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Cory Booker Would Be Front-Runner In Prospective 2014 New Jersey Senate Race, Poll Finds
Nov-29-2012 346 0


Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) would likely fare well in New Jersey's 2014 Senate race, according to a poll released Thursday by the Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling.

If Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) doesn't run for reelection, 48 percent of Democrats would support Booker, putting him far ahead of potential rivals Rob Andrews and Frank Pallone, PPP found. Nearly six in 10 Democrats said they'd rather see Booker run than Lautenberg, while 22 percent would rather see the current senator stay in place.

Lautenberg, who is 88, has refused to comment on his 2014 plans. His spokesman told NJ.com that he is focused on rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy, and that "retirement is the last thing on his mind."

In the general election, Booker would defeat one possible Republican candidate, Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, 52 percent to 29 percent, PPP found. Lautenberg would win 48 to 33 percent against the same opponent.

“Democrats will likely hold onto their Senate seat in New Jersey regardless of their 2014 candidate,” said Dean Debnam, PPP's president.

Booker would face longer odds if he entered the 2013 gubernatorial race against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), whose approval ratings have shot up since his handling of the storm. A Quinnipiac poll found Christie leading Booker by 18 points in a hypothetical matchup. Lautenberg recently told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he's not sure any Democrat could win against Christie.

The PPP polled surveyed 600 New Jersey voters between Nov. 26 and Nov. 28, and had a 4 percent margin of error. An oversample of 300 Democratic primary voters had a 5.6 percent margin of error.

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Apr-19-2014 59 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 83 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 69 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 114 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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Apr-19-2014 112 0
A young boy kidnapped from his Atlanta home sang a gospel song for nearly three hours until the suspect kicked him out of the car.

The man used cash to lure little Willie Myrick close enough for him to grab and shove into his car the night of March 31. The boy, now 10 years old, repeated the song "Every Praise" during the hellish ride.

The tune sent the suspect into a cursing fit and he stopped the car near East Point.

"He opened the door and threw me out," Myrick told a television station in Atlanta, WXIA-TV. "He told me not to tell anyone."

The suspect is described as a man in his mid- to late-20s with dreadlocks. He was driving a gray Honda Civic. A $10,000 reward is being offered for his arrest.
Atlanta Police

A $10,000 reward is being offered for the suspect's arrest.

Myrick did the opposite and told the world what happened.

The song Myrick chanted over and over again belongs to Hezekiah Walker, a Grammy-award winning gospel singer. When the artist learned of the alleged kidnapping, he hopped on a plane from New York City to Atlanta.

"I just want to hug him and tell him I love him," Walker told WXIA-TV.

The singer met with Myrick and his friends, family and whole congregation at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in southwest Atlanta on the boy's 10th birthday. They all sang the life-saving song together as tears rolled down Myrick's cheeks.

The meeting was also attended by organizers of a coalition on the hunt for the suspect, who is still on the loose. The group of churches, civic organizations and businesses handed out flyers with a sketch of the perp.

The meeting was a celebration, but also a town hall meeting and warning to parents and children of the dangers still roaming the streets.

"Our concern is not just the city of Atlanta boundaries," organizer Michael Langford told WSB-TV earlier this week. "It's the society in general. It's metro Atlanta. We've seen a number of attacks."

Langford is worried about a repeated spree of missing and murdered children cases that happened in Atlanta in 1979 and 1980, he said.

"We want to say to folk, if you harm our children, not only will the police be looking for you, the community will be on your trail, too," Langford added.

A $10,000 reward is being offered on the arrest of man, described as a male suspect in his mid- to late-20s with dreadlocks. He was driving a gray four-door Honda Civic with no interior carpeting and an exposed metal floor.


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Deborah Hastings / Apr-18-2014 138 0
Texas inmate with the critical thinking ability of a first-grader has been waiting some 34 years for a new trial. And now he'll wait some more.

In a recent ruling, a judge decided that Jerry Hartfield's constitutional right to a speedy trial had not been violated — despite being imprisoned since 1980 on a murder conviction that had been overturned — because, in essence, Hartfield did not ask for a new trial.

Judge Craig Estlinbaum found the state had been negligent in failing to retry the 56-year-old man, and that his ability to adequately defend himself had diminished over time, but he ultimately ruled Hartfield was responsible for his own incarceration because he failed to seek a new trial.

The decision is the latest in a series of confusing and baffling proceedings that have kept the Bay City man behind bars since his 1976 conviction for robbing and killing a bus station worker in 1976.

Hartfield, whose IQ has been estimated at 51, claims he is innocent and that police used a false confession against him. He was sentenced to death, but his conviction was overturned in 1980 by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeal, which ruled a juror had been improperly dismissed for voicing concerns about capital punishment.

Prosecutors twice tried to persuade the court to reconsider that ruling, but failed.

Mr. Hartfield should have had a new trial. But he didn't get one.

And then things began to legally fall apart for Hartfield.

Then-Gov. Mark White, at the urging of prison officials, commuted Hartfield's sentence from death to life imprisonment in 1983. Whether he had been informed that Hartfield's conviction had been overturned is not known, according to Hartfield's current attorney, Jeffrey Newberry of the Texas Innocence Project.

What is now known, however, is that the governor's commutation was issued in error, Newberry said.

"He couldn't commute the sentence because there was nothing left to commute," Newberry told the Daily News Friday. "Mr. Hartfield should have had a new trial. But he didn't get one."

He didn't get one because he had no legal counsel after his trial.

"So he just sat there," Newberry said.

Fast-forward to 2006, when a fellow inmate told Hartfield that he should have received a new trial after his conviction was overturned.

