A Lexington man's conviction for violating the city's ban on begging has reached the Kentucky Supreme Court, which heard arguments in the case Friday.
Police cited Dennis Champion, who was holding a homemade sign asking for money, for violating Lexington's panhandling ordinance during the holiday season in 2014.
Champion's attorney, Linda Horsman, argued that the ordinance violates her client's free-speech rights. She said the ordinance singles out beggars, while people standing along roadways soliciting for charitable organizations are spared from citation.
Assistant Fayette County Attorney Jason Rothrock said the ordinance was aimed at protecting the safety of motorists and panhandlers and ensuring the efficient flow of traffic.
A day before the state's high court heard the Lexington case, Louisville's panhandling law was struck down by a district judge.
The highest court in Massachusetts on Tuesday threw out a gun conviction against a Boston man in a ruling that says black men who flee when approached by police may be reacting to racial profiling rather than trying to hide criminal activity.
In its ruling, the Supreme Judicial Court found that Boston police had "far too little information" to stop Jimmy Warren after seeing him and another black man walking in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood about 30 minutes after they received a report of a home break-in in 2011.
Police had received only a vague description of three black males wearing dark clothing and hooded sweatshirts seen leaving the home. Warren ran when police approached him. After a foot chase, an officer arrested him in a backyard. He was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm after a handgun was found on the front lawn.
The SJC found that police did not have a reasonable suspicion to stop Warren and his friend, noting that an officer's hunch is not enough. The court cited a report by the Boston Police Department that found black men were disproportionately stopped and frisked by Boston police between 2007 and 2010. The court said black men in Boston who flee when approached by police does not necessarily indicate that they are guilty of a crime.
Louisiana’s Supreme Court is considering whether recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings about juveniles convicted of murder mean a juvenile robber’s 99-year sentence is unconstitutional.
Alden Morgan is now 35. He was 17 years old when he held up a couple with their baby daughter.
The New Orleans Advocate reports that several justices noted that his punishment is much higher than the nation’s highest court would have allowed for second-degree murder.
The U.S. Supreme Court has found it unconstitutional to execute juveniles, to give them life sentences for most crimes, and — except in rare cases — to deny them a chance at parole for most killings.
Morgan’s case appears to be the first time that Louisiana’s high court has considered how those rulings may affect sentences for lesser offenses.
Serving on the U.S. Supreme Court has been both a blessing and a curse and reaching decisions is harder than she ever expected, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Thursday during a visit to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The court's first Hispanic justice told a packed campus theater that said she still marvels that she holds her position, noting she sits so close to the president at State of the Union addresses she can almost touch him. But the job comes with a heavy burden because every decision the court makes affects so many people and each ruling creates losers, she said, recalling moments in court where losing litigants have wept.
"I never forget that in every case, someone wins, and there's an opposite. Someone loses. And that burden feels very heavy to me," Sotomayor said. "I have not anticipated how hard decision-making is on the court. Because of that big win and lose on the court and we are affecting lives across the country and sometimes across the world, I'm conscious that what I do will always affect someone."
Sotomayor spoke for about an hour and a half, wandering up and down the theater's aisles and shaking hands with people as she answered questions from a pair of her former law clerks sitting on stage. She warned the audience that she couldn't talk about pending cases and the clerks never asked her about the Senate refusing to hold a hearing or vote on Judge Merrick Garland's nomination to replace the late Antonin Scalia as the court's ninth justice. The clerks instead gave her general questions about her experiences and thought processes. She kept her answers just as general.