States brief ~ AL judge overrides jury recommendation, sentences man to death

[JURIST] Leading Friday's states brief, an Alabama Circuit Court [official website] judge has overridden a jury's recommendation of life imprisonment, and sentenced Kerry Spencer to death for the murders of three police officers. Under Alabama law, a judge may override the sentencing recommendation of the jury, and in this case Circuit Judge Tommy Nail felt the horrors of the crime outweighed the recommendation. Spencer, who said he shot out of fear when the officers entered the crackhouse, is entitled to an automatic appeal. AP has more.

In other state legal news ...

  • An Ohio abortion law [text] that requires minors to receive parental consent and women to have an informational meeting with a physician 24 hours before the procedure has once again been placed on hold by a federal court. The law was scheduled to take effect Thursday after a federal judge determined the law was constitutional [decision text, PDF] and ordered it effective two weeks after the court's decision [JURIST report]. However, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] intervened, saying the law should not go into effect until it considers the opponents' motion for an indefinite delay pending the outcome of their appeal. Before the appeals court intervened, US District Court Chief Judge Sandra S. Beckwith refused to delay [PDF text] her order allowing the law to take effect. The Toledo Blade has local coverage.

  • The Colorado Court of Appeals [official website] has ruled that a state law allowing local governments the option of providing workers compensation coverage to volunteer police officers is unconstitutional because other types of volunteers, including sheriff posses, firefighters and ambulance teams, are considered employees and are eligible for workers compensation. In finding a violation of equal protection guarantees, the majority opinion stated, "We can conceive of no valid purpose for allowing police volunteers to be excepted from workers compensation coverage, while mandating that all other volunteers, who similarly serve a vital function and are subject to similar risks and perils, be covered." It is unknown whether the decision will be appealed. Colorado's Rocky Mountain News has local coverage.

 

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