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News in Brief

AK: On July 2, 1997, Allen Compton, chief justice of the Alaska supreme court resigned after being privately reprimanded by the Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct. The allegations giving rise to the reprimand were not made public. Compton remains on the court as an associate justice.

CA: As part of a lawsuit settlement the Los Angeles Police Department agreed in July, 1997, to end the practice of "hog-tying" suspects. Bruce Klobuchar, the son of a former policeman, died in August, 1995, after being "hog-tied" (handcuffing a suspect's wrists and ankles together behind their backs.) The city paid Klobuchar's family $750,000 to settle their lawsuit, bringing to more than $2 million the liability settlements paid by the city to resolve litigation by families of suspects who died while hog-tied.

CA: In July, 1997, a state appeals court upheld the firing of Pelican Bay state prison medical technician Irven McMillan who was fired for placing prisoner Vaughn Dortch in a bathtub filled with boiling water. Dortch suffered second and third degree burns and eventually settled a lawsuit against the state prison system for $997,000.

CT: In May, 1997, Robert Jordon sued the city of New London because they refused to hire him as a policeman on account of his IQ being too high. City Manager Keith Harrigan, who oversees city hiring, said, "We don't like to hire people that have too high an IQ to be cops in this city," claiming they become bored easily with police work and quit.

D.C.: According to their 1996 financial disclosure forms, six of nine supreme court justices are millionaires. The millionaire justices are: Stephen Breyer, Ruth Ginsburg, Sandra O'Connor, David Souter, John Stevens and Antonin Scalia.

GA: Attorney General Mike Bowers is best known for defending the state's anti sodomy law, which the U.S. supreme court upheld in Bowers v. Hardwick. On June 5, 1997, Bowers admitted that while in office he has had a long running adulterous affair. Adultery is illegal in Georgia. Bowers resigned his commission as a Major General in the Air National Guard to "relieve the guard of the trauma of dealing with this." Bowers also faces a hearing before the state ethics commission for failing to report $13,129 in contributions to his 1994 campaign for attorney general. Bowers is currently seeking the Republican nomination for governor; he is running on a traditional "family values" platform.

MT: The state has passed a law going into effect October 1, 1997, allowing judges to order the "chemical castration" of repeat sex offenders or those whose first offense is "particularly heinous." Injections of the chemical Depo Provera are to begin one week before the offender is released and continue as long as the state DOC deems them necessary, which could be life. Montana follows California as the second state to enact this type of legislation. State legislator Deb Koffel, who sponsored the Montana bill, described the injections. "It's like a nicotine patch. It takes the edge off and allows people to quit."

OH: On May 14, 1997, Ohio state police arrested North Central Correctional Institution doctor Ira Chaiffetz on charges he offered a prisoner $12,000 to recruit a hit man to kill his wife, attorney Bronwen Chaiffetz. Dr. Chaiffetz had paid an unidentified prisoner at the Marion, OH, prison $5,000 as a down payment on his wife's murder. The prisoner was working with police and recorded the conversations. Chaiffetz is free on $50,000 bail, awaiting trial on one count of conspiracy to commit murder. He was fired by the prison. Ironically, this was the second time a spouse had attempted to kill Bronwen. In 1975 Bronwen was shot four times while riding a Philadelphia train with Chaiffetz by her then husband Joseph Centifanti, who was also a lawyer. Centifanti spent 30 months in a mental hospital and now practices law.

OH: On May 15, 1997, Henry Parker, a guard at the North Central Correctional Institution in Marion, was charged with felony counts of bribery and introducing drugs to the prison.

Spain: On July 1, 1997, Spanish police rescued prison warden Jose Ortega Lara, who had been held hostage for more than 18 months by the Basque nationalist party ETA. ETA has some 700 political prisoners dispersed in the Spanish prison system. They kidnapped Lara to demand better treatment for ETA prisoners and that they all be transferred to prisons in the Basque provinces, closer to their families. Four ETA members were arrested during Lara's release by police.

Turkey: On July 8, 1997, prisoners in the severely overcrowded prison at Metris rioted over bad conditions and poor treatment by prison staff. Five prisoners died during the rebellion and police stormed the prison that same day. In Alasehir jail two prisoners were stabbed to death the same day by three prisoners who took guards hostage.

TX: On May 9, 1997, Neal Hage, a Montana state prisoner, died of head injuries he received while fighting with Hawaiian prisoners at the Bobby Ross Group operated private prison in Dickens County. Six other prisoners were injured and several fires set in the prison, which houses 480 prisoners sent from Montana, Hawaii and Colorado. The fights allegedly stemmed from the fact that Hawaiian prisoners hold the only prisoner jobs in the jail.

TX: On May, 1997, governor George Bush signed legislation which prohibits the Texas Department of Criminal Justice from firing, suspending or otherwise punishing employees who refuse to take a polygraph test during the investigation of misconduct complaints. Prior to the law's enactment, prison employees could be fired for refusing to submit to a polygraph test.

WA: In April, 1997, the Spokane County Commissioners agreed to provide increased funding to the public defender's office, but questioned the representation being provided. Commissioner Kate McCaslin suggested the PDs were squandering money by working harder than necessary. She said that indigents who rely on taxpayers for legal costs deserve only an "adequate defense." "There's nothing in the law that requires this zealous stuff. If that's what the public defender's association wants to put in its guidelines, that's fine. But that doesn't mean we have to fund it," McCaslin said.

WA: Spokane assistant city attorney Milton Rowland was arrested in May, 1997, and charged with DUI, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident. Not happy at being arrested Rowland punched policeman Brad Hallock in the face and was charged with third degree assault on a law enforcement officer.

WA: Seattle city attorney Mark Sidran has built his career by the aggressive pursuit of poor and homeless people, which includes enacting and enforcing laws that ban sitting on sidewalks, panhandling, etc. The Seattle Prosecuting Attorney's Association, which is attempting to unionize city lawyers, has called for an investigation of discriminatory and retaliatory actions by Sidran. The association claims female attorneys are subjected to demotions, lower pay and verbal sexual harassment. Their complaint appears to be that they are treated as badly as the poor people they earn a living persecuting.

WY: On June 26, 1997, prisoners James Harlow, Richard Dowder and Brian Collins attempted to escape the Wyoming State Penitentiary by climbing a razor wire fence and hot wiring a maintenance truck. The prisoners were captured with Harlow and Dowder suffering minor gunshot wounds. Prison corporal Lance Martinez was stabbed to death during the escape, presumably by the escapees.

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