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For months, neighbors worried about a squalid compound built along a remote New Mexico plain, saying they brought their concerns to authorities long before sheriff's officials first found 11 hungry children on the lot, and then the remains of a small boy.

Two men and three women also had been living at the compound, and were arrested following a raid Friday that came as officials searched for a missing Georgia boy with severe medical issues.

Medical examiners still must confirm whether the body found at the property in a second search on Monday is that of Abdul-ghani Wahhaj, who was 3 in December when police say his father took him from his mother in Jonesboro, Georgia.

The boy's father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, was among those arrested in the compound raid that has since resulted in the series of startling revelations on the outskirts of Amalia, a tiny town near the Colorado state line marked by scattered homes and sagebrush. Authorities said they found the father armed with multiple firearms, including an assault rifle.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday on a warrant from Georgia that seeks his extradition to face a charge of abducting his son from that state last December. He had expressed wanting to perform an exorcism on his son, the warrant said.

The group arrived in Amalia in December, with enough money to buy groceries and construction supplies, according to Tyler Anderson, a 41-year-old auto mechanic who lives nearby.

He said Tuesday he helped the newcomers install solar panels after they arrived but eventually stopped visiting.


The highest court in New Jersey is taking steps to do away with hundreds of thousands of open warrants for minor offenses such as parking tickets as part of an overhaul of the state's municipal court system.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner on Thursday assigned three Superior Court judges to hold hearings on the proposal to dismiss at least 787,764 open warrants for offenses more than 15 years old that were never prosecuted.

"Those old outstanding complaints and open warrants in minor matters raise questions of fairness, the appropriate use of limited public resources by law enforcement and the courts, the ability of the state to prosecute cases successfully in light of how long matters have been pending and the availability of witnesses, and administrative efficiency," Rabner wrote in his order.

NJ.com reported that the order covers open warrants issued before 2003 for failure to appear in low-level cases, including 355,619 parking ticket cases, 348,631 moving violations and some cases related to town ordinance violations.

The open warrant and the underlying unpaid ticket would be dismissed. The order indicates that more serious charges such as speeding and drunken driving would not be included.

Throwing out old low-level cases was among 49 recommendations following a Supreme Court committee's review of the municipal court system. The committee cited a growing "public perception" that municipal courts "operate with a goal to fill the town's coffers," which the panel called contrary to the purpose of the courts.


A lawyer for Baltimore's top prosecutor asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to dismiss a lawsuit by five police officers who claim she maliciously prosecuted them in the death of a black man gravely injured in custody.

Assistant Attorney General Karl Pothier told the three-judge panel that as a prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby has immunity from the lawsuit filed by officers who were charged but later cleared in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray. Pothier urged the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a judge's decision to allow parts of the lawsuit to go to trial.

"A prosecutor's protective cloak of absolute immunity is not so easily removed," Pothier said.

Lawyers for the officers, however, said Mosby acted as an investigator — not simply as a prosecutor — and is therefore not immune from the lawsuit.

Gray, 25, died on April 19, 2015, from a fatal spinal injury suffered in a police van, prompting days of widespread protests and rioting. While tensions were still smoldering in Baltimore, Mosby charged six officers in Gray's arrest and death, an announcement that brought celebrations in the streets.

Three were ultimately acquitted and Mosby dropped the remaining cases.

On Wednesday, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III grilled the officers' lawyers about why they should be allowed to sue Mosby for bringing criminal charges against them and holding a news conference to announce the charges.

"What we're talking about here is muzzling prosecutors who have publicly expressed grounds for prosecuting police officers," said Wilkinson, who repeatedly raised his voice while questioning the officers' lawyers.



U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is scheduled to visit Chicago and speak at a university conference.

She's expected to appear at Roosevelt University downtown on Monday evening as part of a program focusing on themes of law, social justice and the American Dream. The event is a conversation between Ginsburg and U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Ann Claire Williams.

Ginsburg is 84 and was appointed to the nation's highest court in 1993 by then-President Bill Clinton. A book about her exercise routines is expected to be released next month.

In July, Ginsburg addressed a group of lawyers and judges in Sun Valley, Idaho. Last year, she spoke at the University of Notre Dame.




A New Jersey lawyer isn't letting his age get in the way of vigorously defending clients with theatrical flare.
Frank Lucianna, 94, is still going strong, 66 years after he began his legal career, The Record reported Monday.

The decorated World War II veteran and Englewood Cliffs resident has defended murder suspects, politicians, thieves, and drivers facing DWI charges. His signature style includes raising his voice and emphatically chopping the air with his arms.

"Your Honor, sometimes I wish they would throw all the laws out!" Lucianna said during a soliloquy in which he criticized mandatory sentencing, complimented the judge for being "assiduous" in the pursuit of justice and lauded the "young prosecutor."

The son of Italian immigrants and a lifelong runner, he said his athleticism has given him the stamina to keep up with the demands of the job. He only stopped running a year ago because of a fractured vertebra.

"This is a very consuming profession and it has taken a lot out of my life," Lucianna said. "I am constantly involved in preparing cases, and it's a tremendous strain, both mental and physical. Physical because when you go to trial in a case, your whole being is obsessed with trying to help the person you represent, and it places your body and mind under tension."

He founded Lucianna & Lucianna in Hackensack where he works with a staff that includes his daughter Diane.

"Physically, we help him," she said. "Like, he was wearing shoes that were way too heavy. I said, 'Dad, you need new shoes!' So we took him to the orthopedic shoe store for a new pair. Little things like that. But mentally, he's terrific. No one is covering for him."

Lucianna says he still feels 64 and doesn't want to retire and move to Florida. "Florida is inhabited by a lot of old retired people who, if you are living among them, are annoying," he said.


Joseph Wapner, the retired Los Angeles judge who presided over "The People's Court" with steady force during the heyday of the reality courtroom show, died Sunday at age 97.

Son David Wapner told The Associated Press that his father died at home in his sleep. Joseph Wapner was hospitalized a week ago with breathing problems and had been under home hospice care.

"The People's Court," on which Wapner decided real small-claims from 1981 to 1993, was one of the granddaddies of the syndicated reality shows of today. His affable, no-nonsense approach attracted many fans, putting "The People's Court" in the top five in syndication at its peak.

Before auditioning for the show, Wapner had spent more than 20 years on the bench in Los Angeles, first in Municipal Court and then in Superior Court. At one time he was presiding judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court, the largest court in the United States. He retired as judge in November 1979, the day after his 60th birthday.

"Everything on the show is real," Wapner told the AP in a 1986 interview. "There's no script, no rehearsal, no retakes. Everything from beginning to end is like a real courtroom, and I personally consider each case as a trial."

"Sometimes I don't even deliberate," he added. "I just decide from the bench, it's so obvious. The beautiful part is that I have carte blanche."

"The People's Court" cases were tried without lawyers by the rules of Small Claims Court, which has a damage limit of $1,500. Researchers for the producer, Ralph Edwards Productions, checked claims filed in Southern California for interesting cases.

The plaintiff and defendant had to agree to have the case settled on the show and sign a binding arbitration agreement; the show paid for the settlements.


Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid says he is convinced that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will nominate Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court if she is elected president.
 
Senate Republicans have blocked Garland's confirmation since President Barack Obama nominated him in March. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the next president will choose the person to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Reid said on a conference call Thursday that he is predicting Clinton will pick Garland "with some degree of credibility." He praised Garland and said Clinton's team would not want to "rock the boat" with a new pick.

He said Republicans who are blocking Garland's nomination are "minions" and "enablers" of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. He said Trump is unfit for office.


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