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Gospel Singer Arrested On Abuse Charges
BlackLegalIssues.com Mar-13-2009 545 0


A star of gospel music is accused of assaulting his ex-wife on Valentine's Day weekend.

Debra Winans said her former husband BeBe Winans pushed her to the ground in front of their children. The two were married for 16 years before divorcing in 2003.

The alleged assault happened when BeBe Winans showed up at his ex-wife's Nashville home and the two began arguing about custody issues. Debra and BeBe Winans have a 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son.

According to an affidavit, what started out as a "verbal altercation" turned into assault when Debra Winans was "pushed to the ground."

Later, the Grammy-winning Gospel recording artist and judge of the Black Entertainment Television reality show Sunday Best was arrested.

"When you're married to someone known all over the world, it has serious challenges," said Debra Winans.

Debra Winans said people of faith are held to an even higher standard, and many Christians suffer through abuse rather than reaching out for help.

"Until you realize something's not changing, you pray all day long. The power of God is real, but one thing he's not going to do is go against someone's will. We make choices," said Debra Winans.

She said she is not afraid of her former husband and hopes by speaking out she will help others.

A spokesman for BeBe Winans said the singer is in Atlanta working as a judge on a BET program. As of Thursday evening, there was no statement from BeBe Winans regarding his ex-wife's allegations.

Debra Winans said she is working with other abuse victims in hopes of helping them find healthy solutions to their problem.

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AP Apr-22-2014 60 0
The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a Michigan constitutional amendment that bans affirmation action in admissions to the state’s public universities, in a fractured decision that revealed deep divisions among the justices over what role the government should play in protecting racial and ethnic minorities.

The 6-to-2 ruling effectively endorsed similar measures in seven other states and may encourage additional measures banning the use of race in admissions. States that forbid affirmative action in admissions decisions, like Texas, Florida and California, as well as Michigan, have seen a significant drop in the enrollment of black and Hispanic students in their most selective colleges and universities.

In five opinions spanning more than 100 pages, the justices set out starkly conflicting views. The justices in the majority, with varying degrees of vehemence, said that policies affecting minorities that do not involve intentional discrimination should ordinarily be decided at the ballot box rather than in the courtroom.

But Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in the longest and most significant dissent of her career, said the Constitution required special vigilance in light of the history of slavery, Jim Crow and “recent examples of discriminatory changes to state voting laws.”

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s controlling opinion for three justices took pains to say that the decision was a modest one.

“This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved,” he wrote, in an opinion joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. “It is about who may resolve it. There is no authority in the Constitution of the United States or in this court’s precedents for the judiciary to set aside Michigan laws that commit this policy determination to the voters.”

His announcement of the decision from the bench was businesslike. Then Justice Sotomayor summarized her dissent, an unusual move signaling deep displeasure. She said the initiative put minorities to a burden not faced by other college applicants and so violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause.

“The Constitution does not protect racial minorities from political defeat,” she wrote. “But neither does it give the majority free rein to erect selective barriers against racial minorities.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined the dissent.

Justice Sotomayor seemed to mock one of Chief Justice Roberts’s most memorable lines. In a 2007 decision that limited the use of race in public school systems, he wrote, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

Justice Sotomayor recast the line. “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race,” she wrote, “is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination.”

Chief Justice Roberts responded in a brief concurrence, saying that affirmative action, and the stigma that he said could accompany it, may do more harm than good. “People can disagree in good faith on this issue,” he added, “but it similarly does more harm than good to question the openness and candor of those on either side of the debate.”

In earlier cases, including one from June concerning the University of Texas, the court has said that race-conscious admissions policies can be constitutionally permissible in states that wish to use them. The new decision concerned the question of whether and how voters may prohibit affirmative action programs.

The Michigan initiative, known as Proposal 2, was a response to Grutter v. Bollinger, a 2003 Supreme Court decision that upheld the use of race as one factor among many in law school admissions to ensure educational diversity.

Proposal 2, approved in 2006 by 58 percent of Michigan’s voters, amended the state Constitution to prohibit discrimination or preferential treatment in public education, government contracting and public employment. Groups favoring affirmative action sued to block the part of the law concerning higher education.

In 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, ruled by a vote of 8 to 7 that the initiative violated the federal Constitution’s equal protection clause. The appeals court majority said the problem with the law was that it restructured the state’s political process by making it harder for disfavored minorities to press for change.

