Briefs: Missouri Court Orders New Trial in HIV-Infection Case, Possible Anti-LGBT Chief Justice in US Senate & More!

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Wheeling, W. Va. Photo Credit: Brandon W. Holmes.

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Will the Suspended Anti-LGBT Alabama Chief Justice End Up in the US Senate? 

(EDGE) Suspended anti-LGBT Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore may be gone from the bench, but headed to Washington.  

According to WVTM, representatives for Alabama Governor Robert Bentley's office confirmed that the Republican Governor has interviewed Moore to fill the Senate seat currently being held by Jeff Sessions.  

Sessions has been nominated to be U.S. Attorney General for the incoming Trump administration. If he survives the blue wall of Democrats suspected to block his nomination, his senate seat will be in play. 

As Governor, Bentley has the authority to appoint an interim senator until a special election can be held. 

As Chief Justice of the Alabama State Supreme Court, Moore was suspended for multiple ethics code violations, including abuse of authority and interference with federal-level court rulings related to same-sex marriage. Despite being represented in court by the anti-LGBT hate group Liberty Counsel, Moor was found guilty of all charges. He remains suspended without pay for the remainder of his term. 

W. Va. City Council Passes Anti-Discrimination LGBT Ordinance 

(AP) Wheeling has become West Virginia's 11th city to pass a policy protecting the housing and employment rights for LGBT citizens. 

The Wheeling City Council voted 7-0 to establish new anti-discrimination protections in the city's human rights ordinance based on sexual orientation, gender identity and veteran status on Tuesday. 

The Intelligencer says the ordinance includes exemptions for religious institutions, as well as employers with fewer than 12 employees. 

It also gives the city's human rights commission the ability to issue cease-and-desist orders in response to complaints under the new policy if attempts at conciliation fail. The commission can have the courts enforce those orders if they are not obeyed. 

Wheeling is the fifth city in the state to approve such a measure this year. 

Missouri Court Orders New Trial in HIV-Infection Case 

A Missouri appeals court ordered a new trial Tuesday for a former college wrestler sentenced to 30 years in prison for infecting another man with HIV and endangering four other sexual partners. 

A panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals' Eastern District overturned the conviction and sentence for Michael Johnson in a case that has drawn the attention of legal reform groups and gay rights activists. 

The panel ruled that the St. Charles County trial court last year abused its discretion by admitting excerpted recordings of phone calls Johnson made while jailed. Those recordings weren't disclosed to Johnson's attorneys until the morning of the first day of trial. 

The court ruled that the prosecution's violation was "knowing and intentional and was part of a trial-by-ambush strategy," Presiding Judge James M. Dowd wrote. 

Messages left with St. Charles County prosecutor Tim Lohmar were not immediately returned. 

Johnson was a student-athlete at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, a St. Louis suburb, until his arrest in 2013. He was convicted of one count of recklessly infecting another with HIV, and four counts alleging he exposed or tried to expose others. Prosecutors argued Johnson knew he was HIV positive and lied to sexual partners. 

St. Charles police Det. Don Stepp testified during the penalty phase of the trial that more than a dozen other men came forward after news reports of Johnson's arrest, claiming they had sex with him. Stepp said those men didn't want to file formal complaints, with some saying they hadn't told their families they were gay. 

Lawrence Lustberg, an attorney for the Center for HIV Law and Policy, which filed a brief in support of Johnson, said he was pleased the conviction and "Draconian" sentence were vacated. 

"Statutes like the one used to prosecute Mr. Johnson are inherently problematic, as they promote stigma and animus towards people living with HIV in violation of their legal and constitutional rights," Lustberg said in a statement. 


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