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The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday permanently blocked a central portion of a 2016 voter identification law that it said had required a “misleading” and “contradictory” sworn statement from people lacking a photo ID.

The 5-2 ruling upholds a decision by a lower court judge, who had blocked the affidavit requirement from being used in the 2018 general election. It had remained on hold since then.

Missouri is one of several states where Republican-led legislatures have passed voter photo ID laws touted as a means of preventing election fraud. In Missouri’s case, the state law was accompanied by a constitutional amendment, approved by 63% of voters in November 2016, that authorized the implementation of a photo ID law.

Voter photo ID laws have been opposed by Democrats, who contend they can disenfranchise poor, elderly, disabled and minority voters who are less likely to have photo IDs.

Missouri’s law allowed voters lacking a valid government-issued photo identification to cast a regular ballot if they presented another form of ID — such as utility bill, bank statement or paycheck containing their name and address — and signed a sworn statement affirming their identity. The sworn statement also included a section acknowledging that they didn’t have “a form of personal identification approved for voting” but were aware they could get a free ID card from the state.

The law said voters lacking a photo ID also could cast a provisional ballot, which would count if they later returned with a photo ID or their signatures matched the ones on file with election authorities.

The Supreme Court said the sworn statement was inaccurate because it required people to say they didn’t possess a valid form of identification for voting while simultaneously requiring them to show a non-photo identification that would allow them to vote.

“Although the State has an interest in combating voter fraud, requiring individuals ... to sign a contradictory, misleading affidavit is not a reasonable means to accomplish that goal,” Judge Mary Russell wrote in the majority opinion.

The Supreme Court also upheld the lower court’s decision to block the secretary of state’s office from disseminating any materials indicating that a photo ID is required to vote.



The Iowa Supreme Court says names of car owners ticketed by automated speed cameras are not public records.

The court considered a lawsuit filed by former Ottumwa police sergeant Mark Milligan who was ticketed in 2016 driving a city-owned car. He filed an open records request for names of car owners caught on camera and ticketed and those not ticketed.

Officials driving government cars often aren't ticketed. The city denied his request, but a judge ordered their release.

The city appealed. The supreme court concluded Friday that speed camera tickets are city citations not filed in court and therefore aren't public record.



The Connecticut court system will usher in the new year by moving required public notices to its website and out of newspapers, citing lower costs and the potential to reach a wider audience.

Media representatives, however, believe the move will result in fewer residents being informed of important legal matters and will be another blow to news companies already dealing with huge declines in revenues. A single public notice can cost a few hundred dollars to run in a newspaper.

It's a concept that's been debated by government officials across the country, but so far one that appears to have gained little traction amid opposition by newspapers.

“State government’s thirst for keeping information out of the public hands knows no bounds," said Chris VanDeHoef, executive director of the Connecticut Daily Newspapers Association. “Every branch of government in our state should be focused on getting information that is pertinent to the citizens of Connecticut out in as many places possible — not fewer.”

The Connecticut Judicial Branch has set up a legal notices section on its website that will go live on Jan. 2, when it ends the requirement to publish them in newspapers.

“It is expected that this will save a great deal of time and expense, and provide greater accuracy and broader notice than newspaper publication," the Judicial Branch said in a statement on its website announcing the move.

Most of the notices at issue are intended for people involved in civil and family court cases, usually defendants, who cannot be located because their current addresses are unknown. While a good portion of the publishing costs are paid for by litigants, the Judicial Branch foots the bill for a large number of people who cannot afford it, officials said.


National Coming Out Day festivities were tempered this year by anxiety that some LGBT folk may have to go back into the closet so they can make a living, depending on what the Supreme Court decides about workplace discrimination law.

But the mere fact that words like “transgender” are being uttered before the nation’s highest court gives some supporters of LGBT workplace rights hope that the pendulum will swing in their favor.

“I want all members of our community to feel supported by the government, and often for a lot of us and a lot of friends of mine, it’s the first time that they feel represented,” said Jessica Goldberg, a bisexual senior at the University of Colorado Denver.

Still, for many, the arguments showed the continuing relevance of National Coming Out Day, first observed in 1988 and marked every Oct. 11, though observances happen over several days. That includes Philadelphia’s annual OutFest, held Sunday this year and billed as the largest National Coming Out Day event.

Coming Out Day and, by extension, events like OutFest aim to show that coming out of the closet helps individuals and the larger community win visibility and acceptance.

