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 May 22, 2017

Crime Rates & Victims
Note the missing word……victims
As crime rates rise and victims continue to be marginalized by some state legislators, the Los Angeles Times again provided a “criminal justice reform” advocate with a platform to expound on how the system is too harsh.  This time it was Fordham law professor John Pfaff, who blamed budgetary incentives and the dark forces of prosecutors as reasons why criminal punishments are not lessened.
Legislation
State Senate bill would limit prosecutor IDs in judges’ races
Candidates in California judicial elections, whose names and qualifications are usually little-known to the public, can sometimes tilt the outcome by describing themselves on the ballot as a “gang violence prosecutor” or “domestic violence prosecutor.” Legislation now awaiting a vote in the state Senate, and supported by the state’s judges, would require prosecutors seeking judicial office to restrict their self-descriptions to their titles – “deputy district attorney” or simply “attorney at law.”
District Attorney
No-confidence vote for Contra Costa County district attorney who admitted to misusing campaign funds
The top cop in Contra Costa County is facing a firestorm after admitting he spent tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funds for his personal use. The county’s Civil Grand Jury is now calling for the removal of the county’s District Attorney Mark Peterson. On Friday, members of the District Attorney Association authorized a no-confidence vote.
DA marijuana working group member clarifies: DAs don’t have a stance on Cole memo
A coalition of the nation’s prosecutors recently proclaimed that marijuana enforcement policies should be consistent across America. But while a working group for the National District Attorneys Association decreed the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause should reign supreme in a time of rapidly shifting state marijuana laws, it stopped short of stating explicitly what those enforcement policies should be.
Dangerous ‘collateral consequences’ in Santa Clara County, California
Neha Rastogi must have thought she was living the American Dream. A native of India, Rastogi was a 30-something high-tech star working at the world’s premier technology company (Apple), sometimes directly with Silicon Valley’s biggest celebrity (Steve Jobs). Married to another successful IT developer and fellow India native, and with two children soon to arrive, she seemed to be on top of the world.
Prison & Jail
Jerry Brown’s AB 109 ‘reform’ put L.A.’s most wanted back on streets
On Monday, an accused cop killer, gang member Michael C. Mejia, reportedly laughed as he was arraigned in court, according to the local ABC News affiliate. Mejia was once released under AB 109, Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature prison reform, and now stands accused of committing two murders, including the murder of a Whittier police officer in February.
How violent criminals get out of prison early under Prop. 57
Welcome to the new, crazy world of California prison sentencing. It seems that under Prop. 57, law-abiding citizens get screwed with more crime, criminals get out of jail early and the state claims it’s saving the taxpayers money. Michelle Hanisee, President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, says Governor Jerry Brown promised that there was no way violent criminals would be released early under Prop. 57. But there is a huge loophole.
As Prop 57 goes into effect, experts debate impact on youth, prison overcrowding
In November, Californians passed Proposition 57 by a 64.5 percent vote. Formally known as the California Parole for Non-Violent Criminals and Juvenile Court Trial Requirements Initiative, and strongly endorsed by Governor Jerry Brown, Oakland’s former mayor, the new law attempts to ease prison overcrowding by increasing parole opportunities for inmates and changing how juvenile offenders are charged.
Family of slain Inglewood officer fight to keep killer in prison amid parole ruling
A man convicted of killing an Inglewood police officer is set to walk free and the officer’s family spoke out, demanding the man remain in prison. “I never thought we’d be here trying to fight for him to stay in prison. What kind of justice system would release a cop killer?” son George Aguilar Jr. said.
Law student with felony record and Skadden fellowship denied character and fitness recommendation
Tarra Simmons, a third-year law student, convicted felon and former drug addict who in December won a Skadden Fellowship to help people recently released from prison, did not have her character and fitness review approved by the Washington State Bar Association. The character and fitness board’s vote against Simmons’ recommendation was 6-3, Northwest Public Radio reports.
Law Enforcement
eBay won’t stop selling counterfeit law enforcement badges
Despite repeated written notifications, eBay continues to be the place for anyone around the world to buy fake law enforcement badges and identification cards. Global e-commerce giant eBay continues to be the “one stop” shopping market for fake police items. Click to view a few of the current eBay listings for LAPD Badges and FBI Badge and ID.
Amazon still selling counterfeit police badges despite complaints
Amazon claims to have a strong anti-counterfeit policy, but that claim falls flat. Amazon can’t even keep counterfeit FBI, NYPD, CIA and other fake police badges off its website. The problem is that anybody, anywhere, can sell just about anything on Amazon, including counterfeit products that may be dangerous or deadly. Amazon receives a fee on each fake item sold.
Calif. shifts from scanners to K-9s to catch smugglers
California is turning from mechanical scanners to canine sniffers in its latest intensive attempt to catch smugglers who import drugs into state prisons. Gov. Jerry Brown is dumping a three-year, $15.3 million program intended to thwart prison smuggling. That effort tested the extensive use of airport-style scanners, metal detectors, surveillance cameras, urine tests and drug-sniffing dogs at 11 of California’s 35 prisons.
San Bernardino County officers continue to use a shooting tactic other police departments have tried to stop
Jose Villegas, his wife and son were headed home on the 215 Freeway after a shopping excursion in September 2015 when an SUV came hurtling at the family’s Dodge Durango. There was little time to react. “Boom!” Villegas said. “It was like an explosion.” Not far away, a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department helicopter buzzed in the air, trailing a robbery suspect in the SUV. He had been driving at speeds exceeding 100 mph – in the wrong direction.
Video: Trump orders DOJ to develop strategies to prevent violence against officers, speaks at Police Week
President Donald Trump is asking the Justice Department to develop strategies to prevent and prosecute violent crimes against law enforcement. Trump says in the Oval Office that police officers have “had it with what’s going on” and notes that 118 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in 2016. Trump signed a proclamation to mark Peace Officers’ Memorial Week and Police Week.
