Weekly News Update


*Alabama is one of three states with laws on the books allowing judges to reject juries’ sentencing recommendations in capital cases. In the past decade, it has been alone in sending defendants to death row after juries determined that the just sentence was life in prison. The Supreme Court will soon take a new look at this unusual power Alabama gives to its judges. [NY Times]

*Opponents of New York’s teacher tenure law won their first legal victory on Thursday when a Staten Island judge allowed their lawsuit against the state’s tenure protections to proceed, denying a motion to dismiss the case from teachers’ unions and city and state officials. [Capital New York]

*Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke were found guilty Tuesday of copying a Marvin Gaye song for their chart-topping hit “Blurred Lines.” A Los Angeles jury awarded $7.3 million in damages to the Gaye family. [Raw Story]

*After gaining ground as pets in much of the U.S., ferrets still can’t legally be at home in its biggest city. New York City’s Board of Health narrowly decided Tuesday to maintain a long-standing ban on keeping the animals. [ABC News]

*In a two week trial in 2011, Michael Kimelman was found guilty of insider trading. However, in light of the recent Newman decision, which overturned the convictions of Todd Newman and Anthony Chiasson based on their lack of knowledge of a benefit to the tipper (source), it seems like Kimelman has a good argument for his innocence. [Forbes]

*A diner who sued Applebee’s after burning his face on a platter of fajitas recently got his lawsuit tossed out by an appellate court in New Jersey. [CBS News]

*A new federal lawsuit charges that Sullivan County wants to prevent Hasidic voters from casting ballots in an upcoming election because of their religion. [Newsweek]