Associated Press

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A judge has scheduled a hearing for a request to move a police officer’s murder trial out of Montgomery and to another city.

Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin scheduled the hearing for Tuesday, June 13. Montgomery police officer Aaron Smith faces a murder charge for the shooting death of 58-year-old Greg Gunn. That shooting occurred in February 2016 when Smith stopped Gunn as he was walking home late at night from a neighborhood card game.

Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International

A disease that's affecting bats nationwide has been found in a species in Alabama for the first time. 

 A statement from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources says white-nose syndrome has now been detected in the southeastern bat.

Officials in Gardendale, Alabama may be allowed to establish their own school system, but it won’t be this fall.

U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala is delaying her order to let the Birmingham suburb of Gardendale split from Jefferson County Schools and establish its own school system.

Alabama death row
EJI

A death row inmate in Alabama is looking to halt his upcoming execution due to the use of a sedative that his lawyers say has “failed to work properly in four states”.

Attorneys for inmate Robert Melson appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week for an emergency stay of his execution. Melson is scheduled to be put to death a week from today for the killings of three Gadsden restaurant employees during a 1995 robbery.

Bullock Correctional Facility
ADOC

An inmate was recently killed at a state prison in southeast Alabama, according to authorities.

The Alabama Department of Corrections says 41 year old James Edwards Rodgers was attacked by two inmates with makeshift knives yesterday afternoon. The attack occurred at the Bullock Correctional Facility near Union Springs, Alabama. Rodgers died in the infirmary shortly after the attack.

Correctional authorities say 19 year old Paul Johnson and 35 year old Christopher Hand will be charged with murder. A motive for the stabbing is unknown.

Alabama’s largest city wants to play host to more movies, and a new film office is trying to lure movie productions to the area.

Al.com reports Film Birmingham is now officially open for business after operating behind the scenes for more than a year. The office is an initiative started by Create Birmingham, who are also planning to launch a website targeting the film industry.

Film Birmingham officials say that instead of focusing on big-budget movies like the city of Atlanta does, they will be more focused on recruiting small- to mid-sized productions to the Magic City.

A law that would regulate ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft failed to pass the Legislature this year. It’s unclear when or if those companies will begin service in certain Alabama communities.

Uber is blaming the cities involved. Al.com reports a spokesperson for Uber singled out Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson as being primarily responsible for the stalled legislation.

An inmate once called the "Houdini" of Alabama's death row for escaping seven past execution dates was put to death early this morning for a 1982 contract killing.

Tommy Arthur, 75, was pronounced dead at 12:15 a.m. this morning following a lethal injection, according to correctional authorities said. Arthur was convicted of killing riverboat engineer Troy Wicker, who was fatally shot as he slept in his bed in Muscle Shoals.

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a temporary stay on the execution of an Alabama prison inmate.

The nation's high court stayed the execution of Tommy Arthur, "pending further order" from the justices, late Thursday afternoon. Arthur was scheduled to be executed Thursday evening.

The Alabama Department of Public Health is warning Centre residents about potentially unhealthy levels of two synthetic compounds in its water.

The Department announced earlier this week that the compounds, known as PFOS and PFOA, were recently found in the city of Centre's water. It says residents should consider "using alternate sources of drinking water."

Centre Water has begun buying water from the Cherokee County Water Authority and blending the two to drive down the PFOS and PFOA numbers. The water will continue to be tested.

Lawyers for former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard say his ethics conviction is "legally baseless" and prosecutors stretched the bounds of the state law to bring charges against him.

 Hubbard's lawyers filed the appeal Wednesday in the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. They are seeking to overturn his 2016 conviction on ethics charges.  Hubbard was convicted of wrongly accepting investments, employment and financial advice from people with business before the Alabama Legislature.

Alabama death row
EJI

An Alabama inmate who has had seven past executions postponed is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection tomorrow.

Tommy Arthur still maintains his innocence, but he conceded in a phone interview with the Associated Press from prison that his hopes of winning another reprieve are diminishing. Still, the 75-year-old inmate says he "won't give up."

Investigators believe the three Alabama mosques broken into in March were robbed by the same man – and that he committed a series of burglaries at mosques across the country earlier this year.

According to the Gadsden Times, detectives say three mosques in Alabama, two in Arizona and one in Virginia were broken into earlier this year.

 Alabama lawmakers have given final approval to new legislative districts.

The Alabama Senate voted 21-8 to approve the redistricting legislation. It now goes to Governor Kay Ivey for her signature.

An Alabama bill requiring some insurers to cover autism treatment for children is set to become law.

The state House of Representatives voted unanimously yesterday morning to go along with Senate changes and send the bill to the governor. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey's press office has indicated she will sign the bill later this morning unless a legal review finds problems.

The mandate applies to employers with 51 or more employees.

Lawmakers in both chambers of Alabama’s legislature have approved an education budget. Now it’s just waiting on Alabama Governor Kay Ivey’s signature to go into effect for the upcoming fiscal year.