‘I am despicable’: Kern County lawman convicted in drug plot blames Satan
A former Kern County sheriff’s deputy who pleaded guilty Monday to conspiring to steal marijuana seized during criminal investigations apologized in a recorded video message for his misdeeds, saying Satan was “playing games” with him. In a May 7 video entitled “I am sorry!” Logan August appeared seated with his wife as he apologized to Kern County residents, law enforcement officials and “anybody I had ever worked with that wears the badge that I disgraced.”
LAPD announces major MS-13 bust
Nearly two dozen MS-13 gang members were arrested in a pre-dawn crackdown according to LAPD officials. Police went to more than 50 locations located across the city this morning to bust the gang members. LAPD Chief Beck says illegal immigrants helped provide the tips that led to the crackdown. “All of that was made possible by the policies of the Los Angeles Police Department and the adjoining agencies that do not check immigration status,” Beck said at a press conference held this morning announcing the arrest.
In Orange County’s courthouse scandals, prosecutors and sheriff unite in cover-ups
Undercover Canadian police couldn’t believe their eyes at the Tycoon Club in Vancouver. Oblivious to the surveillance, law-enforcement colleagues, including two cops from Southern California, partied inside a hangout for the Big Circle Boys, a violent, Asian, organized-crime family. The Guangzhou-spawned syndicate specialized in extortion, home-invasion robberies and narcotics trade-particularly heroin, international human trafficking and prostitution.
LA sheriff says feds should restore military gear for police
The leader of the nation’s largest sheriff’s department said Wednesday that federal officials should restore the flow of surplus military equipment to local law enforcement agencies to ensure officers aren’t put in danger when responding to active shooter calls and terrorist attacks.
Gun Control
The ATF is shutting down businesses it says are hawking silencers disguised as cleaning tools
Utah firearms dealer Jeffrey Luck knows his customers are frustrated when they hear it takes $200, and as long as nine months, to process a federal application to buy a firearms silencer. But the law is the law, and as the licensed owner of Darkside Tactical, Luck says he stays on the right side of it.
SF forces gun suppliers to agree to halt sale of high-capacity kits
San Francisco extracted a legal settlement Tuesday from online gun suppliers who may have tried to sidestep state and local bans on high-capacity gun magazines by advertising “repair kits” that could be used to assemble the forbidden weapons’ cartridge holders. But the settlement, announced by City Attorney Dennis Herrera, is just a preliminary to the main events that may soon determine the extent of the right to own and carry a gun in California and across the nation.
Cyber Security
How a $10.69 purchase may have sidelined the global malware attack
As the world began Friday to understand the dimensions of “Wanna Decrypt0r 2.0,” the ransomware that has crippled computers worldwide, a vacationing British cybersecurity researcher was already several steps ahead. About 3 p.m. Eastern time, the specialist with U.S. cybersecurity enterprise Kryptos Logic bought an unusually long and nonsensical domain name ending with “gwea.com.”
City & County Government
Meet the Malibu lawyer who is upending California’s political system, one town at a time
Kevin Shenkman, who is tall and bookish, does not look like the aspiring light heavyweight boxer he once was. Clearly, though, he still relishes a good fight. For the past several years, Shenkman, 38, who lives and practices law in Malibu, has been suing, or threatening to sue, cities all over Southern California, demanding they change the way they elect members of their city councils in order to increase the numbers of African-American and Latino representatives.
Feds: Ex-Compton treasurer to plead guilty to embezzling $3.7M
Compton’s former deputy treasurer has agreed to plead guilty to a federal charge of stealing more than $3.7 million in city funds, according to court papers filed Tuesday. Salvador Galvan, 47, of La Mirada, is expected to formally enter his plea to one federal count of theft from an organization receiving federal funds at a date yet to be determined.
When Jerry Hill gets ticked off, you might get a new law
Sen. Jerry Hill slowed his black Tesla to a stop at the intersection of Glenview Drive and Earl Avenue. He pointed to the sidewalk in front of a dirt lot. “Thirty-eight homes destroyed,” Hill said. “Eight people died.” Two years into his first term in the Assembly, a PG&E pipeline burst and ignited a fireball that blazed through this residential neighborhood in Hill’s district. The names of the victims sit in a frame on his desk in the Capitol.
Courts
Turmoil wracks Los Angeles County Bar Association
The Los Angeles County Bar Association may throw out what it calls a “tainted” nomination of new officers and trustees and go through the disputed process again, a state judge ruled Tuesday. But county Bar members denied likely election victories by the Bar’s actions say they will still press their lawsuit against the do-over, or run for office again if they must.
Supreme Court declines to consider excessive force case involving LAPD officers
The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to weigh in on a civil case in which two Los Angeles police officers were accused of using excessive force against a former Deutsche Bank executive who said he was handcuffed, taken to a hotel and beaten with a baton.
Crime increase sparks criminal justice reform debate in California
Crime has been going up in California, and some members of law enforcement and their support organizations are blaming a series of changes to California’s criminal justice system in recent years. Violent crime in California increased 10 percent and property crime increased 8.1 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to the California Office of the Attorney General.
Judge throws out lawsuit challenging California’s execution law
A judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state law that gives prison authorities responsibility for establishing procedures for lethal injection executions. After voters passed a plan in November intended to speed up executions, the ACLU of Northern California challenged a state law that gave California’s corrections department wide authority to establish an execution protocol.
High Court to hear privacy challenge to child abuse reporting aw
The California Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether requiring therapists to notify authorities that their patients are accessing or viewing child pornography violates those patients’ constitutional rights to privacy. The justices, at their weekly conference in San Francisco Wednesday, unanimously granted review in Mathews v. Harris (2017) 7 Cal. App. 5th 334. Div. Two of this district’s Court of Appeal ruled Jan. 9 that the interests served by the reporting requirements outweigh the privacy interests asserted by a group of mandatory reporters on their patients’ behalf.
When does political gerrymandering cross a constitutional line?
The Supreme Court has never struck down an election map on the ground that it was drawn to make sure one political party would win an outsize number of seats. But it has left open the possibility that some kinds of political gamesmanship in redistricting may be too extreme. The problem, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote in a 2004 concurrence, is that no one has come up with “a workable standard” to decide when the political gerrymandering has crossed a constitutional line.
