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Archive for June, 2013

(Jefferson City) (AP) – The incoming leader of the Missouri judiciary grew up on a family dairy farm near Hannibal where she drove tractors, stacked hay, helped ready cows for milking and worked in the garden. She now is poised to become the Missouri chief justice after starting law school thinking she did not want to practice in the courtroom.

Judge Mary Russell said Wednesday she is honored and humbled and described herself as “an ordinary person in an extraordinary position.” Beginning next week, Russell will lead the seven-member Missouri Supreme Court for two years, presenting a proposed budget to the Legislature and likely giving a speech about the judiciary during a joint legislative session.

Members of the high court select the chief justice, and the position has rotated among the judges. Russell succeeds current Chief Justice Richard Teitelman who will remain on the court. Teitelman said in a statement Wednesday he will continue to support efforts to ensure the poor have adequate legal representation and is confident Russell will be an effective leader.

“I have been humbled to have served the wonderful people of our state for the past two years as Missouri’s chief justice,” Teitelman said. “One beauty of our system in Missouri is that, while each of us has the opportunity to serve a two-year term as chief justice, we always work as part of a team of seven individuals.”

Russell, 54, was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2004 by Democratic Gov. Bob Holden. She was a judge in the Court of Appeals’ Eastern District from 1995 to 2004 and served as chief judge from 1999 to 2000. Russell was clerk from 1983 to 1984 for state Supreme Court Judge George Gunn.

Before her legal career, Russell was interested in journalism. She has degrees in communications and print media from Truman State University and wanted to do consumer affairs reporting. However, she enjoyed covering trials for the Hannibal Courier-Post. When she started law school at the University of Missouri-Columbia, she did not want to practice in the courtroom because she did not have confidence in her ability for public speaking, thinking on her feet and serving as a good advocate for clients.

Now as chief justice, Russell wants to concentrate on civics education to teach about how government operates and the rights and responsibilities within the Constitution. She also wants to continue to expand electronic filing, make sure there is support for specialty courts such as veterans and drug treatment courts and examine public opinion about Missouri’s court system. She plans surveys of people leaving courthouses and said she has discussed the concept with the next two in line to serve as chief justice and hopes to keep it going.

“We’re always interested in improving and seeing how we can do our jobs better,” Russell said. “We will look at both the metropolitan areas and the rural areas and see if maybe there are problems unique to those particular types of courts.”

Russell’s experience within state government extends beyond the courthouse. She has worked in the communications office for the Missouri Senate and in the Senate president pro tem’s office. In 1991, she was a Democratic member of the Senate Reapportionment Commission that was responsible for redrawing state Senate districts based upon the 1990 census.

Russell is married to Jim Russell, who is a lobbyist that has represented the Missouri Agribusiness Association.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday in the same courtroom where the Supreme Court conducts oral arguments, Russell said the high court judges are apolitical and get along well. She declined to categorize her judicial philosophy.

“I don’t like labels. I look at each case based upon the law, based upon the facts,” Russell said. “I don’t think of myself as any particular category.”

Last summer, Russell wrote the dissenting opinion when the Missouri Supreme Court struck down an important piece of Republicans’ effort to curb liability lawsuits by capping noneconomic damages for issues such as pain and suffering in medical practice cases. The court ruled that a limit on damages restricted the jury’s fact-finding role and violated the right to trial by jury. Russell wrote in her dissent that the ruling “reflects a wholesale departure from the unequivocal law of this state and leaps into a new era of law.” She said the right to a jury trial can be met when a jury awards damages and a judge latter applies a law capping those damages.

(Little Rock) (AP) – A group is asking the Arkansas attorney general’s office to approve language for a ballot measure next year that would repeal the state’s ban on gay marriage.

Arkansans for Equality on Thursday submitted a proposed constitutional amendment to the attorney general’s office. The group’s proposal would repeal an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution that voters approved in 2004 to ban same-sex marriage.

The AG must certify the language of the proposal before the group can begin collecting the 78,133 signatures from registered voters needed to place it on the 2014 ballot.

The group submitted the measure the day after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision of a federal law denying federal benefits to married gay couples. Justices also cleared the way for gay marriages to resume in California.

(Willow Springs) – Highway Patrol Troop G representatives have announced that a DWI saturation will be held in Howell and Shannon counties sometime in the month of July, and a sobriety checkpoint will be conducted in Carter County sometime in the month of July.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol, in cooperation with area law enforcement, will conduct the checkpoint.

Sobriety checkpoints and DWI saturations are part of the Patrol’s efforts to remove careless and intoxicated drivers from Missouri’s highways. These enforcement operations are conducted at various locations which have been found to experience a higher than normal number of alcohol-related contacts, hazardous driving contacts, and traffic crashes.

The Patrol encourages motorists and watercraft operators to protect themselves by making sure everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained in a seat belt or child restraint and everyone in the vessel is wearing an approved life jacket.

(Cabool) – Two people were injured Wednesday after a two-vehicle accident on Highway 60 near Cabool.

The accident happened at 12:30 PM 1 mile west of Cabool, where the westbound vehicle driven by 44-year-old Debra Hamilton of Cape Girardeau was attempting to turn at a crossover, and was rear-ended by 39-year-old Melton Spencer of Birch Tree.

