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December 31, 2014 | By Chris Mondics, Inquirer Staff Writer
In a potentially precedent-setting decision, a Pennsylvania appellate court has restricted the circumstances under which prosecutors can seize homes used by convicted drug dealers. The 5-2 majority opinion by Commonwealth Court applies to homeowners who can show they had little or no involvement in the illegal activity. The ruling in the case involving a 69-year-old West Philadelphia widow, and the settlement of two seizure cases in a federal lawsuit Dec. 20, constitute twin setbacks for the city's civil forfeiture program.
SPORTS
December 29, 2014 | By Keith Pompey, Inquirer Staff Writer
SALT LAKE CITY - It will be interesting to see how helpful NBA opponents will be in a few seasons when the 76ers are the team looking for favors. That's because the franchise is a salary-dump station for teams trying to shed money. And in most instances, the trading partners won't have to worry about facing a discarded player who is determined to show up his former squad. The Sixers could run an advertisement that reads: "Trade us your players. We'll keep them locked away until they no longer remember being traded.
NEWS
December 28, 2014 | By Andrew Seidman, Inquirer Trenton Bureau
Even as Gov. Christie has slammed the state Supreme Court as too "activist," his administration's inability to establish new affordable-housing rules has raised the prospect that the high court will intervene next year. New Jersey has failed for more than a decade to update its requirements to help municipalities satisfy their constitutional obligation to each provide a fair share of the region's affordable housing to low- and moderate-income residents. After repeated attempts by the Christie administration to fundamentally change that process, the court will hear oral arguments next month in a case brought by affordable-housing advocates, who want the justices to coordinate development of new rules.
NEWS
December 27, 2014 | By Inga Saffron, Inquirer Architecture Critic
Even as institutional buildings go, Philadelphia's new Family Court is a spartan place. No architectural flourishes relieve the dreary expanse of its milky glass facade. No murals celebrate benevolent justice or family virtues. No modern art adds color to its bland white walls. But for a brief moment, Family Court's cold, unadorned rooms were brought to life by decorative antique lamps, ornate torchères, and fine wooden chairs. According to the city's commissioner of public property, Bridget Collins-Greenwald, those valuable, custom-designed objects were stripped by Family Court judges and court employees from the historic Logan Square palazzo that served as the court's home for seven decades, and carted off to their new building overlooking LOVE Park, to be used to decorate the judges' chambers.
NEWS
December 26, 2014 | By Michael Boren, Inquirer Staff Writer
When Merchantville physician Abbas Husain did not place his left hand on the Bible while being sworn in to testify in a Camden courtroom, a juror took notice. The juror later mentioned her surprise at Husain's action to Superior Court Judge Stephen Holden - after the jury awarded $12,500 to a woman who claimed Husain had sexually harassed her. The juror made the comments during a meeting between Holden and the jury. Husain learned about the discussion after Holden mentioned it to the attorneys.
NEWS
December 24, 2014 | By Kevin Riordan, Inquirer Columnist
Lisa Gedaka is a nurse by day, a basketball coach by night, and a mother of four - 24/7. Although her husband, Ken, likens her to a superhero, "I don't think what I'm doing is so out of the ordinary," Gedaka says. "There are a lot of people who do more than I do. I look at it as being blessed. " I catch up with Gedaka ( geh-DAY-kuh ) before a late-afternoon Lady Rams practice at Gloucester Catholic High School, where she just started her 26th season as girls' basketball coach.
NEWS
December 24, 2014 | BY VINNY VELLA, Daily News Staff Writer vellav@phillynews.com, 215-854-2513
THE STATE'S Judicial Conduct Board filed ethics charges yesterday against a Philadelphia Traffic Court judge embroiled in an alleged ticket-fixing scam. Although a federal jury acquitted Michael J. Sullivan of conspiracy and fraud charges in July, the board accuses him of judicial misconduct that undermines "both public confidence in the judiciary and its reputation," according to a complaint filed yesterday. During the federal trial, prosecutors alleged that from 2008 to 2011, the six former Traffic Court judges, including Sullivan, either broadly dismissed traffic tickets or rendered "not guilty" verdicts for socially and politically connected people, thus depriving the government of untold sums in fines and fees.
NEWS
December 24, 2014 | By Andrew Seidman, Inquirer Trenton Bureau
A New Jersey woman's use of methadone during pregnancy to treat a prescription drug addiction did not violate abuse and negligence laws, though her baby suffered from methadone withdrawal upon birth, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday. In a 6-0 decision, the court reversed an Appellate Division ruling that the mother was negligent and abusive because her methadone use caused her child's suffering, which included tremors, fever, and trouble sleeping. The high court said the previous ruling did not consider whether the woman "exercised a 'minimum degree of care' or 'unreasonably' inflicted harm on her newborn.
NEWS
December 22, 2014 | BY SOLOMON LEACH, Daily News Staff Writer leachs@phillynews.com, 215-854-5903
PENNSYLVANIA'S six Supreme Court justices have been cleared of sending improper emails in an independent review in the wake of a porn scandal that snared former Justice Seamus McCaffery. Special counsel Robert Byer, of Duane Morris LLP, said he reviewed about 4,800 emails sent to or from the justices and staff in the Attorney General's Office between 2008 and 2012. Excluding those from McCaffery, he concluded that the messages were appropriate and did not reveal any reason for the judges to recuse themselves from any cases.
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