Legislators eye quicker executions
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama legislators are showing their support for expanding Alabama's death penalty law to cover more crimes and to expedite executions by shortening appeals.
The House and Senate Judiciary committees voted Wednesday to approve bills pushed by Attorney General Luther Strange and the Alabama District Attorneys Association.
One bill expands Alabama's death penalty law to cover several more crimes, including killing someone on a school campus or in a child-care center. Another calls for the two rounds of appeals in death penalty cases to run simultaneously rather than consecutively.
Proponents say the average case in Alabama takes 16 years from conviction to execution, and that's too long. Opponents say time is sometimes needed to uncover problems in prosecutions and the state shouldn't rush to execute someone.
Campus voter ID bill rejected
NASHVILLE — Legislation that would have let students at public colleges and universities use their campus identification cards to vote is dead this session.
The measure sponsored by Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, of Memphis, was defeated 7-2 this week in the Senate State and Local Government Committee.
The proposal would have amended the voter ID law that the Tennessee General Assembly passed about three years ago.
Last fall, the state Supreme Court upheld the law as it is now written. It requires voters to show a state or federally issued ID at the polls but bans the use of IDs from state higher education institutions.
Clerks charged in tag-line scheme
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Three former clerks are charged with taking money from people to let them get ahead in long lines at Jefferson County courthouses.
Authorities said 32-year-old Jozette Patrece Berry; 33-year-old Alisha Marie Cole; and 39-year-old Lashonda T. Smaw are charged with using their jobs for personal gain.
All three were fired from their jobs with Jefferson County's revenue office, where residents sometimes have to wait in line for hours for routine tasks like renewing their car tags. The women are free on bond. A hearing is set for Feb. 3.
An investigation began after a Birmingham TV station aired video that appeared to show workers taking money in exchange for letting some people get faster service.
Sex claims against sheriff settled
JACKSON, Tenn. — Officials in Madison County have approved a settlement to resolve claims filed by two employees accusing the sheriff of sexual harassment.
The Jackson Sun reported one woman will get $210,000 and the other will get $130,000 under the settlement approved Tuesday by county commissioners.
The deputies made the accusations against Sheriff David Woolfork in civil claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. According to the newspaper, Wolfforth has admitted to having affairs with the women but denied wrongdoing.
He was indicted last month on charges of attempted aggravated sexual battery and domestic assault involving one of the women and has pleaded not guilty.