Becerra’s new role fighting Trump provides plenty of fodder
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra shouldn’t be short on talking points Monday at the Sacramento Press Club luncheon. The former congressman’s ascension to a post as the state’s top lawyer coincided with Donald Trump’s rise to power in Washington. And so far, the new administration is keeping Becerra pretty busy.
Supreme Court sides with cop who handcuffed a boy, 13, for repeatedly burping in class and rejects claim his civil rights were violated
The US Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by the mother of a 13-year-old boy who was arrested for burping repeatedly and disrupting his class. The boy’s mother filed a lawsuit against her son’s arresting officer, Arthur Acosta, saying her son’s civil rights were violated when he was handcuffed.
Lawyer who reacted to judge’s ruling with muttered obscenity is suspended from federal practice
A lawyer who rolled her eyes and complained that a judge’s ruling was “f– bull–” has been suspended from practice in Chicago federal court for 90 days. The executive committee of the Northern District of Illinois imposed the suspension on Chicago-area lawyer Alison Motta in an order (PDF) made public last Friday, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Monday Morning Memo for May 15, 2017

Prosecution
23-year-old pleads not guilty to felony
A Los Angeles man on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to three felony charges for a fatal crash in Venice last month, officials said. Benjamin Albert Seider, 23, was allegedly drunk when he ran a red light at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Ocean Avenue on April 10, striking the vehicle of three firemen from Marietta, Georgia, who were on vacation. 
AB 359: A quietly lurking threat to prosecutors throughout California
Some threats to public safety are obvious, such as Prop. 47 and Prop. 57. They were high-profile initiatives that received plenty of public attention and debate. Other efforts to change the criminal justice system appear to be well meaning, but contain consequences that reveal both a misunderstanding of how the system operates and are ill considered in their scope. Take, for example, Assembly Bill 359.
Don’t jail crime victims for not testifying
It’s been almost four years since I was shot in the stomach at a New Orleans parade on Mother’s Day. When two young men shot into the crowd, 18 others were also injured. I am a local journalist and was covering the parade for a New Orleans paper. The bullet landed in my stomach and tore through internal organs. However, when it came time for me to talk to the prosecution, I was reluctant for several reasons.
Conviction & Sentencing
Former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca sentenced to 3 years in jail abuse scandal
In what some called the end of a chapter in local civil rights abuse and jailhouse corruption, former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, who once led the largest department of its kind in the nation, was sentenced to three years in federal prison Friday. Dressed in a blue suit, Baca showed little emotion as U.S. District Court Judge Percy Anderson handed down the sentence at the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles.
The warning signs L.A. County missed when voters reelected Sheriff Lee Baca
Lee Baca was sentenced Friday morning for lying to federal officials and conspiring to obstruct an FBI investigation into the corruption and brutality that plagued the agency he presided over as Los Angeles County sheriff. For 15 years, Baca headed the largest sheriff’s department in the world. It polices 40 cities and 90 unincorporated communities in 4,057 square miles of Southern California, and it oversees 18,000 inmates in the county’s seven jails.
Hooker for off-duty sheriff’s deputy: 30 days behind bars
A man who was employed as a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy when he was arrested for soliciting a prostitute was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days in jail. Raymond Edward Bernasconi, 56, pleaded no contest April 10 to one misdemeanor count of soliciting a prostitute, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Bernasconi made arrangements online to meet a prostitute at a Claremont motel last Oct. 12, prosecutors said.
Domestic violence plea to let CEO avoid deportation
A victim of domestic violence says a plea deal reached by her estranged husband, a Silicon Valley CEO, is too lenient and that justice is being thwarted by efforts to ensure he isn’t removed from the country. Abhishek Gattani, co-founder of customer analytics startup Cuberon and a native of India, had been charged with felony domestic violence after his wife said he beat her.
Life without parole for botched drug deal, murder
The District Attorney’s Office announced yesterday’s ruling of life sentence without the possibility of parole for Mark Cooper (28) due to a killing during a 2013 drug transaction at a Long Beach mobile home park. Cooper was one of four robbers who arrived during Jose Vidal’s January 19th drug deal. The fourth armed assailant forced a neighbor into the home. Vidal (24) and a female friend were at the home.
Spy conviction upheld for Bay Area businessman 
A federal appeals court on Friday upheld most of a Bay Area businessman’s economic espionage convictions for selling DuPont technology to China for the production of a valuable white pigment. Walter Liew, 59, of Orinda was convicted in 2014 of 10 felony charges of economic espionage, theft of trade secrets, and obstruction of justice and tampering with a witness and evidence, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison and a $28 million fine.
Slain pregnant Hawthorne woman’s boyfriend, hitman found guilty in her 2001 death
More than 15 years after a pregnant woman was shot dead in her Hawthorne apartment, her boyfriend and the hitman he hired were both convicted in the killing on Monday, officials said. Derek Paul Smyer – the woman’s boyfriend at the time of her death – was found guilty of one count each of first-degree murder with the special circumstances of murder for financial gain and multiple murders, second-degree murder and conspiracy and two counts of solicitation of murder, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Government
LA County health plan that administers Medi-Cal, Obamacare spending on perks
Monique Andrade, 21, of Chatsworth has cerebral palsy, is a quadriplegic and gets fed through a tube in her stomach. Her mother Claudia says she consumes four and a half cans of Ensure a day, the only food that keeps her alive. Monique is on Medi-Cal and the supplies are supposed to be delivered once a month through L.A. Care, a public health plan that gets hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money.
Firing of FBI director concerns, confuses Dem, GOP lawmakers
President Trump’s decision Tuesday to abruptly fire FBI Director James Comey comes off as another example of the political clumsiness that continues to plague the young administration. The late afternoon dismissal instantly hijacked the nation’s airwaves, completely eclipsing any bump Trump received from successfully pushing his health care plan through the House last week.
