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A Missouri man at the heart of a state Supreme Court case that overturned what critics called modern-day debtors’ prisons is back in jail and suing the local officials who put him there.

Warrensburg resident George Richey, 65, is one of two Missouri men who sued over boarding costs for time spent in county jails, which are commonly referred to as board bills.

Richey spent 65 days in jail in 2016 for not paying past board bills. Supreme Court judges last year unanimously sided with him, writing in an opinion that while inmates are responsible for those costs, “if such responsibilities fall delinquent, the debts cannot be taxed as court costs and the failure to pay that debt cannot result in another incarceration.”

The nonprofit legal defense organization ArchCity Defenders on Tuesday sued St. Clair County and Associate Circuit County Judge Jerry Rellihan on behalf of Richey for the harm caused by his unlawful imprisonment.

Richey’s lawyers wrote in a Tuesday court filing that the time he spent in jail meant he lost “his home, all of his personal belongings, and lived in constant fear of arrest for the past four years.”

“I have the clothes on my back, but that’s it. This has caused me to lose everything,” Richey said in a statement. “I’m not the only one these counties are picking on, and I’m taking a stand because these crooked practices can’t continue.”

Associated Press requests for comment to St. Clair County officials were not immediately returned Wednesday.

Richey’s lawyers also argued that the judge retaliated against him for taking his board bill case to the Supreme Court.

Three months after the high court’s ruling, Rellihan sentenced Richey to more than two years in county jail for probation violations and misdemeanor counts of assault, trespassing and disturbing the peace.



A Spanish court has raised the sentence against a former bank president found guilty of trying to smuggle a painting by Pablo Picasso out of the country.

The Madrid court announced the decision Tuesday to raise the sentence against fined ex-Bankinter head Jaime Botin to three years instead of 18 months. The move came after the prosecution detected an error in the original sentence handed down last month.

The court also raised the amount Botin was fined from 52.4 million euros ($57. 9 million) to 91.7 million euros.

The trial last year heard how a team of Spanish police experts flew to the French island of Corsica in 2015 to retrieve the painting, Picasso’s masterpiece “Head of a Young Woman.” The Spanish government had ruled in 2012 that the painting, which is valued at some 24 million euros ($26.5 million), could not be taken out of the country.

The work was owned by Botin, an uncle of Ana Botin, president of the powerful Santander banking group.

Corsican authorities said they had been tipped off about an attempted smuggling of the prized painting from Spain by boat. They said the oil painting, which comes from the Cubist master’s “pink period” and features a woman with long black hair, was seized when the boat’s captain was unable to produce a proper certificate.

On the boat, authorities found a document in Spanish confirming that the work was of “cultural interest” and was banned from leaving Spain, Picasso’s homeland, without permission.




The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday reprimanded a part-time Wood County circuit court commissioner for not removing himself from hearing a case involving an attorney who was a personal friend.

The court reprimanded part-time commissioner Kenneth Gorski after agreeing with the Wisconsin Judicial Commission's determination that Gorski had willfully violated several rules of the judicial conduct code. Gorski works about two afternoons a month as a part-time circuit court commissioner, a job he started in 2014.

The complaint stems from a small claims case that Gorski should have recused himself from because he was personal friends for more than 20 years with the attorney, the Supreme Court said. They went on four overseas vacations together between 2015 and 2018 as well as frequent overnight golfing trips, the Supreme Court said.

During the trial, Gorski lost his temper with the defendant who was opposed by his attorney friend, groaning in anger and making sarcastic comments, the Supreme Court said.



A motorcyclist cited for turning his license plate upside down because he thought “it was cool” has lost another bid to rescind a traffic ticket he received.

In a ruling issued Tuesday, a state appellate court determined that the ticket and the $139 penalty Scott DiRoma received in municipal court were both justified. The ruling upheld a decision issued by a Somerset County judge.

DiRoma was driving his motorcycle in Warren Township in June 2018 when he was stopped by a police officer who noticed his license plate was mounted upside down. DiRoma told the officer he liked the way the plate looked and “wanted to be different,” authorities have said.

A municipal court judge eventually imposed a $106 fine and $33 in court costs after DiRoma was found guilty of violating a state law mandating that license plates be kept clear and distinct.

DiRoma appealed that decision, arguing that the law doesn't prohibit an upside-down license plate on a motorcycle because lawmakers drew a distinction between motorcycle and automobile plates. He also claimed the law is unconstitutionally vague.

The county judge, though, found that lawmakers did not intend for drivers to mount their license plates upside down because it would impact law enforcement's ability to protect the public on roadways.

In rejecting DiRoma's claims, the appellate court ruled an upside-down plate on any type of vehicle causes the reader to view characters in reverse order, which would lead to confusion, doubt, and mistake. That would clearly impede law enforcement’s ability to perform its duties, the judges wrote.



The rapper Afroman famously sang about how getting high on marijuana prevented him from going to court. A Tennessee man decided to combine the two when he lit a marijuana cigarette in the courtroom, authorities said.

Spencer Alan Boston, 20, was arrested Monday and charged with disorderly conduct and simple possession after sparking up in the courtroom, news outlets reported.

Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan said Boston was in court Monday on a simple drug possession charge. Boston approached the bench to discuss his sentence but instead expressed his views on legalizing marijuana.

Boston reached in his pocket, pulled out a marijuana cigarette, lit it, smoked it and was immediately taken into custody, Bryan said.

Sheriff’s Office Lt. Scott Moore said the courtroom crowd chuckled. It’s unclear whether Boston lit up a joint or a blunt but Bryan said the defendant’s marijuana did have a strong odor.


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