In both 1969 and 1982 the Supreme Court struck down measures disfavoring minorities on the grounds that they unfairly restructured the political process. Those precedents figured prominently in the majority opinion from the appeals court.

“A student seeking to have her family’s alumni connections considered in her application to one of Michigan’s esteemed public universities could do one of four things to have the school adopt a legacy-conscious admissions policy: she could lobby the admissions committee, she could petition the leadership of the university, she could seek to influence the school’s governing board, or, as a measure of last resort, she could initiate a statewide campaign to alter the state’s Constitution,” Judge R. Guy Cole Jr. wrote for the majority.

“The same cannot be said,” Judge Cole added, “for a black student seeking the adoption of a constitutionally permissible race-conscious admissions policy. That student could do only one thing to effect change: she could attempt to amend the Michigan Constitution — a lengthy, expensive and arduous process — to repeal the consequences of Proposal 2.”

A dissenting member of the appeals court, Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton, wrote that the majority had it backward. “A state does not deny equal treatment by mandating it,” he said. The majority opinion, he added, “transforms a potential virtue of affirmative action into a vice.”

“If there is one feature of affirmative action programs that favors their constitutionality,” he said, “it is that they grow out of the democratic process.”

The appeals court’s decision divided along partisan lines. The eight judges in the majority were all nominated by Democratic presidents, and the seven judges in dissent were all nominated by Republican presidents. (Judge Helene N. White, who was in the majority, was initially nominated by President Bill Clinton and was later renominated by President George W. Bush as part of a compromise involving several nominations.)

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, upheld California’s ban on racial preferences in 1997, saying it “would be paradoxical” to rule otherwise. The court reaffirmed that ruling in 2010.

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AP Apr-22-2014 107 0
Four men accused of punching and kicking a motorist who accidentally struck a 10-year-old Detroit boy were ordered Monday to stand trial on attempted murder charges, after a judge reviewed their statements to police and witnesses testified about the chaotic mob attack.

As Steve Utash continued to recover in a hospital bed, Judge Thomas Jackson found probable cause to move the case to trial in Wayne County Circuit Court.

Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey introduced statements to police from Latrez Cummings, 19, James Davis, 24, and Wonzey Saffold, 30, all acknowledging a role in the April 2 attack. They were ordered to trial, along with Bruce Wimbush Jr., 17, who waived the hearing.

“I pray for the man every day. I hope him and the boy are going to be OK,” Cummings told police, according to Lindsey.

Witnesses to the attack described a chaotic scene.

Steve Utash, 54, was critically injured by an angry mob who attacked him on a Detroit street after the man stopped to check on a child he accidentally hit with his truck.

“They were hollerin’ and screamin’, ‘Oh, my God, get him, get him,”’ witness Deborah Hughes testified.

Hughes, a nurse, is credited with rushing to the boy’s side and also intervening to save Utash from further injuries. She said Cummings likely kicked the victim at least 10 times.

Another witness, Ashley Daniels, said Utash was attacked after he got out of his pickup to check on the boy. She said he was stumbling and his hat was knocked off after some early blows.

Daniels said Utash was dared to pick up his hat before he was hit again.

“He fell. He got up again,” she said. “It was like he was almost accepting it.”

Statements to police indicate that three of four men recognized the boy and had revenge on their mind.

“I saw the little boy on the ground ... and I lost it,” Saffold told investigators.

Utash, 54, of Macomb County’s Clinton Township, is a tree trimmer who was familiar with the east side Detroit neighborhood where a boy darted out in front of his pickup. He spent days in a coma after the beating.

Utash’s family sat in the front row of the courtroom, while relatives of the accused men sat directly behind them in three rows. There were deep sighs, sobbing and muffled utterances of “liar” during the testimony. Some spectators were ejected by sheriff’s deputies.

Jackson noted that the legal threshold to keep the case moving at this stage is low. Defense attorneys said Utash’s injuries were awful but an attempted murder charge was too severe.

“One or two may not be enough to kill anyone,” the judge said of punches and kicks, “but a combination may be enough to cause one’s death.”

Separately, a 16-year-old boy is charged in Juvenile Court with assault and ethnic intimidation in the case. He and the other defendants are black; Utash is white.

Outside court, Utash’s brother-in-law Max Mohr said Utash is struggling and disoriented in the hospital. He said Utash tried to walk with the help of nurses but lasted only a few steps.

“He’s not the Steve I know — not even close,” Mohr said.


