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Orrin G. Hatch, the longest-serving Republican senator in history who was a fixture in Utah politics for more than four decades, died Saturday at age 88.

His death was announced in a statement from his foundation, which did not specify a cause.

A staunch conservative on most economic and social issues, he also teamed with Democrats several times during his long career on issues ranging from stem cell research to rights for people with disabilities to expanding children’s health insurance. He also formed friendships across the aisle, particularly with the late Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

Hatch also championed GOP issues like abortion limits and helped shape the U.S. Supreme Court, including defending Justice Clarence Thomas against sexual harassment allegations during confirmation hearings.

He later became an ally of Republican President Donald Trump, using his role as chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee to get a major rewrite of the U.S. tax codes to the president’s desk. In return, Trump helped Hatch deliver on a key issue for Republicans in Utah with a contentious move to drastically downsize two national monuments that had been declared by past presidents.


Shirley Troutman, a judge on New York’s highest court, was working last week when her daughter texted messages that included a clapping hands emoji. Soon, her phone was buzzing with other celebratory messages. The applause and the excitement was for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who last week was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court and will become its first Black female justice.

Jackson will become the court’s 116th member. That’s special for Troutman, who is the 116th member of her court too.

“As a judge, as a Black woman, I am extremely proud and wish her the best,” said Troutman, who took her seat earlier this year and is the second Black woman to serve on her court. She said she cried “tears of joy” Thursday when Jackson was confirmed.

Troutman is among 17 Black women and 14 Black men currently serving on their state’s highest court, according to the Brennan Center for Justice in New York, which has tracked diversity on those courts. A majority of the women joined the bench within the last five years and, like Jackson, shattered a barrier, becoming the first Black woman on their state’s high court. In interviews, some of those women described not only their own delight at Jackson’s confirmation but also suggested there’s more work to be done to make America’s courts more reflective of its citizens.


Nine people have applied for an open West Virginia Supreme Court seat.

Gov. Jim Justice’s office says the applicants are C. Haley Bunn; Nicole A. Cofer; Robert J. Frank; Gregory Howard Jr.; Charles O. Lorensen; Kristina D. Raynes; James J. Rowe; Mark A. Sorsaia; and Joanna I. Tabit.

Bunn practices with Steptoe & Johnson PLLC in Charleston. Cofer is a traffic safety resources prosecutor with the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorneys Institute. Frank has a Lewisburg law firm.

Howard is a Cabell County Circuit Court judge. Lorensen is a member of Kay Casto & Chaney PLLC in Charleston and a one-time chief of staff to former Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

Raynes is a Putnam County assistant prosecutor. Rowe is a senior status judge retired from Greenbrier County circuit court. Sorsaia is Putnam County’s prosecuting attorney. Tabit is a Kanawha County circuit court judge.

Former Justice Evan Jenkins resigned last month to return to private practice.

The governor’s office says a judicial commission will interview candidates in the coming weeks and recommend finalists to him.

A bill awaiting Justice’s signature would let the appointee first face election when Jenkins’ term is up in 2024, rather than holding a special election in November.

Justices are elected to 12-year terms.


South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Raymond Zondo as the country’s new chief justice.

Ramaphosa also said Thursday that Mandisa Maya will be deputy chief justice, the first Black female in that position.

The chief justice is the highest-ranking member of South Africa’s judiciary and also heads the highest court in the country, the Constitutional Court.

Zondo, 61, has been the acting chief justice since the retirement of his predecessor Mogoeng Mogoeng last year.

Zondo is also the chairman of the commission investigating wide-ranging allegations of corruption during former President Jacob Zuma’s rule from 2009 to 2018. The commission has released three damning reports detailing extensive corruption in the country during Zuma’s time as president. It is expected the reports will lead to criminal charges being filed against several former high-ranking officials.

Maya is currently the Judge President of South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal. She appeared to be the frontrunner for the chief justice position, having been recommended by the Judicial Service Commission following lengthy interviews, but Ramaphosa decided instead to name Zondo to the position.


Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced the appointments of two judges to the state’s highest court on Thursday.

Harford County Circuit Court Judge Angela Eaves has been appointed to the Maryland Court of Appeals. Eaves, who is the first Hispanic judge appointed to the court, has been nominated to succeed Judge Robert McDonald upon his mandatory retirement later this month.

Hogan also announced the appointment of Judge Matthew Fader, of Howard County, to the Court of Appeals. Fader is currently the chief judge of the Court of Special Appeals, Maryland’s intermediate-appellate court. He has been appointed to succeed Judge Joseph Getty upon his mandatory retirement in April.

The Republican governor also announced that Court of Special Appeals Judge E. Gregory Wells will serve as the new chief judge of that court.

In addition, Hogan appointed Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Anne Albright to fill the seat that will open on the Court of Special Appeals with Fader’s departure.


Lani Guinier, a civil rights lawyer and scholar whose nomination by President Bill Clinton to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division was pulled after conservatives criticized her views on correcting racial discrimination, has died. She was 71.

Guinier died Friday, Harvard Law School Dean John F. Manning said in a message to students and faculty. Her cousin, Sherrie Russell-Brown, said in an email that the cause was complications due to Alzheimer’s disease.

Guinier became the first woman of color appointed to a tenured professorship at Harvard law school when she joined the faculty in 1998. Before that she was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s law school. She had previously headed the voting rights project at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the 1980s and served during President Jimmy Carter’s administration in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, which she was later nominated to head.

“I have always wanted to be a civil rights lawyer. This lifelong ambition is based on a deep-seated commitment to democratic fair play — to playing by the rules as long as the rules are fair. When the rules seem unfair, I have worked to change them, not subvert them,” she wrote in her 1994 book, “Tyranny of the Majority: Fundamental Fairness in Representative Democracy.”

Clinton, who knew Guinier going back to when they both attended Yale’s law school, nominated her to the Justice Department post in 1993. But Guinier, who wrote as a law professor about ways to remedy racial discrimination, came under fire from conservative critics who called her views extreme and labeled her “quota queen.” Guinier said that label was untrue, that she didn’t favor quotas or even write about them, and that her views had been mischaracterized.

Clinton, in withdrawing her nomination, said he hadn’t read her academic writing before nominating her and would not have done so if he had.


The only person convicted in the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher was freed Tuesday after serving most of his 16-year prison sentence, his lawyer said.

Attorney Fabrizio Ballarini said Rudy Guede’s planned Jan. 4 release had been moved up a few weeks by a judge and he was freed on Tuesday. He will continue to work in the library at the Viterbo-based Center for Criminology Studies, Ballarini said in an email.

Guede had already been granted permission to leave prison during the day to work at the center while he served his sentence for the 2007 murder of 21-year-old Kercher.

The case in the university city of Perugia gained international notoriety after Kercher’s American roommate, Amanda Knox, and Knox’s then-boyfriend were placed under suspicion. Both were initially convicted, but Italy’s highest court threw out the convictions in 2015 after a series of flip-flop decisions.

Guede was originally convicted in a fast-track trial procedure. He has denied killing Kercher.

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