Monday Morning Memo for May 29, 2017

Prosecution
Prosecutors are pushing back against Sessions order to pursue most severe penalties
A week after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told federal prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” and follow mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, a bipartisan group of prosecutors at the state and local level is expressing concern. Thirty current and former state and local prosecutors have signed an open letter, which was released Friday by the nonprofit Fair and Just Prosecution, a national network working with newly elected prosecutors.
What San Diego might expect under Attorney General Sessions’ new prosecution guidelines
Harsher penalties against drug couriers and immigrant smugglers who cross the border. The scaling back of a diversion program aimed at reforming youthful, first-time offenders. Fewer plea deals and more trials. These are some of the potential effects that attorneys who work in federal courtrooms in San Diego are expecting to see under U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ new orders to prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” in all cases, including drug crimes.
Conviction & Sentencing
Some marijuana convictions go up in smoke with California legalization
Jay Schlauch’s conviction for peddling pot haunted him for nearly a quarter century. The felony prevented him from landing jobs, gave his wife doubts about tying the knot and cast a shadow over his typically sunny outlook on life. So when an opportunity arose to reduce his record to a misdemeanor under the voter-approved law that legalized recreational marijuana last year, Schlauch wasted little time getting to court.
California’s legal pot law helps reduce, erase convictions
Jay Schlauch’s conviction for peddling pot haunted him for nearly a quarter century. The felony prevented him from landing jobs, gave his wife doubts about tying the knot and cast a shadow over his typically sunny outlook on life. So when an opportunity arose to reduce his record to a misdemeanor under California’s voter-approved law that legalized recreational marijuana last year, Schlauch wasted little time getting to court.
Mandatory minimums don’t deserve your ire
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is being tarred as a racist-again-for bringing the law fully to bear on illegal drug traffickers. Mr. Sessions has instructed federal prosecutors to disclose in court the actual amount of drugs that trafficking defendants possessed at the time of arrest. That disclosure will trigger the mandatory penalties set by Congress for large-scale dealers.
Legislation
House passes bill targeting shootings of police
The House approved legislation Thursday that makes killing a state or local police officer an aggravating factor that juries and judges would consider in death penalty cases. Under current law, killing a federal law enforcement officer is already an aggravating factor in death penalty deliberations. The bill’s supporters say it’s important to apply that standard to the murder of state and local law enforcement and other first responders, too, because it sends a message of accountability.
Lawmakers should think carefully before leashing ‘The Dog’
Crime in California is on the rise and the solution offered by Sacramento is … releasing suspected criminals back into the community without requiring them to post bail? Assembly Bill 42 would, if passed and signed, authorize the pretrial release of an “arrested person,” and “set a time and place for the appearance of the arrested person before the appropriate court and give notice thereof” without the “arrested person” guaranteeing his or her appearance with a surety bond.
Ending California’s bail program would be disastrous
State Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, and Assemblymen Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, introduced Senate Bill 10 and Assembly Bill 42, which would end California’s bail system, thus automatically releasing hundreds of thousands of defendants into our streets. To add insult to injury, the legislation provides no incentive for them to appear in court and be held accountable for their actions.
Is bigger better for number of state legislators, county supervisors? Thomas Elias
Bigger, California has learned through long experience, isn’t always better. In fact, it can be downright destructive, as when a city outgrows its water or freeway system. The question of whether bigger can actually be better, more responsive and cost-effective arises again this spring, in a pair of proposals that could fundamentally change politics both statewide and in California’s largest county.
California Assembly Democrats launch progressive caucus
Riding a wave of activism in state politics, nearly two dozen Assembly Democrats have formed a progressive caucus to prop up the party’s left flank in the Legislature. The formation of the group, which held a private audience with hip-hop star Common during last weekend’s California Democratic Party convention, speaks to the ideological fissures that exist within the Democratic supermajority in the Capitol.
District Attorney
South L.A. charter school founder charged with embezzlement, money laundering
The head of a now-defunct South L.A. charter school has been charged with embezzlement and money laundering, accused of funneling roughly $200,000 from the school to a company she owned, prosecutors said Thursday. Kendra Okonkwo, 51, was charged with misappropriation of public funds, grand theft by embezzlement, money laundering and keeping a false account, according to a news release issued by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
Supervisor wants feds to take over Orange County DA’s office
Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer wants the feds to take over the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, alleging misconduct by O.C. District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. Spitzer sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday, requesting that the Department of Justice “intervene immediately in the deepening crisis within the Orange County Attorney’s Office.” The letter outlines numerous concerns and alleges misconduct by Rackauckas.
On CBS’s 60 Minutes, DA Tony Rackauckas tells OC snitch-scandal lies
With the impending 2016 arrival of a CBS 60 Minutes crew digging into one of the nation’s most troubling criminal-justice-system scandals, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas faced four uncomfortable options: one cowardly, one honest but painful, and two deceitful. Rackauckas could refuse interviews and pray the network’s producers lost interest. The four-term, 74-year-old DA could also take the honorable course by coming clean and resigning office.
Poll shows a majority of Contra Costa residents want DA to resign
Troubles continued to mount for Conta Costa County’s embattled District Attorney Tuesday as an exclusive new KPIX 5 poll showed a whopping 70 percent of respondents saying he should resign. A civil grand jury and prosecutors in DA Mark Peterson’s own office have already called for his resignation. Last week, Peterson was officially indicted for misappropriating $66,000 from his campaign, spending the money on travel, hotels, restaurants, and movie tickets.
Prison & Jail
Debate over sex offenders moves to court as California undertakes prison parole overhaul
Los Angeles-based nonprofit is claiming California prison officials have undermined last fall’s ballot measure to overhaul the state’s parole process by excluding sex offenders from consideration for early release. The Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws, which advocates for the rights of those convicted of sex crimes and their families, says the exemption – written into newly released guidelines to implement Proposition 57 – “impermissibly restricts and impairs the scope” of the initiative.
California leads the nation in life sentences. A new bill aims to change that
Twenty-five years after a grieving father’s obsession helped turn his state into one of the strictest on repeat offenders, California leads the nation with the highest percentage of prisoners serving for life. The Sentencing Project released last week a report stating that one in every seven state or federal prisoners across the country are serving life, or virtual life, sentences.
Informant says he was planted in Orange County jail to snitch
Orange County, California-an hour south of Los Angeles-is best known for its wealthy, sprawling suburbs, tony beach communities and Disneyland. But lately, it has drawn unwanted attention from the California attorney general and the U.S. Department of Justice for the way its prosecutors use informants in its jails. Used correctly, informants can be valuable assets to law enforcement to help bolster their cases.
Gun Control
Proof CA democrats prefer criminals over legal gun owners
Thursday, in a move that absolutely defies the slightest semblance of logic, the Democrat controlled California State Senate passed a measure that will lower the sentences for felons who used a gun in the commission of their crimes.  Yes, you read that right.  They are reducing sentences for criminals using guns.  These are the very same Democrats that constantly create and pass stricter and stricter gun control laws, and who constantly scream, cry and whine about how guns are bad.
State releases new assault weapon rules after threat of legal action
Regulations on the ownership and registration of assault weapons in California were released to the public late Thursday after a coalition of Second Amendment proponents threatened legal action against state agencies if the rules were not disclosed. The regulations, which the California Department of Justice initially said might not be released for 30 days, went online late in the afternoon after attorneys for the coalition threatened to go to court to obtain them.
California lawmakers aim to strengthen gun ban in schools
California lawmakers have passed a bill to revoke superintendents’ ability to let people carry guns in a school zone. The California Assembly passed AB424 43-23 Monday, sending the measure to the state Senate. The Legislature initially let superintendents give people permission to carry guns on campus to ensure domestic violence survivors could protect themselves, Assemblyman Kevin McCarty said.
Arizona gun laws in L.A.? It could happen
Californians have a lot on the line in the next congressional debate about America’s gun laws. Two bills stacked with legislative sponsors – HB 38 in the House, SB 446 in the Senate – would override our state’s longstanding rules governing who is allowed to carry a concealed, loaded firearm in public.
Law Enforcement
‘Community member’ term for suspects on Seattle police use of force reports
When Seattle police officers write use of force reports they no longer call a suspect a suspect. “Community member” is the new term. Several officers say the term is offensive, explaining their work with violent suspects. Sources point to the suspect who shot three officers last month after a downtown Seattle armed robbery. When officers involved in that incident were writing their use of force reports they were required to refer to the shooter, Damarius Butts, as a “community member,” not a suspect, police sources said.
Arrest made in hit-and-run crash that left LAPD officer with broken leg
Police have arrested the hit-and-run driver of an SUV they said struck a Los Angeles Police Department motorcycle officer, severely injuring him. “The driver was a juvenile so I can’t give you much information about him,” LAPD Lt. Abe Rangel of the Central Traffic Division. The male juvenile was allegedly spotted leaving the scene by a security guard who was near the crash site, Rangel said. That guard flagged down an officer who went after the driver.
Key figure in L.A. County Sheriff’s Department jail corruption scandal sentenced to nine-month prison term
William “Tom” Carey, once a captain in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department who admitted to obstructing an FBI investigation into county jails and gave federal prosecutors crucial testimony that helped convict disgraced former Sheriff Lee Baca in the scheme, was sentenced to nine months in prison Monday. The punishment was handed down by U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson, who presided over the trials of Baca and eight others found guilty of playing roles in the obstruction plan.
LAPD officer is spared time behind bars in South L.A. assault case caught on video
It was a case that echoed the larger national debate about how police use force: a black man, assaulted by an officer, caught on video. For some, the beating cried out for a stiff punishment.
But on Tuesday, a judge sentenced Garcia to two years of probation, allowing him to avoid jail time as part of a deal with prosecutors that drew criticism for being too lenient.
Deputies sue former high-ranking sheriff’s official and former prosecutor, alleging vendetta
Two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies say they were framed for lying about a drug bust and that prosecutors knowingly withheld evidence that would have spared them a trial, lost wages and public humiliation, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday. The lawsuit names former Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka and former county prosecutor Kevin Stennis, who now serves as a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge.
Inglewood cop killer’s release disturbs family, police officials
A man convicted of killing an Inglewood police sergeant nearly 30 years ago was released from prison on parole Tuesday, dealing a stunning defeat to the officer’s family and colleagues who believe he should never live freely again. Joevone Elster, 51, who masterminded the robbery that resulted in Sgt. George Aguilar’s death, was handed over to Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies Tuesday afternoon, a state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman said.
CrimeBeat: How much trouble will I get in for a gram of heroin?
How much legal trouble will a gram of heroin get me in? First things first: Even a small amount of heroin can be deadly. And if you are caught in possession, it can do lasting damage to your finances and life, be it at work, school or home. As for the level of legal jeopardy if you are busted with a gram, the simple answer from Mike Perry, a Sonoma County chief deputy public defender assigned to the county’s drug court: “Not too much, actually.”
Immigration
Why California must defy Trump on immigration
Here’s what we learned about Ruben Navarrette Jr. from his May 16 column: He thinks we shouldn’t protect hardworking undocumented residents from President Trump’s mass-deportation machine because it is like kicking “white people in the teeth.” Their fear of losing the “white majority” in coming decades has been heightened by the president’s politically expedient portrayal of immigrants as a lawless community.
Politics
Governor’s race heats up among California Democrats
Californians won’t pick their governor until November 2018, but one story line is emerging among the Democrats battling to replace termed-out Gov. Jerry Brown: Because they largely agree on the issues, the race to lead the world’s sixth-largest economy is likely turn more on style and biography. The top four announced candidates for governor have been busy, collectively raising $20 million.
Eric Garcetti isn’t running for president (wink, wink)
Joe Biden’s already been to New Hampshire. Bernie Sanders will be in Iowa in July. Eric Garcetti is headed to Wisconsin. The Los Angeles mayor and his staff like to say his trip to the state Hillary Clinton famously forgot to pay attention to last year – he’ll keynote the state Democratic convention June 2 – is because the former state party finance director is a friend who used to fundraise for him, or that he was just such a hit when he spoke to the Wisconsin delegation during the Democratic convention last year that they invited him for more.
City & County Government
How LA County’s new mental health director hopes to help heal troubled minds
For as long as people who lived in the neighborhood could remember, the bottom floor of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health’s headquarters was surrounded by a chain-link fence, closed off from their view. Then a few months ago, something changed. The fence was pushed away. The space inside cleaned, painted and furnished.
Courts
Big changes recommended for California’s traffic court
The more than 4 million traffic tickets handed out to Californians each year for such infractions as speeding, failing to stop at a red light or failing to signal before changing lanes should no longer be criminal charges, but instead be handled in civil court, says California’s top judge. If other judicial leaders and state lawmakers agree with Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, erring drivers would spend less time in court and would no longer face fines of up to $300, and possible license suspensions, for failing to show up for a hearing.
Judge in mass-murder case claws at SoCal sheriff
Nearly 5½ years after Scott E. DeKraai massacred eight people at an Orange County beauty parlor and four years after DeKraai’s public defender began exposing the jailhouse informant scandal that rocked the county’s criminal justice system, the judge in the case says important information is still being kept from him.
Governor Brown names 23 trial judges, including nine in Los Angeles County
Gov. Jerry Brown yesterday named 23 persons to serve as trial judges, including nine who will sit on the Los Angeles Superior Court. The nine are Fernando L. Aenlle-Rocha, Robert S. Harrison, Sarah J. Heidel, Gus T. May, Rubiya Nur, Nancy A. Ramirez, Lynn H. Scaduto, Neetu S. Badhan-Smith and J. Christopher Smith.
Counterfeit Products
Counterfeit products sold on Amazon hurt small, big businesses alike
When Amazon picked up the Forearm Forklift, the owner, Mark Loprieato, thought his Baldwin Park business would be lifted into the multimillionaires club. But instead of a sales boom, it was a sales bust. Loprieato says his product suddenly started getting bad reviews. So he looked closer at the listings on Amazon and discovered it was not his listing. People were ripping off his product, not one but dozens of fake listings on Amazon using the Forearm Forklift name, logo, even photos.
Amazon and eBay – Perfect marketplaces for counterfeits
Amazon and eBay are proving to be ideal platforms to enable and facilitate the distribution of some $1.7 trillion in global counterfeit goods, expected to grow to $2.8 trillion by 2022. Counterfeiting is profitable, difficult to track and widely unpunished. These benefits are drawing an avalanche of counterfeit listings from both U.S. and global sellers. All sorts of despicable things are involved in counterfeiting; terrorism, child labor exploitation, kidnapping, money laundering and organized crime.

