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A Colorado district-court magistrate has declared unconstitutional part of a new state law banning juvenile possession of handguns.

Magistrate Patricia Schwartz of Arapahoe County last month objected to a section of the law that presumes that a juvenile offender arrested on a weapons violation is a danger to the community. The statute calls for the suspect to be held for 48 hours pending a detention hearing, instead of possibly being released on bond.

Ms. Schwartz ruled that the provision violated federal and state constitutional guarantees of due process.

But Pamela Gorden, Arapahoe County's chief deputy district attorney for the juvenile division, said that the ruling does not have any immediate practical implications and that she is appealing it to a district-court judge.

In Colorado, a magistrate does not have all the power of a judge.

The presumption that such juvenile suspects are dangerous was included in a measure approved by the legislature in September during a special session devoted to reducing youth crime. (See Education Week, Sept. 15, 1993.)

The presumption of danger applies not only to juveniles who violate the new handgun ban, but also to other alleged crimes involving a weapon, ranging from murder and armed robbery to such nonviolent crimes as possession of a weapon on school grounds.

The 20 institutions in the California State University system will offer women athletes equal opportunities and benefits, under a legal settlement reached last month.

The settlement in California NOW v. California State University requires the university system to give women opportunities that are proportional to their representation in the student body by the 1998-99 school year.

Among the terms of the agreement, for example, the system must offer a proportionate number of scholarships, within 5 percent, and a budget for women's sports that falls within 10 percent of the men's budget on a commensurate basis.

The lawsuit alleged that the university system had violated the California education code by failing to make progress in closing the gap between men's and women's athletic programs.

Observers noted that the case will have minimal impact on federal Title IX sex-discrimination cases because the suit was brought in state court.

But the settlement is likely to exert pressure on the University of California system, suggested Donna Lopiano, the executive director of the Women's Sports Foundation.

"If all C.S.U. and U.C. schools create truly equitable programs, California will be the example from which the rest of the country can learn,'' she said.

Vol. 13, Issue 09

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