courts

Fraud
8:59 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Venezuelan Hedge Fund Manager Gets 13 Years in Prison for Connecticut Fraud Scheme

Kuzma/iStock Thinkstock

A Venezuelan hedge fund manager has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for running a massive Connecticut-based investment fraud scheme that involved hundreds of millions of dollars.

Francisco Illarramendi  expressed remorse during his sentencing Thursday in federal court in Bridgeport. He pleaded guilty to several fraud and conspiracy charges four years ago in what federal prosecutors have called their biggest white-collar criminal case ever in Connecticut.

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Wrongful Imprisonment
8:02 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Wrongfully Incarcerated Connecticut Man Is Now $6 Million Richer

Kenneth Ireland will receive $6 million compensation from the state.
Credit Connecticut Innocence Project

The state of Connecticut has awarded $6 million to a man who was wrongfully imprisoned. Kenneth Ireland served more than two decades in prison --- for a rape and murder that he did not commit.

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Courts
5:51 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Study Finds Court Fees Also Punish The Families Of Those Who Owe

David Silva, who owed about $30,000 in court fines and fees, says that a lot of his financial burden fell on his family and friends.
Courtesy of Emily Dalton

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 7:57 pm

A new report on the growth of court fines and fees that are charged to often-impoverished offenders is focusing on another group that pays: their families.

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Marathon Trial
4:43 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Jury Selection Resumes in Tsarnaev Trial; Attorneys Argue, Venue Change Unlikely

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Voice of America

A federal prosecutor in the trial of accused Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has accused a defense lawyer of trying to "encourage" a hung jury. 

It's the latest turn in the jury selection phase, which has already taken much longer than expected.

Judge George O'Toole Jr. had set last Monday as the date for opening statements, but he has yet to seat a jury of 12 to hear the case. The trial resumed Thursday after two days of delay because of a massive snowfall in the Boston area.

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Journalism
9:56 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Connecticut Woman's Libel Claims Dismissed in Federal Appeals Court

A New York ceremonial courtroom.
Credit Douglas Palmer / Creative Commons

A New York federal appeals court has rejected a Connecticut woman's claims that media outlets libeled her by refusing to delete stories about her arrest after charges were dismissed.

The ruling by the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals pertained to the August 2010 arrest of Lorraine Martin. The court said her arrest's deletion from legal records doesn't make news accounts of the arrest false or misleading.

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Boston
4:41 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

Accused Bomber's Lawyers Say Boston Jury Pool Is Too Biased

A memorial at the site of the first explosion in the Boston Marathon bombing. Defense attorneys say too many people in the potential jury pool have some kind of personal connection to the case.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 9:58 pm

The search for jurors in the case of accused Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is taking longer than expected.

Defense attorneys say it's nearly impossible to find open-minded, unbiased jurors around Boston. They're asking yet again for the judge to move the trial somewhere else.

From the beginning, defense attorneys have argued the entire jury pool has been poisoned by what they call "a narrative of guilt" from a "tidal wave" of media coverage. Now, Tsarnaev's lawyers say jurors' own comments on a court questionnaire prove widespread bias.

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Injury
9:24 am
Fri January 23, 2015

Former WWE Fighters Suing Over Alleged Brain Damage

WWE fighter Bray Wyatt, "The Eater Of Worlds," jumps on fighter "Dean Ambrose."
Courtesy of WWE

Originally published on Fri January 23, 2015 7:12 pm

Updated at 8:30 a.m. ET on Jan. 23.

Two former World Wrestling Entertainment fighters are suing the company, alleging that it ignored signs of brain damage and injuries.

The lawsuit, dated Jan. 16, was filed by Vito "Big Vito" LoGrasso and Evan Singleton, who wrestled under the name "Adam Mercer."

The suit alleges that LoGrasso has sustained serious neurological damage as a result of wrestling. He says he has headaches, memory loss, depression and hearing impairment. Singleton also says he has tremors, convulsions and migraines.

