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Tyson's rape appeal rejected

The Supreme Court rejected without comment an appeal by former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, who said he was denied a fair trial when convicted of rape in 1992.

Tyson, 27, was found guilty of raping Desiree Washington, an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant, in his Indianapolis hotel room in July 1991.

He was sentenced to six years at the Indiana Youth Center, but his May 1995 release could be moved up six months if he passes a high school equivalency exam.

Tyson's conviction was upheld by an Indiana appeals court last year and a divided state Supreme Court refused to review the case Monday.

Tyson's attorney, Alan Dershowitz, said in the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court that defense witnesses had been improperly excluded from testifying at trial and that Indiana law wrongly allowed prosecutors to select Judge Patricia Gifford, a former prosecutor in sex crimes, to preside over Tyson's trial. Indiana's judicial-selection system has since been changed.

Dershowitz said he will begin a federal habeas corpus petition, which requests a release from prison.

The court's action Monday does not affect a second appeal that Tyson has pending in state court.

In June, the Indiana Court of Appeals will hear arguments by Tyson's lawyers that prosecutors knew Washington was considering suing the boxer _ a fact they claim should have been told to the jury. That issue was not raised in the appeal before the Supreme Court.

In other action Monday, the court:

Ruled in a Georgia case that federal judges only rarely must disqualify themselves from cases in which they are accused of bias because of their actions in the courtroom.

Refused to revive Detroit's lawsuit over the 1990 census, which the city said substantially undercounted black residents.