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Access to license-plate data may be possible, court rules

It would violate people's privacy to publicly release raw data collected by automated license plate readers that police use to determine whether vehicles are linked to crime, but there may be ways to make the information anonymous that would require it to be disclosed, the California Supreme Court said Thursday.

The ruling came in a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation that sought a week's worth of license plate data — millions of records — from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and Los Angeles Police Department to "understand and educate the public on the risks to privacy posed" by license plate readers in the area.

A unanimous Supreme Court ordered a lower court to consider methods to make the data anonymous and determine whether any of those efforts would require its release.

Jennifer Lehman, assistant county counsel for Los Angeles County, said in a statement that the county was "concerned that even making the information anonymous could pose unique and unintended problems."

She said it would raise those concerns in detail when the case is heard again by the lower court.

A message to the Los Angeles city attorney was not immediately returned.

Law enforcement agencies nationwide are using license plate readers attached to patrol cars and objects such as traffic signals. The devices indiscriminately capture images of license plates that come into view. The information is passed through databases to instantly check whether the car or driver has been linked to crime.

Officials say the scans are useful in tracking stolen vehicles, missing children and people wanted by police. For instance, authorities chasing a suspect in a fatal shooting at Delta State University in Mississippi in 2015 used an automatic license plate reader to track the man as he traveled across state lines.

Privacy advocates say the systems overwhelmingly capture innocent drivers, recording information about their locations that could be used to track their habits and whereabouts.

Former Pakistan PM challenges disqualification by court

A Pakistani official says former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has filed petitions with the Supreme Court to challenge his disqualification and removal from office.

Environment Minister Mushahidullah Khan, who is in Sharif's party, said Tuesday that the former prime minister's lawyers filed three petitions to review the verdict.

The court disqualified Sharif after documents leaked from a Panama-based law firm showed that his family held previously undisclosed overseas assets. A five-judge panel last month disqualified Sharif, accusing him of concealing assets.

Last week Sharif held a series of rallies across the country, criticizing the court ruling and seeking to whip up popular support.

German court sends ECB challenge to European court

Germany's top court has declined to hear a series of challenges to the European Central Bank's bond-buying stimulus program, referring them instead to the European Court of Justice.

The dpa news agency reports Tuesday that those against the program claimed it constituted illegal budget financing and that Germany's central bank should not be participating.

The Federal Constitutional Court ruled that because the challenge was about European Union regulations, it was up to the European court to decide.

The ECB's 2.28 trillion euro ($2.7 trillion) bond-purchasing program is only due to run through 2017, raising the question of whether the case can be heard before the program has already ended.

Mizzou's Howard arrested again for failing to appear in court

Missouri defensive end Nate Howard, already suspended and facing a felony drug charge, was arrested again Monday night by UMPD for an out-of-county warrant for failing to appear in court for a speeding ticket in Montgomery County.

Howard had a ticket arraignment scheduled for last Thursday in Montgomery Circuit Court for a misdemeanor speeding ticket filed March 28. Howard didn't pay the ticket for $121 or appear in court to contest the charge, according to online court records.

Howard was contacted during a traffic stop Monday when MU police discovered the warrant, MUPD Lt. Buddy Anliker said in an email.

Howard's next court date in his felony drug possession case is Aug. 24. Howard, a former All-Metro standout at Ladue High School, was arrested June 14 in Columbia on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance and suspicion of marijuana possession when police found illegal mushrooms and marijuana in the vehicle he was driving. Howard has been charged with a class D felony for possession of a controlled substance. All MU athletes charged with a felony are suspended indefinitely until their case is resolved.

Howard has not practiced with the Tigers since the spring and is not on the current 105-man roster. Howard has 15 tackles in 15 career games.

Hailey attorney named to Idaho District Court bench

Central Idaho attorney Ned Williamson has been named the new judge in Idaho's 5th District Court.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter selected Williamson, a Hailey resident, to replace recently retired Judge Robert Elgee in Blaine County.

The Times-News newspaper reports Williamson served as a deputy prosecutor in both Canyon and Blaine counties before opening his private law practice in 2001. Williamson was one of four candidates submitted to Otter for the judgeship.

Otter said Williamson's local experience will serve him well on the bench. Williamson said he's honored by the selection and will dedicate himself to being a fair and impartial judge.
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