Monday Morning Memo for April 17, 2017

Prosecution
California official, 7 others charged in FBI bid-rigging sting
Federal prosecutors have charged a former high-ranking official in California’s veterans affairs department and seven other people in an investigation of alleged bid rigging on public construction contracts, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Friday. Prosecutors said the investigation that led to the indictment of Eric Worthen, a former assistant deputy secretary in the veterans affairs department, and the seven other defendants was prompted by an earlier probe that ensnared former California state Sen. Leland Yee and San Francisco Chinatown gang tough Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow.
Orange County prosecutor’s cheating gains California State Bar attention
Believing she cheated to win a criminal case, the California State Bar is pursuing disciplinary charges against an Orange County prosecutor, who won her government job after her wealthy businessman father contributed money to county law enforcement officials. Prosecutor Sandra Lee Nassar hid key exculpatory evidence in State of California v. Iacullo “in order to secure strategic trial advantage” for the government, according to the Bar.
Did baby daddy order girlfriend’s hit because she refused abortion?
A man accused of finding someone to shoot his pregnant girlfriend in the head is again on trial, alongside the alleged gunman, as two juries listened to opening statements. Prosecutors said Derek Paul Smyer, 36, had 27-year-old Crystal Taylor killed after she refused to have the abortion he demanded.
Former LA District Attorneys decry charges against man who recorded undercover Planned Parenthood videos
Former Los Angeles County District Attorneys Steve Cooley and Brent Ferreira have joined the legal team supporting David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress, who was recently charged with 15 felonies for recordings made during the process of investigating the abortion giant Planned Parenthood.
LA County sex crimes deputy DA facing felonies in Orange County
Considering the string of accusations against the Orange County District Attorney’s office, it must be a relief that a prosecutor facing charges here works for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. Nicole Lai Nhu Vo, who in LA County specializes in prosecuting sex crimes, including those with child victims, was charged in Orange County on Tuesday with six felony counts: four of filing false tax returns, one of willful failure to file a tax return and another of failing to report capital gains over $328,000 from the sale of a rental property.
Conviction & Sentencing
Alleged serial killer faces death penalty in random SFV shooting spree
The prosecution announced Tuesday that the death penalty will be sought for an ex-con from Sylmar who’s charged with killing five people in the San Fernando Valley in 2014 — four of them within less than a week. Alexander Hernandez, 36, pleaded not guilty to the murders of Sergio Sanchez on March 14, 2014; Gilardo Morales on Aug. 21, 2014; and Gloria Tovar, Michael Planells and Mariana Franco on Aug. 24, 2014, along with the 11 attempted murders — the bulk of which occurred between Aug. 20-24, 2014.
Pasadena man gets 77 years for murdering sister and wounding nephew
A Pasadena man was sentenced to 77 years to life in state prison after he was convicted in the shooting death of his sister in San Gabriel two years ago. The sentence was handed down Thursday by the Los Angeles County Superior Court in Alhambra against Johnny Goins, 32, after he was found guilty of one count each of first-degree murder and willful, premeditated and deliberate attempted murder, and two counts of shooting at an inhabited dwelling.
Former Northern California tribal chair gets death penalty for shooting, stabbing spree
The former head of a Northern California Indian tribe was sentenced to death Monday for a 2014 rampage inside the tribal hall that left four people dead. In sentencing Cherie Louise Rhoades, Judge Candace Beason called the killings at the Cedarville Rancheria Tribal Headquarters “intentional, premeditated and willful.” Beason rejected the option to modify a Placer County jury’s death sentence to life in prison.
Former LA firefighter sentenced in child porn case
An ex-Los Angeles city firefighter was sentenced today to 42 months behind bars for using a peer-to-peer file-sharing program to amass child pornography. Luis Gutierrez, 50, of Chino Hills, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner to pay a $15,000 fine, register for life as a sex offender, serve a lifetime period of supervised release and pay restitution to be determined by the court.
Antelope Valley man sentenced for recording himself sexually abusing 3-month-old
A Littlerock man was sentenced to 35 years to life in state prison for sexually abusing a 3-month-old family member and taking photos and video while doing it, authorities said Wednesday. Robert Dale Schrader, 26, was sentenced Tuesday. He’ll begin serving his state prison sentence after finishing a more than 21-year federal prison sentence for child pornography, said the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Prison, Parole & Bail
Parole expansion under Prop. 57 could hit by summer
A voter-approved measure to reform parole could begin to send more state prison inmates for hearings by summer, according to recently crafted rules at the state. Proposition 57 will also allow certain state prison inmates to earn more credit for good behavior, completing rehabilitation programs and education while inside, according to the rules released last month by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
It’s time to do away with California’s cash bail system
On any given day in California, tens of thousands of people sit in county jail not because of a criminal conviction, but because they can’t afford to leave. Such is the travesty of justice that is the cash bail system. At $50,000, the state’s median bail amount is out of reach for most defendants, who tend to be poor or working class.
How big a new jail does Silicon Valley need?
Faced with soaring costs and a dwindling inmate population, Santa Clara County is rethinking plans to replace one of its rundown Main Jail towers, just as blueprints for a new, $365 million high-rise are about to be drawn up. The county’s decision to consider downsizing the 815-bed tower by up to 300 beds reflects California’s continuing retreat from a tough-on-crime, lock-’em-up mentality to a softer approach, particularly in the Bay Area.
Inspector General’s office raises concerns about medical treatment in County jails
Seven of nine Los Angeles County jail inmates that died in custody during the first three months of 2017 died at a hospital, the Office of Inspector General disclosed Tuesday, raising concerns about medical treatment. “The inspector general has been deeply troubled by some of these deaths, the circumstances surrounding them and the medical treatment that was provided,” Chief Deputy Inspector General Dan Baker told the Board of Supervisors.
Officials unveil controversial guidelines for the release of more inmates to relieve prison overcrowding
California corrections officials on Friday unveiled new regulations that will increase the chances of early release for hundreds of state prison inmates, and expand the credits they earn for demonstrating good behavior and completing rehabilitation programs behind bars.
Immigration
Are the roads really safer since illegals got driver licenses?
The idea behind giving driver licenses to illegal immigrants with the passage of Assembly Bill 60 was to make the roads safer.  Illegals driving without a license or insurance, the argument went, would be less likely to be involved in a  “hit and run.”  And since they’d passed a driver license test, illegals behind the wheel would know the rules of the road and be less likely to get into an accident.
California lawmakers vote for stronger immigrant protections
Lawmakers in the California Assembly have voted to strengthen protections for immigrants in the country illegally who are victims or witnesses of crimes. Lawmakers passed a bill Thursday to prohibit law enforcement from detaining a crime victim or witness for a suspected or actual immigration violation. The bill still requires approval by the state Senate and a signature from the governor.
Is a ‘sanctuary state’ constitutional?
Last Monday, the California Senate passed Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León’s California Values Act, also known as the “sanctuary state” bill. Sen. de León called SB 54 “a rejection of President Trump’s false and cynical portrayal of undocumented residents as a lawless community.” If approved, the law would prohibit state and local law enforcement from using resources at their disposal to enforce immigration laws and would leave enforcement solely to ICE.
LA County leaders will weigh legal defense fund, other measures to help undocumented immigrants
A trio of motions aimed at protecting undocumented immigrants and others threatened with deportation, including putting $1 million into a legal defense fund, are scheduled to be voted on Tuesday by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. City and county officials first proposed the ideas late last year in response to President Donald Trump’s pre-election remarks about deporting people who live in the country illegally.
Police departments say they don’t enforce immigration laws. But their manuals say something different
Like many law enforcement agencies across California, Culver City police say officers don’t enforce federal immigration law. The City Council declared the town a so-called sanctuary city last month, promising to protect the public safety of all city residents, regardless of immigration status. But the Police Department’s manual seems to suggest something different, offering officers guidance on how to stop people suspected of illegally entering the U.S., a misdemeanor under federal law.
ICE halts report of uncooperative agencies
After weeks of pushback alleging inaccuracies, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is suspending its weekly list of law enforcement agencies it claims do not cooperate with requests to detain immigrants living here illegally. Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said his office was advised Monday by ICE Regional Field Office Director Scott Baniecke that they will not publish a Declined Detainer Outcome Report for the week of Feb. 18-24, citing inaccuracies from the previous three weeks — including one Stanek publicly challenged.
LA County leaders will weigh legal defense fund, other measures to help undocumented immigrants
A trio of motions aimed at protecting undocumented immigrants and others threatened with deportation, including putting $1 million into a legal defense fund, are scheduled to be voted on Tuesday by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. City and county officials first proposed the ideas late last year in response to President Donald Trump’s pre-election remarks about deporting people who live in the country illegally.
Law Enforcement
Police: Fatal shooting of Cook County judge may have been attempted robbery
Chicago police say a Cook County judge shot to death Monday morning outside his South Side home might have been the victim of an attempted robbery, though it didn’t appear any possessions were taken from the judge and a woman companion who was wounded. Citing preliminary information, police said the woman, 52, encountered the gunman by the garage of the two-story brick home in the 9400 block of South Forest Avenue around 4:50 a.m.
Officer who forcibly removed passenger from United Airlines flight placed on leave
One of the officers involved in forcibly removing and dragging a passenger from an overbooked United Airlines flight was placed on leave Monday. “The incident on United flight 3411 was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure and the actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned by the Department,” a spokesperson for the Chicago Department of Aviation told TIME.
Cops’ side of story about viral United passenger removal video gets even weirder
By now, most have seen the viral video of a United Airlines passenger being forcibly removed by police from an overbooked flight at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Videos of the incident hit social media almost immediately and the story then spread like wildfire. It just looked bad. LawNewz’s own Elura Nanos even suggested the man may have a viable legal claim against the airline over its conduct and handling of the situation.
Legal marijuana ends at airport security, even if it’s rarely stopped
People in 29 states can legally use medical marijuana for a variety of problems, including the relief of pain, anxiety or stress. But what if they want to travel with it? Secure airport areas beyond the Transportation Security Administration checkpoints are under federal control, and the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 (most harmful) substance, even in states where it is legal for adults to consume it.
DOJ, FBI officials say there’s been a surge in teenage hackers
A proliferation of cheap, easy-to-use hacking tools on the dark web is causing an increasing number of U.S. teenagers to commit computer crimes, according to FBI and Justice Department officials. Government lawyers are seeing such a noticeable spike in adolescent cases that it reminds some of the late 1990s, when the term “script kiddies” was first coined.
Cops, deputies are illegal gun merchants? ATF fed fears
The head of the ATF’s office in Los Angeles has sent a memo to Southern California police chiefs and sheriffs saying the agency has found law enforcement officers buying and reselling guns in what could be a violation of federal firearms laws, it was reported Thursday.
Amazon ignores complaints, counterfeit sales scams continue
It’s a simple scam, take a low capacity computer memory card costing a few cents and reprint it with a higher capacity label and a globally recognized trademark. Sell the items on Amazon as authentic for up to $100.00 or more. It’s no bigger than your fingernail, but this tiny replaceable memory card holds your data, photos and contacts in your phone, camera, iPad, tablet, laptop and GPS.
Ingredients for better LE outcomes
In another effort to provide new guidelines on law enforcement’s use of force, the National Consensus Policy on Use of Force (NCP) was recently released by 11 major law enforcement leadership organizations. These policies are set out as a template for agencies for comparison with current policies and improve upon them. We welcome their contribution to the debate over use of force, as they are a drastic improvement over the nonsensical policies put forth in 2016 by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) without any input from rank-and-file peace officers.
Sheriff’s deputy won’t be charged in domestic violence case but remains on leave as department probes video
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy at the center of controversy after a YouTube video showed him inside his patrol car ignoring a shooting call won’t face charges in a separate incident in which he was accused of domestic violence. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office declined to prosecute Deputy Jeremy Joseph Fennell in the Jan. 25 domestic violence arrest, citing insufficient evidence of a crime.
Three former LASD officers see cruelty case postponed
Three former sworn officers of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department charged last year with cruelty to a prisoner at the Pitchess Detention Center had their cases postponed until June. The accused men are: James Hawkins, 35; David J. Moser and 62-year-old Rex Taylor, now retired. Among other actions they are accused of, the three are alleged to allowed an inmate “to defecate while naked and skit in his own feces for an extended period of time without just cause.”
California police unions push bill on public disclosure in use-of-force cases
California law enforcement unions are pushing a new law they say will increase public disclosure in cases involving police use of force, but the ACLU says the effort does little to peel back the curtain into police investigations of their own conduct. “I’m glad to see they are recognizing how important transparency is to the community,” said Lizzie Buchen, a legislative advocate for ACLU of California.
Woman, 74, sues after sting and tough questioning over moon rock
A 74-year-old woman can sue a federal agent who held her for up to two hours, in urine-soaked pants, while he questioned her about a tiny piece of moon rock she has said her late husband received as a gift from astronaut Neil Armstrong, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday. The agent who interrogated Joann Davis, as she stood in a restaurant parking lot, argued that his actions were justified because lunar material from the space program is government property that a private citizen cannot legally possess.
Legislation
California is making it easier to start a pot business
Gov. Jerry Brown revealed a proposal last week to simplify statewide rules that govern medical and recreational marijuana sales and production, in anticipation of the launch of the recreational cannabis industry in California in 2018. The proposal, if approved by the Legislature, would make it easier to start a pot business in the Golden State.
How bail reform could affect Shasta County
Bills moving through the state Legislature would radically transform the bail system, effectively eliminating bail requirements for all but those accused of the most serious crimes. They’re being championed by state Democrats and civil rights groups, though local law enforcement leaders said it furthers strips accountability of those accused of crimes. One owner of a local bail bonds business said the legislation would decimate her industry.
Return to three strikes? Aliso Viejo’s mayor letter to the city
Aliso Viejo’s Mayor David C. Harrington writes this month on law and order in California. This is Mayor Harrington’s opinion on AB-109, Proposition 47 and Proposition 57. Three laws, relating to public safety and what it takes to be labeled a criminal in California. Do you agree or disagree?
Bill targets sex trafficking in California
Assemblymember Brian Maienschein is asking fellow lawmakers to give expanded powers to state and local governments. He wants to expand their authority to sue people who are caught paying for sex and to sue the pimps who are enabling the crime. Assembly Bill 1495 is designed to focus attention on those creating the crime, not the victims of sex traffickers.
County Government
Judge refuses to dismiss dozens of criminal charges against former Los Angeles County assessor
A judge refused Monday to dismiss more than a dozen counts of misappropriation of funds against former Los Angeles County assessor John Noguez and his two co-defendants. The motion was filed by defense attorney Vicki Podberesky on behalf of her client, Mark McNeil, 59, once one of Noguez’ chief appraisers, and joined by attorneys for Noguez, 52, and tax agent Ramin Salari, 54.
Courts
Gorsuch sworn in as Supreme Court justice ahead of key cases
Justice Neil Gorsuch, vowing to be a “faithful servant” to the Constitution, was sworn in Monday to the Supreme Court, capping a grueling confirmation process and filling the seat once held by the late Antonin Scalia. The latest addition to the court was sworn in at a public ceremony in the Rose Garden. Justice Anthony Kennedy – Gorsuch’s former boss – administered the Judicial Oath, the second of two Gorsuch took.
State Supreme Court to review law eliminating pension benefit
The state Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to review the legality of 2013 legislation, challenged by labor unions, that eliminated a pension benefit for hundreds of thousands of state and local government employees in California. The justices voted unanimously to grant a hearing to the unions and decide whether the law violated the rights of employees to the pension benefits that were available when they were hired.
U.S. Supreme Court ruling on police provocation could impact Olango lawsuit
Even though a police officer might ultimately be justified in shooting a person during a confrontation, can the officer still be held liable if he was found to have recklessly or intentionally provoked the violent encounter in the first place? It’s a question the U.S. Supreme Court is considering in a Los Angeles-area case, and one that lawyers for El Cajon police say may have bearing on the lawsuit involving the fatal police shooting of Alfred Olango.
CA Supreme Court refuses to hear case against woman convicted of murdering LAPD training officer’s mom
The California Supreme Court refused Wednesday to review the case of a woman convicted of the robbery-motivated shooting death of her 79-year-old aunt, who was the mother of a Los Angeles Police Department training officer. Barbara Jean Davenport was found guilty in September 2015 of first- degree murder and robbery for the June 2, 2012, killing of her aunt. Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegation that Cleo Hughes was murdered during the commission of a robbery.
Compton mayoral candidate wants criminal trial delayed
Compton mayoral candidate Omar Bradley on Wednesday asked a judge to postpone a retrial on charges he misappropriated public funds during his previous time in the mayor’s office should he prevail in next week’s primary election or advance to this summer’s general election. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George Lomeli told Bradley he is inclined to move his case to another court because of a backlog of cases in his courtroom on the 9th floor of the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center.
Courthouse News
Man convicted of killing girlfriend on San Fernando Valley freeway loses appeal
A state appeals court panel Thursday upheld a former North Hollywood resident’s conviction for the August 2013 death of his girlfriend, who was stabbed in a moving car and then run over by several vehicles after jumping out of it on the 210 Freeway in Sylmar. The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal found there was “overwhelming evidence” of Ricardo Jimenez’s guilt in the Aug. 29, 2013, death of Maria “Josie” Jimenez, to whom he was not related.
Pensions
California cities’ pension tab seen almost doubling in 5 years
California cities and counties will see their required contributions to the largest U.S. pension fund almost double in five years, according to an analysis by the California Policy Center. In the fiscal year beginning in July, local payments to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System will total $5.3 billion and rise to $9.8 billion in fiscal 2023, according to the right-leaning group that examines public pensions.
Appeals court vindicates San Diego’s 2012 pension cutbacks
A state appeals court on Tuesday vindicated San Diego’s five-year-old aggressive pension cutbacks, potentially saving the city millions it could have been forced to spend creating retroactive pensions for more than 3,000 workers hired since 2012. California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal unanimously overturned a 2015 state labor board ruling that said the cutbacks were illegal because of then-Mayor Jerry Sanders’ involvement in the successful citizens’ initiative that made the changes.