Lawmakers gave final approval to the $6.4 billion education trust fund early this morning. The budget will keep Alabama’s schools mostly funded at the same levels as this past year, but it does provide for some increases for K-12 schools and other programs.

Alabama State Senator Cam Ward says his prison construction bill is dead for this year’s legislative session.

Ward made the pronouncement yesterday. He says the bill already had heavy opposition in the House and was wounded further by tensions over redistricting and other issues in the final days of the session. Ward says opposed lawmakers had threatened to filibuster the bill.

Republicans are pushing toward a redistricting vote over the objections of House Democrats as Alabama lawmakers burned plenty of midnight oil last night.

The House of Representatives met until nearly 4 a.m. this morning. Representatives will resume debate later this morning after lawmakers get a few hours of sleep.

Republicans have the votes to approve the proposed new legislative district lines. But black lawmakers in the House are once again using delaying tactics to protest the plan. They argue the new districts diminish the influence of black voters statewide.

Greg Griffin
Mickey Welsh / Montgomery Advertiser

A white Alabama police officer charged with killing a black man last year is now asking the black judge currently hearing the case to step aside.

Attorneys for Aaron Smith are asking Montgomery County Circuit Judge Greg Griffin to recuse himself from Smith’s case based on a Facebook post he reportedly wrote shortly after the shooting. WSFA reports the motion includes a copy of a post in which Griffin writes he was stopped by Montgomery police because he was black and walking down a street.

The Alabama Senate has voted in favor of a bill that would require insurers to cover autism therapy but only until the child turns 18.

Senators voted 33-1 Tuesday to mandate the coverage of applied behavioral analysis, an intensive therapy for those with autism.

The House approved the bill unanimously earlier this session. The bill now heads back to the House, where Representatives will decide whether to go along with Senate changes to the bill.

The Alabama House of Representatives approved a plan gto shorten death penalty appeals. Representatives voted seventy four to twenty six in favor of a bill that would pattern Alabama's process after the one used in Texas. It requires inmates to raise claims such as ineffective counsel at the same time as appeals claiming trial errors. Currently, inmates appeal trial errors first and then raise other issues. Senator Cam Ward is sponsoring the measure. He says it should drop the appeals time from about eighteen years to nine.

A new proposal from the Mobile mayor's office would decriminalize several minor offenses, including the possession of marijuana for personal use.

Local news outlets report Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson's proposed ordinance will be introduced at today’s city council meeting. Under the code change, police would issue an Alabama Uniform Non-Traffic Citation and Complaint in the event of such an offense, which typically carries a $100 fine and court costs.

A stabbing inside an Alabama state prison has left one inmate dead and a second injured.

Correctional officials say 34-year-old Jamie Marcus Witherspoon was fatally stabbed yesterday morning at the state prison in the Bibb County town of Brent. A second man was injured and is being treated in the prison infirmary.

A conference committee will decide what to do with an Alabama bill that would prevent Confederate monuments from being taken down. 

The group of will try to resolve House and Senate differences in the bill that would prohibit the removal of any historic marker or monument.

The House of Representatives on Thursday appointed conference committee members so the panel can meet in the final week of the legislative session.

The bill comes as some Southern cities consider taking down Confederate monuments.

Finalists have been named for a literary award named for the late Alabama author Harper Lee. 

The University of Alabama law school and the American Bar Association Journal have named three books that are being considered for the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

The annual award is given to a work of fiction that shows the role of attorneys in society and their power to bring about change.

The finalists are: "Gone Again" by James Grippando; "Small Great Things" by Jodi Picoult; and "The Last Days of Night" by Graham Moore.

A prison construction plan is headed to a key vote in committee.    The House Judiciary Committee will vote Tuesday on the proposal to build, or lease, up to four prisons in the state.  

 Senator Cam Ward, the bill's sponsor, said the vote is "do or die" for the legislation as lawmakers head into the final week of the legislative session.

The Alabama House of Representatives has finally approved new legislative districts for the state – after house Democrats delayed a vote by having the bill read aloud for sixteen hours.

Representatives approved the districts yesterday on a 70-30, strictly party-line vote.

Back in January, federal judges ordered the GOP-controlled Legislature to redraw lines before next year’s election after ruling some districts were gerrymandered by race.

A bill requiring insurance companies in the state to pay for autism therapy has passed the Senate budget committee. But the committee chairman is threatening not to advance the bill, as he continues negotiations.

The superintendent of Selma’s city school system has been placed on administrative leave for reportedly violating her contract.

The Selma Times-Journal reports Angela Mangum was suspended earlier this week after failing to notify Selma’s school board she was pursuing other employment opportunities.

The Senate Leadership Fund is planning a $2.6 million television ad buy on behalf of Senator Luther Strange as the group seeks to ward off challengers for the Senate seat previously held by now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The super political action committee, with ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, announced the buy yesterday in a show of fiscal force leading up to the Aug. 15 Republican primary.

Senate Leadership Fund spokesman Chris Pack said the buy is just a fraction of what the group plans on spending to support Strange.

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