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States brief ~ OR Supreme Court rules regulation that bars logging not "taking"

[JURIST] Leading Thursday's states brief, the Oregon Supreme Court has denied a timber company state compensation after the company was barred from logging trees around a bald eagle's nest by ruling [PDF text] today that state wildlife regulation of private property in the form of barring logging does not amount to a taking. Furthermore, the court found that the state constitution clause guaranteeing compensation when private property is taken for public use applies only when full economic use of the property is denied. In 1998, the Oregon Department of Forestry [official website] barred the company from logging 9-acres of a 40-acre parcel after the discovery of a bald eagle's nest. The ruling reversed a Court of Appeals decision [text]. AP has more.

In other state legal news ...

  • In an opinion released Thursday, a Louisiana District Court [official website] has declared a state law that allows juries to determine whether a defendant is mentally retarded unconstitutional because it creates an "intolerable risk that mentally retarded defendants will be executed." State District Judge Stephen Beasley said the law violates the 2002 US Supreme Court ruling in Atkins v. Virginia [PDF text] by allowing juries and not judges to determine whether a defendant is mentally retarded. The state Supreme Court has already issued rulings saying judges should make the determination. AP has more.

  • The Arizona Supreme Court has struck down [PDF text] a state law that allows workers' compensation coverage to be denied to workers who were injured on the job, but also tested positive for drugs or alcohol because the law conflicts with the state constitution's [text] mandate for a workers' compensation system requiring payments of benefits for work-related injuries without consideration of the employee's fault. While the court did recognize that "compelling policy reasons support banning drug and alcohol use in the workplace," Justice Michael D. Ryan wrote that the law [text] could not be upheld "unless and until the constitution is changed." The National Federation of Independent Businesses [association website] said a possible impact of the ruling may be the end of discounts employers get on workers' compensation insurance programs if they have substance-abuse policies. AP has more.

  • The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled [PDF text] that photographs of police officers may be shielded under the state public records law as the photographs fall within an exception in the law that shields any records identifying a person's occupation as a law enforcement officer. The Cleveland Plain Dealer and Youngstown Vindicator, which were seeking photos of police officers, argued that the law [text] is so broadly worded, it could prevent anyone from ever identifying a police officer. Tom Kraiser, chief trial counsel for the Cleveland Law Department [website], said the ruling simply protects the safety of officers who might go undercover. AP has more.

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