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Activist loses UK court case on police facial recognition
Headline News | 2019/09/10 22:31
A British court ruled Wednesday that a police force's use of automated facial recognition technology is lawful, dealing a blow to an activist concerned about its implications for privacy.

Existing laws adequately cover the South Wales police force's deployment of the technology in a trial, two judges said , in what's believed to be the world's first legal case on how a law enforcement agency uses the new technology.

The decision comes amid a broader global debate about the rising use of facial recognition technology. Recent advances in artificial intelligence make it easier for police to automatically scan faces and instantly match them to "watchlists" of suspects, missing people and persons of interest, but it also raises concerns about mass surveillance.

"The algorithms of the law must keep pace with new and emerging technologies," Judges Charles Haddon-Cave and Jonathan Swift said.

Ed Bridges, a Cardiff resident and human rights campaigner who filed the judicial review, said South Wales police scanned his face twice as it tested the technology - once while he was Christmas shopping in 2017 and again when he was at a peaceful protest against a defense expo in 2018.

"This sinister technology undermines our privacy and I will continue to fight against its unlawful use to ensure our rights are protected and we are free from disproportionate government surveillance," he said in a statement released by Liberty, a rights group that worked on his case.


Court rules Rams lawsuit can be heard in St. Louis courtroom
Law Firm Business | 2019/09/09 05:27
The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that a lawsuit filed over the Rams' departure from St. Louis will be heard in a St. Louis courtroom, a defeat for the NFL team's owner who sought to send the case to arbitration.

The court issued its ruling Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by St. Louis city and county and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority, which owns the domed stadium where the Rams formerly played. It named Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who moved the team to Los Angeles for the 2016 season, the NFL and league owners.

It wasn't immediately clear if an appeal was planned. Messages left Wednesday with the Rams, Kroenke's attorney and the NFL were not immediately returned

The lawsuit alleged that the Rams' departure violated a 1984 league guideline that was established after the Raiders moved from Oakland to Los Angeles. The league, the Rams and Kroenke have argued that the disagreements should be settled behind closed doors in arbitration.

The suit seeks financial damages, but a win for the city, county and dome authority would not return the team to St. Louis.

The Rams' departure left a bitter taste in St. Louis, which lost an NFL team for the second time in 30 years ? the Cardinals moved to Arizona in 1987.

Last month, a judge gave preliminary approval to the settlement of a separate suit filed on behalf of fans who bought St. Louis Rams tickets and team merchandise. The settlement could be worth up to $25 million. The lawsuit claimed fans would not have purchased the tickets and goods if they knew about the impending move.


US appeals court: Another conflict in New Orleans courts
Legal Interview | 2019/09/07 05:26
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.


The Latest: Johnson warns of damage to political parties
Court Center | 2019/09/05 05:24
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned of “lasting and catastrophic damage” to Britain’s political parties if the result of the Brexit referendum is not honored.

He told Sky News Friday that people protesting his decision to suspend Parliament during part of the run-up to the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline must realize that “the worst thing for democracy” would be to fail to make Brexit a reality.

He also says the protests and legal challenges to his policy are making it harder for Britain to forge a new deal with European Union leaders because they may believe Parliament can stop Brexit.

A court hearing in Scotland on a legal challenge seeking to block the British government’s plan to suspend Parliament has been moved up and will be heard on Tuesday.

The Court of Session hearing in Edinburgh had originally been set for Sept. 6.

Judge Raymond Doherty on Friday refused to grant a request to immediately halt Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to suspend Parliament for several weeks but agreed that a “substantive” hearing would be held.

The government’s plan would shorten the time political opponents in Parliament would have in their bid to prevent Britain from leaving the European Union without a deal on Oct. 31 if no agreement with the EU is reached by then.


Florida high court set to clarify voting rights for felons
Headline News | 2019/09/02 05:22
The Florida Supreme Court waded into the legal wrangling over the voting rights of felons, agreeing Thursday to examine whether the state can continue restricting voting privileges to felons who have unpaid fines and fees.

Voters last year overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to as many as 1.4 million felons who have completed their sentences.

But the Republican-controlled Legislature then stipulated that to complete sentences, felons must pay all fines and fees before getting their voting rights restored. DeSantis signed the bill into law.

Voting rights groups immediately sued in federal court and likened the requirement to an illegal poll tax.

Gov. Ron DeSantis then asked the state Supreme Court for an advisory on the issue, which the court has agreed to consider.

“The Governor has the duty to implement both the amendment and the law, which must be done appropriately,” said the governor’s spokeswoman, Helen Aguirre Ferre. “That is why he is asking the Florida Supreme Court to provide an opinion on this matter and he is pleased that they have agreed to do so.”


Swedish court temporarily frees A$AP Rocky from jail
Law Firm Business | 2019/08/14 16:28
The bodyguard of A$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.


Suspect in Norway mosque attack bruised but smiling in court
Headline News | 2019/08/14 16:27
A suspected gunman accused of an attempted terrorist attack on an Oslo mosque and separately killing his teenage stepsister appeared in court on Monday looking bruised and scratched, but smiling.

The suspect did not speak, and his defense lawyer Unni Fries told The Associated Press he “will use his right not to explain himself for now.”

Philip Manshaus, 21, was arrested Saturday after entering a mosque in Baerum, an Oslo suburb, where three men were preparing for Sunday’s Eid al-Adha Muslim celebrations. Police said he was waving weapons and several shots were fired but did not specify what type of weapon was used. One person was slightly injured before people inside the Al-Noor Islamic Center held the suspect down until police arrived on the scene.

Police then raided Manshaus’ nearby house and found the body of his 17-year-old stepsister. He is also suspected in her killing, police said, but did not provide details.


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