Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Miss. ACLU Sues to Restore Some Felons' Voting Rights

JACKSON, Miss. -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi has filed a lawsuit over the state's denial of voting rights to people convicted of felonies that include shoplifting, timber larceny and extortion.

The Mississippi Constitution lists 10 crimes that result in the loss of voting rights if committed. Eleven other crimes were added to the list in 2004 based on an attorney general's opinion.

It is the latter group of crimes that the ACLU is challenging, the executive director of the state organization said.

Attorney General Jim Hood said his opinion was based on a 1998 ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit that approved the additional crimes for disenfranchisement.

David Blount, a spokesman for Secretary of State Eric Clark, said he had not seen the lawsuit. Clark's office oversees Mississippi elections.

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· LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. -- Jennifer Wilbanks, who became known as the "runaway bride" after heading west days before her lavish wedding in 2005, is suing her former fiance for $500,000. Wilbanks and John Mason broke up for good in May, about a year after she disappeared and then falsely claimed she had been abducted and sexually assaulted. Wilbanks seeks $250,000 as her share of a home Mason bought after selling their story to an agent, plus $250,000 in punitive damages for allegedly abusing the power of attorney she granted for him to handle their financial affairs, according to Atlanta television station WAGA.

· NEW YORK -- Republican state attorney general candidate Jeanine Pirro demanded an end to a federal investigation into whether she illegally eavesdropped on her husband, whom she suspected of having an affair. Pirro was caught on tape last year asking former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik to plant a bug on her family's boat, but she said she never went through with the request and that the U.S. attorney's office notified her lawyers last week that it had found no evidence of wiretapping. Federal prosecutors did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.

· ERIE, Pa. -- A woman used her 4-week-old baby as a weapon in a domestic dispute, swinging the infant through the air and striking her boyfriend with the child, authorities said. The boy, who suffered a fractured skull and some bleeding in the brain, was in serious but stable condition at a Pittsburgh hospital, police said. Chytoria Graham, 27, of Erie was charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and simple assault.

· ATLANTA -- Members of the Atlanta black clergy and civil rights organizations met to discuss plans to distribute absentee ballots for the Nov. 7 general election to thousands of Hurricane Katrina evacuees living here. Similar efforts are being launched in Houston; Dallas; Baton Rouge, La.; and Jackson, Miss. -- cities that still have large evacuee populations, said Alaina Beverly of the Advancement Project, a Washington-based organization coordinating the campaign.

· TALLAHASSEE -- A judge declared a mistrial in the hazing trial of five Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity brothers at Florida A&M University after the jury said it could not reach a verdict. The trial would have been the first to test a new state law that makes hazing activities a felony if they result in death or serious bodily injury.

-- From News Services

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