Man chooses jail over jury duty
DADE CITY, Fla., Feb. 23 (UPI) -- A Florida man who didn't want to serve jury duty in Dade City is behind bars instead.
Daniel Harrell showed up for his first day of a jury trial, handed his badge to the bailiff and said he didn't want to be on the jury, the St. Petersburg Times reported.
Circuit Judge Wayne Cobb called Harrell into his chambers and told him he'd be found in contempt if he continued to refuse to serve. Harrell refused to sit on the jury, and Cobb sentenced him to 15 days in jail, the Times reported.
"That's fine with me," Harrell told Cobb after hearing his sentence. "Because of you all putting me in jail for not, you know, not doing that ... . I don't like the judicial system anyways. So you all do whatever you have to do."
Cobb told the newspaper the 15-day sentence was on the light side.
"I really thought 30 (days), but I decided to go easy," he told the Times. "I wanted it (to last) more than the trial."
Fewer wedding bells in England
LONDON, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- The number of Brits walking down the aisle has dropped to its lowest level in more than 140 years of recordkeeping, the Times of London reported.
The Times reported that the number of marriages in England dropped by 30,000 to 244,000 from 2004 to 2005.
The Office for National Statistics said the annual marriage rate for men was 24.2 per 1,000 and 21.6 per 1,000 women, marking the lowest figures since the first records of 1862, the Times said.
The newspaper said opposition parties will use the ONS data to fight Labor Party proposals they say will ruin the institution of marriage. Among the proposals being considered is one that would give couples that live together the same legal rights as married couples, the Times reported.
Jenny North, head of public policy at Relate, said the cost of weddings alone might discourage people from tying the knot.
"Ten percent is a big drop and reflects the increasing number of obstacles that are now in the way of getting married," she told the Times. "The cost of weddings is enormous with people now describing it as a 'luxury good.'"
Still, the new data show that civil ceremonies dropped most sharply while weddings at "approved premises" rose, the Times reported.
States bar electronics from legislators
AUGUSTA, Maine, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Maine's House of Representatives has become the latest state legislature to bar cell phones and other electronic devices from official deliberations.
Representatives decided to enact the ban after lobbyists began e-mailing legislators during debates, Stateline.org reported.
The move follows similar bans in statehouses around the country. Earlier this year, Oregon banned "cell phones, laptops and other electronic devices that detract from the decorum" from meetings of the state Senate, echoing an earlier ban passed by the House, Stateline.org said.
Electronic communication devices have also been barred from legislative sessions in North Dakota, Colorado and North Carolina.
"We're a deliberative body, and when you're in (the chamber) you're supposed to be listening," said North Carolina Sen. Tony Rand.
Thirteen other statehouse chambers allow computers on the floor but do not allow members to use them for Internet access or e-mail during deliberations.
Alabama and Connecticut have loosened their regulations on electronics during legislative sessions. Alabama allows legislators to carry cell phones set to silent mode and Connecticut allows members to check their e-mail during sessions, Stateline.org reported.
Act fast with those wrongful arrest suits
CHICAGO, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court said former murder convict Andre Wallace waited too long to sue Chicago for wrongful arrest.
The court said Wallace should have filed his lawsuit within two years of his 1994 arrest. Wallace didn't sue the city until 2003, after he'd won an appeal and been freed from prison, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Lawyer Kurt Feuer represents former death row inmate Madison Hobley, who is also suing the city for false arrest. He was arrested for murder in 1987 but didn't sue until 2003 when he was freed by a pardon, the Sun-Times reported.
Feuer told the Sun-Times the high court ruling was "not very practical."
Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented from the majority decision, writing that "large numbers of defendants will be sued immediately by all potential (false arrest) plaintiffs ... no matter how meritless the claims," the Sun-Times said.