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Briefs

La. court strikes down vouchers

– Gov. Bobby Jindal’s voucher program that uses tax dollars to send students to private schools was ruled unconstitutional Friday by a state judge who said it’s improperly funded through the public school financing formula.

Judge Tim Kelley sided with arguments presented by teacher unions and school boards seeking to shut down the voucher program and other changes that would funnel more money away from public schools.

Jindal, who said the state will appeal, called the judge’s ruling “a travesty for parents across Louisiana who want nothing more than for their children to have an equal opportunity at receiving a great education.”

Bill Maurer, a lawyer representing two parents with children in the voucher program and two pro-voucher groups, said he believes the decision is “not consistent with the interpretation of the Louisiana Constitution.”

More than 4,900 students are enrolled in private schools with taxpayer dollars.

The Indiana Supreme Court heard similar arguments last week over the state’s voucher program – the country’s largest. Recent data showed more than 9,000 students are attending private schools, using $38 million in state-paid vouchers.

Conviction in GM secrets case

A former General Motors engineer with access to the automaker’s hybrid technology was convicted Friday along with her husband of stealing trade secrets for possible use in China.

Du, 54, and Yu Qin, 51, were found guilty Friday by a federal jury in Detroit after a trial that lasted weeks. Du faces up to 10 years in prison, while her husband faces up to 30. No sentencing date has been set.

The government doesn’t believe the information ever made it to China.

Porn case against coach dismissed

A Minnesota football coach sidelined by accusations of child pornography involving his own children reacted with relief Friday after a judge dismissed the case.

Todd Hoffner, the head coach at Minnesota State-Mankato, was effectively cleared when a judge agreed with his assertion that innocent family videos had been misinterpreted. He was arrested in August after a university employee came across cellphone videos of his children dancing and playing naked.

“The videos under consideration here contain nude images of Defendant’s minor children dancing and acting playful after a bath. That is all they contain,” Blue Earth County District Judge Krista Jass said in her 24-page ruling dismissing the charges.

Minnesota officer killed in ambush

In Cold Spring, Minn., a six-year police veteran was shot to death in what authorities called an ambush killing. Officer Tom Decker was responding to a report of a suicidal man late Thursday when he was shot twice after getting out of his squad car near an apartment behind a bar in downtown Cold Spring. He died at the scene.

Ryan Michael Larson, 34, was being held on suspicion of second-degree murder.

Watergate papers published

The National Archives is publishing for the first time more than 850 pages of once-secret documents from the Watergate political scandal, including privileged legal conversations and prison evaluations of some Watergate burglars. A judge decided earlier this month to unseal the material.

The files do not appear to provide any significant new revelations, but they provide context by revealing behind-the-scenes deliberations by the judge in charge of the case, U.S. District Court Judge John J. Sirica, along with lawyers in the case.

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