Davis blames governor for legal woes
LOUISVILLE (AP) — Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, hauled to jail for defying a series of federal court orders and refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, filed a 40-page court document Thursday, blaming Gov. Steve Beshear for all her legal woes.
The day the Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage in June, Beshear sent a letter to the state’s 120 county clerks directing them to issue licenses. Davis on Thursday complained that in doing so he “commandeered” county clerk’s offices and “usurped control of Kentucky marriage law.”
Davis stopped issuing licenses altogether. Four couples sued Davis, elected clerk as a Democrat, and she filed a counter-suit against Beshear, also a Democrat, alleging that his refusal to exempt religious clerks from authorizing same-sex marriage violated her right to religious freedom.
Meanwhile, Davis continued to refuse court orders and U.S. District Judge David Bunning found her in contempt earlier this month and ordered her to jail for five days, propelling her to folk hero status among some on the religious right. Davis made the rounds on television news shows this week, pledging to continue her fight against gay marriage.
Shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling, she and a handful of other clerks asked the governor to call the legislature in for a special session to find a way to accommodate religious conviction. But the governor refused. He told the clerks to either issue licenses or resign.
“The courts and the voters will deal appropriately with the rest,” the governor said.
Justice Alito makes case against televising arguments
LEXINGTON (AP) — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito made a case against televising arguments before the high court, telling a campus audience that cameras would spin off sound bites distorting what happened. And he used the historic arguments over the federal health care law as an example.
The first time the high court took up the case, the lawyer defending the health care overhaul had a “bad minute” when he couldn’t find his voice, Alito told a University of Kentucky audience Thursday night. After the brief lull, the lawyer went on with his presentation.
“He made a good argument,” Alito said. “I disagreed with him but he ultimately made a good argument.”
Not long after the hearing, some opponents of the health care law used the lawyer’s snippet of silence as a way to attack the overhaul, Alito noted.
“That’s the kind of thing that would happen — sound bites that really distort what happens during the oral argument,” he said.
Alito said the court’s work during oral arguments is already transparent. Besides releasing an audio tape, the court issues a transcript “that shows every word that was uttered and even has a little line if anybody laughs.”
High court rules against advocacy group in open-records case
LOUISVILLE (AP) — Weighing in on an open-records case involving some of Kentucky’s most vulnerable residents, a divided state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that an advocacy group failed to qualify for access to documents related to the deaths of some people in the state’s care.
The case pitted the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services against the nonprofit Council on Developmental Disabilities.
The cabinet investigates when a disabled adult in state care is alleged to have been abused or to have died from abuse. Confidential records stemming from the probes may be disclosed under state law to certain individuals and groups, including social service agencies with legitimate interests in a case.
In her majority opinion, Justice Mary Noble said the council — despite its “laudable purpose” — did not meet such a qualification to receive documents sought in its open-records request. Such documents are limited to agencies and providers who need information about the case to do their jobs, she said.
The council sought documents related to the death of a ward of the state who had been transferred to a residential setting. The council broadened the 2010 records request to include documents related to the deaths of anyone who had similar transfers in recent years.
The cabinet denied the request for the records, and two lower courts sided with the cabinet when the council sued.
Wanton murder conviction overturned in child’s death
LOUISVILLE (AP) — Pointing to a change in Kentucky’s homicide statutes, the state Supreme Court on Thursday overturned a wanton murder conviction for a Louisville woman sentenced to 35 years after leaving her 2-year-old son inside a car for about 12 hours.
In its unanimous ruling, the court said state lawmakers in 2000 amended homicide statutes to create a new type of second-degree manslaughter to apply when young children die after being left in vehicles. As a result, the court said such conduct does not support a conviction for wanton murder.
The justices sent the case of Mollie Shouse back to Jefferson County Circuit Court for a new trial.
“This case does not raise the question of whether Shouse deserves to face a murder charge under the facts, but rather a question of what charge the law allows,” Justice Mary Noble said in writing for the court. “By creating a new form of second-degree manslaughter applicable to the aggravatedly wanton deaths of children left in cars, the legislature has dictated the maximum appropriate charge.
“When those circumstances arise, and the death is the result of aggravatedly wanton conduct, the highest possible charge is second-degree manslaughter,” she added.
In May 2011, Shouse’s young son was found dead while strapped in his car seat after being left overnight until the following afternoon. At trial, prosecutors said Shouse stopped by an apartment for a drug fix, and that a combination of marijuana and Xanax knocked her out.
State attorneys general launch investigation of Volkswagen
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — At least 27 state attorneys general are opening a multi-state investigation into Volkswagen after it came clean about rigging diesel emissions technology to pass U.S. smog tests.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office said Thursday he and at least 26 other attorneys general will send subpoenas to the German automaker. Spokeswoman Andrea Bitely says many states will investigate both through their consumer protection and environmental protection divisions.
Volkswagen is reeling from revelations it used secret software to thwart diesel smog tests on nearly a half million vehicles in the U.S.
Participating states include Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia. Washington, D.C., also is involved.
Ky. Supreme Court to review Louisville’s minimum wage
FRANKFORT(AP) — The Kentucky Supreme Court will decide whether Louisville’s new minimum wage law is legal.
The Louisville Metro Council voted last year to raise the minimum wage in Kentucky’s largest city to $9 an hour by 2017. The Kentucky Restaurant Association sued the city to try and block the increase, arguing it would hurt business.
A state appeals court upheld the minimum wage law in June. The minimum wage in Louisville increased 50 cents on July 1 to $7.75 per hour.
Louisville was the first city in Kentucky to raise the minimum wage, bypassing the state legislature, which has refused to pass similar proposals. Other local governments have also bucked the state legislature by passing local laws banning closed union shops. Those laws are also being challenged in court.
Ky. cardiologist pleads not guilty to health care fraud
ASHLAND (AP) — An Ashland cardiologist charged with performing unnecessary cardiac stint procedures on hundreds of patients has pleaded not guilty.
The Daily Independent reports 68-year-old Dr. Richard E. Paulus was indicted earlier this month on one count of health care fraud and 26 counts of making false statements relating to health care matters.
On Thursday, Paulus pleaded not guilty on all charges in federal court. A pre-trial and trial is expected to be set for next year. Paulus’ attorney, Robert S. Bennett, says he believes the case may take “substantially longer” to litigate.
According to the indictment, Paulus schemed to defraud and obtain money from Medicare, Medicaid and other insurers between 2008 and 2013. During that time, the indictment says Paulus performed more stint procedures than any other cardiologist in Kentucky.
Police offer reward in central Ky. hit-and-run death
BEREA (AP) — Police in central Kentucky are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in a hit-and-run case that killed a 71-year-old man.
WKYT-TV reports Berea police say someone driving a red pickup truck hit pedestrian Billy Croucher last Friday.
Police say they know someone driving a red truck hit Croucher and took off. Sgt. Jake Reed says because the description is vague, police decided to offer the reward.
Lexington-based company raises $50 million in investments
FRANKFORT (AP) — A Lexington-based recycling company raised $50 million in its latest round of financing that included investments from Uber executives and actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
Rubicon Global operates in all 50 states and helps companies figure out the best way to dispose of their waste. The company was founded in 2008 by Lexington native Nate Morris.
The company’s new investors include Wall Street staples Goldman Sachs and Wellington Management Co. along with David Plouffe, a board member for the ride-sharing service Uber better known as the campaign manager for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Morris said he plans to use the money to update the company’s technology and on-demand services. Morris said the latest financing values the company at $500 million.