University of Alabama

Alabama's attorney general is appealing a recent ruling that declared the state's death penalty sentencing system unconstitutional.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange says Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Tracie Todd doesn't have the authority to prevent the state from seeking the death penalty against defendants who are charged with capital murder.

In Alabama death penalty cases, juries recommend sentences but judges have the final say. It’s not uncommon for state judges to overturn a jury recommendation of life in prison in favor of the death penalty.

Gov. Robert Bentley is hinting that lawmakers could be back in special session if they fail to pass a budget that he feels adequately funds Medicaid.

Bentley says he would veto any budget without an additional $100 million for Medicaid. While lawmakers could override his veto, Bentley says that did not preclude a special session.

Commissioner Stephanie Azar says Medicaid needs that amount to avoid cuts and continue a switch to managed care.

A bare-bones General Fund budget that could mean deep cuts for Medicaid passed a House committee and could see a House vote next week.

The House Ways and Means Committee approved the draft budget yesterday, putting it in line for a House vote next week. The state Medicaid commissioner says this budget will result in some deep cuts to Medicaid and other state services. Gov. Robert Bentley has already threatened to veto the budget unless lawmakers find more Medicaid funding.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's prison construction proposal is facing its first legislative test.

Bentley is asking lawmakers to approve an $800 million bond issue to build four new prisons and close most existing facilities. Some members of the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee questioned aspects of the project during a public hearing Wednesday.

The U.S. Supreme Court says Alabama’s highest court overstepped its bounds when it invalidated a lesbian mother’s adoption. APR’s Alex AuBuchon has more.

 The Supreme Court ruled unanimously to throw out an Alabama Supreme Court decision denying a lesbian woman adoption rights she had previously been granted.

The woman had adopted three children with a former partner. When she tried to ensure her visitation rights, the Alabama Supreme Court said her adoption was invalid.

A new study at the University of Alabama is looking to study parents of children who have cancer.

The research is being conducted by the College of Human Environmental Sciences to see how parents of a child with cancer react while the child is going through treatment.

Dr. Sherwood Burns-Nader is heading up the study. She feels this survey can help future parents cope better with the process.

Selma will honor its history as a center for voting rights activism this weekend. The annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee marks the fifty-first anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

Officials expect crowds will be down from the numbers that visited for the fiftieth anniversary and to see President Barack Obama speak. The weekend will include an education summit tomorrow, a hip-hop summit on Saturday, and the bridge crossing on Sunday at the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

The Alabama House of Representatives approved measures to cement the state’s right-to-work status and to ban the sale of fetal tissue yesterday.

One bill would amend the state’s constitution to prevent companies from requiring their employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment. The practice has already been prohibited under state law, but Republicans say adding the language to the state constitution will make Alabama more appealing to industry. Lawmakers fell three votes short of passing the measure last week. Yesterday, the bill passed 69-33.

The Tuscaloosa Police Department has announced how officers will be disciplined after a violent arrest last fall that went viral.

Police Chief Steven Anderson says Officer James Kent is still on administrative leave with pay pending disciplinary action. Officer Justin Sams received a written reprimand along with remedial training to improve his communication skills.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

The next session for Alabama’s state legislature will convene at noon today.

State lawmakers are starting the 2016 session on Groundhog Day to some very familiar budget issues, but there will likely be some new debates as well.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is fining an Alabama auto parts supplier over $170,000 for unsafe working conditions.

Daeil USA is based in Valley, Alabama and supplies parts to Hyundai and Kia. OSHA recently issued 17 citations against the company, 10 of which were classified as serious.

They’re accusing the employer of willful failure to develop procedures to prevent multiple machinery from starting up during maintenance and servicing. OSHA says the unguarded machinery put workers in danger of amputations and other serious occupational hazards.

“Saban: The Making of a Coach”           

Author: Monte Burke

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pages: 324

Price: $27.00 (Hardcover)

There is a good case to be made for not writing biographies until the subject is dead. Feelings are inevitably hurt. The subject’s family and friends may learn things they don’t need to know.

The U.S. Department of Transportation will investigate whether Alabama violated civil rights law with closures and service reductions at rural driver's license offices. A-P-R’s Stan Ingold has more…

 U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says it is critical that license services be free from discrimination. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in programs that receive federal funds.

The department says it has not reached any conclusions.

Etowah County Detention Center
Hannah Rappleye / NBC News

A federal judge has authorized the force-feeding of one detainee on hunger strike at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Etowah County.

Chief U.S District Judge Karon O. Bowdre authorized the force-feeding last week, if needed, for a detainee reported to be in deteriorating health. Bowdre also authorized medical monitoring of other detainees participating in the hunger strike.

48 detainees at the Etowah County Detention Center began a hunger strike two weeks ago today, on Nov. 25. 15 continue to participate.

Dothan’s police department is under scrutiny after a blog post alleged officers planted drugs and weapons on suspects for nearly a decade.

The Henry County Report, a blog run by the nonprofit Alabama Justice Project, claims the group obtained documents indicating more than a dozen officers on a special narcotics team routinely planted evidence in cases against young black men.

Elliott Spillers
Pete Pajor / Crimson White

Students at the University of Alabama repeated a list of demands for more diversity on the Tuscaloosa campus.

A student march started at Malone-Hood Plaza and ended at Gorgas Library, where the students' eleven goals were restated. The group “We Are Done UA” wants a safe space for students of color, a diversity class for freshmen, and a way to report hate crimes and sexual abuse on campus, among other things.

