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News Scan

Decision on Utah's Immigration Law Delayed: Josh Loftin of ABC News reports U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups said Friday he will decide in a few days whether to rule on the constitutionality of Utah's immigration enforcement law or keep the temporary injunction issued 8 months ago in place until after courts rule on a similar law in Arizona. Utah's version would allow police to check the citizenship of anyone they arrest in cases involving a felony or class-A misdemeanor. Utah Assistant Attorney General Barry Laurence argues Utah's law simply reflects existing federal law, but U.S. Justice Department attorney Josh Wilkenfeld argues that the law is attempting to trump federal law.

16 Offenders Pardoned by Barbour Were Rejected by the Mississippi Parole Board: The Associated Press reports Haley Barbour issued full pardons in his final days as governor for 16 inmates whose requests for pardons were rejected by the Mississippi Parole Board. State Rep. Cecil Brown of Jackson (D) requested the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review (PEER) examine Barbour's pardons. The 16 offenders had been convicted of crimes ranging from methamphetamine possession to murder. Furthermore, 13 of the 16 cases received unanimous votes from the Parole Board rejecting the inmates' requests for pardons. A change is being sought in the state to limit gubernatorial pardon power to require that governors follow Parole Board recommendations. Rep. David Baria (D) also wants to ban governors from issuing pardons during their last 90 days in office.

DNA Samples From Felony Suspects Lead to 132 Arrests in Ohio: Jessica Heffner from Springfield News-Sun reports a new program requiring DNA samples from anyone arrested for a felony in Ohio has led to 132 arrests in cold cases including rapes, murders, robberies, and burglaries. Since Senate Bill 77 went into effect July 1, 2011, the lab has processed 63 percent more DNA samples, and connected those samples to an average of 127 cases per month. With over 10 million samples in CODIS, many more arrests are expected to follow. Furthermore, proposed Ohio Senate Bill 268 would allow DNA to be collected from those charged with a felony but not arrested. This includes those summoned to court. The bill would also allow the retroactive collection of DNA from people arrested for a felony prior to July 1, 2011. That bill was passed unanimously by the Ohio Senate, and is now in the state House of Representatives.

State Appeals Court Rules NY Parole Procedure Unconstitutional:
Joseph Ax of Reuters reports a state appeals court ruled unanimously Tuesday that New York's parole procedure is invalid and violates state and constitutional law. The procedure allows a unilateral overruling of the hearing officer's decision by a single member of the state parole board in cases in which the parolee was convicted of homicide, sex crimes, or kidnapping. The five-judge panel held that the parole procedure is in conflict with the purpose of the underlying state statute. The court said the legislature intended for hearing officers to have the final say on the amount of time between a parole violation and possible re-release. The state attorney general's office said it had not yet reviewed the decision. 

Missing-Person Inquiries Stem From Excavation of Serial Killers' Burial Sites:
Emmett Berg from Reuters reports that after five days of excavation, nearly 1,000 human bone fragments have been recovered in the first of five burial sites identified by Wesley Shermantine, one of the so-called Speed Freak Killers. A telephone hot-line was set up by investigators assigned to the case, which has led to roughly 65 queries about missing persons who callers fear may have been victims of Shermantine and Loren Herzog. Deputy Les Garcia, a spokesman for the San Joaquin County Sheriff, said there was no way of knowing yet how many victims might be found at the sites. 

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