Monday Morning Memo for April 10, 2017

Prosecution
Prosecutors toss out case against standoff suspect accused of assault
Prosecutors, citing a lack of evidence, have tossed out the case against a 47-year-old man accused of threatening his family with a shotgun and sparking a five-hour standoff with local sheriff’s deputies. Marc Spitzer was arrested Sunday on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, namely a firearm. On Friday, prosecutors revealed they have dropped the criminal case against him. 
Judge rejects Roman Polanski’s bid to end sex abuse case
A Los Angeles judge on Monday rejected Roman Polanski’s bid to end his long-running underage sex abuse case without the fugitive director appearing in court or being sentenced to more prison time. Superior Court Judge Scott M. Gordon refused to address how Polanski would be sentenced if he returned to the U.S. after 40 years abroad. He noted that other courts, including a California appellate court, have ruled that the Oscar winner is a fugitive and must return to Los Angeles for sentencing.
Ex-deputies plead to lesser charge in pursuit beating case
Two former California sheriff’s deputies pleaded no contest Monday to charges of disturbing the peace in a deal to avoid a retrial in connection with the televised beating of a man who tried to escape from authorities on horseback. The plea came days after a jury deadlocked while deliberating assault charges against former San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies Michael Phelps and Nicholas Downey.
Conviction & Sentencing
Jury deadlocks on murder charge in crash that killed LAPD officer
A man was found guilty Monday of two counts of assault on a peace officer and one count of leaving the scene of a Harbor City crash that killed a Los Angeles police officer and seriously injured his partner nearly three years ago. But the eight-man, four-woman jury deadlocked on the remaining charges of murder and vehicular manslaughter against Mynor Enrique Varela.
Does race affect plea bargaining? A new study says yes
We know that approximately 95 percent of all criminal convictions are the result of a guilty plea and a plea bargain, rather than a trial. Yet, while the role of race in such justice topics as arrests, detainment, police force, and sentencing outcomes has frequently been the focus of recent academic inquiry, it seems that few researchers in the last 30 years have probed whether or not race influences the various parts of the plea bargain process.
Legislation
SB 235 would meaningfully reform judicial elections
No more would deputy district attorneys be able to utilize such fanciful ballot designations as “Child Molestation Prosecutor” and “Gang Homicide Prosecutor,” should SB 235 be enacted into law. No more would a deputy city attorney be able to run as a “supervising prosecuting attorney,” implying a higher status than a deputy district attorney lacking supervisorial status.
District Attorney
The corruption case that pushed Electric Daisy Carnival out of L.A. is over
If you ask the promoters who once organized wildly popular raves at the L.A. Coliseum and adjacent Sports Arena, the corruption scandal that erupted in 2011 was all smoke and no fire. But according to critics of the raves at those taxpayer-owned venues, the scandal compromised public trust in an institution that has operated in the city since 1923. The case saw big-name concert organizers pleading no contest to conflict-of-interest charges, for paying the venues’ then-events manager nearly $1.8 million for “consulting.”
Prosecutor’s comments spur backlash by San Bernardino County law enforcement
A senior prosecutor’s assertion that the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department fosters a “culture of violence” outraged a local law enforcement labor union, prompting a swift apology from the supervising deputy district attorney and a public statement from the district attorney himself.
The death penalty in America exacts double punishment
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has long campaigned to get the high court to declare America’s death penalty unconstitutional. Recently, he offered another powerful argument for ending capital punishment. Dissenting from the court’s refusal to stop a Texas execution, Breyer highlighted a cruel irony of America’s death penalty system: those condemned to death are almost as likely to die of old age or natural causes as to be executed.
DA Totten announces national crime victims’ rights week
District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced that the week of April 2 – 8, 2017, is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Since its inception in 1981, National Crime Victims’ Rights Week has been a time to honor both crime victims and the advocates who fight for victims’ rights and services.The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office commemorated National Crime Victims’ Rights Week with a ceremony on Wednesday, April 5.
Teens honored for thwarting alleged cop-killer and saving woman from attacker
A brother and sister who allegedly were held at knifepoint by a parolee accused of killing a Los Angeles County sheriff’s sergeant in Lancaster were among two sets of siblings honored Wednesday as courageous citizens by Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey. Nancy Arrowsmith-Hart, 20, and Trevor Hart, 18, of Lancaster were lauded for their quick thinking that led to the capture of Trenton Trevon Lovell, who unbeknownst to them was wanted in connection with the shooting death last Oct. 5 of sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Owen.
City Attorney
L.A. City Attorney’s request for LAX security clearance met with Kafkaesque denial from Customs
In the hectic weekend following the implementation of President Trump’s original travel ban, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer made headlines when he was was rebuffed by customs officials after showing up at Los Angeles International Airport to get answers and meet with detainees. Despite spending hours at the airport on the night of January 28 seeking basic answers about how many people were being detained and whether officials were complying with a court order that would prevent any of those detainees from being deported, federal officials were “unable and unwilling to provide any information” Feuer with any information.
Prison & Jail
Meet the San Quentin inmates who are learning to code behind bars (Photos)
Just 12 miles past the soaring vistas of the Golden Gate Bridge sits the fortress-like San Quentin prison. Surrounded by water, beneath Marin’s rolling hills and Mt. Tamalpais, there is a cruel irony to being interned so close to this scenery, yet with no way to see it. Built over a century ago, San Quentin is the oldest prison in California and is home to all the state’s death-row inmates.
Too young for juvie? California bill bars prosecution of kids under 12
Sen. Holly Mitchell sits at her desk on the fifth floor of the Capitol and holds up a book. On the cover a small boy in oversized jeans and a Tommy Hilfiger T-shirt stands on a plastic milk crate, too small to reach, as a police officer presses the young child’s ink-soaked fingertips onto a piece of paper. “That image just stuck with me,” Mitchell said.
Law Enforcement
Officer Boyer’s murder wasn’t necessarily the fault of reforms: Thomas Elias
There is little doubt about who killed Whittier Police Officer Keith Boyer in late winter, or how he died: Authorities quickly identified ex-convict Michael Christopher Mejia as the culprit, also suspected of killing his cousin and stealing the cousin’s car. But there is plenty of debate over who and/or what is responsible for Boyer’s death. “There’s blood on the hands of Gov. [Jerry] Brown,” trumpeted state Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, in a press release two days after the incident.
Police arrests are plummeting across California, fueling alarm and questions
In 2013, something changed on the streets of Los Angeles. Police officers began making fewer arrests. The following year, the Los Angeles Police Department’s arrest numbers dipped even lower and continued to fall, dropping by 25% from 2013 to 2015. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the San Diego Police Department also saw significant drops in arrests during that period.
Deputy found guilty in 2015 Calif. televised beating; mistrial for two others
A sheriff’s deputy in Southern California was convicted of assault for his role in the beating of a suspect following a chase on horseback in 2015. Charles Foster, 35, faces up to three years in prison at an April 28 sentencing after a jury found him guilty of assault by a police officer, San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Christopher Lee said.
Why some of the most controversial police shootings aren’t on video
Moments after gunfire erupted at a Boyle Heights intersection, Los Angeles police officers spotted a man walking away from the area. The officers tried to stop him, the LAPD said, but he ran and pulled a gun from his waistband, prompting police to shoot. The man was struck in the chest and died in an alley. The officers were wearing body cameras, which are intended to add clarity to controversial moments in policing – including these types of shootings.
NYU law advises LAPD through policing project
NYU is extending its influence to the West Coast with its involvement in the Policing Project, a collection of faculty, students and administrators from NYU Law who help enhance policing policies. The Los Angeles Police Department will re-evaluate its policy on the release of body camera footage  with the group’s help. May 7 is the projected date for the Policing Project to submit its report of community input initiatives from Los Angeles residents to the LAPD for review, along with recommendations for the policy itself.
LAPD detective suspects the crips are behind a string of celebrity robberies
A string of burglaries plaguing celebrities and other wealthy individuals around L.A. may be linked primarily to the Rollin 30s Harlem Crips of South L.A., according to the Associated Press.
As an LAPD detective explained to the AP, gang members will target wealthy neighborhoods, handpicking five or so gang members to drive around a neighborhood and find targets for burglaries.
Sessions orders Justice Department to review all police reform agreements
Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered Justice Department officials to review reform agreements with troubled police forces nationwide, saying it was necessary to ensure that these pacts do not work against the Trump administration’s goals of promoting officer safety and morale while fighting violent crime.
Sweeping Federal review could affect consent decrees nationwide
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered a sweeping review of federal agreements with dozens of law enforcement agencies, an examination that reflects President Trump’s emphasis on law and order and could lead to a retreat on consent decrees with troubled police departments nationwide.
LA arrests are in freefall while crime spirals … here’s what’s really behind it
A recent Los Angeles Times story explored the recent drop in arrest rates, both in Los Angeles and across the state, stating it was “unclear” why arrest rates have dropped as crime has risen. While we can’t speak for other agencies, we can inform the public about some reasons for the arrest rate decline in jurisdictions patrolled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.  One key factor is the lack of unobligated patrol time due to short staffing in our patrol functions.
Union for LA deputies says sheriff is a factor in dwindling arrest count
Ron Hernandez with the Association of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputies says those on patrol are afraid of losing their jobs if they’re accused of any wrongdoing. “We’ve had this new sheriff, maybe he just finds it easier to simply come down hard on the deputies in the hopes that it will result in something beneficial for the public but I think all it’s doing is proving to deputies that they’re going to be over-scrutinized for everything they do.”
Consumers deceived, eBay profits selling counterfeits
eBay has migrated from the auction house of garage sale items to a global Marketplace of new items at a fixed price from unvetted global sellers. The problem is that anybody, anywhere, can sell just about anything on eBay, including counterfeit products that are visually deceptive and may be dangerous. Regardless, eBay collects a transaction fee on each sale. Counterfeiting is an illegal $1.7 trillion global criminal enterprise that is profitable, difficult to track and widely unpunished.
L.A. pot shops want authorities to back off
In March, Los Angeles voters overwhelmingly approved a proposition that aims to expand the marijuana business while also fully legalizing it. If all goes according to plan, pot shops, growers, delivery services and even edibles makers will be able to get licenses from City Hall next year, as soon as state law starts allowing for the sale of recreational weed. But the promise of Proposition M is being undermined by city law enforcement, which is targeting some of the very cannabis businesses that backed the proposition, according to some M supporters.
Feds raid Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens
Multiple federal agencies today raided the Bicycle Hotel and Casino in Bell Gardens, authorities said, but the details of the investigation were not immediately clear. Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said a search warrant at the casino was filed by a magistrate judge. “Because the warrant is under seal, we are not able to comment on the scope or nature of the investigation,” said Kice in a statement.
Police unions hail Trump’s easing of scrutiny. Local officials worry.
Black pedestrians in Baltimore stopped without reasonable suspicion. Black drivers in Ferguson, Mo., searched much more frequently than whites. Cleveland residents punched and kicked by officers and subjected to stun guns, without posing any threat. In report after report in the Obama years, Justice Department lawyers found patterns of eye-popping rights violations and used them as leverage to force local departments to agree to major policing overhauls.
25 years after the riots: An LAPD detective recalls gathering intel on who would be looted
This is the fifth installment in a series of as-told-to stories from Angelenos who witnessed the first 48 hours of the 1992 riots. At the time, Glynn Martin was a Major Narcotics detective for LAPD. The unit had seized 10,000 pounds of cocaine in two record-setting cases the year before, records he says still stand today. On April 29, 1992,Martin’s unit had to drop preparation for two major federal trials and assist with the all-hands-on-deck order from Chief Daryl Gates.
LA Sheriff calls Antelope Valley federal agreement ‘beneficial’
As the U.S. Justice Department prepares to review and possibly roll back a series of federal agreements mandating reforms at law enforcement agencies across the country, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell says the agreement affecting his department has brought about “beneficial” changes. Four years ago, the Justice Department found L.A. Sheriff’s deputies in the Antelope Valley were engaged in “widespread” harassment of the mostly minority residents of low-income housing.
‘War on Cops’ author Heather Mac Donald shouted down at UCLA by hysterical Black Lives Matter protest
A speech by Heather Mac Donald at UCLA on Wednesday frequently descended into chaos as Black Lives Matter protesters stormed the stage and chanted their signature phrase over and over, and also took over portions of the Q&A with angry accusations and raucous shouting, a video of the event shows. Mac Donald, a Manhattan Institute scholar who spoke on campus at the behest of the Bruin Republicans to give a “Blue Lives Matter” talk about her 2016 book “The War on Cops,” appeared to be able to largely get through the first half of her speech without much dissension.
Weaponized police drones are coming
In small unmanned aerial drones, police and firefighters have discovered a useful new tool, with at least 347 agencies in 43 states now flying them. Drone deployment by law enforcement and municipalities began more than a decade ago when it was just an emerging technology with extremely limited use. But those days are over: Last year, more public agencies acquired drones than in all previous years combined, with at least 167 departments fielding the flying robots in 2016, according to a study released April 6 by Bard College’s Center for the Study of the Drone.
Immigration
SF courts anything but safe for some immigrants in sanctuary city
San Francisco’s public officials constantly say the city must remain a sanctuary for immigrants living in the country without documentation so they’ll come forward if they’re a victim of or witness to a crime. But some who have come forward have found the city’s courtrooms anything but a safe harbor. Maria, a housekeeper from Honduras living in San Francisco without documentation, called police in May 2015 to report that she had been sexually assaulted.
For some California sheriffs, it’s not politics stopping them from fully helping ICE: It’s the legal risk
Adam Christianson makes no bones about helping federal immigration agents nab people for deportation. The three-term sheriff of Stanislaus County, east of the Bay Area, gives agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement unfettered access to his jails, where they interview inmates and scroll through computer databases. The information allows the agents to find and take custody of people they suspect of living in the country illegally before they are released from jail.
Study validates value of allowing driver’s licenses for unauthorized residents
Thousands of immigrants who can now drive legally under a new California law have lowered the rate of hit-and-run accidents throughout the state and improved traffic safety, Stanford analysts say. More than 800,000 immigrants in the country without authorization have obtained California driver’s licenses since the controversial law took effect two years ago over the objection of critics who said it would raise the risk of traffic accidents.
Prosecutors want ICE agents to stop making arrests at courthouses
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and District Attorney Jackie Lacey are among a dozen prosecutors who sent a letter Tuesday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, asking the federal government to stop its agents from making immigration arrests at local courthouses. The letter was sent in support of California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who first raised the issue in March in a letter to the Trump administration.
California prosecutors sign letter asking ICE agents to stop arresting at local courthouses
Prosecutors across the state, including Long Beach’s own Doug Haubert, added their names to a letter sent yesterday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, asking the federal government to stop its agents from making immigration arrests at local courthouses. “We want to ensure that crime victims and others have access to justice and safeguarding that courthouses are places of safety is important for that access,” Haubert told the Post.
Public Safety
911 systems are getting old, and the public can be in danger when they fail
A recent rash of disruptions in antiquated 911 emergency-response systems points up the urgent need for new technology to save lives in the wireless age. But few states or localities have the financial means to pay for it on their own. On one evening in March, AT&T Wireless customers nationwide found they couldn’t dial 911, prompting local emergency officials in more than a half-dozen states – including Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas – to tell people to call an alternate number or text authorities in case of emergency. The company said it was a “service issue.”
Sessions warns of crime spike despite being ‘near historic lows’
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday warned against a spike in crimes across the U.S. and called for a crackdown on violent criminals while acknowledging that overall crime rates “remain near historic lows.” “In the past four decades, our nation has won great victories against crime,” Sessions said during a speech in St. Louis. “Overall, crime rates remain near historic lows. Murder rates are half of what they were in 1980. We have driven the violent crime rate down to almost half of what it was at its peak.”
Hackers next target could be the US electric grid
You’ve heard about hackers trying to steal credit card numbers and wipe out bank accounts. But there’s another group that many cybersecurity experts say especially worry them. These criminals are targeting critical infrastructure, like power grids – and what makes them dangerous is that some are backed by governments and big money. “Turning off water, turning off electricity. Those are all realistic attacks now,” said Liam O’ Murchu a director with cybersecurity company Symantec, the manufacturer of Norton security products.
California gubernatorial candidates call for a change in approach to public safety policies
Candidates in California’s 2018 race for governor on Tuesday sounded off on their support for mental health services, rehabilitation programs and an approach to criminal justice that puts victims at the center of policy. At a community forum hosted by the group Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, State Treasurer John Chiang, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom were quizzed on their public safety priorities as the state has moved to loosen sentencing, reduce prison overcrowding and provide greater assistance to offenders re-entering society.
Hate crimes rise 15 percent in LA with uptick in LGBT victims
The city of Los Angeles experienced a 15 percent increase in hate crimes in 2016, along with a significant spike in attacks against the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities, according to data analyzed by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino. The number of hate crimes rose from 200 in 2015 to 230 in 2016, the highest number of hate crimes seen in Los Angeles since 2008, said Brian Levin, the center’s director.
Hate crimes focal point of new DOJ task force
Attorney General Jeff Sessions provided an update on the Justice Department’s new crime reduction task force Wednesday, including new details on a subcommittee that will specifically focus on hate crime prevention. In a letter to US Attorney’s offices across the country, Sessions explained that the Hate Crimes Subcommittee “will develop a plan to appropriately address hate crimes to better protect the rights of all Americans.”
San Fernando Valley residents fight crime spike with social media
A recent spike in burglaries in the San Fernando Valley is one of the reasons hundreds of people came out for a town hall meeting. Jane Yamamoto reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4, 2017.
Shootings up 183 percent in Santa Ana from 2013 to 2016, new police analysis shows
Newly released data is presenting a fuller picture of the magnitude of a surge in Santa Ana shootings last year that pushed street crime to the forefront of the November election and sharply shifted the balance of power at City Hall. A pace of more than a shooting a day for the first 50 days of 2016 represented a five-year high that brought unwelcome news media attention to Orange County’s second largest city.
County Government
County officials looking at options for LA homeless who refuse help
Los Angeles officials are looking into options for getting homeless with severe mental illnesses off the county’s streets. On Tuesday, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors instructed the Department of Mental Health to research what legal options officials have at their disposal to compel people into treatment if it’s believed they’re so gravely disabled, they can’t make decisions for themselves.
LA leaders seek more teeth for holding employees accountable
A rule that blocks Los Angeles County employees from being discharged or reassigned will be reviewed after the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to find ways to hold them accountable while also protecting their rights. The board’s vote means several departments will review and possibly suggest amendments to a hearing process “to allow discharges, reductions, promotions or reassignments of Los Angeles County employees to different positions if they are found to previously have made false statements, misrepresentations and omissions of material facts in internal investigations.”
LA County’s legal costs mount to $132 million. Here’s why
Los Angeles County spent $132 million last year defending itself from lawsuits and other litigation costs related to the sheriff’s and fire departments and health services, among others, a recent report shows. The final tally marks an 11 percent increase over money spent in litigation costs in the 2014-15 fiscal year as well as a steady rise since 2012-13, according to the county counsel’s annual report released in February but posted on its website Thursday at the request by the Los Angeles Daily News.
Barger to ask County to look at mental health policy
L.A. County Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger is recommending the Department of Mental Health to provide a legal analysis, interpretation and application of all existing state mental health laws. “Currently in Los Angeles County, we have a homeless crisis,” said Tony Bell, spokesperson for Supervisor Barger. “Many of these individuals are suffering from mental illness.”
City Government
Circus, racist antics test free speech at LA City Hall
Gadflies who like to antagonize elected officials at public meetings and often get kicked out as a result may soon be facing criminal citations for trespassing as a result of a City Council motion passed Wednesday, according to a city councilman. “Oftentimes we have a lot of disruptions during the meetings where we have to remove particular speakers. These are the same people over and over that come in each and every day, in every committee meeting, to disrupt the meeting in the same form and fashion,” City Councilman Mitchell Englander told City News Service.
Courts
Facebook loses search warrant challenge in New York court
Facebook has lost a legal fight against a New York City prosecutor who sought search warrants for hundreds of user accounts. The New York state Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that while the case raised important questions about privacy it was “constrained” by the law relating to who can challenge search warrants. Prosecutors in Manhattan sought search warrants in 2013 for the accounts of 381 people in connection with a disability benefits fraud case against New York City police and fire retirees.
Trying to speed up executions could deal ‘mortal blow’ to California Supreme Court
If a November ballot measure to speed up executions goes into effect, the California Supreme Court will have to decide hundreds of death penalty appeals in rapid succession. That mandate would turn the state’s highest court into what analysts say would be “a death penalty court,” forced for years to devote about 90% of its time to capital appeals.
Pensions
Retirement savings for all? California vows to proceed despite new D.C. obstacle
California’s grand plan to extend retirement security to millions of workers, a cornerstone of the economic agenda put forward by state Democrats, is looking a little bit less secure. That’s because Republicans in the U.S. Senate are poised to vote to roll back a little-known Obama administration regulation, putting California’s Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program in jeopardy.

