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A federal appeals court has cleared the way for Florida doctors to talk with patients about whether they own guns.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that key provisions of a 2011 law that restricted such speech violate the First Amendment.

Three-judge panels of the same court had issued conflicting rulings in a long-running challenge to the law brought by 11,000 medical providers and others. The case has become known as Docs vs. Glocks.

Backed by Gov. Rick Scott, the law prohibited doctors from asking patients about gun ownership unless it was medically necessary. Doctors say asking about guns is a safety issue and could save lives.

While ruling that much of the law violates free-speech rights, the court said some parts could remain in place.


The Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to delay the execution date for a Cleveland man convicted of killing 11 women and hiding the remains in and around his home.

The court on Thursday granted the request from attorneys for serial killer Anthony Sowell.

The execution had been set for Nov. 18, 2010. The court said the execution would be delayed until Sowell had exhausted all his appeals, most likely through the federal courts.

The court's action was similar to its approach to other death penalty cases. It regularly sets initial execution dates after upholding death sentences, then delays them on request.

Jurors found Sowell guilty of killing 11 women from June 2007 to July 2009.



Convicted killer Michael Skakel could be headed back to prison after the Connecticut Supreme Court reinstated his 2002 conviction for the gruesome murder of his 15-year-old neighbor Martha Moxley.

Moxley was killed — bludgeoned with a golf club belonging to the Skakel family and stabbed in the neck with the broken-off handle — the night before Halloween in 1975 in the driveway of her Greenwich home. No physical evidence tied Skakel to the crime, but he was convicted because of incriminating things he said to friends and a weak alibi he gave investigators.

Skakel, the now 56-year-old nephew of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, served a decade of his 20-to-life sentence until he was released in 2013 when an appeals court ruled he didn’t get an adequate legal defense from his lawyer Mickey Sherman.

Connecticut’s highest court rejected that ruling yesterday in a divided 4-3 decision that found Sherman “rendered constitutionally adequate representation” — setting in motion a series of last-ditch efforts by Skakel’s appellate attorneys to keep him from heading back to the lock-up.


The California Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked a voter-approved measure intended to speed up the appeals process for the state's Death Row inmates to give it time to consider a lawsuit challenging the measure.

In a one-page decision, the court stayed the "implementation of all provisions of Proposition 66" and set a timeline for filing briefs in the case.

Proposition 66 would change how appeals are handled, appointing more lawyers to take cases, putting certain types of appeals before trial court judges and setting a five-year deadline for appeals to be heard. Currently, it can take longer than that for an attorney to be assigned to a case and upward of 25 years to exhaust appeals.

The lawsuit by former Attorney General John Van de Kamp and Ron Briggs, whose father wrote the ballot measure that expanded California's death penalty in 1978, said the reform measure would disrupt the courts, cost more money and limit the ability to mount proper appeals. They said the deadlines would set "an inordinately short timeline for the courts to review those complex cases" and result in attorneys cutting corners in their investigations.

Supporters of the measure have called the lawsuit a frivolous stall tactic.

California voters faced two death penalty measures on the November election. They rejected a measure that would have abolished the death penalty and narrowly approved Proposition 66.

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