Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 1, 2000
Judge: Inmates can sue for DNA testing
ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Inmates who claim they were wrongfully convicted have a constitutional right to request DNA testing that might prove their innocence, a federal judge ruled.
U.S. District Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr. issued the ruling Friday in the case of James Harvey, 59, who was convicted of rape in 1990. Bryan did not order DNA testing for Harvey but said the 14th Amendment allows state prisoners to file federal civil rights lawsuits seeking DNA testing.
Although a district judge's decision is not binding on other courts, Harvey's lawsuit could become a national test case.
"DNA testing is becoming so accurate that any intelligent judge is going to say, "If there's any doubt, you should have a right to test.' If they can prove your guilt, why can't you prove your non-guilt?" said John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, a conservative civil liberties group that is not involved in the Harvey case.
If Bryan's decision reaches higher courts and is upheld, it could unleash a flood of lawsuits, the Washington Post reported Saturday. Most jurisdictions, including Virginia, do not guarantee prisoners the right to post-conviction DNA testing. Instead, prisoners must depend on prosecutors and governors to grant access to the laboratory work they claim could clear them.
Gang member sentenced to die for killing officer
SANTA ANA, Calif. -- About 40 uniformed Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies watched somberly as a judge sentenced a gang member to death for killing a fellow officer during a robbery.
Kevin Boyce, 29, found Shayne York's badge while thumbing through the deputy's wallet during the 1997 robbery at De'Cut hair salon in Buena Park.
According to trial testimony, Boyce kicked the deputy in the side, called him a "white pig," then shot him in the back of the head. York's fiancee, fellow Deputy Jennifer Parish, was lying next to him when he was killed. She was robbed but not shot.
The couple had stopped by the hair salon on their way to Las Vegas for a vacation. Parish's sister was cutting York's hair when Boyce and another gunman burst in and ordered the three to get on the floor.
Parish, who still works as a deputy, said she was so devastated that she contemplated suicide.
Boyce, who shouted at jurors earlier this month after they recommended the death penalty, sat quietly throughout much of Friday's hearing. While Parish spoke, he leafed through a book, appearing uninterested.
Boyce will await his appeal at the San Quentin state prison, where most of the state's 575 condemned prisoners are housed.
Colorado ski resort drops employee drug tests
VAIL, Colo. -- Faced with a tight labor market, Vail Resorts is loosening up a little.
The company that owns the Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone ski areas already had lifted bans on ponytails, facial hair and earrings for male workers.
This year, it is scrapping its 7-year-old employee drug testing program.
"We really found that initial hurdle of passing a drug test wasn't providing the deterrent we were looking for," said Les Marsh, director of human resources for Vail Resorts. "We're focusing on day-to-day preparedness for work rather than on whether a guy smoked pot six weeks ago."
It's the latest in a series of moves Vail has made that reflect a trend throughout the industry.
Perks that were once unheard of -- such as bonuses, vacation pay and health insurance -- are becoming standard.
Vail, which expects to spend $10-million to $15-million more on labor costs this season than last, raised its entry-level pay to between $8.50 and $9 an hour for first-time employees. Returning seasonal employees will make up to $9.75 an hour. It has some 15,000 employees.
Money is not the only lure, says Jim Laing, vice president of human resources for the Aspen Skiing Co.
"We got a little too corporate and a little too serious," he said. "Now the employees have taken charge. We have them doing karaoke in the lift lines and we have theme days where they can dress as their favorite rock star."
Elsewhere . . .
EXXON/MOBIL SETTLEMENT: ExxonMobil has agreed to spend $1.5-million in a settlement to compensate for polluting water and failing to adequately ensure against excessive air pollution at its Torrance, Calif., refinery. The Environmental Protection Agency said a comprehensive study of the refinery in 1994 turned up violations of several environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Community Right to Know Act.
POLICE BEATING: Police officers in Philadelphia will not be charged for shooting a carjacking suspect, but an investigation will continue into his televised beating, newspapers reported Saturday. Police fired nearly 50 rounds at Thomas Jones, 30, who was chased on foot and in cars after he was spotted driving a stolen car on July 12. Jones eventually jumped into an empty police cruiser and drove off before being stopped by police. The city district attorney will not prosecute any officers on criminal charges in Jones' shooting, Saturday's editions of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News reported. Both cited unnamed sources within the police department.
WILDFIRE ARREST: A Wyoming woman has been arrested in Rapid City, S.D., on suspicion of setting a fire that burned 83,000 acres in the Black Hills. Janice Stevenson, 46, faces a federal charge of setting timber on fire on U.S. Forest Service property, U.S. Attorney Ted L. McBride said Friday. If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. She also could be billed for the cost of the blaze, which could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Investigators said Stevenson admitted that she stopped by a road Aug. 24, lit a cigarette and tossed the burning match on the ground, according to U.S. Forest Service agents.
BAD BANK ROBBER: A would-be bank robber chose an odd getaway vehicle -- a slow-moving city bus. Valerie Coletti, 41, allegedly collected $8,300 in cash from a bank in Brooklyn and made her escape on a bus. The bus was stopped by police about a block from the bank, and Coletti, a mother of two college-age sons, was arrested. Police said Coletti told them she took the bus because she didn't have money for a cab.
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111
From the Times wire desk
From the AP