Monday Morning Memo for April 3, 2017

Prosecution
Roman Polanski lashes out as judge ponders possible U.S. return
Roman Polanski might not find out for several weeks what the next step is in his efforts to return to the U.S. nearly 40 years after fleeing American justice for the rape of a 13-year-old girl. But his lawyer certainly wants to rev up the process and put the system on notice. “Court expressed disbelief of why Roman Polanski would hesitate to trust the Court to sentence him after what the Court called an ‘open plea,’ ” reads a second supplemental argument Polanski attorney Harland Braun intended to file today in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Irvine activists who made undercover videos of Planned Parenthood charged with felonies
California prosecutors on Tuesday charged two anti-abortion activists who made undercover videos of themselves trying to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood with 15 felonies, saying they invaded the privacy of medical providers by filming without consent. State Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the charges against David Daleiden of Davis, California, and Sandra Merritt of San Jose. The two operate the Irvine-based Center for Medical Progress.
D.A.’s office assists in developing guide aimed at ‘breaking the cycle’ of domestic abuse
County prosecutors played a key role in developing a guide aimed at aggressively prosecuting domestic violence cases while also advocating for increased community services for victims both locally and nationwide. Working in conjunction with the Women Prosecutor’s Section of the National District Attorneys Association, San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office prosecutors assisted in developing a “Best Practices Guide” aimed at combating domestic violence, the office said in a statement Thursday.
Former L.A. Coliseum tech manager pleads no contest in corruption case, could avoid jail time
A former Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum technology manager charged in the stadium corruption scandal has pleaded no contest to a charge of conflict of interest, the L.A. County district attorney’s office said Thursday. Leopold Caudillo Jr., one of six men charged in the case, was accused of directing more than $20,000 in stadium business to a company he controlled.
Conviction & Sentencing
Couple sentenced in 2012 gang murder in Lake Los Angeles
A man and a woman were sentenced March 16 for their role in the gang-motivated killing of Christian Bojorquez, 21, in Lake Los Angeles in 2012, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. Rudolfo Alcantar, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole; Rosie Lisa Morales was sentenced to 48 years to life in prison.  On Aug. 5,  2016,  a jury found Alcantar guilty of first-degree murder.
Prison & Parole
California may free 9,500 inmates in 4 years under new rules
Corrections officials announced new criminal sentencing rules that are projected to trim California’s prison population by 9,500 inmates over four years. They include steps like reducing inmates’ sentences up to six months for earning a college degree and by up to a month each year for participating in self-help programs such as alcohol and substance abuse support groups and counseling, anger management, life skills, victim awareness, restorative justice and parenting classes.
New parole rules released as California prisons near court-ordered cap 
As the state prison population comes close to exceeding a court-mandated limit, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is pursuing new regulations that aim to get more inmates paroled more quickly over time. The proposed rules, originating from voter approval of Proposition 57 in November, would allow “nonviolent” felons to first seek parole at the conclusion of the base term for their primary offense, before serving additional time for other charges and enhancements that can add years to their sentence.
Officials unveil controversial guidelines for the release of more inmates to relieve prison overcrowding
California corrections officials unveiled new regulations that will increase the chances of early release for hundreds of state prison inmates, and expand the credits they earn for demonstrating good behavior and completing rehabilitation programs behind bars. The highly anticipated – and hotly contested – guidelines are the first major step toward overhauling the state’s prison parole system under Proposition 57, the ballot measure approved by voters last year that aims to reduce the statewide prison population by 9,500 inmates over the next four years.
Prop. 47 got thousands out of prison. Now, $103 million in savings will go towards keeping them out
Vonya Quarles grew up in South Los Angeles and describes herself as a third-generation convicted felon. But by the time she took the microphone at a Highland town hall meeting in January 2016, she was a lawyer and executive director of a Riverside County nonprofit that helps connect the homeless, formerly incarcerated and mentally ill to transitional housing.
8,000-mile ride in a prison van left this man bleeding, sleep-deprived and near death
The prisoner wore no underwear. Or socks. Or shoes. David Hastings said he was led away from the Orange County Jail medical wing just after midnight on April 5, 2014, wearing nothing more than a white paper jail-issue jumpsuit. His hands and feet were shackled to his waist. Hastings was wanted 2,600 miles away in Fort Myers, Fla., for violating a restraining order – issued in the midst of a bitter divorce – that prohibited him from contacting his ex-wife or children.
Parolee with ankle monitor arrested after girlfriend killed in San Bernardino: Police
A man on active parole has been arrested after allegedly killing his girlfriend in San Bernardino, who was found dead over the weekend, police said Monday. Early Sunday afternoon, the Los Angeles Police Department received a phone call that 42-year-old Julio Serrano had just shown up at the caller’s L.A. residence and indicated he had hurt his girlfriend in a trailer at the back of a home in the 1200 block of North Perris Street in San Bernardino, according to investigators.
Transgender inmates could have bras, cosmetics
Transgender California prison inmates could have bras, cosmetics and other personal items corresponding to their gender identities under newly proposed regulations. The state corrections department filed the rules Tuesday in response to a federal lawsuit. The lawsuit earlier led California to become the first state to provide taxpayer-funded sex reassignment surgery to an inmate.
San Bernardino parolee wearing ankle monitor suspected of killing girlfriend
A San Bernardino parolee who was wearing an ankle monitor taken into custody Sunday on suspicion of killing his girlfriend during a domestic dispute, police said. Julio Cesar Serrano, 42, showed up at a family member’s Los Angeles home about 1:40 p.m. and said that he had hurt his 45-year-old girlfriend, Martha Garcia, according to a news release from the San Bernardino Police Department.
Man who served 20 years for crime he didn’t commit set free
To screams of joy and applause, a 41-year-old man who spent 20 years behind bars for crimes he did not commit was set free Tuesday after a judge found he had been wrongfully convicted. Marco Contreras, 41, beamed and clasped his hands above his head in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom after Superior Court Judge William Ryan reversed his conviction on attempted murder and robbery charges from a case stemming back to 1996.
Law Enforcement
Police suffer carbon monoxide poisoning driving Ford Explorer
At least two police officers have suffered carbon monoxide poisoning while driving the Ford Explorer. Hundreds of motorists have complained and filed lawsuits. However, Ford denies the allegations. A police officer in Texas is recovering after falling ill from carbon monoxide poisoning while in his patrol vehicle. The Austin officer was in his Ford patrol vehicle early Saturday morning when he began feeling nauseous, reported KRISTV.com.
Sacramento City Council decisions creating crisis in the Police Department
The Sacramento City Council once again demonstrated it is blissfully unaware that it is causing a crisis in the Sacramento Police Department, one that will take years to undo. Rather than encourage strong, independent leadership in the department, the council continues to substitute its judgment for those who have dedicated their lives to the profession of public safety.
Hundreds of Sacramento police officers to receive $2,000+ bonus
The Sacramento City Council unanimously approved more than $1.3 million in bonuses for police department officers, sergeants and dispatchers in an effort to close the gap between their pay and the pay of officers in other departments. The bonus will be paid to 687 employees with officers receiving $2,150, sergeants receiving $2,000 and dispatchers receiving $1,000. The bonuses come as a number of officers leave for higher paying departments.
Thefts increased in Napa County last year
Napa County isn’t known for having a lot of major crimes, but it still has its problems, including an increase in theft reports. According to statistics from both Napa Police and the Napa County Sheriff’s Office, reports of theft increased between 2015 and 2016. Thefts increased by more than 10 percent in Napa and more than 8 percent in unincorporated Napa County. “We’ve been hammered with thefts,” said Sheriff’s Capt. Keith Behlmer on Friday.
Police playing politics with criminal justice measures
Within hours of the murder of Whittier police officer Keith Lane Boyer in February, the tragedy of his death was swiftly diverted toward the political agenda of a few law enforcement officials and politicians. “Enough is enough,” declared Whittier Police Chief Jeff Piper during a news conference. “You’re passing these propositions, you’re creating these laws that [are] raising crime. It’s not good for our communities and it’s not good for our officers. What you have today is an example of that.”
Will allowing ICE agents into local jails make immigrants safer? L.A.’s Sheriff thinks so
L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell is leading the charge against California legislation that would prevent sheriff departments from sharing with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents information about undocumented immigrants. The bill, known as the California Values Act, or SB 54, would prohibit local law enforcement from informing ICE of the release dates of inmates and prohibit ICE from interviewing inmates inside jails.
Las Vegas Strip reopens after 1 shot dead, 1 injured
Las Vegas Metro police said an armed man surrendered after a three-hour standoff on a two-story bus that closed the Vegas Strip on Saturday. Police say the man shot and killed one person and wounded another. Police evacuated the nearby Cosmopolitan hotel and casino floor shortly before 11 a.m. local time Saturday as a result of the incident. They blocked off pedestrian walkways and several blocks of traffic on the Strip.
Don’t mess with New York’s gun laws
On the first day of the new Congress, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act was introduced in the House, and in February a similar bill was introduced in the Senate. The legislation requires New York state and New York City to honor concealed-carry firearms permits issued in other states. This would be a dangerous and unwarranted interference with state and city laws, undermining public safety in some of America’s most celebrated neighborhoods and tourist attractions.
A Woodland Hills neighborhood plagued by burglars is fighting back with tech
A gate across Jeni Bianco’s driveway didn’t stop someone from stealing her new Range Rover Sport earlier this month, just hours after Bianco put her beloved teacup Yorkie to sleep. A few nights later, surveillance cameras caught three people with flashlights exiting a car and walking toward the service gate of Bianco’s home. And last weekend, Bianco heard banging at the locked service gate in the middle of the night.
FOX 11 News In Depth: Policing in 2017
In our 7th show since starting FOX 11 News IN DEPTH, we spend the entire half hour exploring policing in 2017. We talk to community activists concerned about police-related issues, the president of the police union, we go to the LAPD Police Museum to look at the agencies history, and in Santa Monica, we visit a program aimed at helping kids learn to trust police officers.
Parker Center, former LAPD headquarters, to be demolished to make way for office tower
A plan to demolish Parker Center, the former Los Angeles Police Department headquarters, has moved forward after a unanimous vote by the city council. Twelve council members voted to adopt a 15-year civic center master plan that includes office space, retail locations and housing. The proposal was heavily pushed by Parker Center’s neighbor, Little Tokyo.
Amazon’s credibility problems grow
Amazon would like consumers to believe that Amazon is a safe place to buy name-brand goods, but that is just not true. Amazon, already under fire for allowing and enabling the sale of counterfeits, is now facing a Consumer Watchdog report of deceptive pricing practices. The problem is that anybody, anywhere, can sell just about anything on Amazon. “In Amazon’s quest to be the low-cost provider of everything on the planet, the website has morphed into the world’s largest flea market – a chaotic, somewhat lawless, bazaar with unlimited inventory” says a recent CNBC Report.
Walmart caught selling counterfeits
Global name recognition and consumer perceived credibility is a significant advantage in marketing (and profiting) from consumer goods. Consumers place their confidence in, and rely on Walmart’s credibility to purchase authentic goods. But, sometimes that confidence is misplaced. Walmart was caught again selling counterfeit items on its website. The Counterfeit Report, a popular consumer advocate and authorized agent for trademark holders and manufacturers, found counterfeit 64GB microSDHC computer flash memory cards listed on Walmart’s website.
Law enforcement: Cooperation key in response to terrorist, mass shooting incidents like San Bernardino
Part of the reason the San Bernardino terrorist attack didn’t lead to more loss of life started years before. “San Bernardino, we didn’t see that coming,” said Stephen Woolery, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division in Los Angeles. “You had a married couple that, Enrique Marquez aside, had kept it all fairly secret.” Marquez purchased the rifles that Redlands couple Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik used to kill 14 people and wound 22 others at San Bernardino’s Inland Regional Center on Dec. 2, 2015.
AT&T investing $40B to help build first-responder network
AT&T is investing $40 billion to help build and operate the nation’s first broadband network dedicated to police, firefighters, and emergency medical services. The network, the brainchild of the independent entity First Responder Network Authority (or FirstNet), is expected to streamline communications between first responders during public safety crises.
U.S. arrests Mexican prosecutor in San Diego, alleging massive drug conspiracy
The attorney general of the western Mexican state of Nayarit was in a federal jail in San Diego on Wednesday night on charges of conspiracy to smuggle cocaine, heroin, marijuana and meth, according to court documents. Edgar Veytia, 46, the chief law enforcement officer in Nayarit – the scene of numerous deadly drug gang showdowns in recent years – was arrested Monday at a border crossing in San Diego after he was flagged for an open federal warrant issued in New York.
Immigration
SF courts anything but safe for some immigrants in sanctuary city
San Francisco’s public officials constantly say the city must remain a sanctuary for immigrants living in the country without documentation so they’ll come forward if they’re a victim of or witness to a crime. But some who have come forward have found the city’s courtrooms anything but a safe harbor.
Sheriff McDonnell is right again about immigrant policy
The Los Angeles County sheriff surprised many people this month when he took a stand against the California “sanctuary state” bill that seeks to push back against the Trump administration’s aggressive immigration-law enforcement plans. Jim McDonnell’s position may have seemed like a step back from his generally hands-off approach to immigration enforcement, expressed in his op-ed on this page Jan. 8. But in fact it’s not a step back and certainly not inconsistent.
White House keeps up sanctuary cities pressure with funding threat
Attorney General Jeff Sessions outlined Monday how the Trump administration will use federal funds to crack down on “sanctuary cities” and states that choose not to comply with federal immigration laws, as it has threatened to do since January. The comments came after the Trump administration has made a concerted effort to pressure the so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions as part of its aggressive push to enforce immigration laws.
Sanctuary city leaders vow to remain firm, despite threats from U.S. attorney general
Leaders from so-called sanctuary cities across Southern California struck a defiant tone Monday, stating that they would continue to protect people who are in the country illegally despite threats by U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions to cut off and even claw back grant funding from the Justice Department.
Statement by the International Association of Chiefs of Police on United States immigration enforcement policy and sanctions
Immigration enforcement is a complex and challenging issue for communities and their law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. State and local law enforcement agencies are steadfast in their commitment to removing from their communities dangerous criminals and others who pose a threat to public safety. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply inaccurate.
Supreme Court considers bad legal advice in immigrant’s plea
The Supreme Court tried to figure out Tuesday whether immigrants should get a second chance in court when bad legal advice leads to a guilty plea and certain deportation. The justices seemed divided during an argument about what to do in cases in which the evidence against criminal defendants is strong and the chances of acquittal by a jury are remote. The court is considering the case of Jae Lee, a South Korean immigrant who was facing drug charges.
De León: Sessions’ plan to defund sanctuary cities ‘nothing short of blackmail’
California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León on Monday called Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ plan to block Justice Department grant funding to sanctuary cities “nothing short of blackmail.” During a daily press briefing earlier in the day, Sessions said the Justice Department will require compliance with immigration laws in order for cities to receive grants through the Office of Justice Programs, according to The Associated Press.
State’s chief justice steps up criticism of immigration officials
California’s chief justice renewed her criticism of federal immigration officials Monday for conducting raids at courthouses and, in her annual State of the Judiciary address, appeared to escalate her critique of the Trump administration. “Our values, practices and laws are being called into question, and all three branches of government and the free press are in the crosshairs,” Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said in remarks prepared for a joint session of the Legislature.
Battling Trump is ‘team sport,’ California’s attorney general says
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has forcefully criticized President Donald Trump’s executive actions calling for a widespread crackdown on undocumented immigrants and barring travel to the United States from predominantly Muslim countries in Africa and the Middle East. Political tough talk, positioning the state as a leader in the resistance to the Trump administration, has dominated Becerra’s short tenure since the former Democratic congressman assumed the role in late January.
Legislation
California would virtually eliminate money bail under proposed legislation
California lawmakers have unveiled a sweeping plan to overhaul pretrial release in the state that could virtually eliminate the use of money bail. Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Los Angeles, and Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, introduced legislation last December to change a system they argue unfairly punishes the poor by keeping them stuck in custody if they cannot afford expensive bail rates.
Here’s how state lawmakers plan to reform the bail system in California
State lawmakers have unveiled an ambitious plan to reform how counties in California set bail for defendants while they wait for their cases to be resolved or go to trial. New language added Friday to bills by Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) and Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) would prevent criminal defendants from having to post money as a condition of release from jail and would shift some power from judges to pretrial services agencies to assess the risks they would pose if allowed out in the community.
State law that would seal arrest records moves ahead
A proposed state law that would seal arrest records of people who were never charged with crimes so such records don’t follow them through life has moved one step closer to passage. On Tuesday, the California Arrest Record Equity Act was passed out of the Senate Public Safety Committee. The law was introduced by state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and sponsored by District Attorney George Gascon.
Sanctuary cities aren’t as popular as you might think in California
Despite defunding threats from the Trump administration, California voters narrowly support communities declaring themselves “sanctuary cities,” according to a statewide survey Tuesday. But the Berkeley IGS Poll found that a slim majority oppose cities and counties being able to disregard federal requests to detain illegal immigrants who have been arrested and are pending release from custody.
California Democrats want a ‘sanctuary state’ for immigrants here illegally. But those who are felons should be sent packing
Democratic politicians want California to be a sanctuary for immigrants here illegally. OK. If they’re hard working and obeying the law, fine. But if they’re thugs? Call the feds and boot their butts back across the border. That’s my view. And it’s also the opinion of most sane people, I suspect. Even Democratic office holders must think this down deep. So why is it so hard for them to say it?
New amendments to ‘sanctuary state’ bill will allow police and sheriffs to contact ICE about violent felons
California Senate leader Kevin de León has amended his “sanctuary state” bill to provide greater flexibility for law enforcement to notify and work with federal immigration officials on cases involving serious and violent felons. The move, amid national debate over “sanctuary city” policies, comes days after a rowdy welcome in Sacramento for the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement at a forum meant to address the role of police officers and sheriff’s deputies in immigration enforcement.
Propositions
Trying to speed up executions could deal ‘mortal blow’ to California Supreme Court
If a November ballot measure to speed up executions goes into effect, the California Supreme Court will have to decide hundreds of death penalty appeals in rapid succession. That mandate would turn the state’s highest court into what analysts say would be “a death penalty court,” forced for years to devote about 90% of its time to capital appeals.
Is Proposition 57, approved by voters, delaying justice for victims?
The killing of Madyson Middleton struck at the core of California’s conscience because it was a hideous crime committed in a Santa Cruz arts center apartment complex. The slaying of the 8-year-old boy was made more shocking because the identity of the suspect was the victim’s then-15 year old neighbor.  “It was very emotional and really upsetting and hard to deal with,” said Jacob Seedman, who knew both victims.
Discussions take aim at criminal justice reform in Stockton
The city is ripe for a criminal justice reform, advocates say, but it’s going to take awareness, action and dismantling a history of mass incarceration that has resulted in an unyielding cycle of poverty and crime. Californians for Safety and Justice, which spearheaded last year’s free Proposition 47 Record Change and Health Fair, is starting a series of conversations with the Stockton community about what they say is a punitive criminal justice system that has resulted in collateral consequences of conviction.
County Government
LA supes to consider making it easier to fire sheriff’s deputies
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is looking to make it easier to fire sheriff’s deputies who have been found to be dishonest in the past. The move comes amid promises by Sheriff Jim McDonnell to clean house in his department. Since taking office three years ago, McDonnell has moved to fire significantly more deputies than his predecessors, according to department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida.
Courts
Small-time thieves catch a break in state high court ruling
The reduced punishment that California voters approved for shoplifting in November 2014 wasn’t limited to swiping goods from store shelves, but also covered other types of nonviolent commercial theft, like going to a bank to cash a stolen check, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday. The decision, a day after a similar ruling by a state appeals court in another case, took a broad view of a ballot measure that was intended to lower the population of California’s overcrowded prisons by easing penalties for less-serious crimes.
S.C. adopts broad interpretation of ‘shoplifting’
A man who entered a bank to cash stolen checks is eligible, under Proposition 47, to have his conviction for second degree burglary reduced to misdemeanor shoplifting, the California Supreme Court declared in a 5-2 opinion. The decision comes one day after a published Fifth District Court of Appeal opinion said that a defendant who stole coins from a machine was eligible for a reduction of his offense to shoplifting.
California Supreme Court to rule on gun law
The state Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to decide whether gun manufacturers have the right to challenge a California law requiring identifying microstamps on bullets fired from semiautomatic pistols, a requirement the manufacturers claim can’t be met with current technology. A state appeals court had ruled in December that gun groups could present evidence to support their suit seeking to overturn the law, an exception to the usual requirement that statutes can be struck down only if they are unconstitutional.
Supreme Court wrestles with L.A. sheriff’s deputies shooting case
The Supreme Court on Wednesday stepped in to the national conversation on police practices, wrestling with a California police shooting case where sheriff’s deputies shot an innocent couple during their search for a wanted man. The justices heard oral arguments in a 2010 case involving Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies. The deputies were searching for a wanted parolee when they entered a shack at the back of a home in the city of Lancaster, north of Los Angeles.
Steal checks from grandma & receive get out of jail card
Who said crime doesn’t pay? California voters – with the help of Proposition 47 authors more concerned about emptying state prisons than justice who created loopholes a jumbo jet could fly through and a state Supreme Court eager to play lawmakers – have done just that. Last week the state high court majority decided that shoplifting does not just refer to swiping merchandise from a store. The 5-2 decision involved a case of one Giovanni Gonzales convicted of felony burglary.
California’s top justice touts strength of state courts
State courts must be willing to go beyond the U.S. Supreme Court in protecting individual rights, California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu said Thursday. “A state court can provide protection for basic liberties that otherwise would go unprotected in that state,” Liu, an appointee of Gov. Jerry Brown, said in remarks prepared for a speech at New York University in honor of the late Supreme Court Justice William Brennan.
Judge dismisses challenge to ‘suspicious activities’ database
A San Francisco federal judge dismissed an American Civil Liberties Union challenge Monday to a federally assembled police database of “suspicious activities” allegedly linked to terrorism, saying the government has broad authority to keep track of potential threats. The lawsuit was filed in 2014 on behalf of five Californians who said they landed on the list for innocent conduct.
Federal judge tells NRA to put up or shut up in open carry lawsuit
Federal Judge John A. Kronstadt has set a deadline of 11:59 PM, May 1st, 2017, for the NRA to amend its lawsuit seeking concealed carry permits to challenge California’s bans on openly carrying firearms in public for self-defense. After the NRA’s loss last year before an en banc panel of the 9th circuit court of appeals in the case of Peruta v. San Diego which held that there is no right to concealed carry under the Second Amendment, the NRA filed another lawsuit in Federal court which argued that people have a right to carry firearms in public in some manner and since California has banned Open Carry, the Los Angeles County Sheriff must issue concealed carry permits.
Pensions
Pension crisis too big for markets to ignore
In late 2006, Aaron Krowne, a computer scientist and mathematician, started a website that documented the real-time destruction of the subprime mortgage lending industry. The Mortgage Lender Implode-O-Meter caught on like wildfire with financial market voyeurs, regularly reaching 100,000 visitors. West Coast lenders, some may recall, were the first to fall in what eventually totaled 388 casualties. A year earlier, to much less fanfare, Jack Dean launched another website in anticipation of the different kind of wave washing up on the California coastline.
Politics
Will it be Gavin Newsom vs. little-known Republican for California governor?
A Republican newcomer now leads the pack of candidates trailing frontrunner Gavin Newsom in next year’s race for California governor, according to a new statewide poll Wednesday. Among the five announced candidates, Newsom, who as lieutenant governor has been grooming himself for the top elected position, is out ahead with support from 28 percent of voters, the Berkeley IGS Poll found.
State Government
Got certain unpaid tickets? Amnesty may be available
A state program to reduce a whole slew of traffic and other types of fines that people have not been paying is coming to a stop on April 3. The Department of Motor Vehicles Traffic Amnesty Program allows those who have certain unpaid traffic or non-traffic tickets that were due on or before Jan. 1, 2013, to get their debt reduced or driver’s license (if it was suspended) reinstated. These tickets can range from speeding or running a red light to jaywalking or hunting without a license.

