William Freivogel | St. Louis Public Radio

William Freivogel

William Freivogel

William H. Freivogel is director of the School of Journalism at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

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While the jury in the Rod Blagojevich corruption trial took the weekend off, court watchers had time to read between the lines of the jury's cryptic note to the judge and to reflect on the Blagojevich trial strategy.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 14, 2008 - Late last week, liberal bloggers circulated a long list of books that Palin allegedly wanted off the shelves.  There was just one problem. There was no basis for the claim.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 11, 2008- COLUMBIA, Mo. - Chris Koster, the Harrisonville Democrat running for attorney general, said Thursday that he would support the continuation of the Missouri Non-Partisan Court plan as it now operates. His opponent, Republican Mike Gibbons of Kirkwood said he wants some changes in the plan, which has been criticized by some conservatives.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 11, 2008 - COLUMBIA, Mo. - Jay Nixon, Missouri's attorney general and the Democratic candidate for governor, said Thursday that if elected he would immediately release emails being withheld by Gov. Matt Blunt. Rep. Kenny Hulshof , the Republican candidate, sidestepped the issue, saying, "I'm not sure of all of the nuances" of the case. But Hulshof added a "hallmark of a Hulshof administration will be accountability, openness and integrity."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 6, 2008 - In life, Mike Swoboda seemed like a perpetual motion machine as he moved around his town of Kirkwood shaking hands, joking with old friends, listening to people's problems, tutoring elementary school students and always recruiting volunteers for community service. Swoboda died Saturday morning after difficult months recovering from gunshot wounds and fighting cancer. He was 69.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Sept. 5, 2008 - A film on white privilege had just concluded and the 140 people at Saturday's meeting of the Community for Understanding and Healing were about to break into discussion groups when they received the shocking news. Former Kirkwood Mayor Mike Swoboda had died earlier in the morning Swoboda had been gravely wounded in the Feb. 7 City Hall shootings at which five city officials had been killed by Charles L. "Cookie" Thornton. The killings had led to the formation of the community group.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 4, 2008 - A new judicial evaluation system run by the Missouri Bar recommended that voters retain all but one of the 41 judges up for retention in November. The one is St. Louis County Associate Circuit Court Judge Dale W. Hood of Kirkwood. Hood, a former assistant prosecuting attorney in St. Louis County, was rated poorly by lawyers for not "demonstrating appropriate demeanor on the bench" and not "weighing all evidence fairly and impartially."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 3, 2008- Among the 280 people arrested Tuesday in events surrounding the RNC was Amy Goodman.  A YouTube video appears to show that the left-wing newscaster was arrested as she crossed a line established by police.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 30, 2008 - On Aug. 27, Denver police arrested Asa Eslocker of ABC news as he and his camera crew stood on a public sidewalk outside the Brown Palace hotel, trying to interview senators and vips leaving a fundraiser. He was working on a story about the influence of lobbyists on elected officials. Eslocker was charged with trespassing, failing to respond to a lawful order and interfering with a police officer.

Video of the incident shows a cigar-smoking police sergeant, backed up by other officers, grabbing Eslocker by the neck and twisting his arm behind his back.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 26, 2008 - The Obama campaign has maintained in letters to the Justice Department that the American Issues Project - headed by Ed Martin, the former Blunt chief of staff and funded by a big swift boat contributor - is violating federal election law. Rick Hasen, who writes a respected election law blog, says that Obama may be right.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 25, 2008 - In the years that I covered the Judiciary Committee for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I saw Biden preside over controversial hearings about the nation's civil rights policy and the fitness of Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter and Clarence Thomas to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 21, 2008 - The Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday that it would put new rules in place in 30 days to take away funding from more than 584,000 hospitals, clinics, health plans, doctors' offices and providers if they refuse to accommodate workers personal, moral or religious objections.

"People should not be forced to say or do things they believe are morally wrong," Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said. "Health-care workers should not be forced to provide services that violate their violates their own conscience."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 19, 2008- Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain were recently asked which members of the Supreme Court they wouldn't have named. Obama listed Justice Thomas and Antonin Scalia and Chief Justice John Roberts. McCain listed the four most liberal members of the court - Justices David H. Souter, John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

This post first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 8, 2008 - Fred Baron - a well-known toxic torts trial lawyer from Dallas - told the Dallas Morning News that he had paid for housing and relocation expenses for Rielle Hunter, the videographer John Edwards admits was his mistress.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 16, 2008 - Ali al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar and graduate of Bradley University in Peoria, has been held since 2001. Currently he is in military custody in Charleston, S.C. He and his family had reentered the United States the day before 9/11. He said he was pursuing a master's degree at Bradley where he had gotten his bachelor's degree a decade earlier.

