Court backs gays in jury selection
A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that potential jurors may not be removed from a trial during jury selection solely because of sexual orientation, extending to gays and lesbians a civil right that the U.S. Supreme Court has previously promised only women and racial minorities. A unanimous three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco held that striking someone from a jury pool because he or she is gay constitutes unlawful discrimination. Its 39-page decision came in an antitrust and contract dispute between two rival drug companies over the price of a popular AIDS drug. A lawyer for Abbott Laboratories used one of his allotted preemptory challenges to remove a potential juror who had referred to a male partner and having friends with AIDS during questioning. The jury that was eventually seated mostly ruled in favor of Abbott. Because the gay juror was taken off the case without justification, the 9th Circuit reversed the 2011 verdict and ordered a new trial. The Supreme Court has never addressed strikes based on sexual orientation.
New rules planned for child car seats
Child car seats would for the first time have to protect children from death and injury in side-impact crashes under regulations the government is proposing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration seeks to upgrade standards for child seats for children weighing up to 40 pounds to include a new test that simulates a side crash. The agency estimates the standards will prevent the deaths of about five children and injuries to 64 others each year. The agency is scheduled to announce the proposal today.
Russian band set for trip to U.S.
Pussy Riot band members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina, who were released from a Russian prison last month after serving 21 months for staging a protest against President Vladimir Putin, will appear at an Amnesty International concert in New York on Feb. 5. The two women are to speak on what Amnesty calls prisoners of conscience.