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News Scan

Supreme Court Denies Challenge to Oregon Jury Law:  The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to revisit the issue of whether the Sixth Amendment's unanimous jury requirement for criminal cases is binding on the states.  Oregon law provides that a criminal defendant may be convicted by ten jurors (except in first degree murder cases).  Louisiana has a similar law, but all other states impose a unanimity requirement.  Lee Gross of FoxNews has this story

Missouri Governor Commutes Death Sentence:  Jim Salter of the AP reports Governor Jay Nixon today spared the life of Richard Clay, reducing the convicted murderer's death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  The governor's statement indicated he is "convinced of Richard Clay's involvement in the senseless murder of Randy Martindale," but did not explain the reason for the commutation.  Clay was set to be executed after midnight on Wednesday.

Change of Venue Denied in Second New Hampshire Machete Case:
  New Hampshire Judge Gillian Abramson today rejected a change of venue request from alleged murderer Christopher Gribble, filed in light of alleged co-conspirator Steven Spader's first-degree murder conviction, reports WMUR (NH).  Judge Abramson also denied a request from Gribble's defense team that the prosecution refrain from using emotionally-charged words such as "slaughter" and "ambush" during trial.  The judge stated:  "If I see prosecutorial misconduct, I will address it, but short of that, I'm not going to turn into a thesaurus up here."

Texas's Alleged "Twilight Rapist" is Prison Employee:   Authorities believe 53-year-old Billy Joe Harris might be Texas's "twilight rapist," reports Anita Hassan of the Houston Chronicle.  Harris is facing burglary charges after he was caught fleeing from an elderly woman's home over the weekend, and police are looking into whether he is also behind 14 other rapes and attempted sexual assaults in the area, all taking place during the evening and early morning hours in 2009 and against women between the ages of 65 and 91.  Harris has worked on and off for the Texas Department of Corrections for more than 12 years

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