The basis of his detention is a statement by Jeffrey N. Rapp, director of the Joint Intelligence Task Force for Combating Terrorism. It states al-Marri trained at an al-Qaida training in the late 1990s and was introduced to Osama bin Laden. It goes on to allege he was a "sleeper agent" who had information about poisonous chemicals on his laptop.

The Supreme Court was not expressing an opinion on the legal issue when it decided without comment to turn down the appeal by Major League Baseball..  But the action effectively ends the suit in which Major League Baseball and the Players Association joined forces against C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing, the parent of CDM Fantasy Sports of St. Louis.

The U.S. Supreme Court broadened the legal protection of workers who face retaliation for complaining about discrimination at work. The court ruled that workers who complained about race and age discrimination were protected from reprisals, just as are those who complain about sex discrimination have been protected since a 2005 decision.

What do you think?

- Is retaliation for complaining about discrimination the same as discrimination?

- Should the Supreme Court say that retaliation is covered by the law if the text of the statute doesn't say so explicitly?

- What about the male coach of the girls' softball team who suffered reprisals after complaining the girls didn't get the same resources as the boys' baseball team? 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: By a 7-2 vote in U.S. v. Williams, the Supreme upheld the federal PROTECT law making it illegal to advertise, present, distribute or promote material that purports to be child porn. The law was Congress' response to a Supreme Court decision several years ago throwing out a law that made virtual child porn illegal. The court threw out that law because it had traditionally based its child porn decisions on the need to protect the children depicted. With no real victims involved in virtual child porn, that justification disappeared.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The prosecution of Lori Drew in the MySpace cyberbullying case appears to be the first time that a federal prosecutor has tried to make it a federal crime for a computer user to violate one of those "terms of service" agreements that no one reads. As despicable as Drew's alleged conduct was, the prosecutor's legal theory would make most of us federal felons.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The state Supreme Court's 4-3 decision upholding same-sex marriage is likely to face an almost immediate challenge at the ballot box.  Opponents of same-sex marriage already had been collecting names to put the issue on the ballot in November - a move that could affect who comes out to vote in California during the presidential election. (Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says he respects the court decision and will not work in favor of the ballot initiative to overturn it.)

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Replacing Justice John Paul Stevens with a Thomas/Scalia/Alito clone could move the court more dramatically to the right than any Supreme Court appointment in the past half century. The balance of the court on issues like religious freedom, affirmative action, gay rights and flag burning could switch. Hence the importance of the next president's selection of a new justice.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Missouri House's action on Thursday is the latest in a complicated series of legislative actions and court decisions on the voter ID issue. Missouri and Indiana were among the states where Republican legislatures passed voter ID laws in the name of limiting voter fraud. Democrats claimed the purpose of the laws was to disenfranchise poor voters less likely to have IDs. The Missouri Supreme Court threw out the state law based on the high level of protection that the state constitution provides for the right to vote.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Mildred Loving has a special place in my memory.

Almost 20 years ago, I was writing stories about the Constitution. One afternoon, on a whim, I put my sleeping 4-year-old in the car and set off from our Bethesda, Md., hoping to find Mildred Loving at her rural Virginia home.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indiana's voter identification law on Monday by a 6-3 vote that avoided the normal ideological divisions. The decision won't revive Missouri's voter ID law, however, because the 2006 decision striking down that law was based on state, not federal constitutional grounds.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Two death penalty cases in the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday could affect Missouri. In one, a splintered court ruled that Kentucky could resume lethal injections, a decision that could restart executions in Missouri and most other states. In the other case, the court heard arguments that capital punishment should be permitted for child rape, a position that Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt has urged on the court.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Walking carefully with the help of his son but looking remarkably well, Mike Swoboda entered the room to a standing ovation. Fifty people stood around the edge of the spectator section, which seated another 75. More than 50 others spilled out the door and into the gentle spring air. A battery of five television cameras in the back of the room recorded the event.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: A $50,000 cash bribe paid by an agent of Monsanto Co. to an Indonesian environmental official is at the center of a story in today's New York Times about the Justice Department's more relaxed approach toward corporate crime.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Stock story lines about loners and psychopaths fail to explain Charles Lee “Cookie” Thornton’s murderous assault this winter at the Kirkwood City Hall — an attack that killed two police officers and three city officials and gravely wounded the mayor, my friend.

Nor do stock story lines about race explain how evil found a home in our idyllic little railroad town turned suburb, where some people feel comfortable leaving their doors unlocked.