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Judge Dismisses Theft Charges on Lie Detector Results Relying on a lie detector test in a case of circumstantial evidence, an upstate judge has thrown out an indictment against a police sergeant who allegedly stole $13,000 from an evidence room and falsified records. Results from a polygraph are not admissible as evidence, but judges can consider them in a motion to dismiss an indictment in the interest of justice. Chemung County Court Judge Peter C. Buckley found that the test results, along with little evidence of wrongdoing, warranted a dismissal. “The court finds the nature of the proof available in this case, taken together with the results of the polygraph examination . . . provide compelling factors clearly demonstrating that conviction or prosecution of the defendant upon this indictment would constitute an injustice,” he wrote in People v. Miller, 2003-213. The sergeant, Joseph J. Miller, a 13-year veteran of the Elmira Police Department, has been on paid suspension and may still face administrative discipline. The decision will be published Tuesday. � Tom Perrotta Judge Reduces Restaurant’s Discrimination Penalty A $10,000 civil penalty imposed on a Brooklyn restaurant for racial discrimination has been cut in half by a judge as being disproportionate to the offense. New York City’s Commission on Human Rights imposed the penalty on the Silver Dragon Restaurant because an Asian worker refused to serve a black investigator, who is a staff attorney for the commission, until she had paid for her food. A short time later, a white deputy commissioner received his food before paying. Two more non-black patrons also received their food before paying, Acting Justice David Schmidt’s ruling noted. The Brooklyn judge granted the commission’s motion to enforce its decision imposing the penalty but reduced it to $5,000 because the restaurant’s “proven discriminatory action, while intolerable, clearly differs from the litany of severely hostile discriminatory acts” in other cases. Silver Dragon Restaurant v. NYC Commission on Human Rights, 30727/03, will be published Wednesday. � Cerisse Anderson Court Considers ‘Under God’ Phrase in Pledge The U.S. Supreme Court showed few signs yesterday that it would clearly resolve the controversy over whether the words “under God” belong in the Pledge of Allegiance. During a dramatic hour of oral argument, several justices focused on an issue that could enable them to sidestep the question altogether: whether California atheist Michael Newdow had standing to challenge the wording in the case before them because of an ongoing custody dispute over his school-aged daughter. Other justices appeared interested in minimizing the religious significance of the words “under God” as a way of upholding the pledge without undermining the Court’s establishment clause doctrine. Justice David Souter wondered aloud whether the daily recitation of the pledge makes the religious affirmation implied by the words “so diluted, so far from a compulsory prayer, that it should be beneath the constitutional radar.” Mr. Newdow, who argued the case himself, replied that the words “under God” are far from diluted in his view. “I am getting slapped in the face every time” his daughter recites the pledge, he said. � American Lawyer Media Clinic Settles With State for Filing False Claims A Brooklyn treatment center has agreed to pay $6 million to the state for filing false Medicaid claims, the Attorney General’s Office said yesterday. State regulations allow part-time health clinics to provide no more than 60 hours of services a month to Medicaid recipients. The Brooklyn clinic, AllCity Family Healthcare, Inc., submitted thousands of claims in excess of those limits from 1999 to 2002, said Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The director of the clinic, Rossia Pokh, has been arrested and charged with grand larceny. The clinic admitted wrongdoing as part of its settlement, the attorney general said. � Tom Perrotta

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