[JURIST] Leading Friday's states brief, the Kentucky Court of Appeals [official website] ruled today that a one-room religious school must comply with health and plumbing regulations even if doing so would infringe on their sectarian beliefs. The school was closed by the Todd County Health Department after the department determined the school did not have a proper water system for drinking and hand-washing or an approved toilet system. Church members claimed that the sanitation rules infringed on their religious practices, but the court found the rules are neutral in regard to religion and that they do not place a special burden on the church. The case is Liberty Road Christian School v. Todd County Health Department. AP has more.
In other state legal news …
- The Washington Supreme Court has ruled [opinion text] that a man who fathered his girlfriend's two children through in vitro fertilization must pay child support. The father, Michael J. Kepl, signed a paternity affidavit after the first child's birth, but argued that he was not the "natural" father anyway because of a state law requiring both the mother and sperm donor of an artificial insemination to agree in writing that the donor is the child's father. The Supreme Court found that in signing the paternity affidavit for the first child, Kepl acknowledged his parental responsibilities, and for the second child the statute at issue was not relevant because it applied to artificial insemination. A number of the issues were made moot by the 2002 passage of the Uniform Parentage Act [text]. The Seattle Times has local coverage.
- The Washington Supreme Court has ruled [PDF text] that the state could be liable for "lapses of care" in its supervision of felons as the supervision of such offenders includes "a duty to prevent foreseeable injury." The ruling came in a case in which the jury awarded the family of a woman killed when her car was hit by a felon under the supervision of the Department of Corrections [official website] $22.4 million. While the Supreme Court tossed out the award for faulty jury instructions, the decision affirmed the DOC's responsibility to monitor offenders. In dissent, Justice Mary Fairhurst said it was "nonsensical" to hold the DOC responsible for the behavior of the offenders it supervises. Attorney General Rob McKenna criticized the decision [press release], saying "the state's taxpayers face virtually unlimited exposure for injuries caused by offenders on supervision." The Seattle Times has local coverage.