As music echoed in the packed streets of Philadelphia’s Gayborhood and smoke from food carts hung overhead, Priscilla Gonzalez waited for friends on a stoop and pondered the timing of the Supreme Court arguments — and what she sees as a nefarious “military tactic” of dividing Republican Party opponents to weaken them.

“It’s true that we are focused on trying to protect our group,” said Gonzalez, a New York City resident attending her first OutFest. “Because we feel so threatened, we start to divide more, and I think that division brings disruptions.”

Emotionally, the victory for LGBT marriage equality was “huge,” said Susan Horowitz, publisher and editor of Between the Lines, an LGBT newspaper in Michigan. But the workplace discrimination case, with its legal ramifications, is bigger, she said.


Prosecutors have asked the Netherlands' Supreme Court to clarify legal matters in a landmark euthanasia case, saying Thursday they want to lay down unambiguous jurisprudence for the future.

The Public Prosecution Service said by instituting "cassation in the interest of the law" proceedings they aim to clarify how doctors deal with euthanasia on "incapacitated patients" without subjecting a doctor acquitted at a trial to a new legal battle.

Prosecutors said in a statement they want "legal certainty to be created for doctors and patients about this important issue in euthanasia legislation and medical practice."

The retired nursing home doctor was cleared earlier this month by judges in The Hague who ruled that she adhered to all criteria for carrying out legal euthanasia when she administered a fatal dose of drugs to a 74-year-old woman with severe dementia.

The cassation proceedings mean that the doctor's acquittal will not be called into question.

The doctor carried out euthanasia on the woman in 2016, acting on a written directive the patient had drawn up earlier. The woman later gave mixed signals about her desire to die, but the doctor, in close consultation with the woman's family, decided to go ahead with the mercy killing.

The Hague District Court ruled that in rare cases of euthanasia on patients with severe dementia - and who had earlier made a written request for euthanasia - the doctor "did not have to verify the current desire to die."

Prosecutors said they disagreed with the Hague court and want the Supreme Court to rule on legal issues in the case.


Bulgaria's highest court says it will look into a petition by the chief prosecutor to revoke the parole by a lower court to an Australian man convicted of fatally stabbing a Bulgarian student during a 2007 brawl.

The Supreme Court of Cassation announced Thursday it will hold a hearing Oct. 23 to review a lower court's ruling to grant parole to Jock Palfreeman. The Australian man had served 11 years of his 20-year prison sentence when a three-judge Court of Appeals panel unexpectedly ordered him freed last Thursday.

The 32-year-old left prison but was transferred to an immigration detention facility to await a new passport from the nearest Australian Embassy, in Athens.

The release of the Australian has sparked angry reactions among Bulgarians, who accused the judiciary of double standards and a leniency toward foreigners.

Palfreeman's lawyer, Kalin Angelov, said he had advised Australian authorities to speed up the passport and put Palfreeman on a plane home.

The new development, however, means that Palfreeman has to remain in custody pending the supreme court's ruling and "for his personal security," according to Deputy Interior Minister Stefan Balabanov.

Dozens of relatives and friends of the slain student rallied Thursday in downtown Sofia to protest Palfreeman's parole.


A state magistrate judge in New Orleans has a conflict of interest when he sets bail for criminal defendants because bail fees help fund court operations, a federal appeals court said Thursday — the second time in a week it has found such a conflict in New Orleans courts.

The ruling was in response to an appeal filed by Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell — often the first court official to preside over a newly arrested defendant’s case, and the one who initially sets bond.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal rejected Cantrell’s appeal and upheld a lower court finding that there was a conflict because fees collected as part of bail go to a judicial expense fund.

The lower court’s ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by two state criminal defendants, one of whom was jailed for two weeks until money for a bail bond was raised, and another who was never able to come up with the money and stayed in jail for a month.

“Because he must manage his chambers to perform the judicial tasks the voters elected him to do, Judge Cantrell has a direct and personal interest in the fiscal health of the public institution that benefits from the fees his court generates and that he also helps allocate,” Judge Gregg Costa wrote for the appeals panel. The bond fees, the opinion said, contribute between 20% and 25% of the amount spent by the court in recent years.

Last Friday, a separate 5th Circuit panel said the district court judges who hear cases and preside over trials have a conflict of interest when they are faced with deciding whether some defendants are able to pay fines and fees that partially fund their court’s expenses. That decision was in response to a lawsuit filed by criminal defendants who accused the New Orleans-based court of operating what amounted to a debtors’ prison.


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