Monday Morning Memo for March 27, 2017

Prosecution
L.A. D.A. shoots down Roman Polanski’s desire to “dictate” return to U.S.A.
“He forfeited his right to make requests of the court when he fled,” said the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office yesterday of Roman Polanski’s latest attempt to ensure no jail time for the rape of a 13-year old girl in 1977. “The People oppose the defendant’s request for this court to represent what the defendant would be sentenced to if he returned,” D.A. Jackie Lacey’s office added.
Roman Polanski’s lawyer asks judge to give clue on sentence if fugitive director returned to Los Angeles
Roman Polanski’s attorney implored a judge Monday to signal how the fugitive director would be sentenced if he returned to Los Angeles to resolve his long-running underage sex abuse case. Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon heard arguments in the four-decade-old case but gave no immediate indication of how he would rule, saying he would issue a written order.
LA County social workers ordered to stand trial in death of 8-year-old boy
Two former social workers and their supervisors were ordered Monday to stand trial on falsifying records and child abuse charges involving the death of an 8-year-old Palmdale boy whose mother and then-boyfriend are charged with his murder. The social workers and two of their supervisors — Stefanie Rodriguez, 31, Patricia Clement, 66, Kevin Bom, 37, and Gregory Merritt, 61 — were fired from their jobs following an internal investigation into the May 24, 2013, death of Gabriel Fernandez.
Third LA County probation officer charged in beating of youth inside Sylmar Juvenile Hall
A video of a youth being beaten inside the Sylmar Juvenile Hall last year has resulted in charges filed against three probation officers, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced Monday. Deputy Probation Officer Carlos Portillo, 39, was charged Monday with two counts of assault on an inmate. Last week, the district attorney’s office charged deputy probation officer Sergio Cano, 45, with one count of assault.
Feds were near defeat in Lee Baca’s corruption case. But a ‘risky move’ in the ex-sheriff’s retrial turned the tide
Before his retrial even began, Lee Baca was already losing. In January, shortly after a jury had nearly acquitted the former Los Angeles County sheriff of charges that he helped obstruct an FBI investigation into abuses in his jails, Assistant U.S. Atty. Brandon Fox tipped his hand in a court filing.
Los Angeles man pleads no contest to 1985 murder
A Los Angeles man facing criminal charges connected to the rape and murder of an Oxnard woman 30 years ago pleaded no contest. Vincent Mackey, 54, appeared Wednesday before Ventura County Superior Court Judge Matthew Guasco for an early disposition conference, but decided to plead no contest to the first-degree murder of 19-year-old Isabel Hernandez on Sept. 28, 1985. Mackey also faced a special allegation that he used a deadly weapon, a knife, to kill Hernandez.
Conviction & Sentencing
Disbarred lawyer to face sentencing for kidnapping California cops once called hoax
A disbarred Harvard University-trained attorney faces decades in prison during his sentencing Thursday for a kidnapping so elaborate and bizarre that police in California initially dismissed it as a hoax. Federal prosecutors are seeking a 40-year sentence for Matthew Muller, who pleaded guilty in September to holding a San Francisco Bay Area woman for ransom.
Ex-cop sentenced in DUI frameup of California councilman
A private detective who tried to frame a Costa Mesa city councilman for driving under the influence has been sentenced to a year in jail. The Riverside Press-Enterprise says Christopher Lanzillo of Lake Arrowhead was sentenced on Friday. He pleaded guilty to false imprisonment and conspiracy to file a false police report.
Couple sentenced in 2012 gang murder in Lake Los Angeles
A man and a woman were sentenced March 16 for their role in the gang-motivated killing of Christian Bojorquez, 21, in Lake Los Angeles in 2012, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.  Rudolfo Alcantar, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole; Rosie Lisa Morales was sentenced to 48 years to life in prison.
Accused wife killer faces 18 years in prison after pleading to manslaughter
A Castaic man accused of having murdered his wife faces 18 years in prison after pleading no contest recently to the reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter. Robert Danielson, 31, was arrested in 2015 on suspicion of murder for allegedly killing his wife, Nicole Danielson, whose body was found in the Paradise Ranch Mobile Home Park in Castaic, Lt. Steve Jauch of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Homicide Bureau, said at the time.
District Attorney
L.A. district attorney reviewing complaint over councilman’s two marriages
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office is reviewing a complaint filed over City Councilman Curren Price’s two marriages, a spokesman said Tuesday. Greg Risling, a spokesman for Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey, said investigators are reviewing the filing. He would not say who lodged the complaint or when it was filed.
California DAs should consider Florida state attorney’s approach to death penalty
A new Florida State Attorney, Aramis Ayala, made a bold move when she recently announced that capital punishment is “not in the best interest of the community or the best interest of justice,” and vowed not to seek the death penalty in future cases. In taking this courageous stand, Ayala recognizes that the death penalty is a false promise to victims’ families and the community.
California Attorney General
Lawyer’s Association asks new California Attorney General to drop its abusive prosecution of Backpage
The First Amendment Lawyer’s Association (FALA) is hoping to end the California Attorney General’s crusade against Backpage. The website has already ceded ground in the face of constant criticism, investigations, and legal threats. Earlier this year, it shuttered its adult ads rather than continue to bleed money and time defending itself against bogus prosecutions and investigations.
Law Enforcement
Upland homicide suspect was on local supervision with county probation
The man accused of fatally shooting a Rancho Cucamonga man in Upland was being supervised by San Bernardino County Probation when the deadly attack took place, officials said. After serving time for assault, Anthony Christopher Musselman, 25, was placed under supervision in December 2016, according to probation officials.
Police superintendent meets with Sessions, gets no promise of federal aid
Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson went to Washington on Thursday seeking increased federal financial help at a time of runaway violence, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions was noncommittal, saying he didn’t want to make promises he couldn’t keep at a time of proposed cuts to the Justice Department budget, according to one participant.
Police are using new mouth-swab tests to nab drivers under the influence of marijuana and other drugs
San Diego police have a new way to confirm the presence of marijuana and other drugs in impaired drivers – a mouth-swab device that is already being used by police departments in more than a dozen states and is expected to become more popular with the legalization of marijuana.
Korean-on-Korean hammer attack was a hate crime, authorities say
Twenty-two-year-old Jae Won Yang was behind bars and facing a charge of attempted murder with a hate crime enhancement, said Los Angeles County District Attorney’s spokesman Ricardo Santiago. Other enhancement allegations include using a hammer as a deadly weapon and inflicting great bodily injury, he said. Yang has already pleaded not guilty.
SLO PD Chief: Violent crime down, car burglaries up
San Luis Obispo’s police chief released new crime statistics Friday. Chief Deanna Cantrell says general crime increased 11 percent in 2016 over 2015. She says the increase is reflective of a statewide trend and “can be partially attributed to Proposition 47, which reduced certain drug possession felonies and some thefts under $950 from felonies to misdemeanors.”
Hearing to explore misconduct allegations against ex-O.C. prosecutors
A Superior Court judge wants to dig deeper into allegations of misconduct by two former county prosecutors in a murder case against a construction worker charged in the traffic death of an off-duty sheriff’s deputy. The attorney for Cole Wilkins, arrested after a stove he stole fell from his truck and contributed to the 2006 death of the off-duty Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy, wants the case dismissed because of misconduct by prosecutors.
Carlsbad to photograph cars entering city
Carlsbad is expanding its use of automated license plate readers into a system that aims to capture the plates of every vehicle that enters the city. The $1 million Police Department project – which will add stationary cameras at 14 key Carlsbad intersections, creating a virtual gateway at the city’s borders – was approved by the City Council last week, sparking outrage over privacy rights and government control from several residents and one council member.
Gunman dead after shooting at deputies outside Temple City sheriff’s station
A shootout between deputies and a man outside the Temple City sheriff’s station Monday morning ended with the gunman dead from what appeared to be a self-inflicted wound, authorities said. The shooting was reported at 7:25 a.m. outside the facility at 8838 Las Tunas Drive, according to the sheriff’s department. No deputies were injured.
Craigslist robbers
For the high-end jewelry sellers on the popular online classifieds site Craigslist, it must have seemed like their ship had come in: A prospective buyer in California offered not only their asking price but would fly them into town and have a limo waiting. “The individual would think they were going to the jewelry store to meet with the actual buyer,” said Special Agent Darin Heideman, who works out of the Oakland Resident Agency of the FBI’s San Francisco Division, “when in fact, a co-conspirator would take them to a predetermined location, assault them, and then basically rob them of all their items.”
Sacramento considers bonuses for police employees to discourage them from leaving
The Sacramento City Council on Tuesday will consider authorizing more than $1.37 million in one-time, lump-sum payments to Sacramento police officers, sergeants and dispatchers in a step toward stanching the loss of personnel to other agencies. A week before talks open on a new contract, the payments send an important message to employees that “the city has decided, for once, to start negotiating in good faith,” said Timothy Davis, president of the Sacramento Police Officers Association.
Crackdown required for eBay and Amazon counterfeits
Consumers have confidence and expect authentic and safe products when they shop at their local grocery, drugstore or retailer. But that confidence is misplaced when they shop online at e-commerce giants eBay and Amazon. The problem is that anybody, anywhere, can sell just about anything on the websites. Both sites allow unvetted worldwide sellers to inundate their websites with counterfeit products.
Sheriff McDonnell says he can’t reveal details on WeHo deputy-involved shootings
In his response to WeHo City Manager Paul Arevalo’s request for information on the status of investigations into two deputy-involved deaths of innocent men in West Hollywood, L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell essentially says no information can be released. The first incident was the shooting of two young men fleeing a knife attack on April 7, 2014, at 939 Palm Ave.
If sheriff’s deputies are involved in misconduct, prosecutors have to know
There are about 300 Los Angeles County deputy sheriffs and higher-ranking officials whose personnel files include evidence that they lied, took bribes, used excessive force or committed some other type of misconduct that is sufficiently serious to undermine their credibility as prosecution witnesses in criminal cases.
Debate over silencers: Hearing protection or public safety threat?
There’s a wall-long mural in the manufacturing area of SilencerCo, in West Valley City, Utah, that shows a crowd of people with muzzled mouths. One’s holding a sign that says, “Fight the Noise.” Another says: “Guns don’t have to be loud.” As a leading manufacturer and seller of gun silencers – or suppressors, as they’re more accurately called – SilencerCo wants to quiet guns. Congress may soon help in the effort.
LAPD: Fear keeping some immigrants from reporting crime
Reported crime has dropped among the Latino population in Los Angeles this year and police say it may reflect a fear by undocumented immigrants of reporting when they have been victimized. In particular, the number of rapes and spousal abuse cases in the Latino population has dropped this year by larger numbers than in other racial groups, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Crime is down 4% in Orange County, but burglaries are on the rise
Orange County thieves have taken to strolling residential streets at night, tugging on car doors. When one opens, they rummage inside for valuables. Sometimes, if they spot something worth the trouble, they’ll smash a window to snatch it. Car burglary is an old routine, but police say it spiked in 2015 in Orange County and, according to new data compiled by The Orange County Register, held near those levels in 2016.
To halt rise in crime, hire more officers: Letters
Our Question of the Week asked readers, What is causing the upticks in crime? To stop crime, hire more law-enforcement officers. It is no coincidence that the increase in crime occurred after the passage of Proposition 47, which made multiple property crimes inconsequential misdemeanors. One has to look no farther than FBI statistics showing that after Prop. 47 property crime rose two years in a row across California, while falling in all other large states.
Sex offender found dead after gun battle with Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies faced child porn charges
A sex offender who died Monday in a shootout with Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies outside the department’s Temple City station was facing child pornography charges, officials said. Andrew Jared Lane was being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department in connection with child pornography allegations, said Shiara Davila-Morales, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell skewered in ‘Irish roast’ – for a good cause
The $300,000 in golden deputy uniform tidbits proposed by Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell might be found anywhere along Rodeo Drive. A sheriff’s star with diamonds by Tiffany. A tank watch tie clip by Cartier. A sheriff’s earring by Chanel. Bling by Dior and Bulgari. And a suspect-stopping gold dangler by Gucci.
Prison & Parole
California prisons to free 9,500 inmates in 4 years
Corrections officials adopted new criminal sentencing rules on Friday that aim to trim California’s prison population by 9,500 inmates after four years. They include steps like reducing inmates’ sentences up to six months for earning a college degree and by up to a month each year for participating in self-help programs such as alcohol and substance abuse support groups and counseling, anger management, life skills, victim awareness, restorative justice, and parenting classes.
California: Transsexual inmate says women’s prison is ‘torture’
The first U.S. inmate to have taxpayer-funded sex reassignment surgery says she’s been mistreated since being transferred to a California women’s prison, where she now has a beard and mustache because officials have denied her a razor. In a hand-written federal court filing, convicted killer Shiloh Heavenly Quine called her new housing at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla a “torture unit.”
State & Local Government
LA County sales tax hike for homeless services officially passes vote
Ten days after the vote, a Los Angeles County measure asking for a quarter-cent sales tax increase to pay for homeless services has passed. A late surge from mail-in votes pushed Measure H past the two-thirds threshold it needed on Friday. The measure finished with 69 percent of about 840,000 votes cast.
Los Angeles only has eyes for 2024 Olympics amid deal speculation
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has insisted that the city remains solely focused on staging the Olympics in 2024 amid speculation of a deal which could see rival bid Paris handed the games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed last week it will study the possibility of awarding both the 2024 and 2028 Olympics at the same time when the body meets for a crunch vote in Lima in September.
Southern California Coalition has big plans for L.A.’s pot industry
On the evening of this month’s local elections, members of the Southern California Coalition gathered on a restaurant patio downtown. It was a clean-cut, mostly male crowd and they had come to celebrate a milestone more than 20 years in the making: a regulated marijuana industry in Los Angeles. Virgil Grant, the organization’s president, held a tablet showing the results. It wasn’t even close.
Long Beach’s Rex Richardson, Bonnie Lowenthal appointed to Probation Commission to act as oversight amidst departmental change
This Thursday, Long Beach Vice Mayor Rex Richardson and former Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal will begin serving as the newest members of the Los Angeles County Probation Commission, a role for which they were nominated last month by Supervisor Janice Hahn and subsequently approved by the County Board of Supervisors.
Legislation
Assemblyman Ian Calderon’s bill would require jailing of offenders who violate probation three times
Standing in front of City Hall adjacent to the Whittier Police Memorial Thursday, Assemblyman Ian Calderon introduced a bill that would require jailing probationers who violate the terms of their supervision at least three times. The bill would be the first state legislation to address issues local police forces have with prison reform bills like AB 109 following the death of Whittier Police Officer Keith Boyer in February.
California Assembly votes to put parks bond on 2018 ballot
The California Assembly narrowly voted Monday to put a measure seeking $3 billion in bonds for parks on the 2018 ballot. The bill, AB18, required a two-thirds majority and passed with no votes to spare. It now moves to the Senate, where it will also require two-thirds approval. It would aim to improve access to parks and open spaces in disadvantaged communities, said Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, the bill’s author.
Here’s an idea for legislators: Figure out how to pay for a spending bill before proposing it
You’d think from reading some promoted legislation that the Capitol was a candy store handing out free goodies. A lot of appealing items are on display. The cost? Oh, that. We’ll worry about it later. Here’s my suggestion for a new law – an old but scoffed-at idea: No spending bill can advance through the Legislature that doesn’t pinpoint precisely its source of money.
If elected, Raymond Meza would be the first openly gay Latino congressman
One way or another, the special election for California’s 34th congressional district – vacated when Rep. became the state’s new attorney general – is likely to add a Democrat to Congress. The district, which includes much of diverse downtown Los Angeles, has nearly always gone blue. But that doesn’t mean each of the 23 candidates vying in the April 4 primary are one in the same.
Lawmakers seek changes to California juvenile justice system
California should start treating juvenile offenders more like children, state lawmakers said Monday as they promoted bills that they said reflect research showing that children’s brains are different from adults. Democratic state senators Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles and Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens are proposing four bills intended to keep more youthful offenders out of the criminal justice system.
LA’s ‘sanctuary city’ debate broadens as statewide bill takes shape
A proposal by state lawmakers that would declare California a “sanctuary state” has magnified an identity crisis playing out in Los Angeles over what it means to be a sanctuary for immigrants who are in the United States illegally. Los Angeles has never officially been declared a “sanctuary” by city leaders, who often say they are unable to pin down a definition for the term.
Sanctuary State Bill will increase crime: Orange County Sheriff
Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchins says she believes crime will increase if a “sanctuary state” bill now being considered in the legislature becomes law. “It is my belief that we will have more violent crimes occurring that could have been prevented without this bill,” Hutchins said of Senate Bill 54, which would prohibit cooperation between state law enforcement agencies and federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, other sheriffs oppose ‘sanctuary state’ bill
In a letter to state Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell voiced opposition to a bill that would declare all of California a “sanctuary state,” echoing sentiments from sheriffs in Southern California’s other counties. De Leon, D-Los Angeles, introduced Senate Bill 54 in December, which would limit involvement by law enforcement agencies in any federal immigration enforcement action in the state.
2 jailhouse snitches, who were paid $335,000 over 4 years, spark new legislation
“Puppet” and “Bouncer,” a pair of jailhouse snitches who were paid $335,000 over a four-year window for working dozens of cases in Southern California, have inspired a state bill to limit the rewards given to criminal informants. Assembly Bill 359 on Tuesday sailed unanimously through the state Assembly Public Safety Committee, passing its first hurdle.
California moves forward on new jailhouse snitch rules
“Puppet” and “Bouncer,” a pair of jailhouse snitches who were paid $335,000 over a four-year window for working dozens of cases in Southern California, have inspired a state bill to limit the rewards given to criminal informants. Assembly Bill 359 on Tuesday sailed unanimously through the state Assembly Public Safety Committee, passing its first hurdle. The bill next goes to the Assembly floor for a full vote at a yet-to-be determined date.
California state senators to unveil major criminal justice legislation
Two state senators are proposing a package of bills aimed at undertaking major criminal justice changes for adults and minors. Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, are expected to announce legislation – eight bills in total – that seek to keep kids out of the juvenile justice system and address what the lawmakers characterized as “inequity” for juveniles and adults.
California Uber drivers would need only one business license under new legislation
California Uber and Lyft drivers would have to register for only one business license no matter where they drive in the state under a bill unveiled this week by a Los Angeles lawmaker. Senate Bill 182 from state Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Los Angeles) attempts to make it easier for drivers to comply with local rules governing taxation and registration for independent contractors – an employee classification the companies have long argued fits their drivers.
Courts
Post-prison ruies for sex offenders upheld by California Supreme Court
Sex offenders in California who have completed their prison sentences must comply with strict monitoring conditions while on probation, including undergoing lie-detector tests about their conduct and receiving treatment from therapists who can reveal their secrets to a probation officer, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday. Although offenders must take part in the lie-detector interrogation and therapy, none of their answers can be used to file or prove new criminal charges against them, the court said.
Judge rejects new trial for 2 men convicted in ‘text message’ murder case
A judge has denied a request for a new trial for two men convicted of murdering a teenager over a text message, finding that the recantations of two key eyewitnesses were not credible. Vahagn Jurian and Zareh Manjikian are serving life sentences for the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Mike Yepremyan, who prosecutors say was attacked after sending a text message to his girlfriend that insulted her friend.
Pensions
Retirees from LA Works could see pensions slashed more than half
Thirty years ago, Herb Standridge left his own business to work as a contractor for LA Works for the benefit of a good pension. The firm was a partnership among four San Gabriel Valley cities to provide job training that folded in 2014. That pension is now in jeopardy of being reduced by about 60 percent, leaving his widow Christell, who was a homemaker, with a fraction of her income. “I don’t know what I will do.  I don’t know what it will mean to me,” Christell Standridge said. “We just never dreamed this would happen.”

