Local Leads: 12/21/08

News you need to know

The following stories have been hand-selected by the Assignment Desk at News4:

Maryland's top judge says state law prevents him from ordering fellow judges to take the furloughs he is ordering for other court employees. Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert Bell said in a Thursday order that the state constitution prohibits decreasing a judge's salary. Bell ordered furloughs of up to 24 hours of pay by mid-2009 for other state-funded court employees. He also ordered state courts to close on Dec. 26 and Jan. 2, although the closings do not apply to court agencies funded by their respective counties or cities. (WTOP/AP)

When the late Judge John W. Scott Jr. learned in the spring of 2007 that Fredericksburg might not complete a new courts complex until 2012 or 2013, he wrote to the seven other judges in Virginia's 15th Judicial Circuit. "This delay is unacceptable and may require litigation against the City," Scott wrote in a letter on May 10, 2007. New developments in Stafford and Spotsylvania counties and the slowdown in the housing market--which led to today's recession--meant the city was getting less money from its sales tax. (Free Lance-Star)

D.C. Fire and EMS Chief Dennis L. Rubin has asked the city's inspector general to investigate the death of a Northeast man after the man called 911 for chest pains but reportedly was told by paramedics that he probably was suffering from acid reflux.  "I have asked the inspector general to review the operational report that's being finalized," Chief Rubin said in an interview with The Washington Times. "So the inspector general will come in. We have absolutely nothing to hide, and we will get to the bottom of it. And if there are changes that need to be made, changes will occur." (Washington Times)

Christmas is the season for reindeer, Santa Claus, children and Nativity scenes. It's also a time for family and friends.
For artist Stephen Blickenstaff, the "friends" he shares the holidays with are a little stranger than most. Blickenstaff's third annual Oddball Holiday Extravaganza, featuring dozens of prints and portraits of his "friends" -- sci-fi monsters, ghouls, ghosts, goth girls, mummies, one-eyed creatures and zombie lead guitarists -- was once again a big hit at the Yellow Springs Lions Club on Saturday. (Frederick News-Post)

At the Walter E. Washington Convention Center yesterday, software developer Jatinder Singh decided to do a little holiday shopping.  Singh, 36, sat in a foreclosure home auction and watched as two aggressive bidders competed for a $1.3 million, six-bedroom house in Dickerson, near Potomac. When the auctioneer yelled "going once, going twice," Singh sprang up with the winning bid: $470,000.  Now he had to go home and tell his wife and two children about his purchase and that they should get ready to move. "They're going to be really surprised," said Singh, 36, of Crofton.  (Washington Post)

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