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Massachusetts Gaming
10:16 am
Thu January 22, 2015

Mohegans Join Lawsuit Against Massachusetts Regulators

Mohegan Sun's proposed design for its license bid at Suffolk Downs racetrack.
Credit Mohegan Sun

Mohegan Sun is joining a lawsuit against the Massachusetts Gaming Commission after the decision last year to award Greater Boston’s casino license to a rival. 

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Thu January 22, 2015

After Connecticut Teen Undergoes Chemotherapy, Questions on Informed Consent for Minors

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that a 17-year-old cancer patient must continue chemotherapy treatment.
Linus Ekenstam Creative Commons

The story of Cassandra C, 17, dominated national headlines after she refused treatment for a curable cancer. The Connecticut Supreme Court agreed with a lower court decision that the Department of Children and Families can retain temporary custody of the girl, and force her to undergo chemotherapy. We hear from Cassandra's attorney about next steps for her.

We also talk with medical experts about informed consent. Should Cassandra and other minor patients like her be forced to undergo treatment?

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Supreme Court
1:03 am
Tue January 20, 2015

Should Judicial Candidates Be Allowed To Solicit Campaign Money?

Judge Adrian Adams is helped with his robe by his daughters during a robing ceremony Friday in Gretna, La. Adams won a race for 24th Judicial District Court in November behind a campaign that raised a modest $22,350, including several four-figure donations from attorneys and law firms. Louisiana law, like Florida law, bars judicial candidates from personally soliciting campaign contributions.
Brett Duke The Times-Picayune/Landov

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 8:56 am

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in a case testing whether states, in the name of preserving judicial impartiality, may bar judicial candidates from personally soliciting campaign contributions.

There was a time when judicial elections were a pretty tame affair, with relatively little money spent, and candidates in most states limited in how they could campaign. Not anymore.

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Environment
11:01 am
Mon January 19, 2015

New Justice Department Environment Chief Takes Helm Of Gulf Spill Case

Cruden ranks the Gulf oil spill as one of the most significant environmental disasters of our time. It "deserves ... all of our energy to make sure nothing like this ever happens again," he says.
Gerald Herbert AP

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 7:37 am

John Cruden served with U.S. Special Forces in Vietnam, taking his law school aptitude test in Saigon and eventually becoming a government lawyer.

Earlier this month, he started a new job running the environment and natural resources division at the Justice Department. For Cruden, 68, the new role means coming home to a place where he worked as a career lawyer for about 20 years.

Cruden has been around long enough to have supervised the Exxon Valdeez spill case, a record-setter. That is, until the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

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Bridgeport
4:00 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Federal Jury Clears Bridgeport Officer in Suspect's Beating

J J Creative Commons

A Bridgeport police officer has been acquitted of civil rights violations charges in the beating of a suspect captured on video.

 The Connecticut Post reports that a U.S. District Court jury cleared Clive Higgins Wednesday of wrongdoing in the May 20, 2011, beating of Orlando Lopez-Soto in Beardsley Park. "I never stopped praying," said Higgins, who had been suspended.

Scot X. Esdaile, state president of the NAACP, called the verdict a miscarriage of justice.

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Minnesota
1:41 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Archdiocese Of St. Paul-Minneapolis Files Chapter 11

St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt speaks at his office in St. Paul, Minn., in a photo taken in July. Nienstedt announced Friday that the archdiocese was filing for bankruptcy following more than a dozen claims from alleged sexual abuse victims.
Craig Lassig AP

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has become the 12th U.S. diocese forced into bankruptcy by claims from alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse.

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Juvenile Arrests
8:44 am
Thu January 15, 2015

Behavior Program Leads to Fewer Connecticut Kids in Court

Jeff Vanderploeg, vice president for mental health initiatives at the Child Health and Development Institute, discusses a behavior intervention strategy at the State Capitol on Tuesday.
David DesRoches

Nate Quesnel, the superintendent of schools in East Hartford, told a story about a student sitting in the back of the classroom, a wool cap pulled over his eyebrows, his faced glued to a cell phone, his fingers attacking the screen in a gaming frenzy.

