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A hearing Wednesday on the future of the court conservatorship that for 11 years has controlled the money and affairs of Britney Spears ended with no decisions made and no appearance from the pop star.

The hearing was cleared of the public and media. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda J. Penny issued no rulings during or after the proceedings, and Spears was not listed among those in attendance.

The hearing opened with a courtroom full of media members and a few Spears fans, but all were required to leave when Penny agreed with attorneys who requested that the hearing and its transcripts should be sealed because of what would be revealed about Spears’ medical, mental and financial issues, along with details about her two young sons.

In May, the 37-year-old Spears made a rare appearance in the same courtroom for another closed conservatorship hearing. She had asked to speak to the court and was brought in through a back door once the courtroom was cleared.

Her request raised the possibility that she could be seeking changes in the arrangement that she has largely quietly accepted for years.

Penny asked for an analyst to review Spears’ situation after that hearing, and had been expected to get at least some of the results Wednesday. It’s not clear whether she did, but in court documents she said the status hearing would resume in January.

Spears’ father, Jamie Spears, and mother, Lynne Spears, were both in court, along with a half-dozen attorneys with various roles in the conservatorship.

Jamie Spears temporarily stepped down in his role as conservator over his daughter’s personal affairs earlier this month, citing poor health, but he maintained his financial control over her.

Prosecutors in neighboring Ventura County announced Tuesday that they would not be filing criminal charges against the 67-year-old Jamie Spears after deputies investigated an allegation of child abuse. The district attorney’s office would not say who the child in the report was or give any other details on the investigation. Jamie Spears’ attorney did not respond to a request for comment.



Maurice the rooster can keep crowing, a French court ruled Thursday, as it rejected a complaint from neighbors who sued over noise nuisance.

Maurice’s case and several other lawsuits against the sounds of church bells, cow bells, cicadas and the pungent smells from farms have prompted a national debate over how to protect rural culture from the encroachment of expectations that are more associated with urban areas.

Maurice’s owner, Corinne Fesseau, will be able to keep the rooster on the small island of Oleron, off France’s Atlantic coast, the court decided. The frustrated neighbors are considering an appeal.

The rooster owner’s lawyer, Julien Papineau, told The Associated Press that Fesseau “is happy. She cried when I when I told her the court’s decision.”

Maurice’s dawn crowing is exasperating Fesseau’s neighbors, a retired couple who moved to the island two years ago. They asked the court to make the animal move farther away, or shut up.

Instead, the judge in the southwest city of Rochefort ordered them to pay 1,000 euros ($1,005) in damages to Fesseau for reputational harm, plus court costs.

“That made my clients feel very bad,” their lawyer Vincent Huberdeau said. He said Fesseau intentionally put her chicken coop close to her neighbors’ window and then turned Maurice into a cause celebre for rural traditions, and that the judge went too far in punishing the plaintiffs instead.

Their case also backfired in the court of public opinion, at least locally. More than 120,000 people signed a petition urging authorities to leave Maurice alone — and a “support committee” made up of roosters and hens from around the region came to support his owner during the trial in July.

“The countryside is alive and makes noise — and so do roosters,” read one of their signs.

The ruling may spell good news for a flock of ducks in the Landes region of southwest France, where a trial is underway between farmers and neighbors angry over the creatures’ quacks and smell.

Authorities also ruled against residents of a village in the French Alps who complained in 2017 about annoying cow bells, and an effort last year to push out cicadas from a southern town to protect tourists from their summer song also failed.

Since Maurice’s tale came to light, some French lawmakers have suggested a law protecting the sounds and smells of the countryside as part of France’s rural heritage.


The bodyguard of A$AP Rocky has told a Swedish court that the strange behavior and the "glossy" eyes of the man that the American rapper and his entourage are accused of assaulting in June alerted him that something was not right.

Timothy Leon Williams testified before Stockholm District Court on Friday that he saw 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari, the alleged victim, approaching the rapper's entourage outside a restaurant in Stockholm and trying to talk with them.

Speaking in English, Williams said he didn't understand what language Jafari was speaking. Williams said he knew "something's not right about him. I'm noticing it because I'm a bodyguard. I'm looking at him and saw that his eyes were really glossy, like he's on something."

Trump had sought earlier to personally intervene on the rapper's behalf, a move rebuffed by Sweden's leader. On Friday Trump tweeted, "It was a Rocky Week, get home ASAP A$AP!"

Rocky, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, is accused with two others of beating a 19-year-old man in Stockholm on June 30.

A Swedish court has ruled that the three suspects can be freed from detention until the verdict is announced Aug. 14.

