by Hannah McCartney
Posted In: Courts
at 08:53 AM | Permalink
Judge rules state again capable of carrying out death penalty
Ohio can now resume carrying out executions for the first time since November 2011, after a ruling Wednesday from U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost of Newark. In January, Frost halted the Ohio execution of condemned murderer Charles Lorraine in light of several slip-ups by the state in following its own execution protocol. On Feb. 8, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Frost’s decision, ruling that the number of documented failures to follow procedure were enough to place an official moratorium on executions. The failures to follow protocol were reportedly mostly minor paperwork technicalities, including not properly documenting that an inmate’s medical files were reviewed and switching the official whose job it was to announce the start and finish times of the lethal injection. The state argued that the errors were minor, and didn’t legitimately affect the state’s ability to carry out humane executions. Frost, however, expressed frustration at the state’s failure to follow codes it had set itself. "Ohio has been in a dubious cycle of defending often indefensible conduct, subsequently reforming its protocol when called on that conduct, and then failing to follow through on its own reforms," Frost wrote in his January ruling. Frost's ruling means that the state will move forward with the April 18 execution of Mark Wiles, who was found guilty for stabbing a 15-year-old boy to death in1985. Frost recently denied Wiles' request for a stay of execution. Although his ruling sided with the state, Frost seemed somewhat wary of the state's promises to reform. Since the moratorium, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has allegedly scrutinized its procedural policies and implemented a new "Incident Command System," which sounds like an initiative for ORDC Director Gary Mohr to more closely micromanage the processes during state executions.
"This court is therefore willing to trust Ohio just enough to permit
the scheduled execution," Frost wrote regarding his rejection of Wiles' stay of execution. "The court reaches this
conclusion with some trepidation given Ohio's history of telling this
court what (they) think they need to say in order to conduct executions
and then not following through on promised reforms." To date, Ohio has executed 386 convicted murderers. Click here for a schedule of upcoming executions in Ohio.
by Hannah McCartney
at 09:24 AM | Permalink
Federal judge says suit for firing over artificial insemination may proceed
In 2010, Christa Dias asked for something millions of U.S. women ask for successfully every year: maternity leave. At five and a half months pregnant, the former computer teacher for Holy Family and St. Lawrence schools in East Price Hill approached her superiors requesting time off for the birth of her child. Dias got far more time off than she bargained for; the Archdiocese of Cincinnati fired Dias for becoming pregnant through means of artificial insemination, an act considered "gravely immoral" by the Catholic Church. Her dismissal, though, has become national news as the Catholic Church's penchant for interfering with their employees' personal lives — particularly when it comes to women — becomes an increasingly hot-button issue. U.S. District Court Judge S. Arthur Spiegel last week gave Dias the go-ahead to proceed with her lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. If Dias is successful, she could set a national precedent. According to The Cincinnati Enquirer, Dias seeks reparations for medical bills and other expenses after she was fired. It's not clear how much Dias will seek in damages. Dias, who taught computer courses, never was called upon to teach Catholic doctrine, nor was she the only non-Catholic to be employed by the Archdiocese. In its rebuttal to Dias' accusations, the Archdiocese claims her employment at a Catholic school entitled them to a "ministerial exception" to federal anti-discrimination laws, which gave them the right to fire her on the basis that parents who pay to send their children to Catholic schools expect them to be taught in environments upholding the utmost Catholic moral integrity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church includes this on their writings regarding birth and artificial insemination: "Techniques that entail the dissociation
of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple
(donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral.
These techniques (artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe
the child's right to be born of a father and mother known to him and
bound to each other by marriage. They betray the spouses' right to
become a father and a mother only through each other."Also last week, Xavier University notified its employees that it would no longer include contraceptives in its health insurance coverage beginning July 1.
by Kevin Osborne
Mitt Romney won a sizable victory in Tuesday’s Florida primary, capturing 46.4 percent of the vote to Newt Gingrich’s 31.9 percent. In all, Romney got 240,548 more votes than the ex-House Speaker.“The size and breadth of Romney’s win provide the first real evidence that he has the potential to coalesce a party that has been deeply split …” wrote Karen Tumulty in an analysis for The Washington Post.
by Martin Brennan
Last week I blogged about SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill being proposed in Congress that, if passed, would allow both copyright holders as well as the US Department of Justice to severely restrict access to and advertising on any website accused of facilitating copyright infringement. Needless to say the bill’s sparked a huge controversy on the web. Many sites such as Reddit.com blacked out their services on Jan. 18 in protest, and those against the bill are saying the bill inhibits free speech and will effectively “ruin the Internet” if passed.
by Kevin Osborne
A resident has filed a complaint with the city's Law Department, alleging that Christopher Smitherman’s dual role as a Cincinnati city councilman and president of the NAACP’s local chapter constitutes an abuse of corporate powers.In his complaint, resident Casey Coston states that the NAACP’s status as a 501(c)(4) organization under the federal tax code allows it to lobby City Hall and participate in political campaigns and elections without jeopardizing its tax-exempt status. Such activities are a conflict of interest with Smitherman’s council duties, Coston alleges.
by Danny Cross
State lawmakers are slowing down on the puppy-mill bill. They apparently need more time to find common ground between those who wish to protect dogs from abuse and those who think new regulations on cage sizes are just too [expletive] limiting. From The Columbus Dispatch: "Supporters want to protect dogs from abuse and extinguish Ohio’s reputation as having some of the most-lax puppy-mill laws in the nation, while opponents want to stop what they see as overreaching regulations. 'I’m not fed up, but I’m close,' Hite, a Findlay Republican and chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, told the panel before the discussion. 'I believe we need to do something. But I want to warn everyone here ... if we can’t come to some common ground to a degree, I’m not willing to advance this bill anymore in hearings.' More than an hour later, the panel discussion ended with a passionate plea from Kellie DeFrischia, president of the Columbus Dog Connection. 'For goodness’ sake, we license dump-truck drivers in this state. Shouldn’t we be protecting our dogs?' she told the committee."