Monday Morning Memo for March 20, 2017

Prosecution
Prosecutors seek 40-year prison term for Vallejo kidnapper, until he is ‘old and weak’
Federal prosecutors say Matthew Muller is a dangerous predator, a man who has posed a threat to society for years and carried out “serial acts of evil” that include his most infamous crime: the March 2015 kidnapping of Denise Huskins from a Vallejo home in the middle of the night. For that incident and others that he has yet to be charged with – including the videotaped sexual assault of Huskins while she was his captive – Muller should be sent to prison for 40 years, kept behind bars in a federal facility until he is too frail to cause further harm, the government says.
State Bar runs out of attorneys to prosecute, so it prosecutes 30 year old case against prosecutor
Last week’s decision by the California State Bar to file disciplinary charges against former Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich based on conduct that occurred 31 years ago, should cause unease to every attorney in the state. This action of the State Bar, which acts as the administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, cannot be squared with that court’s long-held beliefs on timely filing of actions in both criminal and civil cases.
Roman Polanski offers to return to LA courtroom under 1 condition
Roman Polanski’s attorney says in court papers filed Friday that the filmmaker will return to the United States for sentencing if a judge determines that he’s already served more than enough time behind bars for his 1977 guilty plea to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl. “Mr. Polanski asks this court to acknowledge that he was promised a specific custody portion of his sentence by Judge (Laurence) Rittenband and he has more than fulfilled the custody portion of his sentence …,” defense attorney Harland Braun wrote.
Conviction & Sentencing
Former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca found guilty in corruption trial
Once the head of the largest law enforcement agency of its kind in the nation, former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was found guilty by a federal jury Wednesday of obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice and giving false statements in connection with an investigation into corruption and excessive use of force inside the Men’s Central Jail.
Ex-Sheriff Lee Baca’s conviction sends a message but there’s still ‘need for reform’
Each trial, conviction and sentence handed down to members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department since 2014 exposed deep flaws within the nation’s largest law enforcement agency of its kind, observers and civil rights activists said this week. The years-long legal saga, they said, sent a message to the department that no one was above the law, not even former Sheriff Lee Baca, who was found guilty Wednesday of obstruction and other charges in connection with an FBI probe into corruption and excessive use of force inside the Men’s Central Jail.
How a jury heard a ‘fundamentally different case’ in the re-trial of ex-Sheriff Lee Baca
The deacon’s voice broke as he described a beating he witnessed through a narrow slit of Plexiglas in 2009. An inmate, handcuffed and pushed against a wall, was punched and kicked as he begged the three Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies who were hitting him to stop. The deputies continued, even though the inmate never fought back, even after he fell to the floor and blood pooled around his head.
Law Enforcement
Crime expert: ‘L.A.’s Most Wanted List’ exposes dangers of AB 109, Props 47 and 57
Controversy continues to surround AB 109, especially with the recent murder of Whittier Officer Keith Boyer by a parolee whose multiple parole violations resulted in nothing more than ten-day “flash incarcerations.”  It’s just the most recent example of the legislation’s failures, according to Michele Hanisee, President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys.
More than 100 crime survivors gather in Los Angeles, call for new safety priorities
More than 100 crime survivors joined elected officials and community leaders at Crenshaw Methodist Church in Los Angeles on March 11 to call for new safety priorities and a criminal justice system that better reflects the needs of crime survivors. The event was hosted by the Los Angeles chapter of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, a project of Californians for Safety and Justice, which brings together thousands of crime survivors from across California and elevates the voices of crime survivors in justice policy debates.
How the justice system failed Whittier Officer Keith Boyer: Guest commentary
A Whittier police officer is dead and a second officer is recovering from a gunshot wound inflicted by a known gang member and two-time convicted felon. Why was this violent gang member on the street, with a gun? Why did the criminal “justice” system so miserably fail our officers? Why did it also fail law enforcement officers in Palm Springs and Lancaster?
Citing police officer’s death, Whittier council members seek reform of crime laws
Following the death of Whittier police Officer Keith Boyer in a Feb. 20 shootout with a gang member who was on probation, council members Tuesday vowed to lead a drive to reform state laws they said have allowed violent criminals to remain on the street. Council members blame AB 109, which is now law, and Proposition 47 for an increase in property and violent crimes in cities across the state.
Scott Wilk: Officer slain due to lax public safety policy
It’s becoming an epidemic. It seems almost each week another police officer is killed. The sound of bagpipes seems omnipresent as, one by one, the brave men and women who wake up each morning, don their blue uniforms and hit the streets as the last line of defense for our communities are laid to their early rests. Whittier police officer Keith Boyer spent 26 years serving others.
LA Times Editorial Board owes Whittier Police Chief an apology
The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board lashed out at Whittier Chief Jeff Piper when he linked the murder of his officer, Keith Boyer, to the “criminal justice reforms” enacted in California in recent years. In strident language, the Editorial Board called on the Chief to be to “held accountable for false or misleading statements that are calculated to sway opinion on important policy matters.”
The crime issue rises
The murder of Whittier Police Officer Keith Boyer and the big increase of property crimes have highlighted growing concern over the consequences of recent legislation and ballot measures that have opened prison doors. The crime issue, so powerful in the final decades of the last century, is rising again in the public consciousness.
Sheriff’s Association says government’s budget plan would put public safety in jeopardy
The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs said Monday that a budget proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown regarding in-home care for low-income seniors and the disabled would jeopardize public safety in Los Angeles and other counties in the state. “A budget proposal by Governor Brown that would severely impact public safety in Los Angeles County is currently being considered in the state legislature,” an ALADS statement said.
$300K on belt buckles? LA sheriff’s union says ‘there are more important priorities’
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies may soon get a glint of gold across their beige and green uniforms. The department is shelling out $300,000 to change the color of the belt buckles and other hardware of their more than 9,000 deputies’ uniform from silver to gold, according to a story first broken by the Los Angeles Times.
LA Sheriff: Feds likely to step up cannabis enforcement in CA
The leader of the nation’s largest sheriff’s department expects federal drug agents will attempt to step up marijuana enforcement as California moves forward with legalization. But he believes there isn’t the manpower to conduct widespread raids on growers and businesses selling marijuana.
20 years later, Notorious B.I.G.’s killing remains one of L.A.’s biggest unsolved homicides
Notorious B.I.G. was leaving a music industry party at the Petersen Automotive Museum, sitting in the front passenger seat of a Chevrolet Suburban, when his killer pulled up alongside in a dark Chevy Impala. As the SUV idled at a stoplight, the gunman opened fire, hitting the 24-year-old rap star, who was also known as Biggie Smalls, four times.
Riverside County D.A. Michael Hestrin sees early release of prisoners as serious crime issue
Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin calls the county’s crime increase “troublesome,” putting the blame squarely on the 2012 prison realignment plan and the 2014 Proposition 47 releasing “non-violent” prisoners early and making any thefts valued under $900 misdemeanors.
Alibaba’s Jack Ma calls on Chinese law enforcement to wage war on counterfeits
In an open letter published on his Sina (SINA) Weibo account, China’s Twitter (TWTR) -like service, Alibaba (BABA) founder and Chinese billionaire Jack Ma on Tuesday asked Chinese legislators to penalize counterfeiters with serious jail time and steep fines, the kind of measure that China adopted to crack down on drunk driving.
Amazon counterfeit destroys $1 million home, injures children
Amazon has a counterfeit problem, and it has proven dangerous and potentially deadly for consumers. The problem is that anybody, anywhere, can open a shop on Amazon and sell just about anything on the website. Amazon lends its brand and marketing which aid the sale of counterfeit products from unvetted global sellers.
Sheriff’s drone helps in Malibu search for missing Glendale woman Elaine Park
Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials used a newly acquired unmanned aircraft, or drone, Sunday to help search for a missing Glendale woman above the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu where her car was found last month, authorities said. Elaine Park, 20, was reported missing on Jan. 30 by her family.
Body cams are becoming routine for police; but who gets to see footage is still up in the air
Guns drawn, police officers cautiously approached an SUV, the cameras on their uniforms recording as they searched for a firearm a suspect had supposedly pointed at a motorist. As one officer guarded the middle-aged driver now in handcuffs, two other officers flanked the vehicle, with one finding a rifle inside.
After a rash of burglaries at celebrity homes, LAPD looking for possible connections
Celebrity homes have long been easy targets for burglars looking for lucrative scores. Nearly a decade ago, it was the “Bling Ring,” a group of young people who used gossip magazine, online star maps and celebrities’ own social media accounts to target the riches of socialite Paris Hilton, actors Orlando Bloom and Lindsay Lohan and others to the tune of more than $3 million.
Law enforcement divided over California’s sanctuary frenzy
Law enforcement groups are divided over legislation that would turn California into a “sanctuary state.” Some law enforcement officials don’t want to enforce the Trump administration’s new immigration protocols, but they’re worried the state legislation could harm public safety and deprive them of much-needed federal funding.
Facebook says police can’t use its data for ‘surveillance’
Facebook is cutting police departments off from a vast trove of data that has been increasingly used to monitor protesters and activists. The move, which the social network announced Monday, comes in the wake of concerns over law enforcement’s tracking of protesters’ social media accounts in places such as Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore.
Should police agencies have their own DNA collections?
DNA databases are being collected across dozens of police departments in the U.S., a strategy some consider to be against state and national regulations restricting who can provide genetic samples and how long that information is held. Some of the rules local agencies employ for the gathering of their databases include allowing samples to be taken from children or people who were never arrested of a crime.
Robbers are targeting DTLA revelers
Club and bar patrons are being targeted by robbers on downtown L.A. streets, police say. Robberies are up nearly 10 percent compared with this time in February, and they’ve increased 18.5 percent since 2015, according to Los Angeles Police Department data. LAPD officials are warning revelers and downtown residents to be on guard. The advice comes after Hollywood experienced its own increase in nightlife crime late last year.
Trump effect? Smugglers raise price for sneaking people across U.S. border
The price for making illegal entry into the U.S. across the Mexican border has gotten a whole lot steeper in a hurry, according to a Drug Enforcement Administration document obtained by NBC News. As recently as last November, undocumented immigrants were being charged $3,500 to be smuggled into the U.S. through the rugged terrain that links Mexico to Arizona.
District Attorney
Women’s History Month: District Attorney Jackie Lacey tells the truth and nothing but the truth
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey is in a powerful and controversial position to say the least. As the first woman and the first African American person to hold the position, Lacey is faced with daily challenges and tough decision making that can be polarizing to the masses she serves. A constitutionally created office, the district attorney is responsible for prosecuting cases involving violations of state law.
State and Local Government
State grant would help Santa Barbara County keep mentally ill out of jail
Inmates suffering from mental health issues are crowding California’s prisons and jails, and Santa Barbara County is no exception. Undersheriff Bernard Melekian said he often fields the question: How many inmates in the county’s jail system suffer from some type of mental illness?
L.A.’s new pot era begins with debate over the number of shops
Los Angeles voters this week finally said yes to fully legalizing marijuana dispensaries in town. Measure M passed with a whopping 79 percent in favor. The law, spearheaded by City Council president Herb Wesson, empowers the council to issue licenses to collectives, with priority given to the 135 or so medical marijuana dispensaries that are compliant under current law.
California’s property tax burden 10th worst in nation
Warning: Property taxes are due April 10. Before you search for the bill and the checkbook – and perhaps express a few choice nasty words aloud about the financial pinch – let me make you extra grumpy. While Prop. 13 may keep California property taxes low for many folks, the overall financial burden remains relatively high. My trusty spreadsheet tells me we’re 10th worst among the states.
Talk of Calexit is a loser
News reports have revealed that the Yes California campaign (a.k.a. Calexit independence referendum) is run by Louis Marinelli of Yekaterinburg, Russia. Marinelli denies that Calexit is a Russian plot. But if it is, it’s a classic use of maskirovka, the Russian military strategy that contemplates clandestine measures such as infiltrating the political process of a country to split off part of its territory.
Schwarzenegger dispels rumors about Senate run 
Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Sunday said thanks, but no thanks, to rumors that he will run for the United States Senate from his adopted homeland. Writing on Facebook, the movie-star-turned-politician said he would instead concentrate on bringing political reform in the form of an end to gerrymandering.
John Van de Kamp, former California attorney general and L.A. County district attorney, dies at 81
John and Andrea Van de Kamp had been married almost a decade when they went to the Kentucky Derby in 1986. By that point, Van de Kamp was already a career politician and had garnered a reputation for being cautious – friends and colleagues saw a measured but thoughtful leader who would routinely defend laws he personally opposed, because it was his job to do so.
US Visas help in new Los Angeles office to aid immigrants
Following a public hearing marred by angry clashes between supporters of Donald Trump who is now President and pro-immigration campaigners, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved the opening of a new office that will offer US Visa county assistance to immigrants. Probably this new office will mainly deal with issues relating to illegal immigrants also known as undocumented immigrants.
Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens asks Trump administration to help her hold undocumented immigrants
With most California governments and police agencies resisting President Donald Trump’s push to increase immigration enforcement and deportations, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens is bucking the trend, telling the Trump administration she wants her department to cooperate more closely with federal immigration agents.
Federal Government
ICE agents make arrests at courthouses, sparking backlash from attorneys and state supreme court
Octavio Chaidez was walking out of a Pasadena courtroom with a client last month when four men jumped up from a hallway bench and rushed toward them. The men asked his client’s name. Then they pulled out badges. “They say, ‘You’re Mr. So and So?’ and he says, ‘Yes,’ ” Chaidez said. “They show him a badge, and they say, ‘We’re from Immigration and Customs,’ and they took him in.”
Sessions encourages cities to revive ’90s crime strategies
The Justice Department will encourage cities to revive decades-old strategies to fight violent crime, focusing on sending certain gun crimes to federal court, where they carry longer sentences in far-away prisons, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Wednesday. Sessions continued to push his tough-on-crime agenda to law enforcement officials in Richmond, where one such effort had its origins.
Career prosecutor named acting US attorney in Los Angeles
A career federal prosecutor was named acting head of the regional U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles after dozens of top prosecutors nationwide were asked to resign, a spokesman said Tuesday. Sandra R. Brown took over Saturday as acting U.S. attorney for the Central District of California the day after Eileen Decker resigned. Attorney General Jeff Sessions abruptly asked Decker and 45 other U.S. attorneys to resign Friday.
County DA being considered for U.S. attorney post
Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten has been included in the list of possible candidates vying for the top federal prosecutorial position in the state’s Central District. In an interview with The Star, Totten, 62, confirmed he is “under consideration” among “a number of highly qualified” candidates for the most populous federal judicial district in the nation.
Legislation
State lawmaker re-introduces Prop. 47 DNA fix for criminal investigations
An Elk Grove lawmaker is reviving a 2015 effort to give law enforcement back powers to collect DNA evidence for crimes reclassified as misdemeanors under Proposition 47, approved by voters in 2014. Assemblyman Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, today is expected to announce the re-introduction of a bill to allow police to collect DNA from people convicted of crimes previously classified as felonies, including low-level drug offenses, theft and forgery.
Citing police officer’s death, Whittier council members seek reform of crime laws
Following the death of Whittier police Officer Keith Boyer in a Feb. 20 shootout with a gang member who was on probation, council members Tuesday vowed to lead a drive to reform state laws they said have allowed violent criminals to remain on the street. Council members blame AB 109, which is now law, and Proposition 47 for an increase in property and violent crimes in cities across the state.
California Bill would extend taking DNA samples to some misdemeanor suspects
It’s been four decades since Shirley Derryberry’s 13-year-old sister Doris was killed in cold blood. But the cold case is now over, thanks to new DNA evidence linking two cousins to the crime. “I wanted to climb across the wall and choke ’em but that puts me in the same category they’re in,” said Derryberry. Derryberry says the killers responsible for her sister’s vicious rape and murder would not be caught today, because of new laws.
‘Sanctuary’ bill clears first hurdle in California Assembly
A bill to restrict California’s law enforcement agencies’ cooperation with federal immigration agents cleared its second major hurdle Monday and will head to the Senate for a full vote after a packed and at times testy hearing. Senate Bill 54 – advanced as the Trump administration seeks to increase cooperation with local police in immigration enforcement – passed despite opposition from the California State Sheriffs’ Association and other groups.
New California Assembly Bill would seek to improve the rape kit testing system
A new California Assembly Bill would seek to improve the rape kit testing system eventually impacting local law enforcement and forensics. Under Assembly Bill 41, local law enforcement agencies would be required to report information collected from rape kit evidence yearly to the State Department of Justice. If approved, the information would be made public record but could also cost taxpayers in the long run.
Here’s why law enforcement groups are divided on legislation to turn California into a ‘sanctuary state’
cramento County Sheriff Scott Jones says he does not want his deputies to enforce immigration laws. But he is worried about a bill that seeks to turn California into a so-called sanctuary state. At a news conference last week at the state Capitol, led by Republican lawmakers, he slammed the state Senate legislation, which would ban law enforcement agencies like his from using resources to enforce federal immigration laws.
L.A. County sheriff opposes ‘sanctuary state’ bill, saying it would hinder law enforcement
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell has come out in opposition to a so-called “sanctuary state” bill that would bar state and local policing agencies from using resources for immigration enforcement, according to a letter obtained by The Times. In the letter addressed to Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), who introduced the legislation, McDonnell said the measure would block sheriff’s officials from safely transferring inmates with immigration violations housed in county jails into the custody of federal immigration agents, forcing those agents “into our communities in order to search out and find the person they seek.”
Officials: Bail reform may cause headaches
As California lawmakers move toward overhauling California’s money-based bail system, local officials say the existing system holds suspects accountable for making all of their court appearances. Late last year, state Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, and Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, introduced two bills known as the California Money Bail Reform Act of 2017. The bill claims the state’s pretrial system unfairly jails low-income defendants who can’t afford to pay bail.
Commentary: Critique of Brown’s pension reforms is off base
The attack on pension changes passed by a bipartisan vote of the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown (Dan Borenstein, Feb. 2)  was exactly like each of the few Lotto tickets I’ve ever purchased: Wrong across the board. The reforms, enacted in 2012, were designed to bolster the long-term health of California’s public pension systems, and they are doing exactly that.
Courts
Whistle-blower can sue despite not contacting government, court says
A sales executive who said he was fired by a San Francisco company after reporting financial improprieties to a manager can sue the company as a whistle-blower even though he never contacted the government, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday. Federal securities law “bars retaliation against an employee of a public company who reports violations to the boss,” the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said in a 2-1 ruling.
Court: Ballot measure on juvenile crimes applies to earlier cases
In a ruling that could affect hundreds of cases, a state appeals court said Monday that a ballot proposition requiring juvenile court judges, rather than prosecutors, to decide whether a youth should be tried as an adult applies to charges filed before the measure passed in November.
The measure, Proposition 57, sponsored by Gov. Jerry Brown, was approved by 64 percent of the state’s voters.
In federal court – over a traffic ticket
Traffic tickets aren’t so out of the ordinary – until you get to Howard Herships’ case. After being caught by a red light camera on a right turn in suburban Sacramento, Herships, 73, contested the $200 ticket. His fight has proven costly to Herships, who lost his driver’s license: The 2014 ticket penalty ballooned more than eight-fold to a whopping $1,665 in addition to a $55 driver’s license reinstatement fee, costs Herships said he couldn’t afford.
Supreme Court considers three key cases during Gorsuch hearing week
While Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is under the glare of Senate questioning next week, the eight Justices at the Court will be hearing three days of case arguments. The Court returns from a respite on March 20, the same day that the Senate Judiciary Committee begins considering testimony about Gorsuch’s nomination to the bench.
Ninth Circuit hears critique of cy pres in Google privacy settlement
A federal appeals panel grilled lawyers in a case against Google over a claim of conflict of interest in steering funds from an $8.5 million class action settlement to the alma maters of two of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, including Harvard and Stanford universities. The case focuses on class action settlements that provide no money to class members but fund charitable organizations under the cy pres doctrine, a controversial practice normally used to distribute unclaimed funds.

Law.com

Man imprisoned for 32 years in 1980s murder is freed by L.A. judge
A man who spent more than 32 years behind bars after being found guilty of murder in what prosecutors agree was not a “fundamentally fair trial” is due to be set free today. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Laura F. Priver on Wednesday granted a request to vacate Andrew Leander Wilson’s November 1986 conviction for the robbery and murder of Christopher Hanson, and dismissed the case against the 62- year-old man.
Prison & Jail
Watchdogs concerned about 4 LA County jail deaths in 10 days
Four Los Angeles County jail inmates have died since March 1, according to documents obtained by KPCC, which jail watchdogs call concerning in light of past documentation of inmate neglect in the jails. There are no overt signs of foul play, according to documents, and the latest appears to have been a suicide. The deaths occurred at three different facilities.
State Bar
California State Bar bans sex between attorneys and clients
The State Bar of California approved an ethics rule that would subject lawyers to discipline for having sex with their clients. California currently bars attorneys from coercing a client into sex or demanding sex in exchange for legal representation. But voluntary sex between attorneys and clients is not prohibited as long as it does not cause the lawyers to “perform legal services incompetently.”