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AP Apr-21-2014 121 0
A national fraternity group has closed its University of Mississippi chapter after three members were accused of tying a noose around the neck of a statue of the first black student to enroll in the Southern college that was all-white at the time.

The university announced Thursday that the national office of Sigma Phi Epsilon, based in Richmond, Va., had closed its Ole Miss chapter.

Besides the noose, someone draped a pre-2003 Georgia state flag with a Confederate battle emblem in its design on the face of the James Meredith statue in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 16. Meredith’s enrollment in 1962 set off a violent attack by anti-integration protesters on federal authorities, leaving two people dead and scores injured.

The names of the three students from Georgia haven’t been released. They were kicked out of the chapter, which itself had been suspended pending the review.

Ole Miss spokesman Tom Eppes said university disciplinary proceedings against the three students are ongoing. He also said the FBI is still investigating.

The Lafayette County district attorney has said state charges won’t be brought because no state laws were broken. Mississippi’s hate crime law requires an underlying crime for those additional charges. Because the statute itself wasn’t marred or broken, prosecutors say typical vandalism charges don’t apply.

After the noose was found, the university asked the national headquarters to review the 130-member chapter, which had been on campus since 1987.

“The closure is not a result of what happened with the Meredith statue, but the Meredith statue precipitated the intensive review of how they conduct business,” Blanton said.

Ole Miss and fraternity officials said they found a pattern of underage drinking and hazing which broke both university and Sigma Phi Epsilon rules. University officials said the national office had previously intervened in 2010 to fix similar problems.

“We are disappointed that a pattern of bad behavior and serious, inexcusable hazing occurred within the chapter,” Dean of Students Sparky Reardon said in a statement. “Periodic reports from and meetings with local alumni and national headquarters led us to believe that the chapter was improving.”

Sigma Phi Epsilon CEO Brian Warren said the group had “no choice” but to close the unit.

“Though it’s always painful to close a chapter, these students’ actions clearly illustrate a determination to perpetuate an experience based on risky and unconstructive behavior,” he said in a statement.

Blanton said students currently living in the Sigma Phi Epsilon house on campus would be allowed to stay and eat meals there through the end of the semester, but would not be allowed to have any social activities. After that, he said the university, which owns the land under the house, and the fraternity would discuss uses for the structure.

Sigma Phi officials said they would discuss a return to campus with the university. It’s not clear how long that might take. Blanton said that several years ago, the university did not reinstate the closed chapter of another fraternity until all the members at the time of the closure had graduated.

Administrators have fought against the university’s Old South image, banning Confederate battle flags from football games in 2003 and ditching its Colonel Reb mascot for a black bear in 2010. But those efforts have been undermined by unflattering incidents, such as an election night disturbance in November 2012 when some students used racial slurs and profanity to protest President Barack Obama‘s re-election, or an October 2013 performance of “The Laramie Project” where football players and other students used gay slurs to heckle the play about the 1998 murder of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepherd, who was gay.

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Mark Morales Apr-21-2014 175 0
An ex-NYPD cop accused of shooting his wife in front of two of their children called her a “whore,” but said he’s “sorry” and that her infidelity drove him to kill, a prosecutor revealed Sunday.

Kevin Canty, 43, made a stunning confession moments after blasting his wife, Jessica Mera, 10 times with a 9-mm. pistol Saturday morning, authorities said.

“I’m sorry,” Canty told a detective driving him from the Queens crime scene to the 102nd Precinct stationhouse for questioning.

“I love my wife. She was cheating on me,” Canty told the detective, a prosecutor revealed at his Easter Sunday arraignment in Queens Criminal Court.

Canty, who retired from the force last year on disability, called his wife a “whore” for having sex with a man he identified to the cop, the prosecutor said. “I know I’m going to jail,” he reportedly said.

Canty let loose the barrage of bullets inside their Ozone Park home — striking Mera, 40, in the stomach, upper chest, breast, arm and armpit, a source said. He was charged Sunday with second-degree murder and criminal use of a firearm.

The couple’s children ran to a store near the family’s home and screamed, “Daddy shot mommy!”

Canty was apparently drunk when he was arrested near 97th and Centreville Sts. shortly after the shooting, police said.

The gunman was there trying to steal a car but was soon confronted by cops who found he still had his weapon with six shots left to fire, investigstors said.

He faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted, said Meris Campbell, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Richard Brown.

