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Top Morning Stories 12/09/12: Supreme Court Hears TX Redistricting, Texas Drug Trial to Begin

Photo by KUT News.

Supreme Court Hears Texas Redistricting Case Today

Today the U.S. Supreme Court takes up Texas' redistricting maps. Legal teams from Texas are gathered in Washington for oral arguments over which redistricting maps should be used for this year’s primary elections.

At stake are the congressional and legislative boundaries the state of Texas will use for the next decade. And as KERA’s Shelley Kofler reports, the impact on minority voters is at issue.

Texas AG vs. Major Drug Company

In state District Court in Travis County, another case starts this week. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is taking on one of the largest pharmaceutical companies. If he's successful in this trial, it could bring the state more than $1 billion. Here are more details from the Austin American-Statesman:

Abbott is charging that Johnson & Johnson Inc., its wholly owned subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutical LLC and five other related companies defrauded the state in a "sophisticated marketing scheme" that caused the Texas Medicaid Program to pay too much for Janssen's schizophrenia drug Risperdal, the lawsuit says. The state also questions the companies' marketing practices and alleges that the companies misled state health officials about the drug's effectiveness, the risk of side effects and its suitability for pediatric use.

The drug companies deny the state's allegations.

Akins Student Fatally Shot

An Akins High School student was fatally shot during an incident in South Austin over the weekend. APD said  it responded to the shooting at about 12:44 a.m. Sunday:

Witnesses stated that a family member heard suspicious noises outside and eventually three brothers went out to investigate.  They were looking for a suspect they believed was attempting to break into a vehicle.  One of them encountered the suspect and was shot. The victim, Mark Brandon Dominguez, was transported to the University Medical Center at Brackenridge by Austin Travis County EMS with life threatening injuries. He later died as a result of the injuries he sustained in the shooting.

Two juveniles were arrested after officers found them in a taxi nearby carrying guns. Both are charged with unlawful carrying of a weapon; one is charged with murder.

The Austin Independent School District released the following statement:

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss of one of our students. We extend our deepest condolences to his family. The district is providing counseling and other support to the Akins community during this difficult time.”

More Rain on Tap

Austin's weather forecast calls for a 90 percent chance of more showers and thunderstorms today. High temperatures will be in the mid-50s. Here's a snippet from YNN Chief Meteorologist Burton Fitzsimmons' weather blog:

A heavy round of showers and storms included small 1/2 diameter hail around the CapCity around 4am, already amounting to .67" at Austin-Mabry, and more downpours are on the way as a strong upper-level disturbance crosses the Lone Star State.