Monday Morning Memo for March 13, 2017

Prosecution
FBI agent: Conspiracy trail leads to former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca
FBI special agent Leah Tanner took the witness stand Monday to walk a federal court jury through her investigation into the Los Angeles County jails – and how it ultimately took her to the door of then-Sheriff Lee Baca. Tanner, who then went by her maiden name Marx, was assigned to investigate the jails in June 2010 after an inmate wrote a letter saying deputies were using excessive force for “no reason.” 
Prosecution and defense rest cases in re-trial of ex-LA County Sheriff Lee Baca
After almost two weeks of testimony by more than a dozen witnesses, the prosecution and defense rested their cases Thursday in the federal jail corruption re-trial of former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca. Baca didn’t take the stand in his defense. In fact, his attorney, Nathan Hochman, presented only one witness.
Los Angeles Daily News
Grim Sleeper prosecutor to speak
The Conejo Valley chapter of Brandeis National Committee will present “Truth is Stranger than Fiction,” with Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman discussing the case of the Grim Sleeper at 1 p.m. Sun., March 19 at Temple Etz Chaim, 1080 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks. Silverman has been a deputy D.A. in L.A. County since 1994 and is assigned to the major crimes division, where she has prosecuted six serial killers.
Two gang members in U.S. illegally are accused of kidnapping 3 girls, killing 1 in a satanic ritual
Two MS-13 gang members from El Salvador, both in the United States illegally, held three teenage girls against their will and killed one of them in what was described as a satanic ritual, authorities in Houston said Friday. Miguel Alvarez-Flores, 22, and Diego Hernandez-Rivera, 18, have been arrested and charged with aggravated kidnapping and murder – both first-degree felonies punishable by up to life in prison.
Immigrant charged in crash was deported 5 times, family says victim’s death ‘could have been prevented’
It was a day that began like so many others. But in the end, it was a day that would forever change the lives of the Duran family of Arleta. On the afternoon of Feb. 19, Sandra Duran, 42 – a mother, daughter and sister – was killed in a violent car crash on a rain-slicked road in North Hills.
Law Enforcement
AB 109 and LA’s most wanted
Controversy swirls around AB 109, with the recent murder of Whittier Officer Keith Boyer by a parolee whose multiple parole violations resulted in nothing more than 10-day “flash incarcerations” being the most recent and tragic example of AB 109’s failures.  No definitive study has been done on the fallout from AB 109, but anecdotal evidence abounds to rebut the defenders of AB 109 who vehemently insist that its provisions have not made our communities more dangerous.
From the Chief: Senseless acts
On Feb. 20, Officer Keith Boyer of the Whittier Police Department in Southern California was tragically shot and killed, allegedly by convicted felon Michael Mejia. According to news reports, Mejia murdered his cousin and then stole the dead man’s car to flee the murder scene. This is the car Mejia was driving when he crashed; which led to a response by Officer Boyer and his partner, Patrick Hazel.
San Diego a model for crime prevention programs
In my five decades of experience in law enforcement – from beat cop to police chief of San Diego, Richmond and San Jose – the biggest lesson I learned is there are smarter ways to improve public safety than simply locking people up for long periods of time. While prison is the proper punishment for people convicted of the most serious and violent crimes, it does more harm than good for individuals convicted of nonviolent crimes.
Post-Prop. 47, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department sees success in shift in focus
After California voters passed Proposition 47, which reduces certain drug possession felonies to misdemeanors, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon saw an opportunity to refocus efforts from street-level narcotics to targeting criminal gang activity – and he says the switch is paying off.
Sheriff Sniff: Criminals finding new safe harbor
Prop. 47, the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act,” has indeed produced a safe harbor – but not for schools and neighborhoods. Instead, a swath of repeat criminals have found refuge in the measure’s broad, inflexible provisions. The statewide proposition was approved by California voters Nov. 4, and took effect Nov. 5.
D.A. Jackie Lacey revises Brady Policy
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey today announced revisions to her office policy regarding the disclosure of exculpatory and impeachment information about peace officers and other recurring witnesses in criminal cases under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1963 decision in Brady v. Maryland and California law.
Alibaba’s Jack Ma calls on Chinese law enforcement to wage war on counterfeits
In an open letter published on his Sina Weibo account, China’s Twitter -like service, Alibaba founder and Chinese billionaire Jack Ma on Tuesday asked Chinese legislators to penalize counterfeiters with serious jail time and steep fines, the kind of measure that China adopted to crack down on drunk driving.
Alibaba’s U.S. notorious market public condemnation well deserved
The Office of the United States Trade Representative publicly condemned Alibaba, adding the e-commerce giant (again) to the U.S. Notorious Markets List – reserved for the world’s most notorious markets for counterfeit goods. The action is well deserved. Alibaba, appropriately named after the fable “Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves,” dismissed the embarrassing disapproval and setback for CEO Jack Ma as influenced by the current political climate.
Garcetti, LAPD announce expansion of Community Safety Partnership program
Harvard Park is equipped with a swimming pool, a playground, an obstacle course, a baseball field and tennis courts. It is also located in one of the most violent parts of South Los Angeles. In the past year, there have been four shooting deaths on the park’s perimeter. The latest victim was Brandon Tatum, 23, who was fatally shot Jan. 11 while walking home from the market.
US Police forces developing controversial DNA databases
Dozens of police departments around the U.S. are amassing their own DNA databases to track criminals, a move critics say is a way around regulations governing state and national databases that restrict who can provide genetic samples and how long that information is held. The local agencies create the rules for their databases, in some cases allowing samples to be taken from children or from people never arrested for a crime.
DA declines charges against LAPD officer in fatal shooting
Prosecutors will not file criminal charges against a Los Angeles police officer who shot and killed a man driving a stolen car in 2015. Los Angeles prosecutors say Officer Brian Van Gorden acted reasonably when he shot and killed Sergio Navas on March 5, 2015. The determination released Tuesday comes more than a year after the city’s Police Commission found the officer violated LAPD policy.
Lindsey Horvath presses for info on status of death by deputies investigations
City Councilmember Lindsey Horvath is pressing the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department for information on the status of two incidents in West Hollywood that resulted in the deaths of a local resident and the employee of a local business at the hands of Sheriff’s deputies. One is the shooting death of John Winkler, then 30, who was shot and killed by Deputy Gerardo Valdivia on April 7, 2014, as he fled a knife attack at an apartment at 939 Palm Ave.
Battle over controversial student art in U.S. Capitol lands in court-First Amendment in focus again 
For several weeks earlier this year, an odd battle was waged in the halls of the U.S. Capitol over a controversial work of art by a high school student placed there after an art competition in St. Louis. At issue is whether the Architect of the Capitol had the right to direct the permanent removal of the painting, or whether doing so violated the student’s (or his Congressman’s) First Amendment Rights.
L.A. sheriff gains support in legal fight over secret list of 300 problem deputies
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and three other advocacy groups have gone to court to back Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell’s attempt to send prosecutors the names of deputies found to have committed serious misconduct on the job. The move is the latest turn in the fight over a secret list of 300 problematic deputies whose history of misconduct could damage their credibility if they are ever called to testify in criminal cases.
Poll: Most San Franciscans want police to carry stun guns
A new poll commissioned by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce has found that most San Franciscans want to give stun guns to SFPD officers. According to the San Francisco Examiner, the poll, which asked a series of questions regarding the police and other major issues in the city, posed the stun gun question as follows: “Many large cities give their police officers Taser devices as a non-lethal alternative to hand guns when confronted with a violent or mentally ill suspect.”
New fingerprint searches in unsolved cases can solve violent crimes
Police agencies across the country would likely solve cold cases – murders and rapes – if they entered finger and palm prints from older crimes into an upgraded national database, a move the FBI encourages. In Cleveland, re-submitting prints has resulted in charges in at least two unsolved rape cases, so far. Investigators linked Rafiq Jones to a rape and robbery case last year after a fingerprint lifted from a beer bottle in 1996 was matched the to the 40-year-old.
Study: There is no evidence that immigration increases crime
A William & Mary professor says there’s no compelling evidence to show that immigration leads to more crime. Sociology department chair Graham Ousey says in a university press release that some studies show immigrants are less likely to be criminals. Ousey is the co-author of a recent analysis of 50 studies on the subject. He co-authored the paper with Charis Kubrin of the University of California-Irvine.
106 arrests sought after Northern California white nationalist rally
California authorities urged prosecutors to charge 106 people over violence that erupted during a rally by self-described white nationalists outside the state Capitol building last year, officials said Wednesday. The California Highway Patrol turned over its eight-month investigation to the Sacramento County district attorney’s office, which was reviewing the 2,000-page report and hours of video, spokeswoman Shelly Orio said.
Sheriff Jim McDonnell discusses bill that could limit contact between law enforcement, ICE
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell discussed the possible repercussions of a proposed bill that would stifle interactions between local law enforcement and federal agencies regarding criminals who may not be citizens. Critics of Senate Bill 54, or the Values Act, believe it would help protect criminals rather than families and communities.
Courts
California opens access to public business conducted on private devices
Communications by government officials in California who use personal devices or email accounts to conduct official business may be subject to disclosure under the California Public Record Acts. In a unanimous decision welcomed by transparency advocates, the California Supreme Court overturned an appellate court ruling.
Swiss banking giant can’t be sued in California
The Ninth Circuit on Friday rejected a request by a Bahamian trust belonging to a deceased Indonesian politician to sue Swiss banking giant UBS AG in California just because it does business there. In a written decision issued Friday, the court affirmed the dismissal of AM Trust’s federal class action against UBS for lack of personal jurisdiction.
Porter Ranch: SoCal Gas-AQMD gas leak settlement finalized despite health study complaints
The answer: $1 million. The question: How much should Southern California Gas Company, responsible for the nation’s largest-ever uncontrolled natural gas leak, pay to fund a study of how the blowout affected the health of residents who live in nearby Porter Ranch? To county health officials and some Porter Ranch residents, the million-dollar agreement appeared insufficient.
Jurors award $1.5 million to LAPD detective who claimed he was victim of retaliation
Jamie McBride, an outspoken leader of the union that represents Los Angeles Police Department officers, won $1.5 million Monday in a lawsuit alleging that his supervisors retaliated against him. McBride alleged that he was unfairly punished for refusing to sign a declaration prepared by a federal prosecutor in a case involving 38th Street gang members.
LA County sues California regulators, citing earthquake risk at SoCalGas natural gas field
Saying there is a “very real” threat of earthquakes rattling Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field, Los Angeles County sued state regulators Wednesday to keep the facility closed until the cause of a massive leak is known. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, argues that a well at Aliso Canyon, adjacent to Porter Ranch, failed during the devastating 1994 Northridge earthquake.
How the new travel order may still face legal obstacles, analysts say
President Trump’s new version Monday of a 90-day ban on U.S. entry from selected Muslim-majority countries has been stripped of some of its most legally vulnerable provisions, such as its application to legal U.S. residents and visa-holders. The new executive order also includes 10 days’ notice before it takes effect, allowing travelers to enter the United States if they’re already on the way.
S.C. to decide whether ex-producer’s suit against CNN was a SLAPP
The California Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether a former Los Angeles-based CNN producer’s action against the network, in connection with his discharge, should have been stricken under the anti-SLAPP statute. The justices, at their weekly conference in San Francisco Wednesday, unanimously granted review in Wilson v. Cable News Network, Inc. (2016) 6 Cal. App. 5th 822.
Election 2017
LA voters pass Measure M to regulate marijuana sales
A city-sponsored measure giving Los Angeles tools to regulate the recreational and medical marijuana industry was overwhelmingly approved by voters Tuesday evening. Measure M easily bested a competing ballot issue, the initiative Measure N, which was crafted and pushed onto the ballot by a marijuana trade group that later opted to throw its support behind the City Council’s measure.
LA election results: the establishment wins
In an era when populist uprisings have brought surprising election results nationally and internationally, the opposite was true in the Los Angeles elections yesterday. The establishment held its ground as most incumbents, led by Mayor Eric Garcetti’s overwhelming victory, retained their seats and the powers-that-be held sway on high profile city and county ballot measures.
Governor Garcetti? Massive mayor reelection win, but what’s next?
Mayor Eric Garcetti was preparing for another term Wednesday after a massive win that allowed him to avoid a May runoff, but whether he will serve his full term as mayor or seek higher office remained a mystery. City Hall speculation about Garcetti’s political future started almost immediately after Tuesday night’s victory. Will Garcetti make a try for governor in 2018 to replace Jerry Brown who is termed out of office?
Prison
California eases conditions at death row disciplinary unit
California will no longer keep death row inmates in solitary confinement for years only because of their purported gang affiliations, according to a lawsuit settlement announced Monday. Six San Quentin State Prison inmates sued in 2015, saying they were being held indefinitely under inhumane and degrading conditions in what prison officials call the “adjustment center.” One inmate had been there for 26 years and two others for more than a decade when the lawsuit was filed.
‘This is like paradise’: Seal Beach’s pay-to-stay program actively markets its jail, attracting deep-pocketed offenders
Sitting at a picnic table under azure skies last fall, a 37-year-old onetime CEO of a financial services company contemplated his good fortune. Sure, he was surrounded by a barbed wire fence, and lunch was frozen hot dogs and string beans being thawed in a bare-bones kitchen. But the alternative was Orange County jail, where he would be warehoused in barracks with hundreds of others, where alliances ran along racial lines and fights broke out daily.
California eases conditions at death row disciplinary unit
California will no longer keep death row inmates in solitary confinement for years only because of their purported gang affiliations, according to a lawsuit settlement announced Monday. Six San Quentin State Prison inmates sued in 2015, saying they were being held indefinitely under inhumane and degrading conditions in what prison officials call the “adjustment center.” One inmate had been there for 26 years and two others for more than a decade when the lawsuit was filed.
State & Local Government
Why America’s second largest city needs to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games
March 1, 2017 marked a turning point in the competition to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. Budapest, Hungary officially announced its withdrawal from contention, leaving only Los Angeles and Paris in the race to host the world’s most momentous sporting event. As both cities now vie for the honor, Los Angeles Olympics officials are making a heavy push to be part of history and the citizens of LA are onboard.
California’s next governor: Who’s running, who’s on the fence?
Welcome to your guide to the 2018 California governor’s race. The election may be a little less than two years away, but listening tours are underway, political consultants are doling out advice and pundits are handicapping favorites and wild cards. Here are the players to keep an eye on: Top jobs: California’s lieutenant governor since 2011. Mayor of San Francisco for two terms, from 2004 to 2011.
Calif. Attorney General Becerra talks Trump, Constitution
President Trump’s positions on issues such as immigration, the environment and legalization of marijuana have put him at odds with Golden State legislators. In an interview with Bill O’Reilly on Fox News Channel in February, Trump said he’s willing to do what it takes to make California fall in line. But even the threat of lost funding hasn’t stopped California legislators from signaling their resistance to policies that conflict with state laws.
California’s next governor: Who’s running, who’s on the fence?
Welcome to your guide to the 2018 California governor’s race. The election may be a little less than two years away, but listening tours are underway, political consultants are doling out advice and pundits are handicapping favorites and wild cards. Here are the players to keep an eye on: Top jobs: California’s lieutenant governor since 2011. Mayor of San Francisco for two terms, from 2004 to 2011.
Chiang, others speak in support of Secure Choice retirement program
State Treasurer John Chiang, AARP California Director Nancy McPherson and others are urging the U.S. Senate to defeat legislation that would undermine California’s Secure Choice employee savings program. Established in 2016, the Secure Choice Retirement Savings Act is intended to provide retirement savings accounts to more than 7 million private sector California workers who don’t have access to a savings program through their workplace.
Munger’s well-intentioned but stupid plan that handed over California to the Democrats
Back in the early part of the last decade, people often asked me about running for public office. Other than I could not afford it because I was putting two kids through private school, I told them I could not run for any office except a statewide position because as a Republican it would be a hopeless cause and I don’t do hopeless political causes. Now because of the genius and money of Charles Munger, Jr., I cannot even run statewide in California with any hope of winning.
Legislation
Sheriff Jim McDonnell discusses bill that could limit contact between law enforcement, ICE
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell discussed the possible repercussions of a proposed bill that would stifle interactions between local law enforcement and federal agencies regarding criminals who may not be citizens. Critics of Senate Bill 54, or the Values Act, believe it would help protect criminals rather than families and communities.
California assemblyman wants to criminalize recording violent crime
A California assemblyman believes those who film violent crimes should face charges along with the attacker. He is introducing a bill to crack down on conspirators. In December, a teen sucker-punched high school student Jordan Peisner, who he didn’t even know. Jordan suffered multiple injuries, including permanent hearing loss. The incident, which was recorded and shared on social media, sparked outrage among community members, who demanded an end to such bullying.
Federal Government
LA’s top federal prosecutor among 46 Obama appointees asked to step own
The U.S. Justice Department Friday announced that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has asked dozens of remaining Obama-appointed U.S. attorneys — including Los Angeles’ top federal prosecutor Eileen Decker — to step aside to make way for appointees of President Donald Trump. Sessions wants “to ensure a uniform transition” to the Trump administration, spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement.
C.I.A. scrambles to contain damage from WikiLeaks documents
The C.I.A. scrambled on Wednesday to assess and contain the damage from the release by WikiLeaks of thousands of documents that cataloged the agency’s cyberspying capabilities, temporarily halting work on some projects while the F.B.I. turned to finding who was responsible for the leak. Investigators say that the leak was the work not of a hostile foreign power like Russia but of a disaffected insider, as WikiLeaks suggested when it released the documents Tuesday.
Trump effect? Smugglers raise price for sneaking people across U.S. border
The price for making illegal entry into the U.S. across the Mexican border has gotten a whole lot steeper in a hurry, according to a Drug Enforcement Administration document obtained by NBC News. As recently as last November, undocumented immigrants were being charged $3,500 to be smuggled into the U.S. through the rugged terrain that links Mexico to Arizona.
Calif. lawmakers file FOIA demanding info on ICE activities
Lawmakers in California have filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to look into the activities of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the state, the Huffington Post reported Friday. According to the report, the request was filed in order to retrieve “information about recent Department of Homeland Security policies and Immigration and Customs Enforcement activities.”
Victims of immigrant crime now have advocate in White House
Two years ago, Steve Ronnebeck’s son was gunned down at work in a Phoenix-area convenience store over a pack of cigarettes. The man accused of pulling the trigger was an immigrant who was in the country illegally and had been released by federal authorities.
The suspected killer, captured on camera calmly stepping over the body of 21-year-old Grant Ronnebeck to grab a few more packs, faced deportation but was free on bond.
Don Rosenberg: Democrats reaction to Trump on immigration “despicable”
One California man was disgusted by the reaction of Democratic members of Congress last night as President Trump addressed the issue of illegal immigration. Don Rosenberg’s son Drew was run over and killed by an unlicensed, and illegal immigrant driver, in San Francisco in November 2010.  He says one part of the speech he found “despicable.”
The incentive to leak is right in the Constitution
The ongoing saga of contacts between Russian officials and the Donald Trump campaign assures that the subject of government leaks isn’t going away anytime soon. Although some critics have compared the career bureaucrats suspected of doing the leaking to the “deep state” that has bedeviled reformers in Egypt and Turkey, the First Amendment hasn’t been brought into the conversation. It should be.

