News Roundup

Afternoon Briefs: LGBTQ students sue for sex ed equality; judge’s law license is suspended 5 times

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LGBT flag and gavel

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South Carolina LGBTQ students fight for equality in sexual education

Eli Bundy, a 15-year-old sophomore at Charleston County School of the Arts in South Carolina, is the leader of the school’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance, one of three groups suing the state’s superintendent of education in an effort to repeal a law that makes it illegal for teachers to address queer relationships unless they are discussing sexually transmitted infections. Represented by Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights in the federal lawsuit filed last week, they argue that the law discriminates against LGBTQ students and violates the 14th Amendment. A handful of other states have a “no promotion of homosexuality” law, including Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. (NPR)

Dallas judge’s law license is suspended five times for not paying dues, judicial watchdog says

For the second time in five months, 191st District Judge Gena Slaughter has been sanctioned by Texas’ State Commission on Judicial Conduct. According to a public reprimand released by the commission last month, the Dallas judge violated judicial ethics rules and the Texas Constitution by not paying her annual bar dues on time. The commission also noted that it is the fifth time that Slaughter has not paid her dues—and as a result, she had her law license suspended—since she was elected in 2007. She was also sanctioned in October 2019 for holding an improper ex-parte communication and delaying the ruling in a case for more than a year. (Law.com)

Georgia Supreme Court justice announces departure from the bench

Justice Keith Blackwell announced Friday that he will step down from the Georgia Supreme Court in November because of family obligations. The 44-year-old jurist said in a statement that, “Our oldest daughter will leave for college in only a couple of years, and her sisters will follow not long behind.” He said returning to private practice was the best decision for his family. Blackwell was appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court in 2012 and was included on a list of lawyers and judges released by President Donald Trump who could be nominated to fill vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court. His exit will give Gov. Brian Kemp another chance to fill a vacancy on his state’s own high court. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Law.com, Feb. 28 news release)

Utah County attorney’s office implements change in plea bargain policy

Beginning March 1, the Utah County attorney’s office in Provo will adhere to a new policy that makes it more difficult for prosecutors to dismiss or reduce the highest-charged offense in a criminal case. Utah County attorney David Leavitt described the policy as an attempt to decrease the number of deals defendants are cut, something that he says undermines the judicial process and removes the jury’s right to decide whether someone is guilty or innocent. It mandates that “unless you have the specific agreement from all three members of the trial team, the deputy county attorney does not have the authority to dismiss or reduce the highest charged offense,” he said. (The Daily Herald)

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