Stuart Bell
University of Alabama

University of Alabama President Stuart Bell says he plans to add a central diversity officer to campus. The new position is part of an effort to ensure a welcoming and inclusive campus for students of all backgrounds.

Bell released a statement Wednesday saying he's asked the school's Strategic Planning Council to identify a diversity officer and develop a new campus diversity plan.

Bell says the university's provost and vice president for student affairs have also been asked to review the school's current initiatives and ensure they're accessible throughout campus.

Supreme Court
Wikimedia

An Alabama woman who had her adoption rights stripped by the state Supreme Court is now turning to the highest court in the nation.

The woman identified as V.L. adopted her long-term partner’s three children in Georgia. When the couple later split, the biological mother prevented V.L. from seeing her children. V.L. asked Alabama's Supreme court for help. Instead, the justices invalidated her adoptions.

Cathy Sakimura is an attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and represents the woman. She says what Alabama’s Supreme Court did was unprecedented.

Official body cam video from the aftermath of the November 8 arrests of three University of Alabama students. Certain confidential information has been redacted from the video.

Advisory: Some portions of these videos contain strong language and other potentially disturbing content.

Alabama’s Governor Robert Bentley is putting his rhetoric against Syrian refugees settling in the state into action.

The governor has directed state agencies to try to block the relocation of any Syrian refugees in Alabama.

Bentley signed an executive order Monday after announcing his opposition to Syrian refugees settling in Alabama over the weekend. The order directs state agencies to use all "lawful means" to prevent the resettlement of refugees.

A special election will be held next year to fill the east Alabama legislative seat left vacant by the death of Rep. Lesley Vance.

Gov. Robert Bentley announced the election schedule for the district yesterday that covers portions of Lee and Russell counties.

A primary election will be held Jan. 19 and the general election will be held April 12.

If a primary runoff is required, the general election will be pushed back until May.

Three Tuscaloosa Police officers are on paid leave following a videotaped incident that went viral on the internet. According to APR’s Pat Duggins, even Police Chief Steven Anderson admits he was disturbed by it.

The graphic video shot from inside a Tuscaloosa apartment shows local police officers pushing their way inside, and pulling two University of Alabama students out. A Taser and a nightstick are used as the officers forcibly subdue and arrest the young man and woman. Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steven Anderson says the images left him with some questions.

Three Tuscaloosa Police officers are on paid leave following a videotaped incident that went viral on the internet. APR’s Pat Duggins says Police Chief Steven Anderson admits even he was disturbed by it…

The graphic video shot from inside a Tuscaloosa apartment shows local police officers pushing their way inside, and pulling two University of Alabama students out.

The Tuscaloosa Police Department has launched an internal investigation after videos emerged of a team of officers using a Taser and baton during an arrest early Saturday morning.

The officers were responding to a loud music complaint at an apartment near the University of Alabama campus. Multiple videos of the incident show an officer speaking to the apartment’s occupants, who refused to exit the apartment and questioned whether the officer was within his rights to search the residence.

UA Students Help Fight Cyber Crime

Nov 5, 2015

This story is a class assignment in JN 325, a class on writing across media (Radio, TV, Web,) taught by Dr. George Daniels and APR news director Pat Duggins. The students are coached by Duggins, APR assistant news director Stan Ingold, and Morning Edition host Alex AuBuchon.

Headline: UA Students Help Fight Cyber Crime

Script: UA Crime Lab/ Katie Bedrich

October 21, 2015

A secret student society is under fire at the University of Alabama.

A group called "The Machine" has operated in Tuscaloosa for a century or more. Members don't publicly acknowledge its existence, yet the group historically controls campus politics.

But 19-year-old sophomore Alex Smith wrote a column in the campus newspaper this week identifying herself as a Machine member and publicly resigning from the group.

Bush Making an SEC Push

Oct 11, 2015

 

 

Jeb Bush is getting a jump on the so-called SEC primary by visiting  campuses in Southern states that vote for the GOP's presidential nominee on March 1st.

On Saturday, the former Florida governor gave a pitch for his candidacy before the Volunteers hosted Number 19 Georgia.

Bush spoke to hundreds of orange-clad fans who gathered for his speech two hours before the opening kickoff.

After just a few minutes, Bush ended his remarks and pledged to take as many selfies as humanly possible. He spent the next half-hour or so doing just that.

The Alabama Attorney General's Office is seeking an execution date for a death row inmate convicted in the 1992 rape and murder of a Homewood woman.

Al.com reports the Attorney General submitted a motion to the Alabama Supreme Court last week saying inmate Christopher Brooks has exhausted his direct appeals and should be scheduled to be executed.

The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a former member of the Tuscaloosa Board of Education who says illegal votes cost her a 2013 re-election.

Kelly Horwitz says her opponent for a school board seat in 2013, Cason Kirby, benefited from illegal votes cast by members of University of Alabama fraternities and sororities. She claims some of those votes were the result of bribery, with Greek members pressuring classmates and offering free drinks or concert tickets to get people to vote.

Media outlets are asking a judge in Tuscaloosa to unseal the divorce case of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and first lady Dianne Bentley.

A motion filed today by a group of Alabama television stations and newspapers says the case was sealed last month following a hurried hearing held without notice to the public.

The motion says the divorce is newsworthy and a fair subject for reporting by the media. It says allowing the case to remain closed promotes the spread of rumors.

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