Monday Morning Memo for January 2, 2017

Future trials for ex-Sheriff Lee Baca still up in the air
A jail corruption scandal that has dogged the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department since 2011 failed to go away completely by the end of 2016, as federal prosecutors still must decide if they’ll retry former Sheriff Lee Baca on obstruction and conspiracy charges as well as move forward with another charge against him. 
Accused killer Robert Durst poses ‘ever-present danger’ to witnesses, prosecutors allege
New York real estate scion Robert Durst, who is accused of killing a friend in Benedict Canyon in 2000, still presents a threat to witnesses in the pending murder case, prosecutors contended in court papers filed Thursday, despite defense arguments that Durst is jailed and too old and frail to be a danger to anyone.
Alexa a witness to murder? Prosecutors seek Amazon Echo data
Authorities investigating the death of an Arkansas man whose body was found in a hot tub want to expand the probe to include a new kind of evidence: any comments overheard by the suspect’s Amazon Echo smart speaker. Amazon said it objects to “overbroad” requests as a matter of practice, but prosecutors insist their idea is rooted in a legal precedent that’s “as old as Methuselah.”
Law Enforcement
Violent crime in L.A. jumps for third straight year as police deal with gang, homeless issues
Violent crime increased in Los Angeles for the third straight year as police tried to stem a rash of homicides and gang-related shootings while dealing with a growing homeless population. With more than 290 people killed in the city this year, homicides also rose for the third year in a row.
LAPD criminalist alleges department squashed evidence against officer in love-triangle murder
An LAPD criminalist who alleges the department deliberately overlooked evidence that linked a detective to the 1986 killing of a nurse says in new court papers that she did not come forward immediately because she feared the consequences.
Court rejects city of Burbank’s appeal in racial discrimination case against police detective
A state appellate court rejected the city of Burbank’s challenge to a 2012 jury verdict that awarded $150,000 to an Armenian-American police detective who said he’d suffered racial discrimination and harassment while on the job.
Why some problem cops don’t lose their badges
Gary Allen Steele fired a gun near his former girlfriend during an argument. Donald Snider harassed a minor. Claudia Wright faced forgery charges. Frank Garcia was accused of shooting out his window while driving drunk. All pleaded guilty to crimes or left jobs to avoid prosecution. All were police officers at the time of their alleged misconduct. All still are.
Sheriff’s watchdog calls for review after fatal Christmas Eve shooting of mentally ill man
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s approach to policing mentally ill people should be examined by the county’s newly-formed Civilian Oversight Commission, a member of that commission said Wednesday. “It very much will be on the agenda,” said attorney Hernan Vera, was appointed to the new watchdog panel by L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis.
Weird threats against City Council members? LAPD probing
The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed Friday it is investigating a potential threat against several City Council members and a security breach at City Hall. The investigation began after a serrated, metal cutting tool was found in the council chamber sitting on top of an agenda form with some of the council members’ names underlined, and with dates written next to them.
Black Lives Matter activist hit with restraining order from L.A. Police Commissioner
The president of the Los Angeles Police Commission has filed a request for a temporary restraining order against a prominent member of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, alleging a pattern of stalking and violent threats. According to the order, the commission president feared for his life and the safety of his family.
New SFPD chief may already have fight on his hands with police union
The unveiling of San Francisco’s next police chief, veteran Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief William Scott, was a occasion of celebration at City Hall on Tuesday. A beaming Mayor Ed Lee announced to reporters who will lead the troubled department, and flanking the mayor were The City’s law enforcement leaders, from the department’s command staff to the district attorney and sheriff.
eBay fake police badges and ID endanger the public
It is shocking that eBay would engage in a particularly serious threat to national security, consumer safety and public confidence by making fake FBI, ATF, and a variety of other replica federal and police badges and counterfeit identification available to terrorists, child predators and other criminals.
Body camera video shows Phoenix police shootout
The Phoenix Police Department released video Thursday of a shootout with a murder suspect near 37th Avenue and McDowell Road in May. Francis Clark was shot and killed after opening fire on two Phoenix Police officers who were investigating a report of shots fired. Those shots, police later said, were from Clark shooting and killing his girlfriend, Mercy Cordova.
64 officers shot and killed in 2016, 21 ambushed
Law enforcement fatalities nationwide rose to their highest level in five years in 2016, with 135 officers killed in the line of duty, according to preliminary data compiled and released today by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) in their 2016 Law Enforcement Fatalities Report.
Local law enforcement has used social media monitoring software
Last year, a teenager threatened on Twitter to “shoot up” Camarillo High School, authorities say. Using Geofeedia, a social media monitoring platform, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said this month it was able to determine the identity of the 17-year-old girl and arrest her before the start of the school day.
