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NEWS
March 13, 2015 | By Maria Panaritis and Craig R. McCoy, Inquirer Staff Writers
Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane said she was "cautiously hopeful," and answered virtually no other questions. Then, Pennsylvania's first female attorney general took a long, slow walk out of City Hall on Wednesday, surrounded by a swarm of reporters and cameras. Kane, the first elected Democrat to hold the second-most-powerful statewide office, had just emerged from a back row in a Supreme Court courtroom, where she listened as lawyers presented oral arguments in a case whose outcome could spare her from, or condemn her to, criminal prosecution.
BUSINESS
March 13, 2015 | By Paul Nussbaum, Inquirer Staff Writer
A whistle blower's lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission should be reinstated because a judge's dismissal ignored crucial facts, the whistle blower's attorney told the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Wednesday in Philadelphia. Ralph Bailets, a former financial manager for the commission, says he was fired in November 2008 in retaliation for his complaints about fraud, overcharges, and political cronyism in an $82 million contract for a financial reporting system. Bailets' complaints about the contract with Ciber Inc., a Colorado technology firm, also figured in a grand jury investigation that resulted in criminal charges against eight turnpike officials, employees, and contractors in 2013.
NEWS
March 12, 2015 | By Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer
Commonwealth Court ruled Tuesday that Discovery Charter School in West Philadelphia can appeal to the state its case for adding students because the Philadelphia School Reform Commission refused to vote on the school's expansion request. The three-judge panel sent the case back to the state Charter Appeal Board, which said in April 2014 that it had no jurisdiction because the SRC had never acted on the school's request for an amendment. Commonwealth Court said that the SRC's inaction constituted a denial and that Discovery had the right to present its case to the appeals board.
NEWS
March 12, 2015 | By Andrew Seidman, Inquirer Trenton Bureau
The New Jersey Supreme Court on Tuesday said Gov. Christie's "moribund" affordable-housing agency had failed to do its job, and effectively transferred the agency's regulatory authority to lower courts. The ruling brought something of a resolution to a decade of litigation over the agency's proposed rules to determine municipalities' housing obligations for low- and moderate-income residents. For years, developers, cities and towns, environmentalists, and the state have wrestled with how to create affordable housing in a state where hundreds of thousands of residents struggle to pay the rent.
NEWS
March 12, 2015 | By Amy Worden, Inquirer Staff Writer
HARRISBURG - Twelve candidates met the filing deadline Tuesday for a spot on the primary ballot to fill one of three open seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Six Republicans and six Democrats, including five candidates from the Philadelphia area, filed nominating petitions with the Department of State for a place on the May ballot. All but one currently sit on the bench. "Looking at the 12, there is gender diversity, geographic diversity, party diversity, and some race diversity," said Lynn Marks, executive director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, a statewide court reform group.
NEWS
March 11, 2015 | By Paul Nussbaum, Inquirer Staff Writer
The U.S. Supreme Court sided Monday with Amtrak in a dispute with freight railroads over priority of passenger trains on freight tracks. A 2008 law directed Amtrak to work with the Federal Railroad Administration to create standards that let Amtrak keep priority over freight trains. But a federal appeals court sided with the freight railroad industry, which said Amtrak was a private organization that could not regulate competitors' actions. The Supreme Court reversed, saying Amtrak is like a government entity given the reality of federal controls.
NEWS
March 10, 2015 | By Craig R. McCoy and Angela Couloumbis, Inquirer Staff Writers
Is Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane trying to put herself beyond the reach of the law? Or is it a special prosecutor who is operating in illegal territory? That's the issue Pennsylvania's Supreme Court will take up Wednesday as it hears oral arguments in Kane's challenge to the special prosecutor who wants her arrested for allegedly violating grand-jury secrecy laws. The five justices - two of the court's seats are currently vacant - will hear from lawyers for Kane and special prosecutor Thomas E. Carluccio in a case crucial to Kane's personal and political future.
NEWS
March 10, 2015 | By Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer
A former Philadelphia School District administrator who alleges he was wrongfully fired for exposing a $7.5 million no-bid surveillance camera contract will finally get his day in court. After a detour to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the whistle-blower suit that Francis X. Dougherty filed against the district nearly three years ago is set to begin in federal court on Monday. Dougherty, 48, charges that his civil rights were violated when he was fired as the district's acting chief of operations in 2011 for telling The Inquirer and federal law enforcement that then-Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman had steered the no-bid contract to a small minority firm, IBS Communications Inc., which had not been approved for emergency work.
NEWS
March 8, 2015 | By Edward Colimore, Inquirer Staff Writer
PRINCETON - The battle was hanging in the balance that January day in 1777 when Gen. George Washington boldly rode between the American and British lines to rally his soldiers. "Instantly, there was a roar of musketry followed by a shout," wrote an American colonel who was there. "It was the shout of victory. " Washington emerged from the smoke waving his hat and urging his soldiers on in pursuit of retreating Redcoats. Two hundred and thirty-eight years later, another counterattack is underway - focused on the same land where some historians say combat was fierce.
NEWS
March 6, 2015 | By Robert I. Field, For The Inquirer
WASHINGTON - The fate of Obamacare hung in the balance Wednesday as the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the Affordable Care Act could continue offering subsidies to help people buy insurance in states such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The 80-minute session - 20 minutes longer than expected - was often a strident affair, with justices grilling lawyers in ways that reflected their liberal and conservative bents. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who was notably silent through most of the questioning, could cast the deciding vote.
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