New effort underway to add more seats to LA County Board of Supervisors
A state effort to expand the number of seats on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has resurfaced, but this time the renewed attempt has bipartisan support. State Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, recently submitted a constitutional amendment that would increase the number of members on California’s county boards of supervisors from five to seven in areas with 2 million or more resi­dents.
Child deaths up in latest Los Angeles County report on abuse
The number of children killed at the hands of a parent, relative or caregiver in Los Angeles County rose to 18 in 2015, up from 15 the previous year, while suicides among kids and teens more than doubled, according to reports released Wednesday. The reports on child abuse and child deaths also found that the number of children referred to authorities for suspected abuse or neglect decreased slightly in 2015, and auto-pedestrian collisions caused the most accidental child deaths that year.
Prison & Jail
Cut the potentially deadly prison cell phone connection
At 5:30 AM, on March 5, 2010, one day before my birthday, a man broke down the front door of my home. He shot me six times in the chest and stomach, and left me to die. It was an attempted contract killing, orchestrated via a contraband cell phone that had been smuggled into the prison where I worked as a corrections officer. At the time of the attack, I was working at Lee Correctional Institution, a prison about 50 miles east of Columbia, South Carolina.
California prison smuggling: Meth in soap, heroin on stamps
The $15 million spent by California to thwart prison drug smuggling has generated mixed results, researchers found, as increasingly creative smugglers turned to tricks like concealing methamphetamine in a bar of soap or heroin under postage stamps. Drug use in the three prisons with the most intensive programs dropped by nearly a quarter after corrections officials increased their use of airport-style scanners, surveillance cameras, urine tests and drug-sniffing dogs three years ago.
CA prison spending soars to all time high in Governor’s May budget revise
This morning, Governor Brown released California’s 2017-18 revised budget – a budget that increases total funding on corrections to $11.4 billion (2017-18), up from $10.6 billion last year (2016-17). Brown’s increase in corrections spending falls out of step with the will of the people of California. The budget projects a decline of the adult prison population by .7% due to voter mandated criminal justice reforms like Proposition 57, yet, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation budget continues to soar at an all time high this year.
Immigration
Here’s why some immigrant activists say not even criminals should be deported
As President Trump continues to vow to come down hard on illegal immigration, supporters of immigrants find themselves at odds over how much to fight for those whose criminal history is fodder for advocates of harsher and broader crackdowns. L.A. County became an early flashpoint in the debate after officials – in response to fears of mass deportations – unveiled a $10-million fund to hire lawyers to defend local immigrants without legal status.
Communist workers won’t be fired by state? Immigrant OC supervisors outraged
It may sound like something from 1953, but it’s happening right now. Outraged Orange County supervisors are taking a stance against a proposed law in Sacramento that would prohibit the firing of state employees for belonging to the Communist Party. The bill by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, AB 22, was narrowly approved by the Assembly Tuesday.
Law Enforcement
On law enforcement, California has already seceded
In mid-April, the leader of CalExit, a movement to have California secede from the United States and become an independent nation, announced that he was dropping the effort and moving to Russia. But by their words and actions, California’s political leaders have made it clear that on matters of law enforcement the state has already seceded.
Cal State Fullerton crime stats show decrease in drug arrests since 2013
Arrests for drug crimes are steadily decreasing on the Cal State Fullerton campus. In 2013, there were 139 University Police drug-related arrests, according to UPD crime stats. In 2014, those numbers went down to 75 and and in 2015, down to 34. There were no arrest statistics available for 2016 or 2017. California passed Proposition 47 in 2014, which reduced the personal possession of most illegal drugs to misdemeanor.
Amazon – The perfect marketplace for counterfeits
Counterfeit products are replicas of real products, designed to take advantage and profit from the superior value and reputation of the authentic product. Amazon is proving to be an ideal platform facilitate distribution of some $1.7 trillion in global counterfeit goods, which are expected to top $2 trillion in 2022. Counterfeiting is profitable, difficult to track and widely unpunished.
eBay – The perfect marketplace for fakes
Counterfeit products are replicas of real products, designed to take advantage and profit from the superior value and reputation of the authentic product. eBay is proving to be an ideal platform to facilitate distribution of some $1.7 trillion in global counterfeit goods, which are expected to reach $2.8 trillion by 2022. Counterfeiting is profitable, difficult to track and widely unpunished.
Why are California’s traffic tickets so outrageously priced?
A new report on California’s outrageously priced traffic tickets pretty much tells us what we already know: The fines disproportionately affect the poor who, lacking the ability to shell out nearly $500 for a red-light camera ticket, can end up in a spiral of consequences that include job loss because they’re not licensed to drive. They also hit minorities hard, because they are more likely to be stopped by cops.
ABC7 Investigation: Self-proclaimed psychics bilk thousands from vulnerable clients
She was homesick, depressed and looking for answers in love and life when the young aspiring actress crossed paths with self-proclaimed psychic Melissa Lee. “I am that stereotypical girl who moved from the small town to the big city and got ripped off,” the 25-year old told Eyewitness News. “Before I could blink an eye, I woke up one day – oh, my gosh – I’ve been scammed,” the actress said of the thousands of dollars allegedly swindled from her by Lee.
You get the police you ask for
We, as a profession, are not without sin. We have a sordid past on many levels. We have seen massive corruption, lying, scandals, thievery and abuses that include terrifying the weak, drug dealing, murders, torture and framing the innocent. Those aforementioned abuses and wrongdoings cannot be denied. What also can’t be denied is that when those crimes are committed they are perpetrated by an incredibly small percentage of our more than 700,000 members.
A ‘backroom deal’? Groups that pushed crackdown on police misconduct were left out of talks between Garcetti and the LAPD union
For much of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s first term, advocacy groups have demanded greater accountability at the Los Angeles Police Department, saying officers who engage in major misconduct should face serious punishment. Activists with Black Lives Matter confronted Garcetti at his home and spent part of last summer camped outside City Hall.
