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In Brief

Wednesday, October 27, 2004; Page B03


Pr. William Caps Property Tax Increases

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors pledged yesterday to keep any future property tax increases below 6 percent.

The county has raised taxes repeatedly to pay for new schools, roads and other services in the fast-growing county. While supervisors have reduced the tax rate in recent years, rising property values have meant big percentage increases in homeowners' tax bills.

The board also agreed to continue providing schools with 56.75 percent of general revenue and to allocate any additional revenue from the states' recordation tax increase to transportation needs.

Court Upholds Ruling to Unseal Papers

A federal appeals court yesterday upheld a decision ordering the Virginia State Police to unseal some documents from its investigation into the killing for which former death row inmate Earl Washington Jr. was wrongly convicted.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit had ordered the documents unsealed this month at the request of Washington's attorneys and several media organizations, including The Washington Post. The full court yesterday declined a request by Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore to reconsider the ruling.

Washington was convicted in the 1982 killing of a Culpeper, Va., woman. He was imprisoned for 17 years being exonerated by DNA evidence in 2000. The documents are part of a civil case Washington has filed against the Virginia State Police and others.


Girl's French-Fry Arrest Upheld

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia yesterday upheld the arrest of a 12-year-old girl by Metro police for eating a single french fry in a train station in fall 2000.

The court affirmed a lower court ruling that Metro's "zero-tolerance" policy and the child's subsequent arrest were constitutional, although Judge John G. Roberts made it clear that he was no fan of the policies.

Hedgepeth was arrested on the first day of a week-long campaign by Metro officers to clean up the system's subway cars and stations. Passengers are not allowed to eat or drink in stations or on trains, and Hedgepeth was among those nabbed in the roundup. Adults caught eating during the campaign were given a citation, but District law then required that children committing delinquent acts be taken into custody, so Metro officers handcuffed Hedgepeth.

The girl was processed at the city's Juvenile Processing Center before being handed over to her mother three hours later.

Catholic Schools to Honor Hickey

Schools in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington will be closed Friday, which has been designated a day of mourning for Cardinal James A. Hickey by his successor, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick. The archdiocese includes the District and five Maryland counties.

Hickey, 84, died Sunday after several years of declining health.

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