New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie suffered a defeat this week when lawmakers rejected a bill that would have let him cash in on a book deal in exchange for raises across state government. But while some legislators feel emboldened to challenge Christie and the body's Democratic leadership, which had supported the book deal, the basic rules in Trenton remain the same: The state's governor is considered the most powerful executive of any state, with authority over a vast array of appointments and the ability to veto any line item in the budget. Read more
Former Philadelphia prosecutor Lynn Marietta Nichols has been suspended from practicing law for 30 months by the state Supreme Court's disciplinary board. The move is the latest punishment for Nichols, 49, in connection with the illegal use of her authority to aid and then attack her landscaper boyfriend. "A public official's misconduct speaks directly to the integrity of the legal system by placing the reputation of those tasked with serving and protecting the public at issue," the board wrote. Read more
Rafael Robb is scheduled to be released from prison in three weeks, after serving a 10-year term for bludgeoning his wife to death in their Upper Merion home. But during a hearing on Robb's bid to get funds from his frozen retirement accounts, a judge suggested the former University of Pennsylvania professor may have lied about his assets. Robb testified he had an account in France with about $5,000. "There's no reference to France," said Judge Thomas M. DelRicci, reading from affidavits in which Robb listed what he said were all his assets. "That seems to me to create a dilemma. It has other ramifications and those ramifications are quite serious." Read more
The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights will investigate allegations that the Upper Dublin School District discriminated against black students by disproportionately giving them suspensions, contacting police over infractions and placing them in lower-track courses. The investigation is "a big deal," said lawyer Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg of the Public Interest Law Center. "You can never be sure when you make these allegations if the Office of Civil Rights is going to take it seriously and vigorously pursue it. We hope that the school district sees that this is not going away." Read more
After having spent a decade in prison for a crime he says he didn't commit, Donte Rollins is going home. The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled Tuesday that Rollins, imprisoned for a 2006 Strawberry Mansion shooting that left a 6-year-old boy paralyzed, has a right to relief because his attorneys and prosecutors agree that Rollins' trial attorney was ineffective and that he deserves a new trial. The District Attorney's Office will have to decide whether to prosecute Rollins again or drop the case. Read more