Hamilton and a passenger, 44-year-old Charles Hamilton, were both taken by ambulance to Mercy Hospital in Springfield. Spencer was uninjured.

(West Plains) – The Youth Livestock Show at the Heart of the Ozarks Fair will be held Monday, July 15 beginning at 8 AM. Organizers say this show will feature youth from the surrounding areas of Howell, Oregon, Ozark, Shannon, and Texas counties exhibiting the following market animals: steers, goats, lambs, and pigs.

Preparation of the animal projects began with the weigh-in February for the steers and April for the goats, lambs, and pigs. An overall champion is chosen from each species on the three categories of live placing, average daily gain, and ultrasound measurements (carcass).

The Youth Livestock Auction will take place the following day, Tuesday, July 16 at 6 PM. Each youth is allowed to sell one animal through the auction. The sale will begin with the champion and reserve champion of each species, then selling the rest of the steers, lambs, pigs, and goats. Before the auction, a dinner will be provided for all of the buyers.

All of the events are open to the public and those in the community are encouraged to come to the fair and support area youth.

For questions or comments please contact Logan Wallace at the Howell County Extension Center at 417-256-2391 or wallaceld@missouri.edu.

(Jefferson City) – The National Education Association will be meeting at the start of July for their Representative Assembly.

Chris Guinther, president of the Missouri NEA, says that one of the topics discussed with other education officials will be school safety. Guinther says that a number of topics need to be approached to make schools safer:

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Ozark Radio News also asked her about the decision of the Fairview School District allowing some teachers to carry guns on school grounds. Guinther says that she does not agree with the policy:

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The Fairview School Board announced in March that teachers could carry guns on the school grounds after they undergo physical and mental training and evaluations.

(Mountain Home) – A Mountain Home man has been arrested and issued multiple felony charges following a two month investigation in Baxter County.

Officers with the Mountain Home Police Department, the Arkansas state Police, and the 14th Judicial District Drug Task Force, executed a search warrant at 1209 Maple Street in Mountain Home. At the residence officers arrested 34-year-old Jonathan Dwyer without incident.

Dwyer has been charged with three counts of Delivery of Marijuana; two counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances Near a Public School; Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute; Possession of Oxycontin with Intent to Distribute (Oxycontin); Possession of Oxycodone with Intent to Distribute; Possession of Suboxone with Intent to Distribute; Possession of Methamphetamine, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Dwyer was incarcerated in the Baxter County Detention Center with a bond set at $75,000.

(Little Rock) (AP) – Former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner is due in court to enter a plea to charges she steered state investments to a bond broker who paid her $36,000 in cash.

Shoffner is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joe Volpe Thursday for her arraignment. Shoffner has said she plans to plead not guilty, but Volpe denied her request to waive her appearance at the hearing.

Shoffner was indicted June 5 on 14 federal counts of extortion and bribery charges and was arrested at her Newport home last month after the FBI said it caught her on tape accepting a $6,000 payment from the broker, who hasn’t been identified.

Shoffner resigned days after the arrest. Shoffner has said she accepted the cash but did not intentionally steer investments to the broker.

(Wisconsin) – Kohl’s Department Stores recognized more than 2,300 young volunteers nationwide for making a positive impact in their communities through volunteerism Wednesday, June 26, and one of the volunteers honored is from Vanzant, Missouri.

17-year-old Jesse Davidson is just one of the 51 youth from Missouri that will be receiving a $50 gift card and recognition certificate from Kohl’s to honor their community service efforts.

Davidson and the rest of the winners will each qualify for the chance to receive a $1000 regional scholarship for higher education, which Kohl’s will award in July. Of the almost 200 regional winners, 10 national winners will be selected to receive a total of $10,000 in scholarships. Kohl’s will also be donating $1,000 to a nonprofit organization on each of the national winner’s behalf. By the end of this 2013 year Kohl’s will have recognized more than 2,300 youngsters with more than $400,000 in prizes and scholarships.

Since the program began back in 2001, Kohl’s has recognized more than 19,000 kids, including the 2013 winners, including $3.9 million in scholarships and prizes.

A list of all the winners from Missouri is available at www.kohlskids.com.

(West Plains) – The West Plains Home Rule Charter Commission is set to meet at the West Plains Public Library Community Room on Tuesday, July 2 at 5:30PM for their next meeting.

On the agenda for current business there will be a division of three different subcommittees to proofread Articles VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, and XIV (8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, & 14) for possible and needed updates or edits. Subcommittee X will be proofreading Article VIII (8) titled a Declaration of Candidacy and Elections and Article IX (9) titled Initiative, Referendum, and Recall.

Subcommittee Y will be taking on the proofreading of Article X (10) titled Franchises, Article XI (11) titled Licensing, Taxation and Regulation of Business, Occupations, Professions, Vocations and Other Activities or Things, and Article XII (12) titled General Provisions.

Subcommittee Z will then proofread Article XIII (13) titled Transitional Provisions and Article XIV titled Schedule.

After the commission has proofread all the articles they will reassemble and hear the subcommittee reports. The Charter will be edited with public input after each subcommittee review section.

All area residents are encouraged to come to the meeting to listen and make their inputs for the charter.