federal judge

In this Aug. 2, 2011, file photo, Chicago Bears wide receiver Sam Hurd watches teammates practice during NFL football training camp at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Ill.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

DALLAS (AP) — A federal judge ordered former NFL wide receiver Sam Hurd to be jailed indefinitely Tuesday for failing two drug tests and allegedly buying drugs while already facing charges he tried to distribute marijuana and cocaine.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeff Kaplan indicated that he was less troubled by the drug tests than the allegations that Hurd had tried to buy drugs while he was out on bond. He revoked Hurd’s $100,000 bond.

After the hearing, Hurd turned toward his family and supporters in the courtroom and said: “Lies.” He spoke briefly to a few people watching before he was led out of the courtroom.

The 27-year-old Hurd, who played for the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys, was arrested again earlier this month. Prosecutors say he tested positive for marijuana at least twice this year. His cousin also allegedly told authorities he tried to buy five kilograms of cocaine (about 11 pounds) and 200 pounds of marijuana on Hurd’s behalf.

The cousin, Jesse Tyrone Chavful, also told prosecutors he sold Hurd 30 pounds of marijuana for $10,500 in May.

Hurd was arrested in December after allegedly accepting cocaine from an undercover agent at a suburban Chicago steakhouse. According to court documents, Hurd took 1 kilogram (about 2 pounds) of cocaine and told the officer he wanted to eventually buy five to 10 kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 pounds of marijuana per week to distribute in the Chicago area.

An alleged co-conspirator accused of helping Hurd, Toby Lujan, pleaded guilty last week to a cocaine possession charge.

Prosecutors left court Tuesday without comment. Hurd’s mother, Gloria Corbin, attended the hearing along with his wife, sisters and at least one former teammate, Marion Barber.

“That’s my son,” Corbin told reporters afterward. “I love him, I support him and I believe in him.”

Hurd entered court in an orange jail uniform and handcuffs that were eventually removed. He took notes during the nearly two-hour hearing and often shook his head as law enforcement agents testified about the evidence against him.

Cecilio Bustamante, a supervising probation officer in Dallas, said Hurd admitted to first failing a drug test in May and then again in July — the second time after entering into drug counseling. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent Robert Alarcon testified that months after Hurd’s arrest and release on bond, his cousin, Chavful, allegedly brought 30 pounds of marijuana in a blue ice chest to Hurd for $10,500.

Chavful was arrested June 6 after trying to take delivery of five kilograms of cocaine and almost 200 pounds of marijuana, Alarcon said. Chavful would later tell agents he was buying the drugs for Hurd and said he had talked to “Big Sam” several times leading up to the sale, Alarcon said.

Alarcon said he believed Lujan and Chavful did not know each other, lending credibility to their separate testimony.

Jay Ethington, Hurd’s attorney, repeatedly questioned the strength of the evidence and suggested Chavful was blaming Hurd to lighten the blame on himself.

“We are very disappointed that the judge accepted the government’s version of the facts that are based on exaggerated and even fabricated testimony of a non-credible informant,” Ethington said in an email afterward. “We will continue to try to bring the truth to the courthouse.”

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A federal judge in San Antonio has at least temporarily stopped the execution of a rapist who was on parole when prosecutors say he killed a neighbor and stole the man’s motorcycle.

U.S. District Judge Fred Biery granted a reprieve Wednesday afternoon to 55-year-old Anthony Bartee after his lawyers filed a civil rights lawsuit against Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed. Bartee was scheduled for lethal injection later in the day.

His lawyers want additional items from the crime scene to undergo DNA testing.

The prosecutor’s office immediately appealed the court order to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Within 30 minutes of Biery’s order, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Bartee’s other appeals. The court didn’t comment.

Printed on Thursday, May 3, 2012 as: Federal judge stops man's execution at least temporarily

A federal judge on Monday stopped Texas from preventing Planned Parenthood from getting funds through the state’s Women’s Health Program — a decision the state immediately appealed.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin ruled there is sufficient evidence that a law banning Planned Parenthood from the program is unconstitutional. He imposed an injunction against enforcing it until he can hear full arguments. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott appealed Yeakel’s decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, asking that it remove
the injunction.

