Charles Parish
Geer Services, Inc.
Claude Nolan
Geer Services, Inc.
Geer Services, Inc.
San Marco Properties
Geer Services, Inc.
Mar 172013

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Lawyers for Arizona, a state that has clashed repeatedly with the federal government on the issue of immigration, will be back at the Supreme Court on Monday defending a state law that requires proof of citizenship in order to register to vote in elections.

Critics of the law say that it conflicts with federal law — the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) — which is sometimes referred to as the Motor Voter law. It was enacted in 1993 to establish uniform procedures to vote in federal elections.

The NVRA provides a federal form for registration in which the registrant is required to check a box indicating U.S. citizenship and to sign the form under penalty of perjury.

But the state law, Proposition 200, which was passed into law in 2004, requires any registrant who does not have a driver’s license issued after 1996 or a non-operating license to provide documents such as a copy of a birth certificate or a passport.

“The case is intrinsically important,” says election law expert Edward B. Foley of the Moritz School of Law at Ohio State University, “because it asks whether a state can add a requirement to prove U.S. citizenship at the time of voter registration, beyond what the federal government requires under the NVRA”.

“This is an important case that is under the radar screen, because it involves not only the issue of immigration but also the regulation of voting rights,” Foley says. “More broadly, how do we make the rules of elections and who gets to write the rules — the federal government or the states?”

Groups such as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) say the law puts an additional burden on voters. They argue that a voter registrant who submits the federal form but does not provide additional documentation required by the state law is rejected for voter registration.

In court briefs, lawyers for MALDEF say: “Although states are authorized to design and use their own mail voter registration form, nothing in the statute permits states to use their forms to the exclusion of the federal form.”

Nina Perales, MALDEF’s Vice President of Litigation says that Arizona is trying to portray the dispute as a “David and Goliath battle between a state and an overbearing federal government,” but she says the “bottom line, is that Arizona’s law excludes U.S. citizens from registering to vote and it conflicts with federal law. Federal law says an individual can register to vote using a federal voter registration form. Arizona rejects the federal voter registration form unless they meet additional documentation requirements.”

She says that following the enactment of Proposition 200, more than 31,000 individuals were rejected for voter registration and less than one-third of the rejected registrants were subsequently successfully registered to vote.

A federal appeals court ruled against Proposition 200 and blocked the provision at issue.

Arizona Attorney General Thomas C. Horne argues in court briefs that Proposition 200 is necessary to preserve the integrity of elections. He says the state law does not conflict with the NVRA.

“The requirement that applicants provide additional evidence to support their application does not constitute a ‘rejection’ of the federal form any more than an identification check at an airport gate entrance constitutes a ‘rejection’ of a passenger’s ticket,” Horne says in the court briefs.

“Arizona, like other states, has experienced fraud in voting with regard to both registration and casting ballots,” Horne argues.

Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Oklahoma and Texas have filed a brief in support of Arizona saying that the state law “works hand in glove” with the federal law at issue and that Proposition 200 “is itself designed to protect the electoral process for the benefit of eligible citizens.”

But the federal government has filed a brief in support of the challengers, arguing that the NVRA “prohibits a state from imposing additional requirements on applicants who seek to register for federal elections through the federal form.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Mar 112013

ABC News(PHOENIX) — An Arizona couple who beat overwhelming odds to win a million-dollar lottery jackpot twice in less than 20 years says it was not luck, but persistence and a healthy dose of superstition that led to their wins.

Diane and Kerry Carmichael have just bagged a million dollars in the Arizona state lottery. The Tempe, Ariz., couple won $2.5 million in 1995.

“The odds of winning twice are in the billions to one,” Diane told ABC News.

She says that shattering such odds had little to do with gambling, but more with self-belief.

“When we first won, it wasn’t, if we were going to win again, it was when,” Diane said.  “About two years or so ago, the feeling returned.”

They say they have dropped $200 on lottery tickets every week, adding up to $10,000 every year, since 1984.  So, now, they’ve spent about $200,000 on tickets.

“It’s persistence,” she said.

They also mix in a little superstition.  They always buy from the same lottery office in Phoenix, and they have their method.  Still, the odds of this double win are stratospherically high.

Diane says that despite the two huge windfalls, she and her husband still live relatively modest lifestyles.

“We’re just not big spenders,” she said.  “We don’t have a big-screen TV.  Our cars are nine years and 13 years old, respectively.”

After their first win, the couple asked for their money in $125,000-per-year installments, with the last payment due next year.  They said they’re still going to play every week.

“I still think there’s one out there,” she said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Feb 202013

ABC News(PHOENIX) — Jodi Arias stepped down from the witness stand Wednesday after mounting an emotional effort to save herself from death row, insisting to the Arizona jury that an explosive fight with ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander led to his death, and that her lies about killing him masked deep regret and plans to commit suicide.

Arias, 32, will now face what is expected to be a withering cross-examination beginning Thursday from prosecutor Juan Martinez, who has been aggressive to many witnesses throughout the trial and who is expected to go after Arias’ claim that she was forced to kill Alexander or be killed herself.

She has been charged with her ex-boyfriend’s murder and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Wednesday’s dramatic testimony started with Arias describing the beginning of the fight on June 4, 2008 when she and Alexander were taking nude photos in his shower and, she claims, she accidentally dropped his new camera, causing Alexander to lose his temper. Enraged, he picked her up and body-slammed her onto the tile floor, screaming at her, she told the jury.

Arias said she ran to his closet to get away from him, but could hear Alexander’s footsteps coming after her down the hall. She grabbed a gun from his shelf and tried to keep running, but Alexander came after her, she said.

