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As COVID-19 cases continue rising across the state of Georgia, the court system in one of its counties has decided to pause jury trials.

Cobb County Superior Court Judge Robert D. Leonard issued an order Monday to cancel trial jurors through Jan. 21, WSB-TV reported.

“I did not make this decision lightly,” Leonard said. “We must keep in mind that jury service compels people of all walks of life, with all health conditions and vaccination status to attend court. Additionally, the likelihood of successfully getting through a lengthy jury trial when our community spread is at this record level is slim.”

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, 11,902 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Cobb County in the last two weeks.

Jury trials across Georgia were paused for much of the pandemic. Trials in Cobb County ultimately resumed last April.

Leonard also said that the State Court of Cobb County will be undertaking the same measures.

Grand jury proceedings will not be affected.


A federal trial set for January on litigation challenging North Carolina’s voter photo identification law has been delayed while the U.S. Supreme Court weighs whether legislative leaders should be permitted to help defend the law in court.

The Supreme Court said last month it would consider the request of House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger to formally step in to the case and defend the 2018 law along with state government attorneys.

The lawsuit was previously scheduled to go to trial in Winston-Salem on Jan. 24. In an order issued Thursday, presiding U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs said it makes sense to delay the start to avoid further confusion over voter ID. Otherwise, a Supreme Court ruling favoring GOP legislators could require a repeal trial.

“While the court is mindful that parties have been preparing for trial, there is no reason that such preparation must go to waste,” Biggs wrote. No new starting date was set.

Berger and Moore have argued that state attorneys led by Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, have not adequately represented the state to defend the law. Biggs and the full U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals have rejected the GOP leaders’ requests.


Democratic members of the bipartisan redistricting commission submitted a legal brief on Monday opposing Republican efforts to have the Connecticut state Supreme Court reconsider its choice for a special master charged with redrawing the state’s congressional district boundaries.

The court-appointed expert became necessary after the redistricting panel could not reach agreement on how to redraw the congressional districts and ultimately missed its deadline.

The top four Democrats in the General Assembly said Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford University law professor, is “eminently qualified” to serve in the role. They called him ”one of the nation’s “preeminent scholars on election law, election administration, voting rights, and redistricting” and that the court’s confidence he’ll be impartial is “well-founded,” despite concerns raised by the GOP.

Hours after the court last week announced Persily as the special master, the four Republican commission members issued a brief calling for him to be replaced with two special masters — one recommended by the Republicans and one by the Democrats — in order “to preserve the public’s confidence in the fairness of the redistricting process.”

The court has not yet responded to the GOP’s motion for reconsideration.

The Republicans noted that Persily’s name was not on the list of three possible special masters they had submitted for the court to consider. However, he was mentioned publicly by Democratic Senate President Martin Looney as someone the Democrats would recommend to the court. Ultimately, the Democrats did not submit any names. The Democrats, however, said the mention of Persily in a news article is not the same as formally submitting his name for consideration.


The Michigan Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a challenge to whether a new state commission creating maps for the Legislature and Congress can keep certain business a secret.

News organizations are suing to get access to a recording of a closed meeting and some memos at the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. The commission has refused, citing attorney-client privilege.

Voters in 2018 created the commission through an amendment to the state constitution, taking the job of mapmaking out of the hands of politicians. More than 130 hearings have been open to the public.

On Oct. 27, the commission met privately for 75 minutes after receiving public feedback about draft maps. The memos at issue involved federal voting law and the impact of discrimination on elections.

“Trying to figure out how to draw the lines around” attorney-client privilege “feels very tricky and a job I wish the constitution had given to someone besides us,” Chief Justice Bridget McCormack said.

Attorney Kurtis Wilder, arguing on behalf of news organizations, said the task of making maps was radically changed by voters.

“What used to be done in secret the public wanted done in the open,” he said.

An attorney for the commission, David Fink, said data and materials used in creating maps must be made public. He argued that the memos withheld from the public don’t fit.

