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A California appeals court has upheld a San Diego city ordinance that closes a picturesque children's beach for nearly half the year so that seals may give birth, nurse and wean their pups.

In a decision filed Thursday, the 4th District Court of Appeal reversed a lower court ruling that set aside the ordinance governing Children's Pool Beach in La Jolla, an affluent seaside community in San Diego.

Thursday's ruling will allow for the beach to continue to be closed between Dec. 15 and May 15 every year. Violators face misdemeanor penalties of up to $1,000 in fines or six months in jail.

The Children's Pool is an artificial cove that was used as a swimming hole for youngsters until seals began moving in during the 1990s — spurring a yearslong feud between supporters of the animals and those who want beach access.

In 2014, the City Council approved closing the beach for part of the year after concluding that other efforts to protect the seals during their breeding season haven't worked. The California Coastal Commission issued a permit allowing that action.

Visitors to the area often walk up to the seals, pose for selfies with them and mimic the barking noise they make. When they're disturbed, seals can abandon their pups, give birth prematurely or miscarry, or become frightened and accidentally stampede babies. They've also nipped at humans.

The group Friends of the Children's Pool sued San Diego and the coastal commission, arguing that the Marine Mammal Protection Act and California Coastal Act give the federal government jurisdiction over marine mammals, not local governments. The group won a trial court ruling in the matter.

The appeals court rejected the group's argument and the lower court's ruling, saying nothing in the protection act pre-empts a state's ability to regulate access to its own property.



A Swedish court has sentenced a Ghana international to 32 months in prison after Kingsley Sarfo was found guilty of two cases of rape of an under-aged girl.

The Malmo District Court says the 23-year old Sarfo, a midfielder with top Swedish club Malmo FF, had sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old girl in an apartment and in a public toilet.

The court on Friday also ordered Sarfo to pay 150,000 kronor ($17,260) in compensation to the girl, adding he should be deported after jail and banned from returning to Sweden for a 10-year period.

Safro has said his contract with Malmo FF, which he joined in 2016, would be terminated if found guilty. The club said it would comment after next week's board meeting.

Supreme Court: Son can sue father over hunting accident

A Minnesota man has taken a lawsuit against his father all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court. And, dad is just fine with that.

The Supreme Court this week clarified a state law on public access for hunting, clearing the way for Corey Ouradnik to sue his father, Robert Ouradnik, over a deer hunting accident.

Corey Ouradnik broke both legs when he fell from a tree stand on the family's hunting land near Hinckley in 2012 when he was 29. His recovery took multiple surgeries and left Ouradnik with a six-figure medical bill.

The Star Tribune reports his attorney, Matt Barber, says the lawsuit is all about recovering insurance money. He says Minnesota requires people who are injured to sue the person who injured them if they hope to recover a payment.



A new court program has opened in Dona Ana County that focuses on the substance abuse and mental health issues facing military veterans who have been charged with non-violent crimes.

Las Cruces Sun-News reports that the first hearing in the 3rd Judicial District Court's Veterans Treatment Court program was held on Wednesday.

It's the first veterans court program in southern New Mexico

The judicial district already has other "problem-solving courts," such as a drug court for juveniles and adults that tries to help rehabilitate repeat offenders whose offenses are driven by substance abuse.

Veterans participating in the new program will be given individualized treatment and counseling programs that run an average of 14 months or longer.




A gold exploration proposal near Yellowstone National Park faced a significant setback as a judge blamed Montana officials for understating the potential for mining to harm land, water and wildlife.

The ruling released Friday means the Montana Department of Environmental Quality would have to conduct a lengthy environmental review before Lucky Minerals can proceed.

The Vancouver, Canada, company received approval last year to begin searching for gold, copper and other minerals at 23 locations in Emigrant Gulch, a picturesque area of steep mountains and dense forest in south-central Montana's Paradise Valley. It has a long history of small-scale mining.

The results of the exploration work would guide the company's future plans for commercial-scale mining.

Environmental groups sued over the project last year on behalf of local residents, who are concerned mining could reduce tourism and pollute the nearby Yellowstone River.

State Judge Brenda R. Gilbert agreed with the environmentalists that state officials gave too much deference to the company in considering the project and ignored evidence that water supplies could be damaged.

The agency also should have looked more closely at the project's impacts on grizzly bears and wolverines and considered the broader implications if Lucky Minerals expands onto federal lands, Gilbert said.




The Supreme Court is putting limits on the ability of police to search vehicles when they do not have a search warrant.

The court sided 8-1 Tuesday with a Virginia man who complained that police walked onto his driveway and pulled back a tarp covering his motorcycle, which turned out to be stolen. They acted without a warrant, relying on a line of Supreme Court cases generally allowing police to search a vehicle without a warrant.

The justices said the automobile exception does not apply when searching vehicles parked adjacent to a home.

The court ruled in the case of Ryan Collins, who was arrested at the home of his girlfriend in Charlottesville, Virginia. Collins had twice eluded police in high-speed chases in which he rode an orange and black motorcycle.

The authorities used Collins' Facebook page to eventually track the motorcycle to his girlfriend's home.

Collins argued that police improperly entered private property uninvited and without a warrant.

Virginia's Supreme Court said the case involved what the Supreme Court has called the "automobile exception," which generally allows police to search a vehicle without a warrant if they believe the vehicle contains contraband.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said for the court Tuesday that the state court was wrong. Sotomayor said that constitutional protections for a person's home and the area surrounding it, the curtilage, outweigh the police interest in conducting a vehicle search without a warrant.


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