In brief: Execution stayed for woman on death row
Huntsville, Texas – The first woman scheduled to be executed in the U.S. since 2010 won a reprieve Tuesday, mere hours before she was scheduled to be taken to the Texas death chamber.
State District Judge Larry Mitchell, in Dallas, rescheduled Kimberly McCarthy’s punishment for April 3 so lawyers for the former nursing home therapist could have more time to pursue an appeal focused on whether her predominantly white jury was improperly selected on the basis of race. McCarthy is black.
Dallas County prosecutors, who initially contested the motion to reschedule, chose to not appeal the ruling.
The 51-year-old McCarthy was convicted and sent to death row for the 1997 stabbing, beating and robbery of a 71-year-old neighbor. She learned of the reprieve less than five hours before she was scheduled for lethal injection, already in a small holding cell a few feet from the death chamber at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Huntsville Unit.
LaHood steps down from Cabinet post
Washington – Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the last Republican left in President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, announced Tuesday he is stepping down.
In a note to department staff, LaHood said he would remain at the helm until a replacement is confirmed to ensure “a smooth transition for the department and all the important work we still have to do.”
The former seven-term congressman from Peoria, Ill., has led the department since 2009 and was not expected to stay on through a second term. Among those who have been prominently mentioned as a possible successor is Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, whose mayoral term ends June 30 and who played a key role in writing a provision of last year’s federal transportation bill that is designed to speed up projects throughout the country, including in Los Angeles.
Judge won’t block city’s nudity ban
San Francisco – A federal judge cleared the way Tuesday for the city of San Francisco to ban most displays of public nudity, ruling that an ordinance set to take effect Friday does not violate the free speech rights of residents and visitors who like going out in the buff.
U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen refused to block the ban temporarily or to allow a lawsuit challenging it to proceed.
“In spite of what plaintiffs argue, nudity in and of itself is not inherently expressive,” Chen wrote in an 18-page opinion.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 7-4 last month to prohibit residents and visitors over age 5 from exposing their genitals on public streets, in parks or plazas or while using public transit.
The measure was introduced in response to a group of nudists that regularly gathers in the city’s predominantly gay Castro District.