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Nation in brief

High court upholds legal aid

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 27, 2003


WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Wednesday narrowly upheld a nationwide program that channels millions of dollars every year to legal services for the poor by pooling the interest earned on short-term deposits that lawyers hold in trust for their clients.

The 5-4 decision rejected the argument of a conservative legal group that the program amounted to an unconstitutional "taking" of the clients' property. The group, the Washington Legal Foundation, has conducted a decadelong litigation campaign against the program, arguing that it violated private property rights and that law firm clients should not be forced to provide financial support to causes with which they might disagree.

The majority said Wednesday that even assuming that the government did appropriate money that was technically the property of the clients, the action did not violate the Fifth Amendment's prohibition against taking private property without "just compensation." That was because transaction costs would otherwise have wiped out whatever interest an individual account would have earned, Justice John Paul Stevens said.

"Just compensation" under the Fifth Amendment "is measured by the property owner's loss rather than the government's gain" and the depositors suffered no actual loss, he said.

Authorities find remains of nun abducted Sunday

NORFOLK, Va. -- The mutilated body of a nun was found in a parking lot Wednesday, three days after she and another nun were abducted in Georgia by a man suspected of slaying his father, authorities said.

The second nun was located in a motel Tuesday, shaken but unharmed, Norfolk police said.

Adrian O'Neill Robinson, 25, was last seen early Wednesday when Norfolk police saw him driving alone on a dead-end street in the nuns' car. He ran into a marshy area and a search was under way.

Police said human remains were discovered in the car, but did not describe what they were.

A half-hour later in nearby Virginia Beach, the body of Sister Philomena Fogarty, who was in her 60s, was found in an office building parking lot. Authorities said her head, hands and feet had been cut off.

The other nun, 72-year-old Lucie Kristofik, was found Tuesday at a Norfolk hotel. She told authorities Robinson had left the motel sometime Tuesday with Fogarty.

Norfolk police spokesman Chris Amos said no additional charges had been filed against Robinson, but said he is the primary suspect in Fogarty's slaying. He also said a rifle was found in the hotel room.

Police have searched for Robinson since Sunday, when he allegedly shot his 56-year-old father, Henry, at the home they shared in western Georgia.

Family members told authorities that Robinson accused his father of sexually assaulting him before shooting him 16 times. He then allegedly abducted the nuns, apparently to use their car.

Kristofik told investigators that the two women came home Sunday to find Robinson inside their home. She said he took $900 in cash, bound and gagged them, put them in their car and drove to Norfolk, some 570 miles away.

The Rev. Ronnie Madden said the nuns lived alone in a mobile home near Christ the King Catholic Church. Both were members of the order of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.

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