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National Briefs: Wisconsin district attorney dies unexpectedly

BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. — Authorities say the district attorney of Jackson County has died unexpectedly at age 56.

Jackson County Sheriff Duane Waldera says Gerald Fox died Monday while attending a sport shooting event in Eau Claire County. The cause of Fox’s death was not immediately known, but Waldera says it may be cardiac related.

Waldera says Fox took on major cases and was a strong advocate for citizens. He says it will be hard to fill his shoes.

The sheriff says the DA’s office is trying to proceed with business at an emotionally difficult time. Waldera says some cases may be delayed or rescheduled.

Fox was elected in 2006 and most recently re-elected in 2016. He recently was recommended by Wisconsin’s two U.S. senators as a candidate for a vacant U.S. attorney position in the Western District.

—Associated Press

 

Baylor settles suit alleging ‘culture of violence’

AUSTIN, Texas — Baylor University has settled a lawsuit filed by a former student woman who said she was gang raped by two football players and alleged the program at the nation’s largest Baptist school fostered a “culture of violence.”

The settlement is one of several in recent weeks as Baylor moves to close out lawsuits filed in the aftermath of an investigation into how the school handled reports of sexual and physical assaults for years. The probe led to the firing of former football coach Art Briles and the departure of former school President Ken Starr.

Terms of the settlement filed Tuesday were not released.

The plaintiff known as “Elizabeth Doe” had alleged knowledge of at least 52 acts of rape by more than 30 football players over several years.

—Associated Press

 

Judge orders Des Moines to refund traffic fines

DES MOINES, Iowa — A judge is ordering Des Moines to refund fines issued to hundreds of drivers who appealed speeding tickets they received from cameras on Interstate 235.

District Judge Lawrence McLellan ruled Tuesday that the city violated their due process rights and failed to follow its own ordinances by requiring appeals to go through an unauthorized administrative hearing process.

He says city code should have required Des Moines to file municipal infractions against those who disputed liability, a process that has more safeguards. That didn’t happen.

The class includes drivers who appealed tickets from December 2013 to present, were found liable and fined. One class attorney estimates they number in the low thousands.

McLellan’s ruling orders the city to refund penalties and stop collection efforts related to outstanding fines. Most tickets were for $65.

—Associated Press

 

Judge to rule on white nationalist’s speech

EAST LANSING, Mich. — A federal judge will decide whether to force Michigan State University to allow campus space to be rented for a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer later this month.

An 11-page lawsuit filed Sunday night in U.S. District Court in western Michigan contends that the East Lansing school’s refusal to rent a conference room or lecture hall to a Spencer supporter on security grounds violates free speech and other constitutional rights.

The legal action against the 50,000-student university was taken on behalf of Georgia State University student Cameron Padgett, the one who tried to rent the space for Spencer. It asks for a preliminary injunction forcing MSU to reverse its decision, as well as $75,000 in damages.

Michigan State said in an Aug. 17 statement that it denied a request for space out of “significant concerns about public safety.” It also cited violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, days earlier. A woman was killed after a car drove into counter-protesters.

A brief statement from MSU spokesman Kent Cassella emailed to The Associated Press Monday says the school was aware of the lawsuit but doesn’t address how it might respond.

A date for an initial hearing could be set soon, and a judge would likely give both sides at least several days submit arguments for or against a preliminary injunction.

—Associated Press

 

Texas seeks reversal of ‘sanctuary cities’ ruling

AUSTIN, Texas — Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is asking a federal appeals court for an emergency order blocking a lower ruling that kept Texas’ new anti-”sanctuary cities” law from taking effect.

In a filing Tuesday, Paxton requested expedited consideration and a ruling from the U.S. 5th Circuit Court within two days.

A San Antonio-based federal judge last week temporarily suspended Texas’ new law amid a lawsuit questioning its constitutionality. The law had been set to kick in Sept. 1.

It allows police to inquire about people’s immigration status during routine interactions like traffic stops. Police chiefs also could face removal from office and even criminal charges for not complying with federal requests to hold people jailed on non-immigration offenses longer for possible deportation.

—Associated Press

 

Court stays injunction against Texas voter ID

AUSTIN, Texas — A federal appeals court panel on Tuesday stayed a permanent injunction to throw out the Texas law requiring voters to present an accepted photo identification card.

By a 2-1 vote, the three-judge panel in New Orleans left in the injunction’s place a previous order by U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos. That order allows those without an accepted ID to vote by signing a sworn declaration stating they have a reasonable impediment to obtaining one.

Gonzales Ramos had issued the permanent injunction against a subsequent voter ID law on Aug. 23, calling it a “poll tax” on minority voters. The stay suspends that order until the appeals court can hear the merits for and against the state’s appeal.

The U.S. Justice Department participated in the fight to dispose of the law until President Donald Trump took office this year, when it reversed position and supported the Texas voter ID law.

—Associated Press

 

Novo Nordisk to pay $59M over marketing

Novo Nordisk A/S agreed to pay $58.7 million to resolve a U.S. Justice Department probe of the company’s allegedly illegal marketing of its diabetes drugs, including its top seller Victoza.

Novo Nordisk agreed to resolve eight lawsuits accusing the Danish drugmaker of downplaying warnings for Victoza and misleading doctors by disguising salespeople as medical educators and paying kickbacks to persuade doctors to prescribe its medicines, according to court filings.

The accord settles the U.S.’s claims that Novo Nordisk failed to comply with a Food and Drug Administration requirement that the company give physicians information about Victoza’s potential cancer risk, the Justice Department said in a statement Tuesday. Internal whistle-blowers leveled other allegations over the company’s marketing.

The U.S. said Novo Nordisk sales representatives gave information to physicians that created the false or misleading impression that the Victoza warning was wrong or unimportant. When a 2011 survey showed that half of primary care doctors polled were unaware of the potential risk, the FDA modified its procedures to increase awareness, but the company’s sales force failed to comply with them, the Justice Department said.

Novo Nordisk said in a statement that it takes seriously its responsibility to communicate safety and clinical benefits of its medicines. Victoza, an injection that stimulates the natural production of insulin, is the company’s biggest-selling drug and one of its fastest-growing products.

—Bloomberg News

 

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