The law passed last year by the Republican-controlled Legislature forbids state agencies from providing funds to an organization affiliated with abortion providers. Texas law already required that groups receiving federal or state funding be legally and financially separate from clinics that perform abortions.

Eight Planned Parenthood clinics that do not provide abortions sued over the new law. The clinics say it unconstitutionally restricts their freedom of speech and association to qualify to take part in state health programs.

The judge accepted Planned Parenthood’s argument that banning the organization from the program would leave women without access to clinics for basic health services.

“The court is particularly influenced by the potential for immediate loss of access to necessary medical services by several thousand Texas women,” Yeakel wrote in his ruling. “The record before the court at this juncture reflects uncertainty as to the continued viability of the Texas Women’s Health Program.”

Texas officials have said that if the state is forced to include Planned Parenthood, they will likely shut down the program that serves basic health care and contraception to 130,000 poor women. Yeakel acknowledged that was a risk.

“The court observes that if the federal funds are phased out, Texas does not provide another source of funds, and the Women’s Health Program terminates, the controversy now before the court may be of no consequence,” he wrote.

The Women’s Health Program was established to provide care for poor women who would not otherwise qualify for Medicaid. It supplies cancer screenings, annual exams, and access to birth control.

Xelena Gonzalez of San Antonio said she received abnormal test results and needed a follow-up appointment just before the state law took effect in March, and her area Planned Parenthood clinic lost funding. She said she couldn’t afford the lab fees and other costs of going to another provider. She said she is thrilled she can return to Planned Parenthood to follow up.

“It’s a tremendous relief that someone is looking out for women,” Gonzalez said Monday, referring to the judge’s
decision. “It makes me upset that these are men, for the most part, who are making decisions affecting our reproductive health and that they would try to shame us.”

Catherine Frazier, spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry, said the state will pursue all legal options to keep the law.
“Texas has a long history of protecting life, and we are confident in Attorney General Abbott’s appeal to defend the will of Texans and our state law, which prohibits taxpayer funds from supporting abortion providers and affiliates in the Women’s Health Program,” Frazier said.

Patricio Gonzales, CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Hidalgo County, called on the Republican governor to stop trying to shut down Planned Parenthood in Texas.

“No woman should ever have to fear being cut off from her doctor’s care because of shortsighted political games,” Gonzales said.

Printed on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 as: Planned Parenthood wins funding court case in Texas

A federal judge on Monday stopped Texas from preventing Planned Parenthood from getting funds through the state’s Women’s Health Program — a decision the state immediately appealed.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin ruled there is sufficient evidence that a law banning Planned Parenthood from the program is unconstitutional. He imposed an injunction against enforcing it until he can hear full arguments. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott appealed Yeakel’s decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, asking that it remove
the injunction.

The law passed last year by the Republican-controlled Legislature forbids state agencies from providing funds to an organization affiliated with abortion providers. Texas law already required that groups receiving federal or state funding be legally and financially separate from clinics that perform abortions.

Eight Planned Parenthood clinics that do not provide abortions sued over the new law. The clinics say it unconstitutionally restricts their freedom of speech and association to qualify to take part in state health programs.

The judge accepted Planned Parenthood’s argument that banning the organization from the program would leave women without access to clinics for basic health services.

“The court is particularly influenced by the potential for immediate loss of access to necessary medical services by several thousand Texas women,” Yeakel wrote in his ruling. “The record before the court at this juncture reflects uncertainty as to the continued viability of the Texas Women’s Health Program.”

Texas officials have said that if the state is forced to include Planned Parenthood, they will likely shut down the program that serves basic health care and contraception to 130,000 poor women. Yeakel acknowledged that was a risk.

“The court observes that if the federal funds are phased out, Texas does not provide another source of funds, and the Women’s Health Program terminates, the controversy now before the court may be of no consequence,” he wrote.

The Women’s Health Program was established to provide care for poor women who would not otherwise qualify for Medicaid. It supplies cancer screenings, annual exams, and access to birth control.

Xelena Gonzalez of San Antonio said she received abnormal test results and needed a follow-up appointment just before the state law took effect in March, and her area Planned Parenthood clinic lost funding. She said she couldn’t afford the lab fees and other costs of going to another provider. She said she is thrilled she can return to Planned Parenthood to follow up.

