Fourteen days after rallying on the third floor of the Indiana Statehouse to cheer, applaud and push the Legislature into passing a hate crime bill this session, advocates were stunned the measure failed last week to even get a committee vote.
Although the $34 billion budget dominated the session, legislators introduced and considered more than 600 bills each in both the Senate and the House. The ones they passed covered a variety of matters, including hate crimes, hemp, gambling, foster parents, electricity generation and, of course, electric scooters.
Curtis Flowers has been jailed in Mississippi for 22 years, even as prosecutors couldn’t get a murder conviction against him to stick through five trials. This week, the Supreme Court will consider whether his conviction and death sentence in a sixth trial should stand or be overturned for a familiar reason: because prosecutors improperly kept African-Americans off the jury.
The Republican-dominated Indiana Senate passed a stripped-down hate crimes bill Thursday and sent the measure to the House, where Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and others hope the legislation can still be strengthened. The Senate voted 39-10 in favor of the legislation that was changed two days earlier to remove a list of specifically protected characteristics, including sexual orientation, gender identity and race.
After more than three hours of testimony and discussion on Monday morning, the Senate Public Policy Committee voted to send a bias crimes bill to the full Senate for consideration. Senate Bill 12 would give judges the ability to consider whether a crime was committed out of hate or bias toward specific groups of individuals as an aggravating circumstance at sentencing.
Opponents and supporters of a proposed Indiana hate crimes law are arguing their positions before state legislators. A state Senate committee opened a hearing Monday morning on a bill that would create a law specifically against crimes fueled by biases regarding traits such as race, religion and sexual orientation.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a man’s conviction and sentence Thursday for conspiracy to commit robbery, finding the denial of his motion to change venue and suppress evidence was not erroneous.
A Michigan judge who held an extraordinary hearing before sentencing sports doctor Larry Nassar to prison for sexually assaulting female athletes refused to disqualify herself from the case Friday if higher courts send it back to fix any errors. Ingham County Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said some of her courtroom comments about Nassar were “perhaps inartful,” but she denied any bias.
A judge who sentenced disgraced former sports doctor Larry Nassar to prison for molesting girls will hold a hearing on a request that she disqualify herself from his appeal of the sentence. Nassar’s court-appointed appellate lawyers said the judge was biased, citing comments such as saying she would allow someone “to do to him what he did to others” if the constitution allowed.
The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a gay death row inmate in South Dakota who says jurors were biased against him because of his sexual orientation. Charles Rhines tried to persuade the court to take an interest in his case after the justices last year ruled that evidence of racial bias in the jury room allows a judge to consider setting aside a verdict.