[JURIST] Leading Friday's states brief, as Connecticut becomes the second state to offer same-sex couples civil unions [JURIST report] October 1, town clerks are saying they are ready, but some employers may not be prepared. While only a few town clerks offices plan to be open tomorrow and there is no way of knowing how many of the state's approximately 7,400 same-sex couples will seek a civil union, Sandra Hutton, president of the Connecticut Town Clerk's Association [official website], said, "We're ready. We have the proper documentation. We won't have any problems at all." As for employers, employee benefits attorney Bruce Barth stated, "I think employers are going to start getting requests (for benefits) as soon as Monday. And they're not prepared." Connecticut will also recognize civil unions [JURIST report] from Vermont beginning tomorrow. AP has more.
In other state legal news ...
- The Florida Supreme Court has extended [PDF text] the deadline for state prison inmates to challenge their convictions through DNA testing until July 1, 2006. The state's highest court will also consider whether to eliminate the deadline completely, as urged by the Florida Bar Association, and the issue is also likely to be addressed by future legislation. Michelle Fontaine, assistant director of the Florida Innocence Initiative [advocacy website] in Tallahassee said, "We have always wanted there to be unfettered time for individuals to file these claims," but some opponents of the extension cite the costs of storing evidence and the clogging of state labs. In 2001, the Legislature gave inmates 2 years to have the evidence used against them tested for DNA, and during a subsequent 2 year Florida Supreme Court extension [JURIST report], Wilton Dedge and Luis Diaz, after serving 22 and 26 years respectively, were exonerated. The St. Petersburg Times has local coverage.
- The Arkansas Supreme Court [official website] has heard oral arguments on whether a 1997 amendment to the city fuel tax exemption law, which exempts "a city bordering a state line which is in the main channel of the Mississippi (River)" from a 1973 amendment prohibiting the law's application to areas annexed to border cities, is unconstitutional. An attorney for the state Department of Finance and Administration [official website] argued that the amendment helps poor border cities and that a lower court judge erred when he nullified only the unconstitutional language of the law instead of the entire statute and substituted "river" for "the Mississippi." The border city fuel tax exemption provides that in certain border areas the gasoline tax can not be more than 1 cent per gallon above the gasoline tax in the bordering state. The Arkansas News Bureau has local coverage.