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November 18, 2007

Got Him by the Short Hairs

By: Rachele Cermak

In a Scott County Courtroom Judge Mary Theisen granted a motion made by the county to pluck 25 pubic hairs from Michael John Anderson for DNA testing.

Anderson, 19, was charged Oct. 30 with second-degree murder of Katherine Ann Olson, 24. He allegedly used a listing on craiglist.org to get Olson to the Savage home where he lived at with his parents.

The prosecution said pubic hairs were needed to see how they compared to the one found on the sleeping bag Olson's legs were covered with in the trunk of her car.

Judge Theisen also denied the request to lower bail from $1 million to $150,000 because the defense said it was excessive.

October 14, 2007

Mounting Lawsuits Cloud Apple's Hope for iPhone Glory

By: Rachele Cermak

Apple Inc. and AT&T are going into the courtroom over the iPhone. This time they're being sued for allegedly conducting unfair business practices and for violations of antitrust, telecommunications and warranty laws. Some feel the exclusive nature of the iPhone and AT&T is forming a monopoly. The price of the service and for the iPhone itself are significantly higher than other phones.

This isn't the first civil case against the companies.

Apple upset consumers after they dropped the iPhone price almost $200 about two months after its release.

A lawsuit was also filed over Apple's failure to inform buyers the $86 price to replace the battery.

October 7, 2007

Analysis: Courts

By: Rachele Cermak

In the case between Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben and MNDOT the civil complaint is accurately referenced by the Star Tribune's account of the suit.

The families of the 35W bridge collapse victims represented by Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben filed a freedom of information lawsuit to be able to view the reports of the incident made by a state-hired engineering firm. MnDOT ignored two previous open-records requests.

The Civil Complaint includes:
The suit was filed in Hennepin County District Court.
The bridge collapse reports are under MnDOT's possession and said to be open public documents according to the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.
Some of the documents would be any bridge # 9340 repair recommendations, what federal money was used to repair/improve the bridge and any visual documentation of it.
The complaint includes an exhibit A and B - the two requests made to Ms. Barbara Forsland of the Minnesota Department of Transportation which have been unfulfilled.

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STOP Sharing Kids!

By: Rachele Cermak

Fork over $222,000 for illegally sharing music files.
A Brainerd woman heard that Thursday from a 12-member federal jury.
Recording Industry Association of America took Jammie Thomas, 30 years-old and a mother of two, to the first trial over illegal online file-sharing. The jury decided Thomas infringed copyrighted material when she allowed songs on her computer to be available to other Kazaa users.
Thomas denied ever opening a Kazaa account. The record companies' witnesses, officials from an Internet provider and a security firm, testified Thomas was linked by her Internet address to the user name "tereastarr" which had allegedly shared 1,702 songs.
The record companies only focused on 24 of the songs and sued her for $9,250 for each.

September 30, 2007

Xcel Wins Government's Breach of Contract Case

By: Rachele Cermak

The Minneapolis-based utility, Xcel Energy Inc., has been awarded $116.5 million by a court ruling because the government hasn't opened the
Yucca Mountain nuclear storage facility in Neveda for use.

That breached the contract formed between, then, Northern States Power Co. and the government when the mountain was designated by the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 as a federal nuclear waste site and to be open for use by 1998.

Xcel operates three nuclear power plants in Minnesota.

Being Deaf is No Excuse

By: Rachele Cermak

A deaf Saint Paul College instructor couldn't attribute his disability for his aggressive actions against police.

Douglas Duane Bahl tried to argue self-defense and the lack of his ability to communicate for his combative attitude during a traffic stop. A six-juror panel didn't agree and convicted Bahl of the misdemeanor offense, obstructing the legal process.

Ramsey County District Judge Margaret Marrinan ruled he be given credit for the four days he served in jail, a 60-day suspended sentence, pay a $700 fine plus be on a year of probation.

The instructor must become the student once more since judge also ordered him to take anger management classes.

Bahl's defense attorney, Eric Hageman, argued the flawed communication pushed officer Stephen Bobrowski to escalate the situation.

The ruling proved the ability to chose held Bahl accountable for his actions.

Bahl, 56, taught American Sign Language for 16 years.

September 23, 2007

The Show Must Go On

By: Rachele Cermak

The Minneapolis City Council rejected the wild animal circus ban Friday.

September 18, 2007

Par Ridder Forced to Leave Tribune

By: Rachele Cermak

Minneapolis Star Tribune's Publisher Par Ridder was court ordered Tuesday to leave his position with the newspaper for one year. A Ramsey County Judge decided "irreparable harm" was done to the Pioneer Press when Ridder resigned and took with him confidential financial data which he later distributed at the Star Tribune.

"Ridder essentially grew up in the newspaper industry and therefore was well aware that newspapers, especially major newspapers, dealt with confidential information," wrote District Judge David Higgs.

Par Ridder will be replaced said Chairman Chris Harte of the Star Tribune. Harte want to hire a long term employee and doubts Ridder will be back.

Ridder was the publisher for the Pioneer Press for three years replacing J. Keith Moyer. Ridder's family held a history of ownership in the Pioneer Press for about 80 years.

September 16, 2007

Photocop Tickets Dismissed

By: Rachele Cermak

Minneapolis has dismissed the $142 citations given to those spotted by "Photocop". People with unpaid tickets now don't need to pay. And a settlement was offered to those who have paid the fine. The charge will be dropped, but money will not be refunded.

Now the question is that fair?

Marshall Tanick says NO. He's an attorney for several people pursuing a federal class action suit against the city.

"The city is trying to buy these people off by dangling in front of them the offer to remove the citation," he said. "What the city is proposing is very meager and insufficient."

Todd Scott, 43, of Minneapolis, a plaintiff in the federal case, said his van received a citation, not him, when it went through a red left-turn arrow. He said he was opposed to the program for two reasons. "The city took money from people based on an unconstitutional statute." And he said he wants the city to use "true policing" rather than video cameras to enforce the law, since he said he wasn't driving the vehicle but got a ticket because it is registered to him.

The program was discontinued in March 2006 when a judge decided it didn't fit with state stature. It was deemed unconstitutional in April 2007 by the Supreme Court. During the eight months of the program in 2005 about 25,000 citations were sent out. Only about 4,200 were dismissed.

City spokesman Matt Laible said the city gets $54 of the money paid for each ticket. The rest goes to Hennepin County. The courts must decide the issue of refunds, Laible said.