“For this court to micromanage what the commission does on a day-to-day basis seems to be outside the realm of practical experience and constitutional intent,” Fink told the Supreme Court.

Commissioners will meet Dec. 28 to vote on final maps. There are four U.S. House options, three state House options and three state Senate options that were collaboratively drawn.


A state panel agreed Monday to spend nearly $2 million to settle two federal lawsuits brought against the University of Iowa in 2017 after a religious group denied a gay student a leadership role.

The Iowa State Appeal Board, made up of Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, Auditor Rob Sand and Department of Management Director Kraig Paulsen, approved the court ordered settlements.

Lawyers for the student group Business Leaders in Christ were awarded $1.37 million in fees and costs for litigating the case. A second student group, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, won their federal court case and will be paid $20,000 in damages and about $513,000 in attorney fees.

The monetary amounts were negotiated between the university and the plaintiffs in both cases and approved by a federal judge. Monday’s approval by the State Appeal Board authorizes the state to make the payments.

Both cases stem from actions the University of Iowa took after a gay student said he was turned down for a leadership role in Business Leaders in Christ because he would not accept the group’s position that marriage must be between only a man and a woman. After the student alleged violations of his civil rights, the university reviewed student organizations’ compliance with civil rights and began delisting some organizations that school officials said failed to comply.

The two Christian groups were delisted and sued the university. Both won judgments that the university had violated their constitutional rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion. The university appealed and the lower court decisions were upheld by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.


Members of the United Auto Workers union have overwhelmingly approved picking their leaders by direct ballot elections, rejecting a system that many blamed for a bribery and embezzlement scandal in the union’s top ranks.

The “one member, one vote” measure got about 64% of 140,586 valid ballots that were received by Monday’s mail-in deadline.

Only about 36% favored the current system of leadership picked by delegates to a convention, according to results released Thursday.

The results are not official until approved by the Labor Department and a federal judge.

A court-appointed monitor will develop rules and oversee the election of the union’s 13-member International Executive Board, which includes the president, three vice presidents, secretary-treasurer and regional directors. All current board members including President Ray Curry are expected to run.

The monitor, Neil Barofsky, said Thursday in a statement that the election is likely to take place in the summer or fall of next year.


New York City schools have been temporarily blocked from enforcing a vaccine mandate for its teachers and other workers by a federal appeals judge just days before it was to take effect.

Workers in the nation’s largest school system were to be required to show vaccination proof starting Monday. But late Friday, a judge for the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary injunction sought by a group of teachers pending review by a three-judge panel, which will take up the motion Wednesday.

Department of Education spokesperson Danielle Filson said officials were seeking a speedy resolution in court.

“We’re confident our vaccine mandate will continue to be upheld once all the facts have been presented, because that is the level of protection our students and staff deserve,” Filson said in an email.

The New York Post reported that the department sent an email to principals Saturday morning saying they “should continue to prepare for the possibility that the vaccine mandate will go into effect later in the week.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in August that about 148,000 school employees would have to get at least a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination by Sept. 27. The policy covers teachers, along with other staffers, such as custodians and cafeteria workers.

It’s the first no-test-option vaccination mandate for a broad group of city workers in the nation’s most populous city. And it mirrors a similar statewide mandate for hospital and nursing home workers set to go into effect Monday.

As of Friday, 82% of department employees have been vaccinated, including 88% of teachers.

Even though most school workers have been vaccinated, unions representing New York City principals and teachers warned that could still leave the 1 million-student school system short of as many as 10,000 teachers, along with other staffers.

De Blasio has resisted calls to delay the mandate, insisting the city was ready.

“We’ve been planning all along. We have a lot of substitutes ready,” the Democrat said in a radio interview on Friday. “A lot is going to happen between now and Monday but beyond that, we are ready, even to the tune of, if we need thousands, we have thousands.”

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