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    Around the state

    Government sued over Elian raid

    Compiled from Times wires
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published March 14, 2003

    MIAMI -- A Washington-based legal watchdog group is suing the federal government on behalf of more than 100 protesters who claimed they were beaten and gassed with pepper spray during the raid to seize Elian Gonzalez from his Miami relatives nearly three years ago.

    The lawsuit, filed Thursday in federal court by Judicial Watch, seeks punitive and compensatory damages.

    It accuses immigration agents of negligence, assault and battery, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment stemming from the April 22, 2000 raid on a home to retrieve Elian so he could be returned to his Cuban father.

    It details injuries that protesters said they suffered during the raid and lingering medical problems that they contend stem from it.

    Elian returned to Cuba on June 28, 2000, after his Miami relatives lost a court battle to keep him.

    Court turns down 'Choose Life' foes

    MIAMI -- A federal appeals court ruled against several groups who contend that Florida's "Choose Life" license plate is unconstitutional.

    The abortion rights groups, represented by New York-based Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, challenged state law because it reserves the added tag fees for agencies offering adoption services, but not abortions.

    The 11th U.S. District Court of Appeals in Atlanta issued its opinion March 7, agreeing with a lower court's ruling that the abortion rights groups lacked standing to challenge the constitutionality of Florida law.

    The "Choose Life" plate was approved by state lawmakers in 1999. More than $1-million has been generated by the sales of the plates, which were Florida's ninth-most popular specialty plate during 2002.

    In 2001, a circuit judge in Tallahassee threw out a lawsuit by several plaintiffs seeking recall of the plates on the grounds that the "Choose Life" phrase was irrevocably intertwined with religion.

    Singer's hangout listed as landmark

    FRUIT COVE -- The home of author and civil rights activist Stetson Kennedy, where folk singer Woody Guthrie wrote his autobiography, is being designated as a literary landmark.

    Guthrie's son Arlo Guthrie, known for the song and movie Alice's Restaurant, gave Kennedy a plaque Thursday from Friends of the Library USA designating the 85-year-old author's waterfront home on Lake Beluthahatchee as a literary landmark.

    While staying at Kennedy's home, Woody Guthrie wrote a draft of his autobiography, Sees of Man, as well as a ballad about Kennedy, Beluthahatchee Bill.

    Kennedy gained fame for his own books after infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan.

    The home, south of Jacksonville, is where Kennedy did his writing and civil rights work starting in the late 1940s, and where Woody Guthrie often spent time relaxing and writing.

    Arlo Guthrie was to perform Thursday night in Jacksonville to raise money for a trust fund to perpetuate Beluthahatchee as a historic archive and workshop for people dedicated to human rights and nurturing Florida's cultural and historic heritage.

    Man not guilty in wife's suicide

    FORT MYERS -- A jury acquitted a Naples man of helping his wife commit suicide by giving her a gun when she threatened to kill herself.

    Gene Lenox Gore, 48, was accused of giving Sandra Gore, his wife of 11 years, the .357-caliber Magnum revolver she used to fire a shot into her head while they were riding around Naples in his pickup on Oct. 5, 2001.

    The couple had been arguing. Sandra Gore, 35, said she wanted to die, and her husband placed a the loaded handgun on the seat next to her, telling her to go ahead and shoot herself.

    Gene Gore, who works as a construction contractor, testified during his two-day trial that he thought his wife was kidding about wanting to die. "I didn't believe she'd do it," Gore said.

    The jury acquitted him of manslaughter and assisted suicide after two hours of deliberation Wednesday.

    Law on four-time DUI losers killed

    TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a law denying hardship licenses to drivers with four convictions for driving under the influence, saying it was improperly passed by the Legislature.

    The court, in a 5-2 decision, said the Legislature violated the constitutional prohibition against putting unrelated subjects in a bill when it passed the measure in 1998.

    The provision making driver's license revocations permanent after the fourth conviction was added to a bill relating to bad-check collection procedures.

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