“I pointed it at him with both of my hands. I thought that would stop him, but he just kept running. He got like a linebacker. He got low and grabbed my waist, and as he was lunging at me the gun went off. I didn’t mean to shoot. I didn’t even think I was holding the trigger,” she said.

“But he lunged at me and we fell really hard toward the tile wall, so at this point I didn’t even know if he had been shot. I didn’t see anything different. We were struggling, wrestling, he’s a wrestler.”

“So he’s grabbing at my clothes and I got up, and he’s screaming angry, and after I broke away from him. He said, ‘F***ing kill you b****,’” she testified.

Asked by her lawyer whether she was convinced Alexander intended to kill her, Arias answered, “For sure. He’d almost killed me once before and now he’s saying he was going to.” Arias had earlier testified that Alexander had once choked her.

But Arias’ story of the death struggle ended there as she told the court that she has no memory of stabbing or slashing Alexander, whose body was later found with 27 stab wounds, a slit throat and two bullets in his head. She said she only remembered standing in the bathroom, dropping the knife on the tile floor, realizing the “horror” of what had happened, and screaming.

“I have no memory of stabbing him,” she said. “There’s a huge gap. I don’t know if I blacked out or what, but there’s a huge gap. The most clear memory I have after that point is driving in the desert.”

Arias said that she decided in the desert not to admit to killing Alexander, a decision that would last for two years as Arias lied to friends, family, investigators and reporters about what really happened in Alexander’s bathroom.

She eventually confessed to killing her ex-boyfriend, but insisted it was self-defense.

“The main reason [for lying] is because I was very ashamed of what happened. It’s not something I ever imagined doing. It’s not the kind of person I was. It was just shameful,” she said. “I was also very scared of what might happen. I didn’t want my family to know that I had done that, and I just couldn’t bring myself to say that I did that.”

“From day one there was a part of me that always wanted to (tell the truth) but didn’t dare do that. I would rather have gone to my grave than admit I had done something like that,” she said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Feb 102013

Matthew Simmons/WireImage(NEW YORK) — Hollywood action star Steven Seagal has a few choice words for critics of his latest role.

On Saturday, the actor and martial arts expert guided members of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s volunteer posse through a simulated school shooting. Members of the volunteer posse, some of them armed, began patrolling areas surrounding schools in Arizona’s most populous county, Maricopa, which includes Phoenix, in January.

Seagal’s involvement was called a “mockery” by an Arizona state legislator, while a group of protesters also voiced their concern over Arpaio’s school posse protection plan.

“Anybody who has criticized me or the sheriff for standing up to help the children, in my opinion, is an embarrassment to the human race,” Seagal told reporters on Saturday.

Two dozen high school students volunteered to participate in the simulation Saturday, while SWAT deputies posed as the shooters.

In one scenario, which was allowed to be filmed, students hid under cafeteria tables while under siege by a gunman, who was then taken down by volunteer posse members.

“I want everybody to know that we are going to be around those schools and if you do something, we will be armed and we are going into the schools to save our kids,” Arpaio said on Saturday.

The volunteer posse, which is nearly 3,500 members strong, has been used to patrol shopping malls during the holiday season, scope out undocumented immigrants, and investigate President Obama’s birth certificate.

Seagal occasionally worked as a deputy for the Jefferson Parish sheriff in Louisiana and had a reality show Steven Seagal: Lawman.

Arpaio, the self-styled “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” began sending armed posse members to patrol schools in January, following the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre and a more local threat that resulted in the Dec. 20 arrest of a 16-year-old student at Red Mountain High School in Mesa, Ariz., for a plot to bomb the school and shoot the students and faculty.

“We’re not going to wait for all the politicians,” Arpaio said. “Talk, talk, talk.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Jan 292013

ABC News(PHOENIX) — Alleged killer Jodi Arias is expected to take the stand this week and will try to convince an Arizona jury that her third version of how her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander died — that she killed him in self defense — is what really happened when she stabbed and shot him in his bathroom.

Her attorneys will also try to paint a sympathetic picture of Arias as a soft-spoken aspiring artist and photographer who was a recent and devout convert to Mormonism.

Her lawyers will have to overcome the prosecution’s image of a woman who can glibly lie to friends as well as police, about things as mundane as where she worked to how she killed Alexander.

“I don’t know how she can not take the stand, getting her up there you can have her crying and sobbing, saying she loved him, how horrible it was.  I can’t conceive how you wouldn’t,” said Melvin McDonald, a criminal defense attorney and former judge and prosecutor.  McDonald has opposed Arias’ prosecutor Juan Martinez in the past.

“She has got be likeable, tearful, show remorse for what happened.  She has got to talk about the great times they had, talk about how he turned on her, how he was mean and ugly and demeaning, and the pictures he took and the pressure he would put on her, that sort of stuff,” McDonald said.

Arias, now 32, has been in jail since admitting to killing Alexander, 29, in 2008.  She dated Alexander for a year and continued to have a sexual relationship with him for a year after they broke up.  Her attorneys claim she killed him in self-defense, and that he was a controlling, abusive boyfriend who took advantage of a nice girl who fell in love.

Alexander’s friends, however, have depicted Arias as a jealous woman and a stalker.  Prosecutors argue that her jealousy drove her to plot Alexander’s murder, driving from California to his house in Mesa, Ariz., to have sex with him, luring him into a vulnerable position, and then stabbing him 27 times and shooting him in the head.

The jury in the case will have to sort through the divergent portraits of Arias, who sits in court each day in conservative blouses and large glasses and who cries each time prosecutors discuss Alexander’s death.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio