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

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"

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

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

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

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!"

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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Judge Rules Against Anti-Gay Marriage Effort in Legal Fight Over Missouri Taxes

quinn.anya on flickr
For now, at least, married gay couples in Missouri can pay joint taxes.
Ever since Governor Jay Nixon altered Missouri's tax code to allow legally married gay couples to file joint taxes -- a move that puts the state in line with federal rules -- anti-gay marriage advocates are pulling out every trick in the book to stop him.

First, they filed a lawsuit. Then Rep. Nick Marshall tried to impeach Nixon.

The final trick in the anti-gay marriage playbook was a restraining order from four of Missouri's most committed conservatives who say changing the tax rule is tantamount to legalizing gay marriage in the Show-Me State.

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Spouses v. Husband & Wife: Fight over Taxes for Married Gay Couples Heats Up

stevendamron on flickr
"Here? Where it says 'wife?' Can we change that to 'spouse?'"
Gay couples may be constitutionally banned from marrying in Missouri, but this year, for the first time, LGBT people who marry in other states and pay taxes here are allowed to file jointly, like any other married couple.

Conservative, "pro-family" activists want to change that. They've tried lawsuits. They've tried impeaching the governor, who changed the rule in the first place.

Now, they're trying a restraining order.

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As Fred Phelps Inches Toward Hell, Missouri Law Forbids Funeral Protests He's Known For

Rev. Fred Phelps.
The hate-mongering piece of garbage that is The Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., is almost dead, but at least he lived long enough to see a Missouri judge uphold a law forbidding his followers from one of their most antagonizing tactics: funeral protests.

Protesters at funerals must stay 300 feet away starting one hour before the funeral and ending an hour after the services, U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan, Jr., ruled last week.

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