At a Glance

Rosen rules creche ban on road is safety issue

WARREN (AP) — A judge says Macomb County has done nothing illegal by banning a Nativity scene on a median on a busy road in Warren.

The county says it would be a hazard on Mound Road, just north of Chicago Road. John Satawa’s display is 9 feet high, 8 feet wide and 8 feet deep. He accused the county of violating his free-speech rights as well as other constitutional guarantees.

But in a 48-page decision issued last week, federal Judge Gerald Rosen said Macomb County has legitimate concerns about safety. He visited the site. Rosen notes that a nearby church and nearly a dozen businesses have offered to host the Nativity scene.

Satawa apparently had set up the display for decades before someone complained in 2008.

Court limits inmate suits over religious rights

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has ruled that a federal law intended to protect the religious rights of prison inmates bars most lawsuits that seek money from states that violate the law.

The court said in a recent 6-2 decision that inmates may file suit to force states to change their policies, but without the threat of monetary damages that might cause states to speed those changes.

The Obama administration and Christian groups warned that a ruling against the inmates would undermine the effectiveness of the 11-year-old law, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

The court ruled in a suit filed by Texas prison inmate Harvey Sossamon, who complained that he was denied the chance to participate in Christian worship services.

Man gets 30 days in car assault case

AUBURN, Maine (AP) — A Maine man is going to jail for 30 days for hitting a man with his car, in what police say was payback for a fatal accident five years ago.
In a plea agreement, 22-year-old William Panzino, of Auburn, pleaded guilty to reckless conduct and driving to endanger. He was originally charged with aggravated assault and reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon.

The Sun Journal of Lewiston said Panzino was charged with striking Kyle Karkos on an Auburn street last June, sending him to the hospital with cuts and bruises.
Panzino said it was an accident.

But prosecutors said Panzino ran down Karkos as retribution for a 2006 crash that killed a passenger in a car driven by Karkos, who was then 17.

Mother wins $21.6M in botched birth case

ERIE, Pa. (AP) — An Erie County jury says the hospital now known as UPMC Hamot must pay $21.6 million in a malpractice case in which a botched birth left a boy profoundly disabled for life.

Last week’s verdict includes $19.6 million to provide for Ja’Kareon Graham’s future medical expenses. The rest covers the 4-year-old boy’s past medical expenses and his lost lifetime earning capacity.

The attorney for what was then Hamot Medical Center argued that the hospital staff “met all applicable standards of care” but declined to comment on the verdict or whether the hospital will appeal.

The Erie Times-News says the jury agreed with the boys’ mother that the hospital’s nursing staff was unprepared for complications arising from the breach birth and didn’t do enough to prevent oxygen deprivation that left the boy being unable to speak and being fed through a tube.