SF supes approve labor arbitrator for Police Commission
The Board of Supervisors approved Tuesday the mayor’s nomination of a longtime mediator and labor arbitrator to the Police Commission, filling a seat that has been vacant since January. Robert Hirsch was appointed 10 to 1, and is scheduled to be sworn in before Wednesday’s meeting. Hirsch runs his own firm specializing in employment, civil rights, real estate and commercial matters, and serves as a mediator and arbitrator for the federal courts.
Cops cleared of wrongdoing in 4 separate SoCal shootings
Prosecutors determined that Los Angeles police and sheriff’s deputies acted lawfully in four shootings in which suspects were killed, including one involving a man wanted for allegedly killing his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend and trying to kidnap her, documents released Wednesday show. The District Attorney’s Office found that LAPD Officer Richard Alba “used reasonable force in self-defense, defense of others, and to apprehend a dangerous fleeing felon” when he fatally shot Tien Hua in Rosemead on Dec. 29, 2015.
District Attorney
Sexting, naked pics: OC District Attorney’s Office embroiled in tryst, lawsuit?
The former head of the investigations unit at the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has signaled his intent to sue by filing a claim against his former employer with a state agency, a state official confirmed Wednesday. Craig Hunter, who was placed on leave last month, filed a “right to sue” claim against the D.A.’s office on April 28 with the state’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, according to agency spokesman Fahizah Alim.
Ballot Initiatives
Montebello council votes to declare fiscal emergency, ask voters to approve sales tax
Voters on Nov. 7 will decide on whether they’re willing to pay one penny more in sales tax for each dollar spent. The City Council voted unanimously – including Councilman Bill Molinari, previously the lone hold out – following a raucous debate that included verbal blows between Mayor Vivian Romero and Councilman Art Barajas over whether to put the sales tax increase on the ballot this November.
Death Penalty
ACLU death penalty challenge faces skeptical court
ACLU attorneys faced a tough fight Thursday in asking the state judge who dismissed its case challenging California’s execution procedures to reconsider the tentative ruling she issued in March. Alameda County Court Judge Kimberly Colwell tentatively dismissed the Eighth Amendment lawsuit on March 30 without leave to amend.
Courts
Scotus will not hear fatal Anaheim police shooting case
On Monday, the US Supreme Court chose not to hear a case involving a controversial fatal officer-involved shooting that sparked a week protests in Anaheim. In 2012, Anaheim police officer Nick Bennallack shot and killed 25-year-old Manuel Diaz, who was unarmed. When Bennallack approached Diaz, the young man was talking with two people in an alley. When Diaz saw officers coming toward him, he ran away.
Judge unlikely to dismiss hospital’s claim against Kamala Harris
A federal judge said he’s unlikely to dismiss a lawsuit against Sen. Kamala Harris for conditions she placed on a hospital acquisition bid while she was California’s attorney general. Prime Healthcare Services claims Attorney General Harris nuked the deal as a favor to the Service Employees International Union.
California high court rules on workweek issues
Californians can be required to work more than six consecutive days without overtime as long as they don’t work more than six days in a single week, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday. The unanimous ruling was the court’s first interpretation of California’s long-standing “day of rest” law. The law was originally drafted by a state labor commission in 1919 as a wage order against requiring women and minors to work more than six days in a week, or eight hours in a day.
California DMV accused of violating federal voter registration law
Voting-rights advocates accused the state Department of Motor Vehicles on Tuesday of violating the federal “motor voter” law by requiring the more than 1 million Californians who renew their driver’s licenses by mail each year to fill out a separate form to register to vote. In a federal court lawsuit in San Francisco, the League of Women Voters and other organizations said the 1993 National Voter Registration Act requires states to include voter registration opportunities in their applications to obtain or renew a driver’s license or a state identification card.
San Diego authorities ordered to return $100,000 seized from medical marijuana distributor, family
San Diego County Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis has been ordered to return more than $100,000 seized from a medical marijuana businessman and his family, 15 months after drug agents raided the company and didn’t charge anyone with a crime. Superior Court Judge Tamila E. Ipema issued the order late Friday, almost six weeks after lawyers representing James Slatic argued that the money must be returned.
California resident who outed FBI informants in refuge takeover appears before federal judge
A federal judge Tuesday directed prosecutors to lay out their case in writing to support their argument that California resident Gary Hunt knowingly violated a court protective order by posting the names of informants who helped the FBI during the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Pensions
Pensions are a problem in the heart of Silicon Valley
Under a plan put forward by the city’s finance team, Mountain View would draw about half that amount ($6 million) from its reserve fund, a pool of money normally set aside for emergencies. But by doing so, they warned, the city would need to tweak its longstanding policy to keep at least 25 percent of its general fund in reserves, which could threaten the city’s AAA bond rating.

Monday Morning Memo for May 8, 2017

Prosecution
The limits of prosecutorial power
Criminal justice reformers seem to have found a new champion in the progressive prosecutor. A recent New York Times article profiled some of these rising stars-Andrew Warren of Tampa, Scott Colom of eastern Mississippi, Kim Foxx of Chicago, Kim Ogg of Houston, and Aramis Ayala of Orlando. The Marshall Project has also devoted a fair share of coverage to “reform-minded” prosecutors.
State Government
The race to become California’s next governor is already awash in cash
A small field of candidates hoping to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown next year has already raised more than $20 million. Here’s what we know. Who’s raised the most? Gavin Newsom, whose donors range from Silicon Valley to Hollywood, has gotten out to a significant lead. Asian American business leaders have contributed large sums to John Chiang, while Antonio Villaraigosa has reached out to wealthy Angelenos.
Legislation
California Senate passes Senator Toni Atkins’ bill to help convict sex traffickers
A bill to help prosecutors convict predators who traffic in sex slavery passed in the California Senate Monday, announced a representative for Senator Toni Atkins. Atkins created SB 230 to add sex trafficking, pimping and pandering to the list of crimes that does not allow character evidence to be used in a trial.