Trump tweeted "A$AP Rocky released from prison and on his way home to the United States from Sweden." But it wasn't immediately clear from the decision Friday by Stockholm District Court whether the suspects could leave the country.


A court in Kyrgyzstan on Friday ordered the nation's ex-president to remain in custody pending trial on corruption charges as calm returned to the country's capital following a strong crackdown by police.

The arrest of Almazbek Atambayev sparked two days of riots that left one policeman dead and over 100 people injured, raising fears of instability in the strategically placed Central Asian nation that borders China and hosts a Russian military air base. However, the police action demonstrated that the government appears firmly in charge.

Atambayev, who was in office from 2011 to 2017, has been stripped of the immunity from prosecution he enjoyed as a former president and faces a slew of charges, including corruption and the expropriation of property.


Rosita Lopez said armed gang members demanded money from her and her partner at their small grocery store on the Guatemalan coast and threatened to kill them when they couldn’t pay. When her partner was shot soon afterward, they sold everything and fled north.

Lopez was eight months pregnant when the couple arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border last year with their 1-year-old daughter. Just over a year later, an immigration judge in Los Angeles heard her case, denied her asylum and ordered her deported.

“I’m afraid of going back there,” she told the judge.

The decision for 20-year-old Lopez — who now has an American-born baby — was swift in an immigration court system so backlogged with cases that asylum seekers often wait years for a hearing, let alone a ruling on whether they can stay in the country.

But her case is one of 56,000 in a Trump administration pilot program in 10 cities from Baltimore to Los Angeles aimed at fast-tracking court hearings to discourage migrants from making the journey to seek refuge in the United States. The administration selected family cases in those cities from the past 10 months.

Immigration lawyers who often complain that it takes too long to get a court date said the new timetable is too fast to prepare their clients to testify and get documents from foreign countries to bolster their claims.



The Supreme Court sided Monday with an Alabama technology company over the U.S. Postal Service in a patent dispute.

The dispute before the justices had to do with U.S. Patent No. 6,826,548. That's the patent Birmingham-based Return Mail has for a system that uses barcodes, scanning equipment and computer databases to process returned mail almost entirely automatically. The Postal Service initially expressed interest in Return Mail's invention but ultimately developed its own, similar system. That led to a dispute over the company's patent.

On Monday, the court sided 6-3 with Return Mail. Of the Postal Service's arguments, Justice Sonia Sotomayor deadpanned in an opinion : "None delivers."

The dispute began when the Postal Service tried and failed to get Return Mail's patent invalidated. Return Mail sued, arguing that the government should pay for using its invention without permission.

Just as Return Mail thought it might be gaining the upper hand, the Postal Service switched tactics, using a 2011 law to challenge Return Mail's patent. The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act says that a "person who is not the owner of a patent," can file a patent challenge using the law. The Postal Service argued it counted as a "person" under the law, but the Supreme Court disagreed.


Courts around the country are embracing text messages as a way to nudge people into showing up for their hearings.

On any given day, up to half of defendants fail to show up for their scheduled proceedings. No-shows cost the courts time and money, and can cost defendants their freedom.

Public defenders and court administrators are using text reminders in more than a dozen states, including Virginia, California, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Florida and Washington.

Richmond Public Defender Tracy Paner said the reminders have been a huge help to her clients, who are often struggling with poverty and chaotic family lives, in addition to dealing with the fallout from an arrest. Missing a court date can spur a judge to issue a bench warrant, which can lead to a citation or arrest, fines and even jail time.

“If you’re hustling and you don’t know how you’re going to pay your rent and looking for a job and wondering where you are going to get food, kind of the last thing on your mind is your court date,” Paner said. “If we can help with that, that’s easy for us.”

In Richmond and Petersburg, the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission used a grant to set up a pilot program. The commission contracted with Uptrust, a San Francisco-based company whose software integrates with the public defender’s case management software to access the names, cellphone numbers, court dates and other information to track cases.

Uptrust’s software builds a schedule of reminders for each defendant and automatically sends texts on those dates. The messages are typically sent 10 days, one week and one day before a scheduled hearing.

Some texts also include customized messages reminding people to seek time off from work, arrange for child care and figure out how they will get to court.

One of the main goals is to reduce failure-to-appear rates.

In New York City, researchers who studied a pilot program found that from March 2016 to June 2017 text messages that combined information on planning, what to expect and the consequences of not going to court led to a 26 percent drop in the number of no-shows.

Text messages were initially used by some courts to remind people to report for jury duty, said Bill Raftery, a senior analyst with the National Center for State Courts.

After Michael Brown was shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, a Justice Department investigation focused attention on the practice of issuing fines and other penalties for failing to appear in court, even for minor traffic charges.

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