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In brief: State worker furloughs halted

Sacramento, Calif. – A California judge on Thursday ruled that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had abused his discretion in ordering furloughs of state workers, dealing a blow to the administration’s efforts to cope with the state’s ongoing fiscal crisis.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch said the administration must halt the furloughs for workers represented by three unions, including Service Employees International Union Local 1000, which represents 95,000 state employees.

Schwarzenegger forced most state employees to take three days off a month without pay in 2009 as the state faced a massive budget deficit. The mandatory furloughs, which began in February and were extended over the summer, affected about 200,000 state workers and were expected to save the state $2 billion.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said the administration would appeal Thursday’s decision.

Immigration cases up last year

Washington – Immigration prosecutions rose to record levels in 2009 as the Obama administration kept up aggressive enforcement that began under President George W. Bush.

Nearly 27,000 people faced serious federal charges relating to immigration in 2009, according to Chief Justice John Roberts’ annual year-end report on the judiciary. More than three-fourths were accused of illegally re-entering the United States after having been sent home before.

Immigration cases increased by about a fifth over the previous year and made up a third of all new criminal filings in U.S. district courts in the government spending year that ended Sept. 30. The statistics were compiled by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

Dobson plans new show with son

Colorado Springs, Colo. – Focus on the Family founder James Dobson says he will host a new daily radio show with his son Ryan in 2010.

Dobson announced the new show, to be called “James Dobson on the Family,” on his Facebook page.

Dobson earlier said he planned to leave Focus on the Family and its flagship radio broadcast at the end of February.

He said his new show, which will air in March, will cover many of the same topics, including marriage, child-rearing and national issues.

Dobson says he wanted to leave Focus on the Family so the ministry could be passed on to the next generation of leaders. However, he says he feels compelled to continue at a time when the nation is in a “moral decline of shocking dimensions.”