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Dutch motivational speaker Emile Ratelband may feel like a 49-year-old but according to Dutch law he is still 69.

A Dutch court on Monday rejected Ratelband’s request to shave 20 years off his age in a case that drew worldwide attention.

“Mr. Ratelband is at liberty to feel 20 years younger than his real age and to act accordingly,” Arnhem court said in a press statement . “But amending his date of birth would cause 20 years of records to vanish from the register of births, deaths, marriages and registered partnerships. This would have a variety of undesirable legal and societal implications.”

Ratelband went to court last month, arguing that he didn’t feel 69 and saying his request was consistent with other forms of personal transformation which are gaining acceptance in the Netherlands and around the world, such as the ability to change one’s name or gender.

The court rejected that argument, saying that unlike in the case of a name or gender, Dutch law assigns rights and obligations based on age “such as the right to vote and the duty to attend school. If Mr. Ratelband’s request was allowed, those age requirements would become meaningless.”

Ratelband, perhaps unsurprisingly given his background as self-described advocate of positive thinking, was undeterred by the court’s rejection and vowed to appeal.

“This is great!” he said. “The rejection of (the) court is great ... because they give all kinds of angles where we can connect when we go in appeal.”

He said he was the first of “thousands of people who want to change their age.”

The court said it acknowledged “a trend in society for people to feel fit and healthy for longer, but did not regard that as a valid argument for amending a person’s date of birth.”

Ratelband also insisted his case did have parallels with requests for name and gender changes.

“I say it’s comparable because it has to do with my feeling, with respect about who I think ... I am, my identity,” he said.

The court said Ratelband failed to convince the judges that he suffers from age discrimination, adding that “there are other alternatives available for challenging age discrimination, rather than amending a person’s date of birth.”


Indicted Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter Will is set to return to court Monday for the first time since being re-elected to a sixth term in California amid corruption charges.

The congressman and his wife have pleaded not guilty to a 60-count indictment alleging they spent more than $250,000 in campaign finance funds on family trips, tequila shots and other items. A judge could set a trial date at the hearing in San Diego.

Hunter, a 41-year-old Marine veteran, has said he is looking forward to the trial to defend his name.

Prosecutors say the couple used campaign money to go on $11,000 shopping sprees at Costco and to buy more than $400 in tequila shots. They also went to Italy and Hawaii with their children on the campaign's dime, according to the indictment.

The couple tried to cover their tracks by lying on their campaign reports to the Federal Election Commission, prosecutors say.


Lawyers for President Trump want porn actress Stormy Daniels to pay them $340,000 in legal bills they claim they earned successfully defending Trump against her frivolous defamation claim.

The attorneys are due in a Los Angeles federal courtroom Monday to make their case that they rang up big bills because of gamesmanship and aggressive tactics by attorney Michael Avenatti, who represents Daniels.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, alleges she had a one-night affair with Trump in 2006. She sued him earlier this year seeking to break a non-disclosure agreement she signed days before the 2016 election about the tryst as part $130,000 hush money settlement. Trump has denied the affair.

Despite the deal to stay quiet, Daniels spoke out publicly and alleged that five years after the affair she was threatened to keep quiet by a man she did not recognize in a Las Vegas parking lot. She also released a composite sketch of the mystery man.

She sued Trump for defamation after he responded to the allegation by tweeting: "A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!"

U.S. District Court Judge S. James Otero ruled in October that Trump's statement was "rhetorical hyperbole" against a political adversary and was protected speech under the First Amendment. Trump is entitled to legal fees, Otero said.


A Minnesota man accused of faking his own death seven years ago to collect a $2 million life insurance policy arranged for a stand-in corpse to be dressed in his clothes in Moldova, according to a judge’s detention order.

Igor Vorotinov, 54, also planted his identification on the body before placing the corpse along a road in the Eastern European country, a U.S. judge said in rejecting Vorotinov’s request to be freed pending trial.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Katherine M. Menendez ruled Wednesday that Vorotinov posed too great a flight risk. In her ruling, Menendez said Vorotinov showed “substantial resourcefulness and cunning.”

Vorotinov was indicted in 2015 on one count of mail fraud. He was arrested this month and returned to the U.S.

Prosecutors allege in court documents that Vorotinov took out the life insurance policy in spring 2010 and designated then-wife Irina Vorotinov as the primary beneficiary. The couple divorced later that year.

In 2011, Irina Vorotinov, 51, identified a corpse in Moldova as her husband’s, prosecutors allege. She then returned to the U.S. with a death certificate and cremated remains and received the life insurance payment. Money was then transferred to her son, and to accounts in Switzerland and Moldova.

She has pleaded guilty to her role and is serving a three-year sentence. Alkon Vorotinov, 28, pleaded guilty to one count and was sentenced to probation.

After the insurance payout was made, prosecutors spoke by phone in May 2016 with Igor Vorotinov in hopes of persuading him to return to the U.S. But he told investigators he would rather live with his new love interest on an apple farm, according to the judge’s filing.

The identity of the corpse is still unclear, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported . The scheme also included a 2011 funeral service at a Minneapolis cemetery, where an urn was placed in a niche. Tests later determined the remains were not Vorotinov’s.

Vorotinov pleaded not guilty Tuesday. He was returned to jail and awaits trial, tentatively planned for January.


