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Legal news from the Midwest region.

Across the Region: Dec. 30


Iowa education agency: Juvenile home violated law

The Iowa Department of Education has found that the state-run Iowa Juvenile Home violated federal law when it denied youths educational services and transition planning to help them succeed in life.

The Education Department issued its ruling following an investigation into a complaint filed by the nonprofit group Disability Rights Iowa. The Iowa Department of Human Services, which runs the home, argued that any violations stemmed from well-intentioned efforts to serve youths with serious behavioral problems at the home.

In his ruling, the Education Department’s Thomas Mayes rejected that argument, stating that although DHS appeared to have had the best interests of the youth in mind, good intentions “are not a substitute for compliance” with federal law.

Mayes’ ruling verified, among other things, that the home had written up education and behavior-intervention plans that used the same “cut-and-paste” boilerplate language for each youth, instead of individualized plans required by law.

Mayes also said that juvenile home staff used schooling as a reward for good behavior and that the home offered nothing in the way of intensive educational supports for those who might need it and no enriched academic content for the more capable students.

Lawsuit: Casey’s fired manager in dead twins case

A convenience store chain fired an Iowa manager shortly after her report to police led to the arrest of an employee who killed her newborn twins, a new lawsuit contends.

Teresa Anderson alleges in the lawsuit that Casey’s General Store Inc. fired her in retaliation for prompting the investigation that led to the discovery of the dead babies in the trunk of Jackie Burkle’s car in January 2012.

Anderson said Dec. 20 that her bosses told her not to call police, repeatedly said Burkle’s case “was not a Casey’s issue,” reprimanded her while she was grieving over the twins’ deaths, and fired her after she returned from stress leave.

Casey’s told Anderson that she was fired for making mistakes before she took a medical leave to cope with the tragedy. But the lawsuit claims that was a pretext, and that Anderson was fired for filing a report that led to “negative press” for Casey’s.

The twins’ deaths shocked Iowans. Burkle, now 24, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is serving a 50-year sentence.

Anderson started working in 2007 for Casey’s. She later was tapped to manage a new Huxley store and hired Burkle as a cook. By fall 2011, Burkle appeared pregnant but adamantly denied it.


Sheriff wants jail exemption for e-cigarettes

Officials at a Nebraska jail are seeking an exemption to the county’s ban on tobacco products, saying e-cigarettes help calm inmates who are regular cigarette smokers.

The Gage County jail recently bought 100 e-cigarettes for $2.55 each and has been selling them to inmates for $7 each.

E-cigarettes are plastic tubes, in the shape and size of a rolled cigarette, that heat liquid nicotine into a flavored, smokeless vapor. They’re commonly used by people who are trying to quit smoking regular cigarettes and are sometimes used where regular cigarettes have been banned.

However, Gage County has banned smoke and smokeless tobacco products from county property, and a proposed ban of e-cigarettes has been added to a revised draft of the county employee handbook.

Sheriff Millard Gustafson wants an exemption for jail inmates.

The jail’s administrator, Lt. Tony Shepardson said many inmates are used to smoking one or more packs of regular cigarettes a day and some have been arrested for drug use. The e-cigarettes have helped pacify those inmates, Shepardson said, making them easier and safer to work with.

Inmates can buy four e-cigarettes at a time and are allowed to carry only one with them in a cell. Once the e-cigarette is depleted, the inmate can ask jailers for another.

Creighton University must accommodate deaf student

A federal judge has ruled that Creighton University’s medical school must provide a deaf student with special equipment and interpreters to allow him to finish his last two years there.

But the judge also ruled that the university does not have to reimburse Michael Argenyi for more than $100,000 of his own money he spent in his first two years for those resources.

Argenyi was accepted to Creighton’s medical school in 2008 after disclosing that he was hearing-impaired and requesting accommodations for his disability to allow him to follow lectures and communicate with patients.

He sued in 2009, after leaving the Omaha school when the university refused his requests for interpreters — even though he offered to pay for them himself.

Creighton did provide some assistance, such as a system in which professors wore a microphone that emitted frequencies that could be picked up by Argenyi’s cochlear implants. But Argenyi said the system was not adequate to accommodate his hearing disability, and one doctor determined it actually reduced Argenyi’s ability to understand his professors. In September, a federal jury found that Creighton had discriminated against Argenyi, but that the discrimination was not intentional. For that reason, it did not award him any damages.

U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp denied Argenyi’s request for reimbursement but said the medical school must provide him with the special equipment and interpreters when Argenyi resumes medical school next year.


Headphone seizure largest counterfeit find of year

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in Portal are calling the seizure of more than $10 million in imitation Beats headphones the North Dakota and Minnesota region’s largest bust of counterfeit goods this year.

Agents seized 24,660 counterfeit headphones with an illegitimate trademark at the Portal port of entry on Nov. 16. The total value is based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $437 per pair.

The headphones were manufactured in China, shipped across the Pacific Ocean and landed at a port in Vancouver on Canada’s western seaboard. From there they were shipped in a container on the Canadian Pacific rail line to enter the U.S. through Portal, one of only two land ports with rail capabilities in the state.