"Right away, I recoiled inside," Quesnel said. "I felt embarrassed." He was embarrassed because at the time, an executive from Xerox was presenting the students with information on job skills, including how to act during an interview.

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Courts
11:30 am
Wed January 14, 2015

State Supreme Court to Rule on "Arsenic and Old Lace" Records

Amy Archer-Gilligan in 1901.
Credit Creative Commons

The Connecticut Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday morning in a case over the historical records of Amy Archer Gilligan, a killer who served as the inspiration for the play and 1944 movie, "Arsenic and Old Lace."

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Conspiracy Case
3:01 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Key Player in Former Gov. Rowland Conspiracy Case Sentenced to Probation

Brian Foley outside the New Haven federal courthouse in a file photo.
Credit Jeff Cohen / WNPR

A Connecticut businessman who admitted conspiring to hide payments from his wife's congressional campaign to former Connecticut Governor John Rowland has been sentenced to three years' probation, including three months in a halfway house. 

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Courts
2:23 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

British Imam Convicted In U.S. Of Terrorism Charges Gets Life

Abu Hamza al-Masri, also known as Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, at a 2002 fundamentalist Islamic conference in London, where he condemned what he called oppression of Muslims in the West. Masri was sentenced Friday in U.S. court to life in prison on terrorism-related charges.
Alistair Fuller AP

Originally published on Fri January 9, 2015 3:04 pm

Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, who was convicted eight months ago of federal terrorism-related charges in New York, has been sentenced to life in prison.

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Medical Decisions
2:51 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Connecticut Supreme Court: Teen Can't Refuse Chemotherapy

Jackie Fortin, at center, is Cassandra C's mother, pictured with attorneys James Sexton, Mike Taylor and Cassandra's attorney, Joshua Michtom
Lucy Nalpathanchil WNPR

In a swift ruling on Thursday, the Connecticut Supreme Court decided that a teen recently diagnosed with cancer can't refuse life-saving chemotherapy.

According to the ruling, state officials are not violating the teen's rights by forcing her to undergo chemotherapy treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma. The teen, known as Cassandra C, will be free to make her own medical decisions when she turns 18 in September.

For the past month, Cassandra has been held at a local hospital, undergoing chemotherapy treatment against her wishes. Doctors said chemotherapy would give her an 85 percent chance of survival and without the treatment, she could die.

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Medical Decisions
7:56 am
Thu January 8, 2015

Can Connecticut Force A Teenage Girl To Undergo Chemotherapy?

Jackie Fortin's daughter, Cassandra, last summer.
Courtesy of Jackie Fortin

Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 5:58 pm

Update at 3:05 ET: The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday afternoon that the state can require Cassandra to continue treatment.

Her mother, Jackie Fortin, said she's disappointed by the decision. "She knows I love her and I'm going to keep fighting for her because this is her decision," Fortin said. "I know more than anyone, more than DCF, that my daughter is old enough, mature enough to make a decision. If she wasn't, I'd be making that decision."

Here's our original story, reported Thursday morning:

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Cassandra C
8:57 am
Wed January 7, 2015

Connecticut Court to Hear Case of Teen Refusing Chemotherapy

Connecticut Supreme Court in Hartford.
Diane Orson WNPR

The Connecticut Supreme Court will decide whether state officials were right to force a 17-year-old girl to undergo chemotherapy against her and her mother's wishes. 

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Supreme Court
8:50 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Obama Administration Downplays Court Challenge To Health Law

Elisa Carrero assists Julian Gauiria, of Paterson, N.J., with enrollment in the health insurance exchange in November. Signups continue to be brisk, health officials say.
Tyson Trish North Jersey/Landov

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 10:24 am

This time last year, federal officials were scrambling to get as many people enrolled in health insurance through HealthCare.gov as they could before the start of the program on Jan. 1.

