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•  National News - Legal News


A woman convicted in the 1987 kidnapping and death of a northern Illinois businessman has been granted a re-sentencing hearing by the state’s appellate court.

Nancy Rish, 59, petitioned in December 2017 for a resentencing hearing so that the court can consider evidence of domestic violence. Stephen Small of Kankakee suffocated in a plywood box when a breathing tube running to the surface failed before a ransom could be paid.

Her attorneys argued Rish was coerced by ex-boyfriend Daniel Edwards into driving him and that she was unaware of his kidnapping plan even as he had her pick him up from the remote, wooded burial site and drive him between phone booths where he made ransom calls.

The attorneys argued her case is what Illinois legislators had in mind when they passed legislation in 2015 giving abuse victims who had been sentenced to prison for crimes a break on their sentences.

In its ruling Thursday, the court noted the state maintained the trial court’s sentence rested on the “horrific nature of the crime in which (defendant) played an integral part” and that the evidence of domestic violence could not overcome the seriousness of the crime.

“This is the first time in 33½ years that she’s gotten a ruling that may result in her sentence being reduced from natural life,” Margaret Byrne, a private attorney who is representing Rish pro bono, told the Chicago Tribune.

Rish was sentenced to life in prison after a jury trial in 1988. Edwards was convicted and sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to a life term by then-Gov. George Ryan as Illinois moved toward ending the death penalty.

Rish, an inmate at Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, has maintained her innocence through more than three decades of legal losses. In July 2019, Kankakee County Judge Michael Sabol rejected Rish’s petition for a re-sentencing, rejecting the argument a new sentence was warranted because of a change in Illinois law.

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•  National News     updated  2021/07/16 12:21


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Nepal’s Supreme Court reinstated the House of Representatives on Monday and upheld the leader of the opposition’s claim to be the new prime minister.

The 167-page court order removes Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli, who had been running a caretaker government until planned elections.

In May, Oli directed the president to dissolve the House of Representatives, Parliament’s lower house, and announce new elections later this year. The decision was challenged in the Supreme Court by a coalition of opposition parties that said they had the support of a majority in Parliament to form a new government.

The Supreme Court also ruled Monday that the reinstated House of Representatives should meet within a week, when the leader of the main opposition party, Sher Bahadur Deuba, is expected to call a vote of confidence.

There was no immediate comment from Oli’s office or his aides.

Hundreds of Oli’s supporters gathered outside the Supreme Court to oppose the court decision.

“We are here to protest the unconstitutional decision by the Supreme Court, which was interfering with the affairs of the Parliament and its rights,” said one of the protesters, Ramesh Acharya.

The protesters briefly scuffled with riot police who were able to push them back. There were no injuries or arrests.

More protests are likely later in the week because Oli still has significant support among the public.

It is the second time the Supreme Court has reinstated the House of Representatives this year after it was dissolved by Oli.

He had the House of Representatives dissolved in December and called for new elections in April, but that was rejected by the Supreme Court and the lower house was reinstated in February. Oli again had the president dissolve the House of Representatives in May with elections planned for November.

Oli became prime minister in 2018 after the Communist Party of Nepal won a majority of the seats in the House of Representatives. The party, however, has had two splits this year, weakening Oli’s hold on power.



The Michigan Supreme Court on Friday denied a request to extend the deadline for drawing new legislative and congressional maps despite a delay in census redistricting data.

The Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, whose members have been meeting since September 2020, asked the court in April to allow for more time to draw the maps.

The current deadline for an initial proposal is Sept. 17, but the U.S. Census Bureau does not expect to have tabulated data ready for the public until Sept. 30. The commission asserts that the census data is necessary to draw fair and lawful maps.

With its decision, the Supreme Court declined to protect the commission from lawsuits due to any delays. In a statement, justices acknowledged that the commission’s lawyers have already said the commission will operate on a delayed schedule, with or without permission.

The commission was established by voters in 2018 to limit gerrymandering by having randomly selected Michigan residents, representing balanced political alignments, draw voting district boundaries every 10 years instead of the Legislature. The release of census data was delayed from a March 31 deadline because of the pandemic.

The court acknowledged that it believes the commission has been working diligently and through no fault of its own has been put in a difficult position to present fair voting maps, but said there isn’t a sufficient legal reason to preemptively extend the deadline.

Lawyers for the commission and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson have said they will try to propose new maps by Dec. 11 and have them finalized by Jan. 25, three months after the original Nov. 1 deadline set by the state’s constitution.



Education officials are asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit challenging West Virginia’s new law that bans transgender athletes from competing in female sports in middle schools, high schools and colleges.

Education and athletic officials said in court documents filed last week that they can’t be held liable for the law, which they didn’t request and largely won’t be responsible for enforcing, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.

The American Civil Liberties Union and its West Virginia chapter filed the lawsuit in May on behalf of an 11-year-old transgender girl who had hoped to compete in cross country in middle school in Harrison County. The girl is seeking an injunction to prevent the law from being enforced.

The ban is set to take effect Thursday and will require the state Board of Education to establish rules to determine the means by which local athletic officials can enforce the law.

Attorneys for the West Virginia Board of Education and the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission argued that they can’t be held responsible for the law because they aren’t responsible for enforcing it.

Attorneys for Harrison County Schools said the district “was not responsible for and did not pass” the transgender athlete ban and has not caused harm to the girl.

“(The law) was not created by the County Board, and it is not under the County Board’s control,” the response said.

The U.S. Justice Department intervened in the case last month, saying the ban was a violation of federal law.



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