A midlevel California appeals court has overturned the conviction of a Salinas man who allegedly tried to sell his 8-month-old baby in a Walmart parking lot.
The state's 6th District Court of Appeal ruled Friday that the judge who originally heard the case gave incomplete instructions to the jury that ultimately convicted 41-year-old Patrick Fousek of child endangerment, The Monterey Herald reports.
Both Fousek and his girlfriend, Samantha Tomasini, were arrested two years ago when two women reported that Fousek had approached them and asked if they wanted to buy his infant daughter for $25. Fousek's lawyers argued during his 2011 trial that the offer had not been serious, but the appeals court said Monterey County prosecutors had presented enough evidence to support a guilty verdict.
But the court, in its unpublished opinion, said Superior Court Judge Pamela Butler should have been told they needed to agree unanimously on the specific act or acts on which they based their verdict. In Fousek's case, that could have been the proposed sale of the baby, the squalid home in which she was being raised, or the fact that Tomasini allegedly breastfed the little girl while high on methamphetamine.
Los Angeles court officials will layoff or cut 539 jobs, likely resulting in long lines and reduced services.
Presiding Superior Court Judge David Wesley made the announcement Thursday, further restricting a court system that began facing cuts with the budget crisis in 2008.
"We have reached the new normal, and there is nothing to like about it," said Wesley.
He said the cuts will save $56 million a year but undermine the goal of a court system serving all areas of the county.
"This is not the neighborhood court we worked so hard to build," Wesley said in a written statement. "It is not our vision for access to justice. But this is the court the state is willing and able to support."
By the time July 1 rolls around, Wesley said the court will have eliminated 30 percent of its budgeted staff positions since 2002. It marks a 24 percent reduction since the state budget crisis began in 2008.
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that states cannot require would-be voters to prove they are U.S. citizens before using a federal registration system designed to make signing up easier.
The justices voted 7-2 to throw out Arizona's voter-approved requirement that prospective voters document their U.S. citizenship in order to use a registration form produced under the federal "Motor Voter" voter registration law.
Federal law "precludes Arizona from requiring a federal form applicant to submit information beyond that required by the form itself," Justice Antonia Scalia wrote for the court's majority.
The court was considering the legality of Arizona's requirement that prospective voters document their U.S. citizenship in order to use a registration form produced under the federal "motor voter" registration law. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which doesn't require such documentation, trumps Arizona's Proposition 200 passed in 2004.
Arizona appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.
The case focuses on Arizona, which has tangled frequently with the federal government over immigration issues involving the Mexican border. But it has broader implications because four other states — Alabama, Georgia, Kansas and Tennessee — have similar requirements, and 12 other states are contemplating such legislation.
Gov. Tom Corbett plans to nominate state appeals court Judge Correale Stevens to temporarily fill a vacancy on the state Supreme Court.
Two people familiar with the decision told The Associated Press of Corbett's plans on condition of anonymity, saying the information was part of private conversations.
The decision comes more than a month after the opening was created following the resignation from the bench of Joan Orie Melvin. Melvin was convicted of using public employees to help her political campaigns.
Stevens will require a two-thirds approval by the state Senate to take a seat on the bench.
Stevens is a familiar face in state politics and government, and is currently president judge of state Superior Court, which handles criminal and civil appeals. His long career in public service also includes time as Luzerne County's district attorney, a county judge and seven years as a state representative.
Melvin and Stevens are both Republicans, so if he is confirmed the court will return to a four-to-three Republican majority.
A special U.S. Senate election to replace the late Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg can be held in October, as it was scheduled by Republican Gov. Chris Christie, a state court ruled Thursday.
The ruling could be appealed. And while it keeps an election on course it does not seem likely to chill criticism of the popular governor for how he chose to replace Lautenberg, the Senate's oldest member, who died last week at age 89.
Four Democrats and two Republicans have filed petitions to run in the Senate race to complete Lautenberg's term, with three early polls showing Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Booker as the front-runner.
Christie scheduled the election for Oct. 16. A group of Democrats sued, saying it should be held Nov. 5, the day voters are going to the polls in the general elections anyway.
Christie's critics have complained that holding the election in October will cost taxpayers unnecessarily. Officials say each election costs the state about $12 million to run.
Judge Jane Grall wrote Thursday that objections to the costs of the election are policy matters that aren't questions for the court.