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Courts around the country tried to ease the burden of fines and fees in the wake of riots in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 that brought attention to a torrent of traffic and other minor citations that saddled people with debt and even sent them to jail.

But legal observers say no court appears to have made as dramatic an attempt at reform as San Francisco, where judges no longer issue warrants to arrest people who fail to show up in court or pay tickets for infractions such as urinating in public, loitering or sleeping in a park — so-called quality-of-life crimes that advocates say target homeless people. The new policy also applies to traffic violations.

"I've never heard of anything like it," said Bill Raftery, senior analyst with the National Center for State Courts who has studied court efforts to address fees and fines.


President Donald Trump's revised travel ban "speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination," a federal appeals court said Thursday in ruling against the executive order targeting six Muslim-majority countries.

Trump's administration vowed to take the fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a 10-3 vote, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the ban likely violates the Constitution. And it upheld a lower court ruling that blocks the Republican administration from cutting off visas for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The Richmond, Virginia-based 4th Circuit is the first appeals court to rule on the revised travel ban unveiled in March. Trump's administration had hoped it would avoid the legal problems that the first version from January encountered. A second appeals court, the 9th U.S. Circuit based in San Francisco, is also weighing the revised travel ban after a federal judge in Hawaii blocked it.

The Supreme Court almost certainly would step into the case if asked. The justices almost always have the final say when a lower court strikes down a federal law or presidential action.

Trump could try to persuade the Supreme Court to allow the policy to take effect, even while the justices weigh whether to hear the case, by arguing that the court orders blocking the ban make the country less safe. If the administration does ask the court to step in, the justices' first vote could signal the court's ultimate decision.


A statue depicting the Greek goddess of justice was removed from the front side of Bangladesh's Supreme Court building early on Friday following pressure from religious groups that termed it “un-Islamic,” according to local media and the attorney general.

The controversy over the Lady Justice statue had been brewing for several months, with many religious groups staunchly opposed to its installation.

Even Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stepped into the controversy, who to the surprise of all, had backed the move to remove the statue.

Only policemen were allowed to enter the court premises when it was being moved.

Attorney General Mahbube Alam told Anadolu Agency the statue had been moved to another place within the court premises. “I heard the decision came from the full court to remove it from the present place and to replace it somewhere else in the court premise,” he said.

Hefazat-e-Islam and Bangladesh Olama League were among the Islamic groups who had been demanding the statue’s removal since it was installed in December 2016.

Hefazat-e-Islam leaders met Hasina on April 11 demanding the removal of the statue of Greek goddess Themis, who is depicted blindfolded with a sword in one hand and the balanced scales of justice on the other.



Donald Trump's administration is pledging a Supreme Court showdown over his travel ban. That's after a federal appeals court said Thursday in ruling against it that the ban "drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination."

Citing the president's duty to protect the country from terrorism, Attorney General Jeff Sessions says that the Justice Department will ask the high court to review the case. He's offered no timetable.

The justices almost always have the final say when a lower court strikes down a federal law or presidential action.

The presidential executive order issued by Trump seeks to temporarily cut off visas for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.




A North Carolina appeals court judge said Wednesday he won't run again when his seat comes up for re-election next year.

Judge Rick Elmore has served since 2003. The former private practice lawyer from Greensboro was re-elected to a second eight-year term in 2010.

In an interview, Elmore said he'll be satisfied serving two full terms on the state's intermediate-level appeals court when comparing it to the uncertainty of any outcome if he was to run another statewide campaign in 2018. Elmore, 66, also would have been unable to serve another full term due to the state's mandatory retirement age for judges at 72.

Leaving after this term expires "seemed to be a good fit," Elmore said, adding that he wanted to "leave on my own terms."

Elmore said he wanted to make the announcement before state political parties gather this year. Elmore is a registered Republican. A law approved last December makes Court of Appeals races officially partisan elections again, with party primaries.

Elmore said his decision had nothing to do with legislation approved in March by the General Assembly to reduce the number of Court of Appeals judges from 15 to 12 by eliminating positions vacated by resignation or death. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the measure, but the veto was overridden.

The appeals court usually meets in panels of three judges. The court is the final arbiter in state court matters except for cases heard by the state Supreme Court.



A Finnish court has thrown out charges against Iraqi twin brothers of taking part in Islamic State-related killings of at least 11 unarmed soldiers.

The Pirkanmaa District Court says the two who were not identified, were set free on Wednesday.

The court in Tampere, southern Finland, said the evidence against them was too weak. It included testimonies from other asylum-seekers, a video footage of the massacre by IS militants and information from an Iraqi investigative commission.

State prosecutors had demanded life sentences and claimed the brothers took part in atrocities committed by IS militants at a military base outside Tikrit in June 2014 when some 1,700 Iraqi army soldiers were slain.

The brothers arrived in Finland in September 2015 and were arrested three months later.


A Playboy centerfold who ignited a backlash of criticism when she secretly snapped a photo of a naked 71-year-old woman in a locker room and posted it online mocking the woman's body is expected to appear in court Wednesday to resolve a criminal charge.

Dani Mathers is planning to show up at a hearing in Los Angeles County Superior Court on a misdemeanor charge of invasion of privacy, her lawyer said.

Mathers, 30, has apologized for taking the photo at an LA Fitness club in July and posting it on Snapchat with the caption: "If I can't unsee this then you can't either."

The posting was accompanied by a selfie of Mathers in a tank top with her hand over her mouth as if she's gasping in horror.

The 2015 Playmate of the Year was roundly criticized for the so-called body shaming incident. Mathers said she intended to send the photo privately to a friend and accidentally posted it publicly.

Defense lawyer Dana Cole argued unsuccessfully that the charge should be dismissed because the woman in the photo can't easily be identified.

The victim, who has not been named, is expected to testify if the case goes to trial, said Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the Los Angeles city attorney.

Cole said he's hoping to work out a settlement Wednesday. He said prosecutors want a guilty plea and community service on a highway crew. Wilcox said no plea deal has been offered.

Deputy City Attorney Chadd Kim did not return phone and email messages seeking comment, but in court papers said Mathers had shown no remorse and needed to face consequences for her "cruel and criminal act."

The defense has argued for a more lenient outcome, saying in court papers that Mathers has already lost modeling work and a job as a radio host. They have recommended she use her notoriety to bring attention to the issue of body shaming.

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