Daniel Farrell, 55, who lives across the street from the family, said Canty told him in November he had been forced to retire from the NYPD after he tore his rotator cuff while leading self-defense training at the Police Academy. NYPD sources said Canty also had an alcohol problem.

Farrell said he occasionally smelled booze on Canty’s breath and that he knew the cop took painkillers for his shoulder.

“You could smell drink on his breath every now and again,” he said. “He was a quiet guy.”

He said that following the shooting, Canty took off running down the block after his kids.

Farrell said the doomed wife showed up on a neighbor’s doorstep within the past few weeks, banging on the door and saying Canty had had too much to drink and was going to kill her.

A neighbor who asked not to be identified said she would hear the couple yelling and fighting at least once a week. “We tried to block it out, because it’s a common thing,” the neighbor said.


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Larry Mcshane Apr-20-2014 126 0
Rubin (Hurricane) Carter, the middleweight contender-turned-murder suspect-turned-cause célèbre when his triple homicide conviction was exposed as a sham, died Sunday. He was 76.

Carter — wrongly jailed for nearly two decades — lost a battle with prostate cancer that dropped the former fighter’s weight to a mere 90 pounds.

He died early Sunday morning in Toronto, according to his longtime friend John Artis, who had been caring for him and was wrongly convicted of the same crime.

The indefatigable Carter was twice wrongfully convicted in the 1966 killings of two customers and a bartender inside the Lafayette Bar & Grill in Paterson, N.J.

It wasn’t until 19 years later that a federal judge overturned his second conviction, ruling the prosecution’s behavior was “as heinous as the crimes for which (Carter was) tried and convicted.”

Carter’s struggle for justice inspired Bob Dylan’s hit single “Hurricane” and a movie of the same name with Denzel Washington, earning him an Oscar nomination in the title role.

Prior to his arrest for the slayings, the New Jersey-born fighter appeared poised for a shot at the middleweight championship.

He was given a title belt by the World Boxing Commission in 1993, acknowledging his lost opportunity and longshot legal triumph.

Carter’s world went topsy-turvy at 2:30 a.m. on June 17, 1966, when two gun-toting black men burst into the Paterson tavern and killed three white victims.

A fourth could not identify Carter and his pal Artis as the shooters after cops stopped the two men inside the boxer’s white Cadillac within hours of the shooting.

Carter maintained that racist local cops, jealous of his high-rolling lifestyle and exasperated by his arrogance, wrongly targeted him for the killings.

He and Artis were arrested for triple homicide five months later based on the sketchy testimony of two petty crooks — one named Arthur Bello.

Both were sentenced to life in prison.
In 1974, Carter’s autobiography “The Sixteenth Round” — written in prison on an old typewriter — was published. The tale attracted the attention and support of Dylan, Muhammad Ali and Coretta Scott King.

Dylan’s lyrics summed up the case:

“Here comes the story of the Hurricane/The man the authorities came to blame/for something that he never done/Put in a prison cell but one time he coulda been/The champion of the world.”

The prosecution witnesses recanted and the convictions were overturned in 1976, with a new trial ordered. And then, incredibly, a second jury convicted Carter and Artis of the killings.

Bello recanted his previous recanting, with cops pressuring him to testify the killings were racially motivated — revenge for the slaying of a black bar owner earlier the same night.

A broken Carter returned to his cell, resigned to his death behind bars. It wasn’t until reading a 1980 letter from a Toronto teen that Carter decided to climb back into the legal ring.

The second wave of support produced new proof of coerced witnesses, forged documents and suppressed evidence. Canadian supporters of Carter spent nearly $1 million on his appeal.

In November 1985, the convictions were overturned by a judge who ruled Carter and Artis were found guilty based on “racism rather than reason.”

Carter’s life was difficult almost from birth. The Clifton, N.J., dropped out of school after the eighth grade. He wound up in reform school at age 11 after stabbing a would-be pedophile trying to molest him.

Carter managed to escape and join the Army, but was arrested after returning to Paterson from Europe. After three years in prison, he fought his first professional bout in 1961.

His nom de ring came from Carter’s relentless style, a full-on assault right from the opening bell.

Carter became an advocate for the wrongly incarcerated and wrote a February column for the Daily News urging a new hearing for Brooklynite David McCallum — jailed for the last 28 years.

While Carter was fighting his last battle with cancer, among those coming to visit was his old co-defendant Artis.


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Apr-19-2014 115 0
Judge Joe Brown has filed an appeal of his contempt charge and has asked a criminal court judge to delay proceedings against him until another court makes a decision on that appeal.