Brian King, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman, said shipping documents show the headphones would have continued on to Chicago and from there would have probably been distributed by truck or air throughout the U.S.

King said customs agents in Chicago will investigate further.

Between Oct. 1, 2011 and Sept. 30, 2012, border agents made 22,848 intellectual property right infringement seizures of $1.26 billion in goods, and 72 percent of those goods originated in China.

Jury convicts Belcourt man for assault outside bar

A federal jury has convicted a North Dakota man accused of kicking a man in the head during a bar fight.

Danny DeLong, 29 of Belcourt, was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.

The incident happened in December 2012 outside the Diamond Z Bar in Fort Yates. Authorities say Danny DeLong Melvin DeLong, 25, started a fight inside the bar and the altercation spilled out into the street.

Police say Melvin DeLong drove over the victim twice with his vehicle before Danny DeLong kicked him the head.

Melvin DeLong pleaded guilty in July to two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon. He was sentenced to nearly three years in prison and ordered to pay back more than $19,000.


Judge orders man accused of murder committed

A man accused of killing a Yankton resident last year will be committed to the South Dakota Human Services Center until he is deemed mentally competent to face charges, a judge has ruled.

Darwin Abel Jans of Yankton has been charged with second-degree murder and aggravated assault in the death of 59-year-old Larry D. Goodman. Authorities say Jans assaulted Goodman in September 2012 and Goodwin died weeks later in a hospital. Circuit Judge Glen Eng said that a psychiatric evaluation found with reasonable certainty that Jans had paranoid psychosis at the time of the alleged crime, which made him incapable of knowing he had committed a wrongful act.

It was the third evaluation ordered by the court.

The two most recent evaluations also found that Jans is currently unable to assist his attorney with the case.

Judge rules against SD teenager in 4-H scandal

A federal judge has ruled that a South Dakota teenager embroiled in a 4-H cheating scandal is not entitled to monetary damages in her case against two 4-H administrators.

However, U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier left intact a previously granted injunction allowing Bayley Kroupa to continue to compete.

Kroupa, of White Lake, was barred from participating in 4-H in 2011, when she was 16, after a 4-H ethics commission determined she cheated in a State Fair competition by showing a pig different from one she had showed at the Brule County Fair. The ethics commission believes the pig, which won a reserve champion award in South Dakota, was actually a champion swine from Missouri.

Kroupa’s family denied cheating and sued for $850,000, saying she had been humiliated and denied due process.

Schreier said the two 4-H officials named as plaintiffs — Rod Geppert, who was then a Brule County 4-H representative, and Peter Nielsen, a 4-H youth development official — could not have been expected to view their actions as depriving Kroupa of her constitutional rights.

The 18-year-old Kroupa will be eligible to participate in 4-H until she is 19 next September.


Fed court upholds injunction on abortion law

A federal appeals court panel upheld an injunction delaying Wisconsin’s new law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, writing state attorneys failed to show implementing the law quickly would protect women’s health.

The three-judge panel from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago upheld U.S. District Judge William Conley’s preliminary injunction. Judge Richard Posner wrote in a 25-page lead opinion that the law unreasonably gave providers just two days to obtain admitting privileges. Delaying the law’s implementation shouldn’t hurt because abortion complications are rare and nothing shows such privileges make any difference to a woman’s health, he added.

The GOP-authored law requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles. Nearly a dozen other states have similar laws. Wisconsin Republicans contend the law ensures continuity of care if a woman experiences complications following an abortion. Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed the law July 5, a Friday. Under Wisconsin statutes governing when laws become effective, the measure would have gone into effect July 8, the following Monday.

Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services filed a federal lawsuit the day Walker signed the measure, alleging the law would force the organizations to close two abortion clinics, in Appleton and Milwaukee, because providers at both facilities lack admitting privileges. Conley issued a temporary restraining order blocking the law from taking effect July 8 and the next month issued an injunction delaying implementation pending the outcome of a November trial.

Appeals court: Widower can no longer file suit

The widower of a Wisconsin woman killed in 1980 waited too long to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the convicted killer, according to a court of appeals.

The 4th District Court of Appeals agreed with Columbia County Circuit Court Judge W. Andrew Voigt. He decided in February that the wrongful death lawsuit was filed four months after the two-year deadline of the statute of limitations.

Randolph resident Curtis Forbes, who is now 56, was convicted in 2010 of killing 18-year-old Marilyn McIntyre in Columbus. Her husband found her body when he returned from working an overnight shift on March 11, 1980. The couple’s 3-month-old baby was in a crib.

Forbes was charged in March 2009 after advances in DNA technology revived the investigation.

McIntyre’s husband, Lane McIntyre, and their son, Christopher McIntyre, filed the lawsuit in July 2011.

The law requires that wrongful death cases be filed within two years of the date when it is known to a reasonable probability the identity of the person alleged to have committed the murder.

Across the Region is compiled from Associated Press wire, staff reports and news releases.

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