States brief ~ NJ lawmakers challenge bond refinance plan
States brief ~ NJ lawmakers challenge bond refinance plan

[JURIST] Leading Thursday's states brief, two New Jersey Republican lawmakers filed a lawsuit today in state Superior Court, seeking an injunction to stop plans by acting Governor Richard J. Codey [official website] for a $2.1 billion bond refinance deal that will raise $150 million to help run the state government. The deal would raise the money by refinancing bonds issued against New Jersey's share of the national lawsuit settlement with tobacco companies, and using the money as operating revenue. State Senator Leonard Lance [website] and Assemblyman Alex DeCroce allege the refinance amounted to a form of borrowing that the state Supreme Court explicitly prohibited in a 2004 ruling [PDF text]. The $150 million has been included in the $28 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2006 [Governor's press release], but state Treasury officials have agreed to put the plan on hold until a court ruling next Thursday. AP has more.

In other state legal news …

  • The Mississippi Supreme Court [official website] dismissed the death sentence of Ronald Chris Foster Thursday because he was 17 years old when he murdered a convenience store clerk. The sentence dismissal comes as a result of the US Supreme Court's ruling in Roper v. Simmons [JURIST report] in which the court found it unconstitutional to execute those who committed a murder when under the age of 18. The court ordered a lower court to re-sentence Foster to life in prison without parole. Foster is one of five Mississippi death row inmates effected by the decision. AP has more.
  • An Iowa District Court judge has denied Governor Tom Vilsack's motion to dismiss a temporary restraining order that is barring the governor from automatically granting voting rights to felons who have served their prison sentence. Judge J. Patrick Madden cited concerns that if the motion was granted, it would prevent elected officials from facing public accountability. In July, Vilsack issued an executive order [JURIST report] automatically restoring felon's voting rights after the felon had completed his prison sentence and probation. Before the executive order, voting rights could only be restored after a review by the state parole board and the governor. The Muscatine County Attorney's office has filed a case based on a mandamus [Wikipedia], the merits of which will be decided August 31. Iowa's Quad-City Times has local coverage.
  • The Oregon Senate [official website] has passed a bill extending the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases. Under current law, victims can file charges until their 24 birthday or six years after the crime was reported. The bill [text] passed by the Senate yesterday would allow victims to file charges until their 30 birthday or 12 years after reporting the crime. The bill failed during its first vote in the Senate on Monday, but will now go to the House for approval. Oregon's Statesman Journal has local coverage.