Greene County Candidate for Sheriff Charged with Jury Tampering Via Facebook

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Luke Lamb, shown here in a campaign banner from last year. He's running for Greene County Sheriff now.
Luke Lamb has a history of fighting the law -- and winning.

Lamb is running as a "constitutional Sheriff's candidate" in Greene County, Illinois, selling himself as an advocate for a more limited system of police intervention. He made a name for himself in 2011 for filming a cop drinking beer after a traffic stop, and he popped up again in 2013 for hanging an "Impeach Obama" banner over a highway overpass. But now he's managed to piss off the very same sheriff's office he's running for.

Indeed, current Greene County Sheriff Robert McMillan didn't appreciate Lamb using Facebook to allegedly advise a juror to "Nullify, nullify, nullify!" and to "Hang the jury, if necessary" in a traffic case in January. Lamb is now facing a felony for unlawful communication with a juror, a charge his lawyer has stated "reeks of small-town political retribution."

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Judge Says St. Louis County Courts Must Allow Press, Public Into Courtroom

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Bryan Turner/Wikimedia
The Missouri Constitution says that courts must be open to the public. But in several St. Louis County municipal courthouses, that's not always the case. Now, after attorneys who work in the county expressed their concerns, a top county judge has ordered the courts to open up.

"There are still a substantial number of municipal courts that limit seating only to defendants and defendants' attorneys, without any justification," Presiding Judge Maura McShane -- who has administrative authority over municipal courts -- writes in a June 24 letter. "The practice is not only a clear violation of the Missouri Constitution, but it also subjects those to potential claims for violations of Constitutional rights."

The order comes after lawyers from ArchCity Defenders, a nonprofit law firm focused on indigent clients, as well as professors from the Clinical Law Offices of the Saint Louis University School of Law, brought the matter to the attention of McShane and other County judges beginning back in March.

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Egypt Demands Saint Louis Art Museum Return 3,000-Year-Old Mummy Mask

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The mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer resides at the Saint Louis Art Museum. But is it stolen?
Egyptian minister of antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim has a message for the Saint Louis Art Museum: Let our mummy mask go.

The mummy in question is Ka-Nefer-Nefer, "The Twice-Beautiful Ka," an Egyptian noblewoman whose funeral mask was unearthed by archaeologist Mohammed Zakaria Goneim in 1951, more than 3,000 years after her death. SLAM acquired the the mask in 1998 from an antiquities dealer, but Egypt maintains the mask was stolen decades ago and smuggled out of the country.

The U.S. government sued SLAM in 2011, attempting to return the mask to Egypt, but the case fell apart last week after U.S. attorneys missed a simple filing deadline. Now, the Egyptian government is threatening to sue SLAM itself.

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Judge Delays Hearings on Lyft's Future in St. Louis

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Urbanists on Flickr, cropped
Lyft's pink mustaches are getting their day in court.
A full week of deliberations just isn't enough. On Wednesday, Circuit Court Judge Joan Moriarty ordered a ten-day break before the hearings over ride-sharing app Lyft's future in St. Louis can continue.

After hearing from all of the witnesses, Moriarty asked counselors from Lyft and from the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission, which is fighting for a permanent injunction against Lyft, to prepare a findings report by June 2.

Stephen O'Brien, a lawyer representing Lyft, asked Moriarty to expedite the process and allow closing arguments since Lyft is under a temporary restraining order until Moriarty makes her final decision.

"This is a bit of an emergency," O'Brien said in court. "This is important to us, and we need to get this resolved."


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Lyft Fights Injunction in St. Louis Court: "It's Just Not Fair"

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Lyft
Lyft's emblematic pink mustache has arrived in St. Louis. Will a judge let it stay?
The future of Lyft in St. Louis isn't final yet.

A St. Louis judge delayed ruling on an injunction that would ban the ride-sharing app from operating in the Lou Wednesday until she could hear further testimony.

The Metropolitan Taxicab Commission, which regulates cars-for-hire in the city and county, is asking for a permanent injunction against Lyft, which does not have a business license or a commercial driving license in Missouri.

"We don't know who these people are," Charles Billings, a lawyer for the taxi commission, told the court about Lyft and its fleet of drivers Wednesday. "They are putting themselves in danger because they haven't been properly trained. They are putting their riders in danger because they do not have insurance."

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Lawsuit Over Estate of Deceased Munchkin, Mickey Carroll, Slated for Trial Next Week

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Mickey Carroll at his home in Bel-Nor in 2007. | Jennifer Silverberg
Five years ago this week, Wizard of Oz actor Mickey Carroll passed away in his sleep at the age of 89. Yet the fight over his estate had already begun with Carroll's niece, Janet Finocchiaro, alleging before his death that the ex-Munchkin's caretaker, Linda Dodge, physically abused Carroll and duped him out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the wake of Carroll's passing, a photo of a purportedly abused Carroll -- sporting a bruise to his forehead -- even ran in the National Enquirer.

Next week the lawsuit Finocchiaro and other family members brought against Dodge is finally slated for trial in St. Louis County Circuit Court.

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Springfield City Council Tried to Stop Marijuana Reform Vote, Now Has to Pay Up $225,000

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Rotational/Wikimedia
A coalition of groups working toward marijuana reform has earned a six-figure settlement from the City of Springfield after council members there unconstitutionally quashed a petition to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. Now Springfield will have to pay $225,000 to those pro-reform groups.

It all started back in 2012 when Show-Me Cannabis and the American Victory Coalition introduced a citizen-funded ballot initiative slated for the November 2012 election.

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MO Supreme Court Inaction Means Big Win for Critics of Red-Light Cameras

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Dave Dugdale
Judges say red-light cameras are now unconstitutional or invalid in five Missouri cities.
The Missouri Supreme Court will not take on two court cases involving red-light cameras in Ellisville and Arnold, effectively invalidating the cities' ordinances.

The Supreme Court has turned down five recent chances to have its say on the controversial cameras, leaving Missouri with a confusing patchwork of red-light laws.


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Wife of Alleged Auto Scammer Flips Out At KMOV: "I'm The Pretty Lady!"

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KMOV
Breaking news: Used-car dealerships sometimes screw their customers.
Say what you will about local TV news, but KMOV (Channel 4) delivered a hell of a show yesterday when reporter Chris Nagus confronted the wife of Tadarrell Qualls, an auto-lot owner who is being sued for duping customers into buying cars without titles.

KMOV has been hounding Qualls and the north-city car dealership he manages, Exclusive Imports, for years. But when KMOV's Nagus arrived on the lot, Qualls' wife LaTashia gave him an ear full.

"I'm the mystery lady! I'm the pretty lady!" she shouts at Nagus when he asks for her name. She wasn't done yelling, either.

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ACLU: Missouri Recognizes Out-Of-State Marriage For First Cousins, Why Not Gays?

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Tommy Wu
One of the ACLU's plaintiff couples, LeRoy Fitzwater and Alan Ziegler.
Save the date: September 25, 2014.

That's when oral arguments will kick off in Barrier v. Vasterling, the most direct legal challenge to Missouri's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage since the amendment became law in 2004.

"Missouri has traditionally recognized marriages from other states that were legally entered into," says Tony Rothert, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, which is suing the state on behalf of eight same-sex couples who were legally married elsewhere in the U.S.. It's unfair, he explains, that Missouri honors the union between two first cousins married in Tennessee and not the one between two women married in Iowa.


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