Brown's attorneys have filed an appeal of the case. At the same time, they filed a simultaneous motion late Thursday afternoon to stay all criminal proceedings with the Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk's office.

On March 24, 2014, Brown was arrested and charged with contempt of juvenile court after challenging a magistrate during court proceedings.

As of right now, there is a hearing scheduled in criminal court for 11 a.m. on May 2.

But Brown's attorneys say the criminal court should not hear any part of this case until after his appeal is ruled upon.

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ap Apr-19-2014 143 0
It may be a few years before the first daughters head to college, but Michelle Obama is already brainstorming a dorm room checklist while encouraging high school students to dream big about their education beyond graduation.

The first lady told a group of students Thursday that a high school diploma is not enough in today's global economy.

"No longer is high school the bar. That is not enough," Mrs. Obama told the crowd. "You have got to go to college or get some kind of professional training."

Before her remarks, the first lady toured a Howard University residence hall with high school juniors and seniors from her hometown of Chicago. "How do you get a single room," Mrs. Obama asked the tour guide, as the students chuckled. He replied: "There is a slight price difference."

The campus visit is a part of Mrs. Obama's push to promote higher education, especially President Barack Obama's "North Star" goal. By 2020, America would once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

After the tour, the first lady led a discussion moderated by rapper and TV host Bow Wow in a university cafeteria, the Punch Out. Mrs. Obama shared her own college experience and said she wanted to support the high school students because "this transition-- for some of you-- may be a little scary."

"The only reason I saw a dorm was because I visited my brother once when he was in college," she said. "That was the only exposure."

Mrs. Obama added that she had applied to Howard, "one of the finest universities in the country," along with Northwestern University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison when she was considering higher education. She went on to attend Princeton University and Harvard Law School.

"We have to have a hunger for education like we had when our parents and grandparents were fighting for us to have a right to come to these schools and get the education," she said. "So now it's up to you all to take that baton and do the very best you can with it."

The high school students will also attend classes with their hosts and meet with university officials as part of their four-day visit.

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Apr-19-2014 141 0
Even though he's being held in California, retired NFL star Darren Sharper was denied bail Thursday by a judge in Phoenix, Arizona, a spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's office said.

Sharper, a five-time Pro Bowl player, faces five counts of drugging and raping three women in Scottsdale, Arizona, in November.

Sharper has been in jail in Los Angeles since February 27 facing similar charges. Thursday's ruling in Arizona makes it more likely that Sharper will be denied bail in the California case as well.

Sharper, 38, was being held on $1 million bail connected with charges of drugging and raping two women in the Los Angeles area, but Judge Renee Korn removed the bail and ordered him to remain in jail in March when an Arizona grand jury indicted him.

The alleged rapes in California occurred in January and last October, authorities said.

Sharper is due in a Los Angeles courtroom on Friday.

Authorities have said Sharper is under investigation in three other states -- Louisiana, Nevada and Florida -- in cases of alleged sexual assault. So far, he has been charged only in California and Arizona, and he maintains his innocence in those cases.

New Orleans police have issued an arrest warrant for Sharper but he has not been extradited to Louisiana to face charges.

The application for the arrest warrant says New Orleans detectives interviewed two women who said they were raped on September 23. The two accusers told police they were so impaired they don't recall "the entirety of the sexual intercourse," and that they never agreed to have sex.

Shaper's attorneys have said that he had consensual sex with the women.

Sharper played for the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints from 1997 through the 2010 season. The five-time Pro Bowl player intercepted 63 passes in his career, tying for seventh all-time. He is tied for second all-time in interceptions returned for touchdowns with 11, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com.

He was recently fired as an NFL Network analyst.

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Apr-19-2014 255 0
Authorities say a Wyoming college student who jumped to his death from a Denver hotel balcony ate more than the recommended serving of a marijuana cookie.

Police reports released Thursday said 19-year-old Levy Thamba Pongi consumed a little more than one cookie that his friend purchased from a pot shop.

The reports say a clerk told his friends to cut it into six pieces and eat one piece at a time. The friends did so, but it's unclear from the reports whether Pongi heard the advice.

The reports say a clerk told his friends to cut the pot-stuffed cookie into six pieces and eat one piece at a time.

Pongi's friends told investigators he began speaking erratically in French and pulling things off walls. Authorities say he then jumped to his death.

An autopsy report from the March 11 incident lists marijuana intoxication as a significant contributing factor in the death.


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