“It’s a tremendous relief that someone is looking out for women,” Gonzalez said Monday, referring to the judge’s decision. “It makes me upset that these are men, for the most part, who are making decisions affecting our reproductive health and that they would try to shame us.”

Catherine Frazier, spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry, said the state will pursue all legal options to keep the law.

“Texas has a long history of protecting life, and we are confident in Attorney General Abbott’s appeal to defend the will of Texans and our state law, which prohibits taxpayer funds from supporting abortion providers and affiliates in the Women’s Health Program,” Frazier said.

Patricio Gonzales, CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Hidalgo County, called on the Republican governor to stop trying to shut down Planned Parenthood in Texas.

“No woman should ever have to fear being cut off from her doctor’s care because of shortsighted political games,” Gonzales said.

Printed on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 as: Planned Parenthood wins funding court case in Texas

A reproductive rights group asked a federal judge Wednesday to block a new Texas law requiring doctors to conduct a sonogram before performing an abortion, arguing it is vague and unconstitutional.

The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights has filed a lawsuit to overturn the law. Wednesday’s hearing was on a request for U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks to block the law from taking effect on abortions performed starting Oct. 1, pending the lawsuit’s outcome.

Sparks said he would issue a ruling on the injunction request before Oct. 1.

The law requires doctors to describe the fetus’ features and allow pregnant women to hear the fetal heartbeat. The law doesn’t allow women to opt out of the description, with exemptions for cases of rape or incest and when a fetus has fatal abnormalities.

The center argues that the law forces doctors to say things against their will and violates medical ethics.

The law “damages the relationship of trust between physician and patient, and with compelled and unwanted speech imposes stress and emotional strain on women as they prepare to undergo a medical procedure,” the center argues in its lawsuit.
Supporters say the law is necessary to make sure women fully understand what an abortion entails. They cite cases where women later regretted having an abortion, and they insist the law will lead more women to decide against having one. About 81,000 abortions are performed in Texas every year, according to the state Department of Health Services.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who opposes abortion, signed the bill into law and says he believes it’s necessary to protect unborn life.

“Even in Texas, where we pass the toughest laws in the nation, tens of thousands of lives are lost,” Perry said when he signed the legislation. “This is a tragedy we must all work together to stop.”

Texas abortion providers who do not comply with the law would face loss of their medical license and possible criminal misdemeanor prosecution and fines up to $10,000.

Sparks, who represented doctors and hospitals for about 30 years when he was an attorney before being appointed a federal judge in 1991, questioned the sections of the law requiring sonograms be performed “in a quality consistent with current medical practice” and that results be described “in a manner understandable to a lay person.” 

Printed on 07/07/2011 as: Debate arises over legality of pre-abortion sonogram

Judge allows forced medication of jailed Tucson shooting suspect

SAN DIEGO — A federal judge has ruled that prison officials can forcibly medicate the Tucson shooting rampage suspect with anti-psychotic drugs.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns said he did not want to second guess doctors at a federal prison in Springfield, Mo.

Burns issued the decision Wednesday after Loughner’s attorneys filed an emergency request to prevent any forced medication of their client. Defense attorneys said Loughner had been forcibly medicated since June 21.

Loughner has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the January shooting that killed six people and injured 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
He has been at a federal prison facility in Missouri since May 28 after the judge concluded Loughner was mentally unfit to stand trial.


 

State Senate approves civil union, needs Rhode Island governor’s OK

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Rhode Island Senate has approved a bill that would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, a measure that Gov. Lincoln Chafee says he’s inclined to sign.

State senators voted 21-16 Wednesday evening to endorse the bill. The legislation, which already has passed the state House, allows gay couples to enter into civil unions that offer the same rights and benefits given to married couples under Rhode Island law.

It is now headed to Chafee’s desk for his signature.

Several gay marriage advocacy groups have urged Chafee to veto it because of what they call overly broad exemptions that would allow religious institutions to ignore rights given through civil unions. The measure would, for instance, let religious hospitals refuse a civil union spouse the right to make emergency medical decisions.­