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The high court of a nation appealed straight to the people on Wednesday. Defending a ruling that could allow Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to face charges, thus barring him from seeking office, Mexico’s Supreme Court took out full-page newspaper ads explaining itself and “categorically express[ing] its general confidence” in the judicial system. Lopez Obrador, a potential 2006 Presidential candidate, calls the ruling a political maneuver against him … You don’t actually have to possess an illegal drug in order to be convicted. Or so says the South Dakota Supreme Court, which ruled Thursday in the case of a man appealing the marijuana possession part of a larger drug-related conviction. He said the pot on the dresser of the home he shared with his girlfriend and in her purse wasn’t his, but the justices said that was close enough to count … Mutual fund company Strong Capital Management Co. on Thursday agreed to a $175 million settlement resolving securities fraud charges. It’s far from the only settlement in this year of mutual fund industry investigations. But it may be the only one so far to cost a single executive a cool $60 million — the amount to be paid personally by owner Richard Strong — and to produce a public apology despite the risk of opening the firm up to civil litigation down the road … If a law firm represents gambling operations, is it a little dicey to hire that firm to write gambling legislation? Texas lottery officials and the state AG apparently didn’t think so — they paid the Las Vegas firm of Lionel, Sawyer and Collins some $250,000 to draft a constitutional amendment allowing up to 40,000 video slot machines at racetracks and Indian reservations. One state senator said it doesn’t “pass the smell test” — but so far, Lady Luck has no comment. – Lydia Markoff

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