Now, with the technical problems mostly fixed, they're facing a different problem: the possibility that the Supreme Court might rule that the subsidies that help people afford coverage are illegal in the 37 states where the federal government is running the program.

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Serial Podcast
1:12 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

Serial Host Sarah Koenig Says She Set Out To Report, Not Exonerate

The Serial podcast is Sarah Koenig's reinvestigation of the murder of Hae Min Lee, a Maryland high school student who was strangled in 1999. Lee was found in Baltimore's Leakin Park. Her schoolmate and ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed was convicted of the murder and is serving a life sentence.
Courtesy of Serial

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 6:32 pm

Sarah Koenig didn't expect her new podcast, Serial, to get so much press, but she says the attention helped keep her on her toes: "It was just a constant reminder of how careful we needed to be," Koenig tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

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Tax Evasion
11:41 am
Tue December 23, 2014

New York's Rep. Michael Grimm Pleads Guilty To Tax Charge

Rep. Michael Grimm, seen here after voting in the Staten Island borough of New York City, was indicted on 20 criminal counts earlier this year.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 2:49 pm

Rep. Michael Grimm, the New York Republican who won re-election despite being indicted on 20 criminal counts related to a restaurant he owns, pleaded guilty to one charge of felony tax evasion Tuesday. He'll be sentenced in June; calls for him to leave Congress began Tuesday morning.

Grimm, a former FBI agent who represents Staten Island and south Brooklyn, had previously pleaded not guilty to charges that included mail fraud and perjury.

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Metro-North
9:01 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Engineer Files Lawsuit Over Train Derailment

A 2013 Metro-North train derailment in Bridgeport injured 65 commuters.
Credit NTSB

A second Metro-North engineer has filed a federal negligence lawsuit against the railroad as a result of the May 2013 derailment in Bridgeport that injured dozens of people. 

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Bushmaster
5:31 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Newtown Lawsuit Aims to Hold Gun Makers, Sellers Responsible

A Bushmaster rifle was found in a Sandy Hook elementary school classroom after Adam Lanza's attack.
Credit State of Connecticut

An injured teacher and the families of nine others who were killed in Newtown in 2012 are planning to file suit against the gun industry. 

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Privacy
10:01 am
Fri December 12, 2014

State Supreme Court: Arbitrators Outside Freedom of Information law

Connecticut Supreme Court in a WNPR file photo.
Diane Orson WNPR

The state Supreme Court has ruled that arbitrators are not covered by the state's Freedom of Information laws, denying the public's right to know what evidence is presented in arbitration hearings between teacher unions and school boards.

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Lawyers
8:06 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Former U.S. Attorney Gives Up Law License In Settlement

H. James Pickerstein was a federal prosecutor for 16 years.
Credit danielfela/iStock / Thinkstock

A former U.S. attorney has resigned from the bar rather than face disciplinary action on accusations he took money from a former client. 

The Connecticut Post reported that H. James Pickerstein waived his right Thursday to ever be a lawyer again as part of a settlement with the state Disciplinary Counsel. 

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Corruption
1:50 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Prosecutors Argue for Custodial Sentence for Former Gov. Rowland

Former Gov. John Rowland outside the federal courthouse in New Haven in a WNPR file photo.
Credit Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Prosecutors in former governor John Rowland’s corruption case are again asking the judge to award a sentence of around four years. 

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Racial Integration
9:21 am
Mon December 8, 2014

Changing Racial Demographics Complicate Hartford Desegregation

Students at the University High School of Science and Engineering in Hartford speak at an event with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in May.
U.S. Department of Education

State education officials are currently negotiating changes to Connecticut's landmark school desegregation settlement. 

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Corruption
9:19 am
Fri December 5, 2014

Feds Urge Rowland Sentence of More Than Three Years

Rowland outside the federal courthouse in New Haven in a file photo.
Credit Mark Pazniokas / The Connecticut Mirror

Federal prosecutors are recommending that former Connecticut Governor John Rowland spend more than three years in prison on his latest criminal conviction. 

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