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In a major setback to the state investigation of lane closings at the George Washington Bridge, a New Jersey judge has ruled that two former top aides to Gov. Chris Christie do not have to comply with subpoenas to turn over emails and other documents. In a 99-page ruling, Judge Mary C. Jacobson of State Superior Court in Mercer County criticized the subpoenas as "a fishing expedition" by the Democratic-led state Legislature, which is investigating why Christie's allies closed two of three access lanes to the bridge last September - and whether or not the governor knew about it. Jacobson agreed with lawyers for the two aides, Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Stepien, saying the subpoenas "clearly violate" federal and state protections against self-incrimination and unlawful search and seizure. And she disagreed with lawyers for the legislative committee who had argued that Kelly and Stepien were required, as public employees, to turn over their records. "The fundamental problem with the subpoenas is that they are overbroad," she wrote.

British culture secretary resigns

Britain's culture secretary resigned from the Cabinet on Wednesday after angering colleagues by making only a brief, 32-second public apology over her handling of an investigation into her parliamentary expenses, which she was forced to repay. An official inquiry found that she had wrongfully claimed about $9,700 in living expenses. In a letter released by the prime minister's office, the culture secretary, Maria Miller, said it had become clear "that the present situation has become a distraction from the vital work this government is doing to turn our country around." Miller's resignation came hours before Prime Minister David Cameron was to answer questions in Parliament, which would most likely have been dominated by the controversy. In her letter, Miller said she would remain a member of Parliament and thanked Cameron for his support.

Times wires