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NEWS
September 19, 2014 | By Mike Newall, Inquirer Staff Writer
Jeremiah Jakson, prosecutors say, strangled Laura Araujo - a graduate of the Art Institute of Philadelphia who had rented a room in the same West Philadelphia boardinghouse as Jakson - for her laptop, camcorder, and ATM card. Then, they say, Jakson shoved the 23-year-old's body into a duffel bag and dumped it and her belongings in an abandoned lot, and then accidentally set his arms on fire while trying to torch Araujo's sport-utility vehicle. On Wednesday, Jakson, 22, having been held without bail on murder and arson charges since the July killing, showed up for his preliminary hearing wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with pink palm trees and the words, "Crime Pays.
NEWS
September 19, 2014 | By Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer
The school year at a city charter could come to an abrupt end this week for its nearly 1,300 students. The troubled Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School on Wednesday asked Common Pleas Court to order the Philadelphia School District to hand over nearly $1.4 million immediately or the charter could close Friday. The complaint and a request for the emergency order were filed shortly after noon. A hearing was scheduled for Thursday morning. Palmer, who founded the school that bears his name, said in an interview that he does not expect the school to close Friday.
BUSINESS
September 17, 2014 | By Harold Brubaker, Inquirer Staff Writer
SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia has gone to court in a bid to recoup more than $520,000 from 63 gamblers who have failed to repay markers - casino loans - issued in the last four years. The action offers a peek into the opaque world of casino credit, an unusual form of commerce in that the money that is lent usually goes right back to the lender in the form of gambling losses. That makes it a transaction fundamentally different than a retailer selling a sofa on credit. "There's an incentive for liberal lending because the odds are that the money is not leaving the building," said Paul Boni, a lawyer in Philadelphia and a board member of Stop Predatory Gambling, a national advocacy group.
NEWS
September 17, 2014 | By Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer
Girard College on Monday asked the city's Orphans' Court to reconsider its recent ruling that the school cannot suspend its high school and boarding programs to improve its finances. The move, one step short of an appeal, came three weeks after Orphans' Court Judge Joseph D. O'Keefe said the boarding and secondary programs were critical parts of the vision the merchant-banker Stephen Girard outlined in his 1831 bequest. The money he left created the free boarding school for poor orphans on a 43-acre site in Fairmount.
NEWS
September 13, 2014 | By Maddie Hanna, Inquirer Trenton Bureau
A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld New Jersey's ban on so-called gay conversion therapy for children, finding that the law, signed by Gov. Christie last year, does not violate the free speech or religious rights of counselors. In its opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia upheld a federal court ruling, citing the state's "substantial interest in protecting its citizens from harmful or ineffective professional practices. " The law bans licensed counselors from using "sexual orientation change efforts" with clients under 18. The federal court disagreed with the lower court's finding that the law didn't affect speech, only conduct.
NEWS
September 13, 2014 | By Joseph A. Gambardello, Inquirer Staff Writer
Four news organizations, including The Inquirer, filed a motion in federal court Thursday seeking the name of the firm contracted to provide the drugs Pennsylvania would use in an execution by lethal injection scheduled for this month. The state has said the compounding pharmacy it contracted to supply the drugs would likely refuse to do so if its name were made public, according to the court papers filed in Harrisburg. In the motion filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, The Inquirer, Guardian US, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Philadelphia City Paper said recent botched executions in other states "have greatly increased the public's interest in lethal injection executions.
SPORTS
September 12, 2014 | By Jeremy Roebuck, Inquirer Staff Writer
An attempt by seven former NFL players to block the league's proposed settlement over concussion-related health problems met with tough questions Wednesday from a federal appeals court panel. Lawyers for the group - which includes former Eagles wide receiver Sean Morey and safety Sean Considine - challenged the fairness of the agreement, alleging that many former players had had their rights "bargained away. " But the three-justice panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit appeared focused on a more basic question: Did it have the right to intervene in the ongoing settlement proceedings or would doing so leapfrog a process already established by the federal judge handling the case for airing complaints?
NEWS
September 12, 2014 | BY PATRICIA MADEJ, Daily News Staff Writer madejp@phillynews.com, 215-854-5938
THE STATE Supreme Court is deciding whether Pennsylvania will add pen and paper to its mainly electronic voting system. Accuracies and constitutionality issues concerning the current voting system in most of the state were brought in front of the high court yesterday in City Hall. The appeal comes from a 2006 case that argued that votes cast using direct recording electronic machines, or DREs, leave opportunity for tampering because they don't create a physical record of a voter's choice, but rather store electronic records that can be printed later.
NEWS
September 11, 2014 | By Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer
An attorney for a Philadelphia charter school urged the state Supreme Court on Tuesday to rule that the School Reform Commission overstepped its authority when it suspended parts of the state school code to cap charter-school enrollment. Robert W. O'Donnell, the lawyer, also argued that the 1998 law that led to the takeover of city schools violates the state constitution because it allows the SRC to suspend parts of the code "at will" without providing any standards to guide the suspensions.
NEWS
September 10, 2014 | By Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments Tuesday in a charter school case that has raised grave concerns among Philadelphia School District officials. The dispute, which is being watched closely by the charter community and others, centers on the powers that the School Reform Commission has to manage charter school growth in the financially distressed district. The West Philadelphia Achievement Charter Elementary School contends that the SRC illegally suspended parts of the state School Code to cap charter school enrollment and then threatened to close schools that did not sign agreements with enrollment maximums.
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