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Attorney: Bakker's sentence too harsh

Published Oct. 18, 2005

Jim Bakker's attorneys argued Tuesday that the former televangelist received a 45-year prison sentence for defrauding his followers because the judge was biased. Defense lawyers also argued at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Bakker's conviction on 24 counts of fraud and conspiracy should be overturned because of a faulty jury instruction. The appeals court usually issues rulings within four to six months of hearing arguments.Devices for training

horses ruled okay

WASHINGTON _ A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that trainers of Tennessee Walking Horses may use lightweight arrangements of chains and rollers to produce the characteristic high-stepping gait of the breed. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously upheld the Agriculture Department's regulations permitting the use of the chains, called "action devices," if the assembly weighs six ounces or less. The devices had been the object of a lawsuit by an animal protection group.

Lawyers want ban

on asthma drug

WASHINGTON _ A lawyers' group and medical experts joined Tuesday to urge the government to strengthen safeguards for people with asthma who use an effective but potentially dangerous drug. They said that over-the-counter asthma medications containing the drug theophylline should be banned. "Our message about theophylline is that this medication can be a life-saver or a life-taker," said Michael Maher, president of the Trial Lawyers of America. Schering-Plough, the leading manufacturer of theophylline products, called the lawyers' action a "self-serving publicity campaign" and said its theophylline products have had a good safety record.

U.S. court upholds

confinement law

SAN FRANCISCO _ A federal appeals court has upheld a law that allows the indefinite commitment, without a jury trial, of a mentally incompetent person charged with a federal crime. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the indefinite confinement of defendants found to be dangerous and incompetent to stand trial was justified by public safety and administrative convenience. The majority opinion noted that a defendant alleged to be mentally incompetent and dangerous was entitled to a lawyer, a hearing before a judge, a four-month initial evaluation and periodic mental health reviews. Any additional fairness that a jury trial would provide "is outweighed by the substantial burden a jury would impose on the commitment process," it said.

Elsewhere . . .

NEW YORK _ Striking unions at the Daily News moved Tuesday to try to starve the newspaper of its advertising revenue, mapping plans for a leaflet campaign against department stores, shops and other clients. "We're going to do everything possible to hurt management, to get them to go back to the bargaining table," said George E. McDonald, president of the Allied Printing Trades Council.

CALDWELL, Texas _ A 160-pound deer with eight-point antlers gored and trampled to death a man walking along a rural road, authorities said. It was the second buck attack in Texas in four days. Wildlife officials warned that deer, which are usually docile, can turn aggressive during mating season from mid-October to mid-November.

CLEVELAND _ A man crippled during a car accident was sentenced Tuesday to 20 to 50 years in prison for sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman he held hostage for four days in January.

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. _ A write-in candidate, Arne Carlson, was named the Republican candidate for governor Tuesday after the winner of the GOP primary election, Jon Grunseth, quit the race because of allegations of sexual misconduct. He will face three-term Democratic Gov. Rudy Perpich.