What to do if you are arrested with marijuana in California
When it comes to what is legal (and what is illegal) in California concerning the possession, growth, and usage of marijuana, many people are confused. The fact is you can be arrested in California for possession of marijuana. Thousands of people are arrested every year for having, selling, sharing, and using marijuana.
The politics of shooting at moving cars
It seems to be the “go to” use of force policy change for 2016.  Agency Policy across the country has been modified this year to prohibit police from shooting at moving vehicles. On the surface it seems to be a smart move but nothing is as simple as that and in law enforcement, rarely is anything black or white. The idea did not come out of nowhere.
Prop 47
Proposition 47 is failing, and the reason why is clear
In their laudable effort to reverse mass incarceration, California policymakers have been too slow to provide felons with necessary care and treatment upon their release. That’s among the conclusions to be gleaned from an important reporting project by newspapers in Palm Springs, Ventura, Salinas and Redding analyzing Proposition 47, the 2014 initiative that cut penalties for drug possession and property theft, and reduced many crimes to misdemeanors.
Editorial: California comes up short on Prop 47 promise
Proposition 47 perfectly illustrates the promise and danger of direct democracy in California. It has lifted the burden of a felony record from tens of thousands of the state’s residents, freeing them to pursue jobs and lives that had been unattainable. It has helped relieve overcrowded conditions in prisons, and it has – though only in theory so far – set aside millions of dollars for rehabilitation.
County Government
State owes counties millions in sex offender legal costs
California must reimburse its counties for the legal costs involved in determining whether sex offenders who have completed their prison terms should be sent to mental hospitals, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday. A lawyer for local governments said the statewide cost would be about $25 million a year for the reimbursements, which the state stopped paying in July 2013.
L.A. County’s district attorney faces a big decision
Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey has drawn fierce criticism from some black activists for not prosecuting police officers in controversial shootings. Now Lacey, the county’s first black district attorney, faces intense pressure as she decides whether to file charges in two high-profile killings of black men by police, including one in which LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has publicly urged her to prosecute the officer who shot an unarmed man in the back near the Venice boardwalk last year.
CA cop killers no longer eligible for early release
California offenders will no longer be eligible for early release if they have been convicted of murder in the death of a police officer. Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed legislation that exempts offenders from consideration for compassionate or medical release, the Los Angeles Times reports.
New laws go into effect in new year
While the election of Donald Trump to the presidency has coincided with a national drift to conservative lawmaking and policy, California continued to be a bastion of progressive legislation, passing laws this year including gun control, environmental protection and increases in the minimum wage.
AM Alert: A roundup of California laws that won’t take effect Jan. 1
While Californians ring in the New Year and toast the end of 2016, a handful of new laws touching everything from mascot names to minimum wage to assault weapons will begin to kick in. But today, we bring you laws the Legislature passed last year that won’t take effect for at least a couple more months.
(More) New Calif. laws for 2017: Booze at the barber shop, tougher punishment for sex crimes, restroom changes, bullet button
California lawmakers are continually proposing and amending legislation in the Golden State. It’s no wonder it’s hard to keep track of what’s on the books now and what’s to come. To help make your life easier as we head into 2017, here are several new laws that take effect in the New Year, coming in the form of new laws or changes to current law.
Teens’ view of pot changed in one state after legalization
After marijuana was legalized for adults in the U.S. state of Washington, younger teens there perceived it to be less harmful and reported using it more, a new study found. States should consider developing evidence-based prevention programs aimed at adolescents before they legalize the recreational use of marijuana, the researchers say.
California gun sales surge to beat new gun control limits
With a little extra money on hand after holiday shopping, Steven Serna came into Pacific Outfitters sporting goods store in Ukiah on Dec. 21 to buy a semiautomatic rifle before new gun control legislation limits the gun’s features in California. He was out of luck. Rifles with bullet buttons for the quick swap of ammunition magazines and other soon-to-be banned features have been flying off the shelves, driving statewide sales up 40 percent by early December.
Why California’s new gun laws deserve contempt
The arrival in 2017 of a raft of new gun control laws in California won’t amount to much, except more hassles for gun dealers and the law-abiding few. Yes, “few.” When buying a handgun, rifle or shotgun, the vast majority of people naturally will follow the law. The cost of noncompliance is too high, and the inconvenience is too great.
DMV licensed 800,000 undocumented immigrants under 2-year-old law
On the day that California officials implemented a controversial law that allows undocumented residents to obtain driver’s licenses, DMV offices throughout the state were packed with immigrants looking to take advantage of the opportunity. Two years after the implementation of AB 60 on Jan. 1, 2015, an estimated 806,000 undocumented residents have received driver’s licenses, according to Department of Motor Vehicles statistics this month.
Court says two crimes, but only one punishment in carjacking case
Someone who forcefully steals a car can be punished for either carjacking or robbery but not for both, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday. The ruling in a San Diego case gave a broad interpretation to a California law that allows criminal defendants to be convicted of multiple crimes for a single act but to be punished for only one of them, the one that carries the longest sentence.
