Arson

Robert Doggart was improperly convicted of solicitation to commit federal arson for his planned attack on a mosque in New York because the religious building was not used in interstate commerce, as required by the underlying arson statute, the Sixth Circuit ruled. From his home in Tennessee, Doggart plotted to burn down the mosque, plans he shared with an FBI confidential informant. 

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Two Popes Cause a Furor Over Celibacy

Ever since Benedict XVI announced he would become the first pope in 600 years to resign, Catholic theologians and canon lawyers warned of the confusion in having two popes living side by side in the Vatican, one reigning, the other retired but calling himself “emeritus pope” and still wearing the white cassock of the papacy.

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Jurors and God

The Eleventh Circuit upheld the convictions of Corrine Brown, a former U.S. representative from Florida, finding that a juror was properly dismissed after he indicated he would base his verdict on what he believed he was told by God. A rule allowing a juror to “base his verdict on something other than the evidence would be antithetical to the rule of law and is contradicted by decades of precedent,” the court determined. 

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Child Abuse Reporting

The Montana Supreme Court reversed a $35 million award in a negligence case against Jehovah’s Witnesses, finding that they are exempt from mandatory child abuse reporting because “canon law, church doctrine, or established church practice required that the reports of abuse in this case be kept confidential.”

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