? Each year, The National Law Journal looks for cases of judges behaving badly. Among this year's picks: Missouri Circuit Court Judge John A. Clark, who used probationers to clean up around his home before a party and called their work "community service." Also, Michigan Judge James Scandirito, who allegedly invited a 22-year-old woman waiting for him to sentence her on a drunk driving charge to meet him in a bar.
? Jerry Riscoe wants town supervisors in Harmar Township, Pennsylvania, to stop the construction of a church. Who's Riscoe? He owns The Blue Haven Lounge, a bar next door to the site of the proposed church. Riscoe says he has nothing against the Jehovah's Witnesses who want to build the church. It's just that he knows that as soon as they move in, they'll start complaining about him. And he doesn't think it's fair that he might lose those battles when he was there first. So he wants to nip the problem in the bud. "It's really strange that Pennsylvania has a law prohibiting a bar from being built next to a church, but there is nothing to stop a church from being built next to a bar," he said.
? A federal judge has found New York's Bedford Central School District guilty of violating the religious rights of three Catholic families with children enrolled in the district. Third-graders were required to make elephant-head images of a Hindu god, make toothpick "worry dolls" to keep away bad dreams, and build an altar for an Earth Day liturgy.
? Zannie Billingslea, assistant principal at Georgia's West Clayton Elementary School, is being sued for strip-searching 11 fifth-graders. According to the suit, $26 from student candy sales was missing, so Billingslea dropped his pants and underwear to show boy students how to strip for the search and threatened to take them to jail if they refused. A female teacher searched the girls. She testified that Billingslea held her in a school office for four or five hours until she agreed to change her story to shield him from blame. Billingslea is a former police officer.
? Does the First Amendment trump civil rights law? The city of Cincinnati must decide. It started when cab driver Hassan Taher refused to pick up Annie McEachrin. McEachrin is blind and has a seeing-eye dog. But Taher is a Muslim. His religion considers dogs unclean, and he wouldn't share his cab with one. McEachrin didn't think this was an excuse, and she filed a complaint, so now the city will have to decide if Taher can practice his faith on the job.
? Iranian law mandates the death penalty for several crimes, including apostasy. But some Iranians think the death penalty is barbaric, and they've called for its abolition. Iran's supreme leader has a warning for such people: Ayatollah Ali Khameinei says the death penalty for such crimes is ordered by the Koran. So anyone who questions the death penalty is a heretic who should be put to death.
? Australia is setting up for the 2000 Summer Olympics, which will be held in Sydney. ASIO, the nation's domestic intelligence agency, is going for the gold in its own way. It has requested sweeping new powers to deal with any potential terrorism. It wants to be able to break encryption codes, place tracking devices on people and cars, and intercept courier packages. ASIO also wants to be able to get search warrants more easily. And it wants to be able to use the databases of the Australian Tax Office and Austrac, the agency that monitors financial transactions, all without a warrant.
? Apparently, Bill Clinton is not the only president who has been charged with exposing himself. In Cobb County, Georgia, school officials are busy ripping out reproductions of the famous 1851 painting Washington Crossing the Delaware from a fifth-grade history text. As a school principal explained it, a watch fob resting on the general's thigh looks suspiciously like "George Washington's private part." Officials from the Peach State's Muscogee County opted for less drastic measures. Taking a page from the Soviets, they merely painted over the offending detail. "We said some kids will never even notice it, but there's always going to be the one or two who are going to get everything started," explained an administrator.