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News Briefs

Transcripts Show Juror's `Twilight-Zone' Mental State

Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES

Tension among jurors in the Reginald O. Denny beating trial were revealed in sharper detail Thursday as Superior Court Judge John W. Ouderkirk unsealed transcripts of closed hearings in which several jurors complained about the "twilight-zone" mental state of a juror dismissed earlier this week and explained another juror's anger at being sequestered.

Ouderkirk refused to dismiss that panelist for alleged misconduct, and deliberations continued Thursday, as attorneys and the the news media pored over the transcripts for clues to the jury's status and state of mind.

One juror said Juror 104, upset at being sequestered, ran through a corridor of the panel's hotel, screaming: "`I can't take it any more.' She was cussing and saying ... she just wants to go home" to her boyfriend.

Ouderkirk said that juror's problem had been corrected.

Jurors also complained about Juror 373, who was dismissed from the panel. "We have all been trying to figure out exactly what is going on in her mind," according to the jury forewoman. "So I really don't know ... if she is pondering or way off in the twilight zone. I am not trying to be facetious or sarcastic. I just don't think she is all up there."

A defense attorney was incensed that Ouderkirk had dismissed Juror 373 Monday for failing to deliberate, yet denied his motion Thursday to remove Juror 104 -- the woman fellow jurors repeatedly interrupted deliberations, saying said she would settle for a hung jury so she could go home to her boyfriend.

Tender Subjects Make Supreme Court Hot Ticket

Newsday

WASHINGTON

Race, sex and politics were the topics before the Supreme Court Wednesday. The discussion was not nearly as racy as the subjects suggested, but there was a certain edginess to the justices just the same.

The specific questions the court was to address were: Did Teresa Harris have to prove she was psychologically injured when her boss at a forklift dealership in Nashville, Tenn., sexually harassed her? Did Maurice Rivers and Robert Davidson, black mechanics fired from their jobs in a Toledo, Ohio, garage, have the right to claim racial discrimination and sue? Did Barbara Landgraf have the right to a jury trial of her sexual harassment charges against a Texas film company? And underlying the last two cases were the politics of a 2-year-old civil rights law.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, at the start of two hours of arguments, jumped on a lawyer who said the court's ruling in a 1989 case crucial to Rivers and Davidson had itself been overturned by Congress in the 1991 Civil Rights Act. Congress, Kennedy said in his sharp rebuke to New York lawyer Eric Schnapper, can revise laws but not overturn rulings of the Supreme Court.

In the Harris case, the justices and lawyers repeatedly stumbled over how to describe how serious sexual harassment should be before it becomes cause for a lawsuit. Harris had been told by lower court judges that even though her employer had repeatedly made crude and vulgar comments, she could not win a lawsuit because she had shown no severe psychological injury.

U.S. to Test Drug's Effectiveness Against Prostate Cancer

Newsday

BETHESDA, Md

The National Cancer Institute is looking for a few good men -- actually, quite a few -- to help find out whether a drug called finasteride can prevent prostate cancer, a condition that affects nearly one-third of men over the age of 50.

The cancer prevention study, the largest of its kind ever conducted with men, is seeking 18,000 volunteers age 55 and older who are in good health and show no evidence of prostate cancer.

Half will be asked to take the drug daily, in pill form, for seven years. The other half will take an inactive dummy pill, or placebo.

After seven years, prostate tissue from each man in the study will be examined for evidence of cancer to determine whether those receiving finasteride fared better than those who got the placebo.

Researchers believe some of the same hormonal mechanisms that produce an enlarged prostate also may trigger cancer in the gland. While prostate cancer is common, it typically is a slow-growing disease that can remain unnoticed for years. Many elderly men die of other causes before the prostate cancer spreads through the body.

Still, prostate cancer's toll is substantial. About 165,000 American men will be diagnosed with the disease this year, according to government estimates, and about 35,000 will die of the disease.

Those seeking further information about joining the trial can call the national cancer hotline at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

Atom Smasher in Texas Sent to Showdown in House

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON

Future funding of a huge atom smasher in Texas was sent Thursday to a showdown in the House.

House and Senate negotiators agreed to include the $640 million requested by the administration for the Superconducting Supercollider in a $22 billion spending bill for energy and water projects.

Feeling betrayed because the House voted 280 to 150 in June to kill the supercollider, angry House opponents of the $11 billion project vowed to kill it again when the spending bill reaches House floor next week. The Senate approved supercollider funding, 57 to 42, in August.

"We're going to whip their ass. We're going to beat them," Rep. Sherwood L. Boehlert, R-N.Y., declared. He and other opponents could work either to defeat the entire spending bill or reject supercollider funding on a procedural vote.

Rep. Martin Frost, D-Texas, a supercollider supporter whose congressional district includes part of the underground project, predicted "a hard-fought contest" on the floor.