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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has said yes to canines in the courtroom under certain conditions. The justices ruled Wednesday that a trial witness may be accompanied by a “comfort dog” if the animal will help coax reliable, complete and truthful testimony. The precedent-setting opinion establishes a “balancing test” for Pennsylvania judges confronted with such a request. Ruling unanimously in a murder case, the Supreme Court pointed to other states that allow witnesses to testify with the help of emotional support dogs. The justices said it’s permissible, as long as steps are taken to minimize any potential prejudice to a defendant.

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Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday sued his estranged niece and The New York Times over a bombshell 2018 story about his family’s wealth and tax practices that was based on confidential documents she provided to the newspaper’s reporters. Trump’s lawsuit, filed in state court in New York, accuses Mary Trump of breaching a settlement agreement by disclosing tax records she received in a dispute over family patriarch Fred Trump’s estate. In a statement, Mary Trump said of her uncle, “I think he is a loser, and he is going to throw anything against the wall he can. It’s desperation. A Times spokesperson said the lawsuit “is an attempt to silence independent news organizations and we plan to vigorously defend against it.”

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A San Antonio doctor who said he performed an abortion in defiance of a new Texas law has been sued by two people seeking to test the legality of the state’s near-total ban on the procedure. Former attorneys in Arkansas and Illinois filed lawsuits Monday against Dr. Alan Braid, who in a weekend Washington Post opinion column became the first Texas abortion provider to publicly reveal he violated the law that took effect on Sept. 1. The law says the restriction can only be enforced through private lawsuits. Oscar Stilley of Cedarville, Arkansas, near the Oklahoma border, is a former lawyer who said he lost his law license after being convicted of tax fraud in 2010. Stilley said he is not opposed to abortion but sued to force a court review of Texas’ anti-abortion law.

The Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the third-degree murder conviction of a former Minneapolis police officer won’t change the cases against the three former officers charged in George Floyd’s death. Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting manslaughter. Legal experts say last week’s ruling makes it highly unlikely that a charge of aiding and abetting third-degree murder would be added. The court last week threw out the third-degree murder conviction of Mohamed Noor, the former Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond in 2017. Noor remains convicted of manslaughter and will be sentenced on that count.

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North Carolina judges have struck down the state’s latest photo voter identification law. Two of the three trial judges hearing a lawsuit declared on Friday that the December 2018 law is unconstitutional. The judges barred its enforcement, agreeing with minority voters that Republicans rammed through rules tainted by racial bias as a way to remain in power. The majority's decision is now headed to a state appeals court. With two other pending lawsuits, it's looking more unlikely that the current voter ID law will be enforced during the 2022 elections. A previous ID law was struck down five years ago.

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The Minnesota Supreme Court has cleared the way for Minneapolis to vote on the future of policing in the city where George Floyd was killed. The state’s highest court overturned a lower court ruling that rejected ballot language approved by the City Council. The lower court said the wording failed to adequately describe the effects of a proposed charter amendment that would replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety that “could include” police officers “if necessary.” The Supreme Court was under pressure to rule quickly because early voting opens Friday.  

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The Minnesota Supreme Court has reversed the third-degree murder conviction of a former Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot a woman who had called 911 to report a possible rape behind her home. Mohamed Noor was convicted of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond. But he appealed the murder conviction, saying the charge was meant for cases in which a defendant’s actions are not directed at a particular person. The court's ruling Wednesday could give Derek Chauvin grounds to appeal his third-degree murder conviction in George Floyd’s death, but that would have little tangible impact since Chauvin was also convicted of the more serious count of second-degree murder.

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President Joe Biden is nominating a Vermont judge who played a critical role in paving the way for the legalization of same-sex marriage to become the first openly LGBT woman to serve on any federal circuit court. The White House announced Thursday that Biden has tapped Beth Robinson, an associate justice on the Vermont Supreme Court, to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In 1999, before she was appointed to the Vermont Supreme Court, Robinson helped argue the case that led to Vermont’s civil unions law, the first legal recognition in the country of same-sex relationships — a forerunner of gay marriage.