Proposed marijuana regulations offer a business-friendly overhaul of the industry
California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. For the first 20 years of the legalization era, the state declined to create a normalized industry. Instead, local governments have been forced to figure out for themselves how to regulate a federally illegal industry. The consequences of this delay have frustrated cannabis activists eager to see California set the tone for legalization.
District Attorney
Bell Gardens councilman Pedro Aceituno under investigation by District Attorney’s Public Integrity Division
Hews Media Group-Community News has exclusively learned that an investigation has been opened by the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office (PID) focusing on Bell Gardens City Councilman Pedro Aceituno – and the City’s – transactions with Park Water Company (Park Water), Golden State Water Company (Golden State), and Central Basin (CB) Municipal Water District.
L.A. Coliseum suit says rave promoter is sidestepping its bill
In March, the District Attorney’s Office wrapped up its five-year prosecution of figures implicated in the Coliseum Corruption scandal, and rave promoters – who were accused of essentially bribing a public official for access to the taxpayer-owned facility – walked away relatively unscathed. The commission, a body of political appointees and rotating elected officials, isn’t giving up. This week, it filed a suit against just one promoter: Pasquale Rotella and his Insomniac Entertainment firm.
LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey releases annual “Report to the People”
District Attorney Jackie Lacey highlighted efforts to help mentally ill individuals stay out of the criminal justice system in an annual report released today by her office. The Report to the People 2015-16 leads off with a letter by Lacey that recalls the biggest convictions of the last two years. “One of the office’s greatest achievements was the successful prosecution of Lonnie David Franklin Jr. – who was convicted of the notorious `Grim Sleeper’ murders of nine women and a teenage girl spanning from 1985 to 2007,” Lacey wrote.
District Attorney’s Office spent $100,000 on weaponry in 2016 – almost as much as SDPD
The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office spent almost $100,000 in 2016 on weapons for its Bureau of Investigation, an amount greater than that spent by three other Southern California prosecutors’ offices and almost as much as the San Diego Police Department. The office won’t say exactly what they purchased with the money.
Prison, Parole & Jail
Man convicted in 1985 murder of LAPD detective granted parole, outraging police union
A state review board has granted parole to the man who planned the assassination of a Los Angeles police detective more than 30 years ago in front of his 6-year-old son in the San Fernando Valley, prompting outrage from law enforcement. Voltaire Williams was one of six men connected to the ambush killing of Detective Thomas C. Williams – no relation – in a hail of machine gun fire in front of a Canoga Park church school on Halloween 1985.
Michele Hanisee: Cop killer to be released
Despite objections from countless law enforcement organizations, Voltaire Williams, who is serving a life sentence for his critical role in the 1985 assassination of LAPD Detective Thomas Williams (no relation), was granted parole Tuesday by a three-person panel from the California Board of Parole Hearings. Voltaire Williams, who has spent the last 32 years in prison after being convicted of conspiracy to murder Detective Williams, will now be released on parole.
California inmates decry changes to voter-backed early release plan
With the support of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and voters, California is preparing to overhaul decades-old determinate-sentencing laws and make thousands of nonviolent inmates eligible for early parole. In hopes of freeing up space inside its notoriously overcrowded prisons, this summer the state’s parole board will begin considering the early release of individuals convicted of crimes considered nonviolent by the state.
Spike in mentally ill LA jail inmates leads to new policies
Perhaps the largest group of mentally ill inmates in the U.S. resides in Los Angeles in one of the world’s largest jail complexes. Over the past seven years, the jail’s population has spiked almost 50 percent – with nearly every inmate having both mental illness and substance abuse problems – and officials suspect the rise is due to methamphetamine.
Judge: California must allow transgender inmates’ earrings
California prison officials must provide for free undergarments that flatten the chest of transgender inmates at women’s prisons and give transgender inmates at men’s prisons access to bracelets, earrings, hair brushes and hair clips, a federal judge said Friday. U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar issued the order in a federal lawsuit that earlier led California to become the first state to provide taxpayer-funded sex reassignment surgery to an inmate.
Deaths, ‘self-inflicted violence’ up in LA County jails
It’s shaping up to be a bad year for deaths inside Los Angeles County jails: 10 people died from natural causes through March 24, county Inspector General Max Huntsman said Thursday.  “There were a lot of deaths at the beginning of the year,” Huntsman told the new Sheriff’s Civilian Oversight Commission, which had requested the numbers. “If they continue at this rate, we will about double the rate of deaths from last year.”
Los Angeles jail adapts amid meth-fueled rise in mentally ill inmates
Perhaps the largest group of mentally ill inmates in the U.S. resides in Los Angeles in one of the world’s largest jail complexes. Over the past seven years, the jail’s population has spiked almost 50 percent – with nearly every inmate having both mental illness and substance abuse problems – and officials suspect the rise is due to methamphetamine.
Law Enforcement
FBI report finds officers ‘de-policing’ as anti-cop hostility becomes ‘new norm’
An unclassified FBI study on last year’s cop-killing spree found officers are “de-policing” amid concerns that anti-police defiance fueled in part by movements like Black Lives Matter has become the “new norm.” “Departments – and individual officers – have increasingly made the decision to stop engaging in proactive policing,” said the report by the FBI Office of Partner Engagement obtained by The Washington Times.
LA Riots 25 years later: Former DA Ira Reiner recalls ‘disturbing’ breakdown at LAPD
The 1992 Los Angeles riots broke out in Los Angeles Police Department territory, but sheriff’s deputies were the only ones called in during the early days to help control the chaos, recalls Ira Reiner, district attorney at the time. “In any other circumstances, that would be out of the question,” he said, but the LAPD leadership at the time was in no shape to take on the situation.
Fabio: California is a ‘mess’ because of liberal policies
Fabio, the Italian-born male model who has adorned the covers of countless romance novels, only became an American citizen last year, but he’s lived in California for years. On “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Fabio lamented that The Sunshine State is becoming unlivable thanks to liberal policies, particularly those involving crime and law enforcement. “California is a mess,” Fabio said. “Coming from Europe, I already saw this movie before.”