Roughly two years after a new trial was ordered, Maryland's highest court on Thursday heard arguments in their review of the high-profile case of a man whose murder conviction was chronicled in the hit "Serial" podcast that attracted millions of armchair detectives.

Tasked with upholding the retrial order for Adnan Syed or reviewing a decision that could reinstate a conviction, Maryland's Court of Appeals heard about an hour's worth of arguments in the long-running case. Syed was convicted in 2000 of strangling his high school sweetheart and burying her body in a Baltimore park. He's been serving a life sentence ever since.

But a Baltimore judge vacated his conviction two years ago and a court ordered a new trial after concluding that his trial lawyer was ineffective. The state appealed. Earlier this year, the special appeals court upheld the lower court's ruling. The state appealed that decision, too.

On Thursday, state prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah acknowledged that the late trial lawyer for Syed did not contact an alibi witness but he asserts that the attorney understood the "gist" of what that witness, Asia McClain, might have told her at the time. The attorney in question, Cristina Gutierrez, died of a heart attack in 2004, about four years after Syed was convicted of murdering 18-year-old Hae Min Lee.

"The record is not silent on whether or not Ms. McClain was contacted. The state agrees with that. The record is silent on the critical question of why," he said, suggesting that it is not clear why Gutierrez decided to take one investigative path over another and asserting that it's wrong to conclude that Syed's constitutional right to effective counsel was violated.

In 2016, a lower court ordered a retrial for Syed on grounds that Gutierrez didn't contact McClain and provided ineffective counsel.

The defense team countered that it's entirely irrelevant why Gutierrez failed to contact McClain, who said she saw Syed at a library about the same time prosecutors say his ex-girlfriend was killed in 1999.

Defense attorney Catherine Stetson told Maryland's highest court that Syed's original lawyer's failure to contact the witness were "objectively unreasonable" and any possible reasons don't matter. She said Gutierrez "had an obligation to pursue that witness," among others.

By late Thursday morning, the appeals panel of seven judges wrapped up the day's oral arguments. It's not clear when their review of the Syed case will be completed.

The arguments in the Maryland appeals court brought spectators from out of state. Chris Hendrixson drove from Cincinnati, Ohio, to observe the hearing and perhaps meet some of the people he's heard about on the podcast.


The Supreme Court seems very likely to rule that the Constitution's ban on excessive fines applies to the states. The outcome could help an Indiana man recover the $40,000 Land Rover police seized when they arrested him for selling about $400 worth of heroin.

The court has formally held that most of the Bill of Rights applies to states as well as the federal government. But it has not done so on the Eighth Amendment's excessive-fines ban.

Justice Neil Gorsuch (GOR'-suhch) was incredulous that Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher was urging the justices to rule that states should not be held to the same standard. Gorsuch said Wednesday, "Come on, general."

Justice Stephen Breyer said under Fisher's reading police could seize a quarter-million-dollar Bugatti sports car if its driver is caught going 5 miles per hour (8 kilometers per hour) over the speed limit.

The Supreme Court is taking up the case of an Indiana man who says the Constitution should have barred local authorities from seizing his $40,000 Land Rover after his arrest for selling less than $400 in heroin to undercover officers.


A Chinese court has reduced the prison sentence for former college football player and American citizen Wendell Brown from four years to three for his involvement in a bar fight, a rights monitoring group said Wednesday.

Brown, a native of Detroit who played for Ball State University in Indiana, had been teaching English and American football in southwest China when he was arrested in September 2016 and charged with intentional assault. He denied hitting a man at a bar and said he was defending himself after being attacked.

The San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation said Brown will be transferred from a detention center to a prison in the southwestern city of Chongqing, from where he can then apply for early release. He is now due to be set free on Sept. 24, 2019.

The court issued no official statement and an assistant judge in the case, reached by phone, directed inquiries to the court's management office, which did not immediately respond to faxed questions seeking comment.

Brown, 31, was convicted on June 28 and his reduction in sentence is one of an estimated 15 percent of appeals that are successful in China, Dui Hua said. Friends, family and supporters had hoped he would be immediately deported, as is allowed under Chinese law.

"While this is not the result we hoped for it is nevertheless the best that could be achieved," the group's executive director, John Kamm, said in an emailed statement.

"I salute the team of legal advisers and friends who have worked tirelessly to bring Wendell home. Dui Hua acknowledges the sympathetic handling of the case by the appellate judges in Chongqing," Kamm said.

Michigan and U.S. officials have lobbied China on Brown's behalf and hundreds of people have donated to a GoFundMe account to help in his case, Dui Hua said.

Brown was the only person prosecuted over the Sept. 25, 2016, incident in a Chongqing bar, which the court concluded Brown had not initiated, Dui Hua said. Witnesses said Brown was being harassed by other patrons. However, the court ruled that he "didn't do enough to de-escalate the situation," the group said.

The sentence reduction was based on apologies and expressions of forgiveness between Brown and others involved and Brown's payment of 200,000 yuan ($28,750) in compensation, Dui Hua said.

Brown was also allowed to make a 15-minute video call to his mother, Antoinette, in Detroit. "He was in characteristic good spirits and appeared healthy," Dui Hua reported.

Brown was a linebacker at Ball State in Muncie, Indiana, and later played for the Canadian Football League's Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Swarco Raiders in Austria. At the time of his arrest, he was in China helping coach the Chongqing Dockers, part of an amateur league seeking to establish American football in China. He is the father of an 11-year-old boy.

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