Decision on attorney-client privilege spooks defense bar
A closely divided California Supreme Court on Thursday limited the protection afforded to legal bills under the attorney-client privilege when those bills are sent to government entities and sought under the state’s Public Records Act. The court ruled 4-3 that a law firm’s invoices to a government agency are exempt from disclosure only when they pertain to active matters.
Governor Brown appoints six to Los Angeles County Superior Court
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced the appointment of Firdaus F. Dordi, Mark H. Epstein, Ruben N. Garcia, Gary I. Micon, Kevin S. Rosenberg and P. Tamu Usher to judgeships in the Los Angeles County Superior Court.The compensation for each of these positions is $191,612.
When city retirement pays better than the job
James Mussenden doesn’t bring up his pension in casual conversation. No point getting his golf partners’ blood boiling. The retired city manager of El Monte collects more than $216,000 a year, plus cost-of-living increases and fully paid health insurance. “It’s giving me an opportunity to do a number of things I didn’t get to do when I was younger, like travel to Europe, take some things off my bucket list,” Mussenden, 66, said recently.
Fitzgerald: Will pensions bankrupt Stockton again?
I apologize if this sounds apocalyptic, but the city of Stockton may go bankrupt again. How likely is a “Chapter 18?” What’s on the horizon is cause for very serious concern. And the culprit, to the surprise of no one, is pensions. Pensions for Stockton’s 1,455 city employees remain a huge problem. So does the giant that (mis)manages pensions, the California Public Employee Retirement System. Which I sometimes call Hogzilla.
Other News
More worries for Porter Ranch residents
As he jogged by the Aliso Canyon gas facility, Dave Anton took the latest report of methane in the air in stride. The Porter Ranch resident says he “was kinda surprised that there was still gas leaking but it didn’t seem like that a major of a deal.” What Dave Anton is the incident filed with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. It says that at 7:45AM the morning of Christmas Eve infrared cameras detected what they call a “slight and intermittent observation of methane” released.
Specter of death penalty delay troubles Inland survivors
When California voters approved Prop. 66 in November, limiting the amount of time to complete automatic death penalty appeals to five years, Becky Evans had hope that her family would not suffer the decades-long waits for sentences to be carried out that some other families have endured. Evans’ uncle, Good Hope resident Lupe Delgadillo, 85, was carjacked, stuffed in his trunk, shot and his body dumped in 2008.
Misleading pricing and false advertising: A new trend in retail
Retailers that advertise sale prices in comparison with regular prices in California should ensure that the products were actually offered for purchase at those regular prices within the preceding three months, in order to avoid potential litigation. Los Angeles prosecutors have initiated lawsuits against J.C. Penney, Sears, Kohl’s and Macy’s for allegedly failing to do so, accusing them of misleading shoppers into believing they were buying items at more significant mark downs than they actually did.
Expose snitch truth to fix justice system
Governments are fundamentally entrusted with the responsibility to protect the rights of individuals, developing and upholding the rule of law for the betterment of the public at large. When rights are infringed upon, and the rule of law is twisted, justice goes unserved. Orange County’s criminal justice system has had its share of unfortunate transgressions in recent years, calling into question, yet again, its veracity.
U.S. Customs now asking foreign visitors for their social-media info upon entering country
Customs officials have begun asking foreign visitors for their social media usernames before entering the country, quietly implementing a security measure that was hotly contested by privacy advocates and the tech sector alike when proposed earlier this year. 
Presidential Transition
Executions may restart under Donald Trump
The Obama administration’s halt on federal executions – a move spurred by concerns over botched lethal injections – could swiftly end in the incoming Trump administration, leading to the first federal executions in more than a decade. The current effective moratorium affects the 62 inmates now on federal death row, including convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Gary Lee Sampson, the confessed serial killer from Abington whose sentencing retrial is underway in Boston after his initial death sentence was thrown out due to jury misconduct.
If feds try to ID deportable immigrants using California data, state will block access
Ever since Maribel Solache began teaching her own version of driver’s ed in Spanish two years ago, the classes – held around San Diego County – have been jammed. But lately, apprehension has smothered that enthusiasm. “More people come with fear. They say ‘what is going to happen to my information?’ ” she said. “I tell them they have to get (their driver licenses) before January 20. Before Donald Trump.” Her students are undocumented immigrants.
Trump presidency may dampen immigrants’ driver’s license requests
More than 800,000 people have received California driver’s licenses in the past two years under a 2-year-old law that allows people living in the country without documentation to legally drive in the state. But some state lawmakers are worried that immigrants will become leery of revealing their legal status to a government agency once President-elect Donald Trump takes the oath of office. 

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