"Someone helped him write documents on his own saying 'Hey, I never got my new trial,''' Newberry said. Eventually, his handwritten legal filings resulted in him receiving a court-appointed attorney while he fought to be released.

Over the next eight years, his case bounced from federal court to state courts. Meanwhile, the murder weapon, a pick-axe, has been lost and witnesses have died.

In a jailhouse interview last year, Hartfield said he was not angry about what happened to him.

He became a Christian behind bars, he said. “Being a God-fearing person, he doesn’t allow me to be bitter,” Hartfield said. “He allows me to be forgiving.” Newberry said he is appealing last week's most recent ruling in Hartfield's case.

He disputes Judge Estlinbaum assertion that no evidence was submitted of Hartfield's mental incapacity. He also disputes the logic of the decision, saying the judge essentially ruled "Mr. Hartfield's right to a speedy trial had not been violated … because the fact that he waited (to request a new trial) was an indication that he didn't want a new trial," Newberry said.

Separate proceedings to retry the criminal case are also underway, the attorney said. A hearing on that matter is scheduled for next month.


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Apr-18-2014 77 0
More than a half-dozen African-American pastors and about 70 supporters gathered outside City Hall Thursday to protest what they described as a lack of diversity in Mayor de Blasio’s top appointments.

“This is an insult to us,” said the Rev. Dennis Dillon, pastor of the Brooklyn Christian Center, unveiling a study that claimed only 10% of de Blasio’s high-level appointees are black.

“The mayor made promises; we gave him our votes. . . . There is probably some regret with all of us. We want to believe his heart is in the right place; his actions are obviously all wrong.”

The mayor made promises; we gave him our votes.

However, the study had flaws.

For example, it counted officials who were appointed by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg and had left office.

And it included in its count holdover commissioners heading agencies where de Blasio has yet to make his own appointments.

A Daily News tally found that 24% of the deputy mayors and agency commissioners appointed by de Blasio are African-American.

A study cited by Dillon, which claimed only 10% of de Blasio’s high-level appointees are black, counted officials who were appointed by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg and had left office.

“Mayor de Blasio has kept his promise to build an effective administration that looks like New York City,” said spokeswoman Marti Adams.

“By any measure, Mayor de Blasio’s appointments have made this, by far, the most diverse administration that the city has seen in decades.”


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TMZ Apr-17-2014 107 0
Mike Epps may have gotten a real life fright at the after party of “Haunted House 2” on Wednesday night.

According to TMZ, the actor was accused of punching a woman in the face at the party, held at Lucky Strike in Downtown L.A.

The gossip site reports that LAPD sources said a woman filed a report after claiming that the 43-year-old comedian punched her in the face.

The police, TMZ reports, saw no sign of injury on the woman and Epps denied assaulting her. She supposedly claimed to have been previously romantically entangled with him.

Epps, according to the site’s sources, insists that the woman was a fan who became hostile after he asked her for privacy.

The police, TMZ reports, are referring the case to the domestic violence division.

A representative for Epps did not immediately respond to the Daily News’ request for comment.


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Apr-17-2014 82 0
The New York Times unleashed Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Walt Bogdanich on the Tallahassee police department’s investigation of a rape allegation against star Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston and the results are what you might expect.

The NYT “found that there was virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university.”

Winston, who will be a sophomore this upcoming season, is one of college football’s most famous and talented players. As a freshman he became the youngest Heisman Trophy ever and led the Seminoles to a national championship.

Winston’s fame may have affected investigators’ zeal during their investigation. The chief investigator in the rape case, who also does private security work for the Seminole Boosters, the primary financier of Florida State athletics, allegedly said testing the star quarterback’s DNA “might generate [unwanted] publicity.”

The New York Times story uncovers more disturbing facts:
•FSU knew about the rape allegation in January of 2013, about a month after the Dec. 6, 2012, incident and a full year before the Seminoles won the national championship, but did not question Winston.
•After the championship game in 2014, FSU asked Winston to answer questions about the allegations but he declined.
•Police did not follow “obvious leads that would have quickly identified the suspect as well as witnesses, one of whom videotaped part of the sexual encounter.”
•Police did not ask for security video from a bar where the alleged victim said she met Winston.
•Police said they had “no lead” on the rape suspect for about a month, but the accuser called a detective and identified her alleged attacker by name Jan. 10, saying she saw him on campus.
•Once Winston was identified as a suspect, police did not attempt to interview him for two weeks and never obtained a DNA sample.
•Police contacted Winston by phone, which is highly unusual, and Winston said he could not talk to them because of baseball practice. He hired a lawyer and never spoke to police.
•The detective handling the case suspended his inquiry without informing the accuser.
•Winston’s accuser filed an internal-affairs complaint, saying Tallahassee police investigated her instead of the football player and prematurely dropped the case. That complaint was dropped.
•When the prosecutor eventually got the case, important evidence, including the video of the sexual act, had disappeared.
•Prosecutors were forced to conduct much of the investigation that police failed to accomplish, including getting a DNA test, which indicated sperm found in the bruised woman’s underwear was from Winston.

Sexual assault charges were eventually dropped because prosecutors did not believe a trial would result in a conviction.

Florida Chief Assistant Attorney Georgia Cappleman told the Times, “I believe that Mr. Winston cannot be convicted. I don’t necessarily believe that he’s innocent.”

Winston’s Atlanta-based attorney, David Cornwell, told the Times, “We don’t need an investigation … to know that Jameis did not sexually assault this young lady.”

How about a third quote by a person who died thousands of years ago?

“Laws are like spider webs, which catch the little flies, but cannot hold the big ones,” the philosopher Anacharsis allegedly said circa 600 B.C.

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