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Mexico's Supreme Court invalidated a controversial law signed last year that created a legal framework for the military to work in a policing role in much of the country, ruling Thursday that the measure violated the constitution by trying to normalize the use of the armed forces in public safety.

Deep-rooted corruption and ineffectiveness among local and state police forces has led Mexico to rely heavily on the military to combat drug cartels in parts of the country.

But military commanders have long expressed uneasiness about what was essentially an open-ended policing mission. The armed forces have been implicated in a number of human rights abuse cases.

On Wednesday, President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced a security plan that would also lean on the military. He proposed forming a National Guard initially made up of elements from the navy and army police as well as federal police.

After drawing a raft of criticism, especially from human rights groups, Lopez Obrador sought on Thursday to distinguish between his plan and his predecessors'. He said congress would seek a constitutional reform to allow it.

"Because I don't want to use the army and the navy like they have been doing for public safety work if they are not authorized to carry out those functions," Lopez Obrador said.

But the international human rights group Amnesty International said the Supreme Court's decision should cause Lopez Obrador to rethink his security plan.






Kentucky’s state Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a law requiring a panel of doctors to review medical malpractice lawsuits and upheld a law banning mandatory union dues for most employees.

The rulings gave Republicans and Democrats each something to celebrate, as the GOP passed both laws in their first year of control over the loud opposition of some Democrats. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has credited the union dues law, known as right-to-work, with spurring record levels of business investment in Kentucky. But the medical review panel law has been criticized for clogging the state’s court system.

For the past year, whenever someone files a medical malpractice lawsuit in Kentucky it is first reviewed by a panel of doctors before it can go to court. The doctors have nine months to issue a report on whether they think the claim has merit. The report can then be used as evidence at trial.

Republican state Sen. Ralph Alvarado, an emergency room doctor, sponsored the bill with the goal of reducing frivolous lawsuits. Tonya Claycomb sued to overturn the law on behalf of her child, Ezra, who was born with severe brain damage and cerebral palsy she says was caused by medical malpractice. She argued the bill had delayed her access to the courts, citing section 14 of the Kentucky Constitution. It says all courts shall be open and every person will have access “without ... delay.”

Lawyers for Gov. Bevin argued the law is helpful because it gets the two sides talking before a lawsuit is filed, which could lead to an agreement to settle the case outside of court. They also argued section 14 of the Constitution only applies to the courts, not the legislature.

But the court ruled the law is unconstitutional because it delays access to the courts, rejecting the argument that section 14 of the state Constitution only applies to the courts.



The man accused in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre was released from a hospital and turned over to federal authorities for a court appearance Monday on charges he killed 11 people in what is believed to be the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.

Robert Gregory Bowers, 46, who was shot and wounded in a gun battle with police, arrived at the federal courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh less than two hours after his release from Allegheny General Hospital, according to U.S. marshals. A government car with a wheelchair visible inside could be seen arriving earlier.

Federal prosecutors set in motion plans to seek the death penalty against Bowers, who authorities say expressed hatred of Jews during the rampage and later told police that "I just want to kill Jews" and that "all these Jews need to die."

The first funeral — for Cecil Rosenthal and his younger brother, David — was set for Tuesday. Survivors, meanwhile, began offering harrowing accounts of the mass shooting Saturday inside Tree of Life Synagogue. Barry Werber said he found himself hiding in a dark storage closet as the gunman tore through the building and opened fire.




The first West Virginia Supreme Court justice to go on trial in an impeachment scandal is looking forward to explaining her decisions since taking office.

Justice Beth Walker's trial is set to start Monday in the state Senate. Senators are serving as jurors with several members of the House of Delegates serving as prosecutors.

Four justices were impeached by the House in August. The cases targeted spending, including renovations to the justices' offices, and also raised questions about corruption, incompetence and neglect of duty earlier this decade.

In a statement after her impeachment last month, Walker said she takes "full responsibility" for her actions and she will "look forward to explaining those actions and decisions before the State Senate."

Walker, who joined the court in 2017, said she has been committed to greater transparency and accountability in the judicial branch and agreed that "expenditures prior to my election were ill-advised, excessive and needed greater oversight."

Some Democrats have criticized the impeachment moves as a power grab by majority Republican lawmakers, strategically timed to allow GOP Gov. Jim Justice to name their temporary replacements.




The Supreme Court is refusing to hear an appeal from a California billionaire who doesn't want to open a road on his property so that the public can access a beach.

The justices said Monday that they will not take up Vinod Khosla's appeal of a California appeals court decision. The case had the potential to upend California's longstanding efforts to keep beaches open to the public.

Khosla bought the property in the San Francisco Bay Area for $32.5 million in 2008 and later blocked the public from accessing it. That prompted a lawsuit by the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation.

A state appeals court ruled last year that Khosla needed to apply for a coastal development permit before denying public access.

Khosla — a venture capitalist who co-founded the Silicon Valley technology company, Sun Microsystems — closed a gate, put up a no-access sign and painted over a billboard at the entrance to the property that had advertised access to the beach, according to the appellate ruling.

The secluded beach south of Half Moon Bay, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of San Francisco, is only accessible by a road that goes over Khosla's land.

The previous owners of the property allowed public access to the beach for a fee. But Khosla's attorneys say the cost to maintain the beach and other facilities far exceeded revenue from the fees.

The government cannot demand that people keep their private property open to the public without paying them to do so, Khosla's attorneys said in their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The state appeals court ruling would "throw private property rights in California into disarray," the appeal argued, saying other property owners along California's coast would prefer to exclude the public.

The Surfrider Foundation said Khosla's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was premature because he had not yet applied for a permit and received a decision from the state.

"This win helps to secure beach access for all people, as is enshrined in our laws," said Angela Howe, legal director of the foundation. "The Surfrider Foundation will always fight to preserve the rights of the many from becoming the assets of the few."



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