Challenges to Pa. 'mental anguish' law still alive

A federal judge yesterday kept alive two lawsuits challenging a Pennsylvania law that arose after convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal gave a taped speech at commencement for a small Vermont college.

U.S. Middle District Judge Christopher Conner declined a request by the state attorney general to dismiss the litigation over a state law passed after Abu-Jamal addressed Goddard College last year. He set the cases for trial later this month.

"A decision on the constitutionality of the statute would have broad and immediate utility, not only to the parties before the court but to offenders and potential third parties across the commonwealth whose expression, according to plaintiffs, is currently chilled by the act's existence," Conner wrote.

The Revictimization Relief Act lets victims of violent crimes seek injunctions against offenders who act in ways that perpetuate their mental anguish.

Abu-Jamal, who is serving life in prison for the 1981 shooting death of Officer Daniel Faulkner, is among one group of plaintiffs who argue the law is an illegal infringement of free speech.

Conner wrote that another lifer has halted plans for a book because of the new law.

He dismissed District Attorney Seth Williams as a defendant because Williams has said he does not intend to enforce the law while the litigation is pending.

Two brothers admit scheme to sell 22 guns

Two brothers from Camden have pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to illegally sell nearly two dozen guns in New Jersey that were bought in South Carolina.

Marcus Rutling, who also lives in Saluda, S.C., and brother Joseph Rutling entered guilty pleas yesterday to one count each of conspiring to deal firearms without a license and possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon. The possession count carries a five-year maximum prison sentence and the conspiracy count carries a maximum five-year sentence.

The U.S. Attorney's Office alleges the two schemed with others to buy 22 guns from pawn shops, gun stores and other sources in South Carolina and sell them in New Jersey.

The guns were sometimes transported on Amtrak trains, authorities say.

Casino appeals ruling in Trump name lawsuit

The owners of Atlantic City's Taj Mahal casino are appealing a court order in favor of Donald and Ivanka Trump in a lawsuit seeking to strip the Trump name from the casino.

Trump Entertainment Resorts filed an appeal to U.S. District Court in Delaware yesterday of a Feb. 20 ruling enabling the Trumps to move forward with their lawsuit in state court.

The Trumps say that Trump Entertainment Resorts, with which Donald Trump is no longer affiliated, allowed its two Atlantic City casinos to fall into disrepair.

That, the Trumps say, damages their personal brand.

The company has stripped the Trump name from most of Trump Plaza, which closed on Sept. 16, but is fighting to be able to use it at the Taj Mahal, its lone remaining casino.

- Associated Press