Police pursuit, fatal hit-run of 63-year-old North Hills victim leads to 1-year jail term for drugged-up motorist
A man who got behind the wheel while drugged is set to begin serving a one-year jail term on June 14 for a hit-and-run crash that killed a pedestrian in a North Hills crosswalk and an ensuing police pursuit that ended in Pacific Palisades. Mark Christian Johnson, 55, of Escondido, was also ordered to complete a six-month live-in drug treatment program after getting out of custody, followed by three years probation, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
County budget leaves us underfunded
It is often said that the level of commitment to an idea or project can be measured by one’s monetary commitment to it; hence the phrase “put your money where your mouth is.” While the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has occupied a great deal of time, focus, and calls for changes by the Board of Supervisors, the level of commitment has to be questioned in light of funds the department is slated to receive in the upcoming 2017-2018 fiscal year.
‘How many people are being shot?’ L.A. sheriff’s watchdog decries lack of transparency
A little more than two years ago, the primary watchdog over the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department laid out numerous ways the agency was failing to provide the public with basic information about how often deputies use force, the number of complaints alleging misconduct and how many deputies were being disciplined. This week, Inspector General Max Huntsman complained that little has changed.
Police say local crime is 15% greater than three years ago
Though serious crime declined last year, Seal Beach Police officials say crime is higher now than it was in 2014. Police provided the Sun with crime data from 2013 to 2014. Last week, the Sun reported that serious crime, also known as Part 1 crime, decreased by more than 6 percent in 2016. “Proposition 47 was introduced November 4,  2014,” according to Sgt. Michael Henderson, the Police Department’s public information officer.
Scientists hunt hard evidence on how cop cameras affect behavior
New York City is set to begin giving body cameras to its police officers on Thursday. Under the police department’s pilot program, 1,200 officers in 20 precincts will receive the cameras. The officers will also be studied by scientists to see what effect the cameras have on policing. As police don body cameras across the country, scientists are increasingly working with departments to figure out how the cameras change behavior – of officers and the public.
‘Textalyzer’ Aims to curb distracted driving, but what about privacy?
If you’re one of the many who text, read email or view Facebook on your phone while driving, be warned: Police in your community may soon have a tool for catching you red-handed. The new “textalyzer” technology is modeled after the Breathalyzer, and would determine if you had been using your phone illegally on the road.
Two L.A. sheriff’s officials promoted to high ranks despite histories of serious discipline
In his 27 years at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, James Tatreau Jr. has made plenty of headlines – often for the wrong reasons. As a lieutenant in Lakewood, he helped organize a contest among deputies to arrest the most people in a 24-hour period – a move that then-Sheriff Lee Baca publicly criticized.
LAPD officer at center of high-profile shooting in Venice also faces domestic violence charges
Los Angeles police officer who Chief Charlie Beck says should be criminally charged for shooting an unarmed man in Venice is now facing new allegations: that he committed domestic violence against two women in Orange County. Prosecutors have charged Clifford Proctor with misdemeanor battery in connection with a September incident in Huntington Beach, marking the latest controversy to embroil the nine-year LAPD veteran.
Panhandler gets handcuffed, not a handout
An alleged fugitive wanted in Washington state was arrested Saturday morning after he allegedly tried to panhandle money from a local sheriff’s sergeant. “In the early morning hours of Saturday, Apr. 29, 2017, on-duty Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Sergeant Barclay stopped at a gas station convenience store on the 19400 block of Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country,” Shirley Miller, sheriff’s spokeswoman told The Signal Monday.
Cybercriminals breached over a billion accounts last year
Cybercriminals had a very good year in 2016 – and we all paid the price. These digital bandits became more ambitious and more creative and that resulted in a year marked by “extraordinary attacks,” according to the 2017 Internet Security Threat Report from Symantec. “Cyber crime hit the big time in 2016, with higher-profile victims and bigger-than-ever financial rewards,” the report concluded.
USC student charged with raping woman, 19, in dorm
A University of Southern California student was charged with raping a 19-year-old woman on campus, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said Tuesday. Armann Karim Premjee, 20, was charged with one count each of rape by use of drugs and sexual penetration by a foreign object. The sophomore is accused of sexually assaulting the woman in her campus dorm room sometime after 1 a.m. on April 1.
Ex-LA deputy gets $1.27M settlement: Retaliation fear in Baca sheriff department
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has voted to pay $1.275 million to settle a retaliation lawsuit brought by a former sheriff’s deputy who testified against colleagues involved in trying to “hide” a jailed FBI informant from federal agents. That criminal conspiracy ended in convictions for 10 sheriff’s officials, including former sheriff Lee Baca, who is awaiting sentencing.
Ballot measure on Los Angeles police misconduct causes heated debates
A measure that would allow police officers found guilty of misconduct to choose the body where they can appeal that decision is on the May 16 ballot. Rev. William B. Smart stood with several community advocates outside of the Los Angeles Police Department’s headquarters Tuesday, urging people to vote no on the measure also known as Amendment C.
To fight Chicago violence, police use technology that traces ‘day in the life’ of a gun
You’ve heard of the “day in the life of” an interesting person or public figure. Well now, new ballistic technology is helping federal agents and police create a day in the life of the guns being used by criminals terrorizing America’s neighborhoods– especially those in Chicago.
It’s called the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN).
Police: Former teacher preyed on Catholic school students for sex
Detectives say a former San Fernando Valley teacher was arrested on suspicion of having sex with his students. William Maclyn Murphy Eick taught at Bishop Alemany High School from 2009 to 2016. The investigation began last November when two victims came forward, according to an LAPD spokesman. He turned himself in Tuesday and was booked and released on $70,000 bail.
More use-of-force data needed from L.A. sheriff’s department
We’ve generally been pleased with the efforts by Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell and his team to restore trust in their department after the scandals of the Lee Baca era. But in one not-unimportant matter, this editorial board and other county residents must reserve judgment. This is the matter of deputies’ use of force. The impression is that things are better than the not-so-old days of jailhouse brutality.
Death Penalty
Will the death penalty ever be enforced in California?
