the basis of a job reassignment during undesirable hours at an undesirable location.



President Donald Trump has nominated Neil Gorsuch, a fast-rising conservative judge with a writer's flair, to the Supreme Court, setting up a fierce fight with Democrats over a jurist who could shape America's legal landscape for decades to come.

At 49, Gorsuch is the youngest Supreme Court nominee in a quarter-century. He's known on the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals for clear, colloquial writing, advocacy for court review of government regulations, defense of religious freedom and skepticism toward law enforcement.

"Judge Gorsuch has outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline and has earned bipartisan support," Trump declared, announcing the nomination in his first televised prime-time address from the White House.

Gorsuch's nomination Tuesday was cheered by conservatives wary of Trump's own fluid ideology. If confirmed by the Senate, he would fill the seat left vacant by the death last year of Antonin Scalia, long the right's most powerful voice on the high court.

With Scalia's wife, Maureen, sitting in the audience, Trump took care to praise the late justice. Gorsuch followed, calling Scalia a "lion of the law."

Gorsuch thanked Trump for entrusting him with "a most solemn assignment." Outlining his legal philosophy, he said: "It is the rule of judges to apply, not alter, the work of the people's representatives. A judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge."

Some Democrats, still smarting over Trump's unexpected victory in the presidential election, have vowed to mount a vigorous challenge to nearly any nominee to what they view as the court's "stolen seat." President Barack Obama nominated U.S. Circuit Court Judge Merrick Garland for the vacancy after Scalia's death, but Senate Republicans refused to consider the pick, saying the seat should be filled only after the November election.



A court in Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday upheld a life sentence for an ethnic Uzbek journalist in a case that has drawn international criticism.

Azimzhan Askarov was convicted in 2010 for stirring up ethnic hatred, a charge related to ethnic unrest in the south of Kyrgyzstan in 2010 when more than 450 people, mostly ethnic Uzbeks, were killed and tens or even hundreds of thousands were displaced.

The majority of those convicted for taking part in the deadly clashes have been ethnic Uzbeks.

Askarov, who can appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court, shouted out after Tuesday's decision that he would go on hunger strike in protest.

Askarov's case was sent for review last year after the U.N. Human Rights Committee in April urged Kyrgyzstan to release him, finding that he had been arbitrarily detained, tortured and denied his right to a fair trial.

Askarov's lawyer, Tolekan Ismailov, told reporters that his client would appeal the ruling, which he dismissed as unlawful.

Askarov had been documenting human rights violations by the police and prison authorities in his hometown near the Uzbek border for more than 10 years before he was arrested in 2010.



The Supreme Court will hear a case in which people arrested for having a party in a vacant house sued police for violating their constitutional rights and won.

The justices said Thursday they will review lower court rulings in favor of 16 people who gathered in a house in Washington about three miles east of the nation's Capitol for a party.

Police arrested the group after no one could identify whose house it was, some said it was a birthday party and others said it was a bachelor party. No one could identify the guest of honor. Several women were scantily clad, with money hanging out of their garter belts. The officers said that the scene resembled a strip club, according to court papers.

Several of the partygoers said someone named "Peaches" gave them permission to have the party.

But when an officer later contacted the purported owner of the home, he denied having given anyone permission to have a party.

The group was arrested for trespassing, a charge later changed to disorderly conduct and then dropped altogether. But the 16 people sued for false arrest and were awarded $680,000.

The issue for the court is whether the officers had sufficient reason to arrest the group for trespassing. The court also will determine whether the officers should be shielded from liability even if their actions are found to violate the law.

A panel of the federal appeals court in Washington upheld the judgment, but four other judges on the court said that the officers should have been protected, citing a string of Supreme Court decisions.



The Indiana Supreme Court has publicly reprimanded Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson for a conflict of interest in a triple-murder case but declined to suspend him as its disciplinary commission suggested.

The court ruled Friday that Henderson violated rules of professional conduct by simultaneously representing the state in the prosecution of David Camm and pursuing a book deal in the case in which the former Indiana state trooper was accused of killing his wife, Kimberly, and their two children in the fall of 2000. After his first two convictions were reversed on appeal, Camm was acquitted in a third trial in fall 2013.

"The violation is serious and adversely affected the administration of justice in this case," the court wrote. "However, noting (Henderson's) misconduct occurred in connection with a single, unusual case and is an aberration from what otherwise has been a long and distinguished career as a public servant, we conclude a suspension is not warranted in this case."


The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission formally asked for Henderson to be suspended in October.

After Camm's defense team learned of Henderson's plans to write a book, they asked that he be removed from the case, court records show. The request was denied initially but later granted on appeal by the Supreme Court.

The disciplinary commission, which investigates claims of misconduct against licensed attorneys including prosecutors, filed a complaint against Henderson in March 2016 alleging he violated rules of conduct when he signed an agreement with a literary agency to produce a book about the Camm trials.


A Massachusetts woman accused of sending her boyfriend text messages encouraging him to kill himself is due in court for a pretrial hearing.

Michelle Carter is charged with manslaughter in the 2014 death of Conrad Roy III. The 18-year-old Roy died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Prosecutors say the then-17-year-old Carter had sent him dozens of messages urging him to follow through on his suicide plan.

Earlier this month, Carter’s attorney asked a judge for funds to hire an expert to explain the effects of an antidepressant to a jury at Carter’s trial. The judge denied the request.

Carter’s lawyer said both teens were taking an antidepressant that has a warning that it may cause suicidal thoughts.

Carter’s lawyer said he may make additional arguments at a hearing scheduled for Monday.


The Supreme Court won't take up an appeal from a Native American church in Hawaii that wants to be exempt from federal marijuana laws.
 
The justice on Monday let stand a lower court ruling that said laws banning the possession and distribution of cannabis don't interfere with church members' right to exercise their religion.

The Oklevueha Native American Church of Hawaii filed a lawsuit in 2009 asking for relief from marijuana laws under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The church's leader claims his members use marijuana during sweat lodge ceremonies to help regain their relationship with their creator.

A district court ruled that the church didn't produce enough evidence about its religion other than a strong belief in the benefits of marijuana. A federal appeals court upheld that ruling.


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