Monday Morning Memo for March 6, 2017

Prosecution
D.A. opposes Roman Polanski’s bid to unseal transcripts
The L.A. County D.A.’s office Wednesday filed its objections to Roman Polanski’s latest legal maneuver, holding to its position that the director’s decades-old rape case cannot be resolved while he remains a fugitive. Polanski is seeking to unseal a 2010 transcript of Deputy District Attorney Roger Gunson, who prosecuted the 1977 case. Polanski’s attorney, Harland Braun, wrote a letter Feb. 6 to Judge Scott Gordon urging him to make the document public.
Los Angeles district attorney refuses to put up with Roman Polanski’s B.S.
In February, we reported that famed director and admitted rapist Roman Polanski was trying to return to the U.S. after several decades on the run, but only if the Los Angeles courts would unseal a “secret transcript” that supposedly proves Polanski was just supposed to get sentenced to 90 days of psychiatric evaluation after confessing to raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977.
Sex with girl, 13, by Roman Polanski: Poland nixes LA extradition
Efforts by Los Angeles prosecutors to bring back Roman Polanski to punish him for having had sex with a 13-year-old girl almost 40 years ago suffered a major setback when the Polish Supreme Court rejected a request by Poland’s government to extradite the Oscar-winning filmmaker. Polanski was arrested in 1977 on charges that included the rape of a 13- year-old girl at the home of actor Jack Nicholson.
USC graduate student charged with professor’s killing
A USC graduate student who allegedly fatally stabbed a psychology professor on campus last week pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a murder charge. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gustavo N. Sztraicher ordered David Jonathan Brown, 28, to remain jailed on just over $2 million bail while awaiting a Dec. 19 hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to require him to stand trial on a charge that he killed Siaufung “Bosco” Tjan inside the professor’s office.
Trial starts against alleged sex trafficker who told women he was Hollywood modeling agent
Taquarius Ford introduced himself to young women in shopping malls, showered them with compliments and asked if they’d be interested in a modeling career. He claimed he was a successful modeling executive from Hollywood and promised them future fame, paying for their flights to Los Angeles, where he wined and dined them and took them to red carpet events with celebrities.
Judge: Prosecutors can use Bill Cosby’s deposition at trial
Damaging testimony that Bill Cosby gave in an accuser’s lawsuit, including admissions that he gave young women drugs and alcohol before sex, can be used at his criminal sex assault trial, a judge ruled Monday. The defense had insisted that Cosby only testified after being promised he wouldn’t be charged over his 2004 encounter with accuser Andrea Constand.
Prosecutors: Ex-Sheriff Lee Baca was ‘heartbeat’ of jail conspiracy
Former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca was “the heartbeat of conspiracy” when it came to hiding abuses within Men’s Central Jail, and he did nothing to hold deputies who beat inmates accountable, prosecutors said in federal court Wednesday. The remarks were part of opening statements during the first day of Baca’s jail corruption trial, held at the downtown L.A. federal courthouse.
Baca Retrial: Ex-Lieutenant Greg Thompson takes stand for 1st time
It took a subpoena from federal prosecutors and a court-ordered grant of immunity to haul former LASD Lieutenant Greg Thompson into court Tuesday at the corruption retrial of former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca. Prosecutors aimed to tie the ex-Sheriff to acts they say prove Baca illegally stonewalled an undercover FBI probe into inmate abuse and deputy corruption inside L.A. County jails.
Allred wishes more Cosby accusers could testify
Lawyer Gloria Allred says she appreciates a court ruling Friday that lets one of her clients testify against Bill Cosby at his sex assault trial, though she wishes more of the accusers could join her. The Allred client says Cosby drugged and molested her at a Los Angeles hotel in 1996 when she a 29-year-old assistant to the comedian’s late agent.
The Southern Illinoisan
‘Butt dial’ message records murder victim’s final moments, prosecutors say
The voicemail came just after midnight – only hours before a woman’s mangled corpse was found abandoned near the seventh hole of an Indio golf course. It sounded like a barely audible conversation between a man and a woman, and Ian Thompson figured the call was an accidental “butt dial” from his friend Michael John Franco.
Man pleads not guilty to murdering two men in Chinatown social club
A man accused in the stabbing deaths of two men, who were attacked last month while playing mah-jongg in a private social club in Chinatown, pleaded not guilty Friday to capital murder charges. Vinh Dao – who prosecutors allege has a 2002 conviction for manslaughter – is charged in the Jan. 26 deaths of Tony Young and Kim Kong Yon at the Hop Sing Tong Benevolent Association at 428 Gin Ling Way, near the 900 block of North Broadway.
After 118 court appearances, California man’s murder trial hearing postponed again
The recently-appointed attorney for a man who has spent more than a dozen years awaiting trial for a pair of decades-old murders was given more time on Tuesday to go over the extensive evidence collected in the long-running case. John Laurence Whitaker’s 118th court appearance ended on a familiar note, as Orange County Superior Court Judge Patrick Donahue agreed to continue the 69-year-old defendant’s pretrial hearing until September.
Murder victim gunned down because letter ‘P’ was on his hat, prosecutor argues
Closing arguments are scheduled Thursday in the trial of a reputed gang member accused of gunning down a young man in Indio after mistaking the victim as a member of a rival gang. Shawn Anthony Wynn, 24, of Palm Desert, faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of the June 16, 2014, slaying of 20-year- old Juan Carlos Hernandez.
Former DWP employee pleads no contest to embezzling $4M in public funds
A former audio-visual technician for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power pleaded no contest Thursday to charges that he embezzled more than $4 million in public funds. Thatcus Richard, 65, entered his plea to nine felony counts each of embezzlement by a public officer, public officer crime and conflict of interest, according to Deputy District Attorney Susan Ser.
Conviction & Sentencing
Appeals court upholds 3 life sentences in Pasadena murder
A state appeals court panel Friday upheld the convictions of three men serving life prison sentences without the possibility of parole for a drug deal that went bad in Pasadena and left a 21-year-old man dead. The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding of a special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of an attempted robbery against Peter Parra, Kevin Cabrera and Raymond Conchas.
Disabled man stomped to death: ‘Heinous crime’ killer sentenced
A 21-year-old man was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years to life behind bars for the beating and stomping death of a disabled man at Rancho Cienega Park in the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw area. “You made my brother really suffer in his last moments in life,” the victim’s sister told the defendant in court. “You’ve created a wound in our hearts that will never heal. I hope that my brother’s face will haunt you for the rest of your life.”
Law Enforcement
New law could lead to rise in crime throughout California
Concern continues to grow among local law enforcement officials and politicians about the anticipated impact a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015 will have on policing, if not the crime rate. Between AB 109 and Proposition 47, many communities already have seen crime rise in recent years. It may only worsen when Assembly Bill 953 takes effect in 2018, according to San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon.
McDonnell appoints new undersheriff La Berge, first since Tanaka’s ouster
Los Angeles County has introduced its new undersheriff Monday, nearly four years after its former undersheriff resigned in scandal. At a press conference Monday at the Hall of Justice, Jacques “Anthony” La Berge, the assistant sheriff in charge of patrol operations, accepted the role, which has been vacant since his predecessor, Paul Tanaka, resigned in March 2013.
California has some of the toughest laws keeping police discipline private. That seems unlikely to change
In the nearly three years since nationwide protests erupted after a Ferguson, Mo., police officer shot and killed teenager Michael Brown, state lawmakers introduced multiple bills designed to overhaul how much Californians are allowed to know about officer-involved shootings and internal investigations, and increase access to body camera videos.
Ambush shootings of police officers reach highest total in decades
Police officers across the country say they are taking new precautions in response to a spike in what they call “ambush-style” attacks against them. Cops are teaming up to respond to emergency calls, suiting up more often in ballistic vests and helmets, even taking greater care to monitor their surroundings while dining out, police officials from half a dozen cities who spoke with The Trace said.
Attacks on police officers would be classified as hate crimes under California bill
Alarmed by a wave of shootings targeting police officers, state Assemblyman Jay Obernolte (R-Big Bear) has introduced a bill that would make an attack on law enforcement a hate crime in California, allowing stiffer penalties for those convicted. Obernolte’s bill comes after a series of shootings that have left 62 law enforcement officers dead so far this year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
The new, more powerful wave of civilian oversight of police
In Oakland, Calif., police will soon answer to civilians newly entrusted with the power to discipline officers and fire the chief. Last November, the city’s residents voted to create a civilian-run commission with a level of authority over law enforcement that is rare in this country.”This was a no-brainer given Oakland’s history,” says Rashidah Grinage, coordinator of the Coalition for Police Accountability, a group that helped write the ballot measure, which faced no formal opposition and passed with 83 percent of the vote.
Democratic congressman fights hard for painting of cops as pigs to go back on display on Capitol Hill

They say every picture tells a story. That’s certainly true of the painting at the centre of a recently announced lawsuit by Missouri Democrat, Rep. Lacy Clay and his ongoing legal battle to have the picture,  depicting police officers as pigs,  go back on display in a Capitol Hill hallway. And if it’s true that one look is worth a thousand words, then the uproar around this picture would currently generate enough words to fill a whole novel.

High-risk, high-expense security for celebrities plagued by stalkers
In recent celebrity stalking cases, Los Angeles courtroom events have shined a spotlight on the personal dangers some Hollywood stars face and the surprising extent and expense of protection measures these celebrities are forced to take. “I hate to say that if you’re a celebrity and you’re famous it comes with the territory, but it does. The more people that are following you, the more fans you have, the greater the likelihood that there’s going to be an unstable person in that midst,” explained Kris Mohandie, a police and forensic psychologist who previously ran the Los Angeles Police Department’s Behavioral Sciences Unit.
State has highest paid law enforcement officers in the nation
A recent study shows California law enforcement officials are the highest paid in the nation. The study published by career website Zippia.com shows that deputy sheriffs and police officers in California earn more than their peers in the other 49 states. The figures cited in the study come directly from Bureau of Labor Statistics data and were adjusted to reflect living wages throughout the nation.
AG sessions says DOJ to ‘pull back’ on police department civil rights suits
Donald Trump’s attorney general said Tuesday the Justice Department will limit its use of a tactic employed aggressively under President Obama – suing police departments for violating the civil rights of minorities. “We need, so far as we can, to help police departments get better, not diminish their effectiveness. And I’m afraid we’ve done some of that,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
California law enforcement union sues to block police accountability
Because there’s just not enough opacity shrouding police misconduct and not enough slanting of the criminal justice system against defendants, California police unions have decided to get involved in a judicial dispute over lists of law enforcement officers whose half of “our word against yours” isn’t quite as bulletproof as is normally assumed. A Los Angeles sheriff is trying to do the right thing, but he’s running into opposition from his own supposed “representatives.”
Amazon turns a blind eye to counterfeits
Amazon’s Marketplace proving to be an ideal counterfeit outlet.
Counterfeit problems are growing for Amazon as sellers overwhelm the web platform. Complaints are mounting, and legitimate manufacturers are suffering. Counterfeit sales can be a lucrative revenue source for the e-commerce giant, as transaction fees are charged for each sale of fake goods.
LA officials urge ICE agents to stop identifying themselves as ‘police’
Los Angeles officials have requested that agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement immediately cease the practice of identifying themselves as “police.” In a letter, Mayor Eric Garcetti, city attorney Mike Feuer and Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson urged ICE agents to no longer refer to themselves as “police” while carrying out their duties in L.A.
Courts
Public officials can’t shield government business by using personal email, state Supreme Court rules
Texts and emails sent by public employees on their personal devices or accounts are a matter of public record if they deal with official business, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a unanimous decision hailed by open-government advocates. But the court provided only general guidance on where the line would be drawn, posing a challenge for cities and counties forced to balance employees’ privacy against the public’s right to know.
Supreme Court poised to strike down N.C. law barring sex offenders from Facebook
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday appeared poised to strike down a North Carolina law barring convicted sex offenders from Facebook and other social media services, with justices noting the expansive role such online tools play in today’s society. Lester Packingham, a registered sex offender due to a statutory rape conviction, challenged the North Carolina law as a violation of his free speech rights under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
ACLU sues Milwaukee Police Department, community-police relations: A simple discussion?
Do Black rights matter in Milwaukee? Do Black lives matter in Milwaukee? What if one asked Dontre Hamilton’s family? What about the 70 men subject to forced strip searches over a matter of two years? The Milwaukee Police Department’s vision is “A Milwaukee where all can live safely and without fear, protected by a police department with the highest ethical and professional standards.”
Is posting on Facebook a fundamental right?
Lester Packingham Jr. registered as a sex offender in 2002 after pleading guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl when he was 21. But that offense isn’t what brought Packingham to the Supreme Court of the United States on Monday. The crime this time around? A Facebook post. The post itself was benign enough. In 2010, Packingham took to Facebook to celebrate a recently dismissed parking ticket.
Los Angeles County sues state over political boundaries law
Los Angeles County is suing over a new state law it says discriminates against more than 1 million voters while taking away the power of the Board of Supervisors to draw its own political boundaries. The lawsuit aims to block the 2016 law that creates a 14-member commission to draw boundaries for county supervisor districts after the 2020 census.
Judge grants restraining order against Black Lives Matter activist accused of threatening L.A. police commissioner
A judge has granted a restraining order against a Black Lives Matter activist who took his racially charged rhetoric to the law office and home of Los Angeles Police Commission President Matt Johnson. The intrusion of the activist, Trevor Ferguson, into the commissioner’s private life marked an escalation of a conflict that had previously been confined to public meetings.
Los Angeles mayor flirts with sanctuary movement while collaborating with ICE
On February 2, the American Civil Liberties Union held a press conference at the Terminal 2 arrivals gate of Los Angeles International Airport. The occasion for the press conference was the return of Ali Vayeghan, an Iranian lawful permanent resident of the United States who had been deported a few days before as a result of President Trump’s Muslim ban, to American soil.
SF tells high court there’s nothing to fear from trans restrooms
Decades of allowing transgender students, park visitors and government workers to use restrooms that fit their gender identity show that fears of sexual predators and invasion of privacy are unfounded, San Francisco and 30 other local governments said Thursday in a filing with the U.S. Supreme Court. “Wrapping discrimination in a cloak of fear doesn’t protect anyone,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement announcing the court brief.
Immigration courts clogged with 2-year backlog
Among the dozens of foreigners facing possible deportation who appeared before San Francisco immigration judges last week was Arturo Rojas, a former military officer from El Salvador who said he had fled his homeland in fear of his life. In his native country, Rojas had worked with local law enforcement to combat criminal gangs. But when his name showed up on a powerful gang’s hit list, his lawyer said, he left his wife and their infant son behind and headed north.
Ballot Measures
Prop. 64: Legalized marijuana may generate less tax than planned
Many medical marijuana patients were worried that a ballot measure legalizing cannabis for recreational use in California would make the price of their medicine go up. Instead, for some of them, pot just got cheaper, though maybe not for long. The Board of Equalization recently sent notice that anyone who has both a doctor’s recommendation for marijuana and a county-issued ID card identifying them as a patient no longer has to pay state sales tax thanks to Proposition 64.
Measure S campaign bucks Sheriff’s Dept. demands on ‘eviction’ mailers
Backers of Measure S refused Monday to comply with county demands tied to a campaign mailer that mimics an eviction notice, arguing that concerns about misleading tenants are “quite overblown.” The mailers are emblazoned with the phrase “EVICTION NOTICE” under the words “County of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.” Below, in much smaller print, the mailer mentions the Measure S campaign committee and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, its chief financial backer.
Prison
Last words of California’s executed inmates
Thirteen inmates have been executed in California since 1978, and seven of those prisoners chose to make final statements. Robert Alton Harris, KCRA-TV: Harris was convicted of abducting and murdering two teenage boys in 1978. Last words: “You can be a king or a street sweeper, but everyone dances with the Grim Reaper.” William George Bonin, KCRA-TV:  Bonin, also known as the “Freeway Killer,” kidnapped, robbed, raped and killed a total of 14 teenage boys between 1979 and 1980.
‘Gary from Chicago’ released from jail 3 days before Oscars
The tourist who became a breakout star of the 89th Annual Academy Awards said he was released from prison, where he served more than 20 years, just three days before the appearing at the Oscars. “Gary from Chicago,” whose real name is Gary Alan Coe, was part of a sightseeing tour group who unexpectedly ended up at the Oscars as part of a skit organized by host Jimmy Kimmel.
California inmate dies awaiting execution for rapes, murder
Authorities say a California condemned inmate has died while awaiting execution for a series of rapes and one murder nearly four decades ago. Corrections officials say 60-year-old Stevie Lamar Fields was found unresponsive early Tuesday in his single cell at San Quentin State Prison. He later died, but the cause of death is awaiting an autopsy. He was sentenced to death in 1979 by a Los Angeles County jury for kidnapping, robbing, raping and murdering 26-year-old Rosemary Janet Cobb.
Pensions
Public pensions are in better shape than you think
The beleaguered condition of state and local pension plans is one of those ongoing disaster stories that crops up about once a week somewhere. The explanation usually goes something like this: Irresponsible politicians and greedy public employee unions created over-generous benefit schemes, leading to pension plans which aren’t “fully-funded” and eventual fiscal crisis. That in turn necessitates benefit cuts, contribution hikes, or perhaps even abolishment of the pension scheme.
Californians hit as bad debts lead to government pension cuts
Maureen Lynch, 66, retired when the California government job-training agency where she worked was shuttered in 2014, assuming she could count on a $1,705 monthly pension for the rest of her life. But her former employer, East San Gabriel Valley Human Services Consortium, left a $406,027 unpaid bill to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, which manages benefits for 3,000 local governments and districts.
Politics & Government
Rancor over development, crime shadow LA mayor’s race
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s toughest competitor in his campaign for a second term might not be another candidate. Anxiety over taller, denser development, a jump in violent crime and the city’s notoriously fickle voters together inject a faint hue of uncertainty into what otherwise looks like a lopsided contest. Slim and polished, the 46-year-old Democrat is nearing the end of a relatively steady first term blessed by an improved national economy.
IHSS cost shift: More costly to counties
Some new analysis of the Governor’s plan to shift costs for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) back to Counties shows the impact is larger and grows faster than originally thought. Counties stand to lose $625 million in the first fiscal year, and the total cumulative cost is more than $7 billion by the 2022-23 fiscal year. Tables showing the increased costs are available at this link.
As state attorney general, Xavier Becerra gets to battle Trump – and discourage rivals in 2018
The race for California attorney general in 2018 has been shaken up by the so-called “Trump factor,” with the state’s newly appointed top lawyer, Xavier Becerra, seeing his profile boosted to the national stage by legal challenges to the Republican president. What was shaping up to be a free-for-all with several strong candidates before Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Becerra last month is now looking to be a much narrower race, with some candidates signaling they may drop out.
GOP California congressman calls for special prosecutor in probe of Russia-Trump ties
A Republican congressman has called for a special prosecutor to investigate whether Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and was in touch with President Donald Trump’s team during the campaign. Rep. Darrell Issa of California says it would be improper for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to lead the investigation. Issa made the comments Friday on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
LA County Deputy DA assails danger of “Affordable Bail Act” reform
California state lawmakers are looking at reforming the bail system to help low-risk, low income suspected criminals stay out of jail, where, because of the overburdened court system, they are apt to languish, possibly losing their job and housing. Assemblyman Rob Bonta and Senator Bob Hertzberg are behind the legislation. Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney David Berger says changing the bail system will jeopardize public safety.
Other News
Poll shows surprising Bay Area support for key Trump immigration policies
An exclusive new Survey USA poll offered a stunning snapshot of where the Bay Area stands on immigration Monday, with the new numbers revealing that more local residents are backing President Trump’s policies than you might think. The KPIX 5 Survey USA Poll showed more than half of people support a key element of the President’s immigration policy. 53 percent said local law enforcement should always contact federal authorities about illegal immigrants who commit violent crimes.
Urgent appeal: California Democrats to invoke new anti-Trump weapon
As they suit up for battle against the Trump administration, Democrats who dominate California’s Legislature vow to unleash one of the superpowers of holding a supermajority: the ability to enact laws immediately. An underplayed consequence of the fact that they won two-thirds of the seats in both houses last month is that-if they stick together-California Democrats have the required margin to pass a bill with an “urgency” clause.
In L.A.’s historic African American core, a growing Latino wave represents a possible ‘turning point’
Few places hold as much importance in Los Angeles’ black history as Central Avenue, the birthplace of the West Coast jazz scene and a magnet for those leaving the South seeking a better life. It runs through City Council District 9 in South Los Angeles and ends blocks from City Hall – a pathway that is both symbolic and literal. Voters in the district have elected an African American to the City Council since the early 1960s.