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President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland is seen Dec. 14 in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Garland has put on his judge’s robes again. (AP photo)

Across the Nation: Garland returns to bench as judge, not justice

Garland returns to bench as judge, not justice

WASHINGTON — Merrick Garland, the judge nominated by President Barack Obama to the U.S. Supreme Court, made his return to the courtroom on Wednesday to hear cases as a federal appeals court judge, not a Supreme Court justice.

Garland, the chief judge of the District of Columbia Circuit, stopped hearing cases in March after he was nominated to fill the seat of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February. But after Republicans blocked his confirmation, it was announced in mid-December that he’d again begin hearing federal appeals court cases.

President-elect Donald Trump is now expected to announce his own nomination to the court within the two weeks.

There was no mention during nearly three hours of argument on Wednesday that it was Garland’s first day back on the bench in 11 months.

The two judges sitting with Garland on Wednesday have also been mentioned as possible future nominees to the Supreme Court, though by different parties.

Judge Sri Srinivasan, appointed by President Obama in 2013, has been mentioned as a possible nominee by a Democratic president. Judge Brett Kavanaugh, named by President George W. Bush in 2006, has been mentioned as a possible Republican nominee, though he is not one of 21 potential nominees listed by Trump.

One subtle reminder of Garland’s unsuccessful nomination was literally staring him in the face Wednesday. Among the roughly three dozen people watching the proceedings was one lawyer with a familiar name: Eugene Scalia, a lawyer and one of Justice Scalia’s nine children.

Scalia, who represents one of the parties in a case being heard by the court, declined to comment on his case or Garland’s return to the bench.

 

Former Utah AG charged with corruption wants new judge

SALT LAKE CITY — Weeks before his corruption trial is set to begin, former Utah Attorney General John Swallow says the judge overseeing the case is biased against him and she should remove herself form the case.

Swallow’s attorney filed documents in court Tuesday saying Third District Court Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills has repeatedly declined to hold hearings on requests he’s made, did not probe prosecutors obtaining thousands of private communications between Swallow and his attorney and ordered the arrest of a witness last week.

Utah court spokesman Geoff Fattah said judges cannot comment on matters before their court. Hruby-Mills has not yet ruled on the request.

Prosecutors say Swallow accepted money and gifts from businessmen in trouble with regulators.

He has pleaded not guilty to 13 charges of bribery, evidence tampering and other crimes. The trial is scheduled to start Feb. 7.

 

Secret Service settles racial discrimination lawsuit

WASHINGTON  — The Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service have agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging racial discrimination in promotion practices by the agency that protects the president.

More than 100 black Secret Service agents alleged in the 2000 lawsuit that they were routinely passed over for promotions in favor of less-qualified white agents.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says in a statement released Tuesday night that he is “pleased that we are able to finally put this chapter of Secret Service history behind us.”

The Secret Service says that while it “denies any and all liability or damages … the agreement is a means of resolving this almost 2-decades-old matter.”

The Washington Post is reporting that the agency has agreed to pay $24 million to the plaintiffs.

 

Court: Ex-employees must pay Kansas prosecutor’s office

TOPEKA, Kan. — Two former employees who sued the Shawnee County prosecutor’s office claiming they were terminated because of racial or gender discrimination will have to pay court costs in the wake of a jury verdict finding their allegations baseless.

A court filing Tuesday formally dismissed the civil lawsuit that Lisa Anne Moore, of Lawrence, and Krystal Boxum-Debolt, of Rancho Rio, had brought against the Shawnee County district attorney’s office. It awarded District Attorney Mike Kagay costs for the lawsuit.

Jurors on Jan. 13 found no discrimination occurred.

The lawsuit alleged former Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor created a hostile work environment and fired the women victim-witness specialists in 2010 in retaliation for their complaints.

Taylor testified last week that he treated them fairly. He didn’t run for re-election in November.

 

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