Q If the majority of Californians support the death penalty, why isn’t it enforced? – D.S., El Segundo A In November, Californians narrowly approved a measure seeking to speed up death penalty enforcement, and also defeated a measure that would have replaced the death penalty with a sentence of life without possibility of parole. More than 900 convicted killers have been sent to death row in California since capital punishment was reinstated in 1978, yet only 13 have been executed since then (the last in 2006).
Latest use of sedative keeps death penalty debate alive
Is unorthodox the same as cruel and unusual punishment? It’s the central question of the current U.S. death penalty debate, highlighted by the latest execution involving a disputed sedative that appeared to involve discomfort to the inmate. States struggling to find lethal drugs believe they’ve got the answer in midazolam, a sedative that’s taking the place of barbiturates and anesthetics no longer available because drug manufacturers don’t want them used in executions.
Immigration
Grief fuels father’s fight to end illegal immigration
Don Rosenberg is a lifelong liberal who may have only one thing in common politically with President Donald Trump: his battle against illegal immigration. Rosenberg became an activist on the issue after his 25-year-old son, Drew, was killed in a 2010 collision in San Francisco with a Honduran immigrant who had entered the country illegally, but been granted temporary immigration status.
CA sheriff hits back at “sanctuary state” rhetoric by showing just who would be protected
Much attention has been given to the antics of crazy California politicians like Kamala Harris, Kevin de Leon, and Nancy Pelosi, who all advocate for sanctuary city/state policies and call anyone opposed to their view racist or “white supremacist” – and can somehow say with a straight face that this policy doesn’t put Americans at risk.
CBS News dismayed drunk driving illegals are getting arrested for such a minor offense
A CBS News reporter is dismayed that the Trump administration is arresting illegal aliens who commit “minor” traffic offenses such as drunk driving. Drunk driving kills about 10,000 people in the United States every year. CBS News “justice reporter” Paula Reid is apparently worried that the Trump administration isn’t merely targeting illegals who are violent criminals, but is also arresting “nonviolent” lawbreakers like drunk drivers.
City & County Government
LA County leaders eye up to $20 million in unspent parcel tax funds for trauma centers
With a projected surplus of about $20 million to use at their discretion, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to look into how the network of trauma centers can benefit from the funds. County leaders said the extra money was generated by a parcel tax passed by voters in 2002. At the time, county hospitals faced more than a $700 million loss in federal funds to support trauma and emergency services, as well as bioterrorism preparedness activities.
Raids on Palmdale mayor have ‘nothing to do’ with city, official says
Raids on the home and office of Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office are not connected to the city, a Palmdale official said Thursday. “This warrant has nothing to do with the city of Palmdale, it has nothing to do with the city of Palmdale budget and has nothing to do with the city of Palmdale finances,” Palmdale communications manager John Mlynar said Thursday at City Hall.
Lawmakers propose expanding L.A. County Board of Supervisors from 5 to 7 members with one elected executive
A group of nine state lawmakers on Thursday introduced a bill that would seek to improve representation of people of color on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors by expanding it from five to seven members and creating a position of an elected county executive. State Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) is the lead author on the legislation that would put the matter of changing the state Constitution to a vote on the California ballot in June 2018.
Courts
Prosecutors to face punishment for withholding evidence
Prosecutors who withhold evidence that might have helped a criminal defendant will soon face the prospect of punishment by the State Bar of California, under rules already in place in every other state. The state Supreme Court voted unanimously Monday to approve most of the disciplinary standards that the bar had proposed for prosecutors, who are rarely punished for breaking the rules in California.
LACBA endorses judicial elections reform bill
The Los Angeles County Bar Association has gone on record in support of SB 235, a judicial elections reform bill that would bar inventive ballot designations. Its action, on Wednesday night, came close on the heels of the California Judges Association announcing late that afternoon that it was backing the bill, though it had a couple of suggestions for changes. The CJA is thus in harmony with the Alliance of California Judges, which has also endorsed the measure.
Cities can sue banks for predatory lending, rules U.S. Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court bolstered the nation’s housing-discrimination laws Monday, allowing cities to sue banks for racially biased home-loan practices — but only if they can show that those practices are causing financial harm to city governments. With Chief Justice John Roberts joining more-liberal colleagues to cast the deciding vote, the court ruled 5-3 that local governments, and not merely individuals, can challenge so-called predatory lending that targets racial minorities.
Latinos, blacks discriminated against by banks? Supreme Court ruling paves way for lawsuits
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling will help clear a path forward for a number of lawsuits the city of Los Angeles has brought against major banks for alleged discriminatory lending practices. By a 5-3 vote, the court ruled that a city can be an “aggrieved person” in a lawsuit against a  bank over violations of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, and not just an individual.
One of L.A.’s first Mexican-American attorneys has spent 46 years fighting for his people
Miguel García, who’s among the most accomplished civil-rights litigators from L.A.’s Chicano Power era, sold his law practice on Whittier Boulevard in East L.A. a year ago and packed up 46 years’ worth of legal mementos. He kept the cards he received from the clerk’s office at the California Supreme Court granting him hearings in 1973, ’74 and ’75.
Durst’s 2nd wife helped conceal killing of first, suit claims
For nearly 20 years, Debrah Lee Charatan has tried to stay outside the media spotlight trained on her husband, Robert A. Durst, who is facing trial in Los Angeles in the killing of Susan Berman, his confidante. But that may be ending. In a $100 million lawsuit filed Monday in State Supreme Court in Mineola, N.Y., by Carol Bamonte, Mary Hughes and Virginia McKeon, the three sisters of Mr. Durst’s first wife, Kathleen Durst, Ms. Charatan is described as a “coldblooded opportunist” who in cooperation with Mr. Durst “conspired and agreed to conceal the whereabouts” of Kathleen Durst’s body from her family.
Court of Appeal rejects immunity defense in suit by child hit by errant golf ball
The immunity afforded a public entity from liability for the dangerous condition of a recreational trail was held inapplicable yesterday in a case where a flying golf ball from a revenue-generating city golf course struck a pedestrian on an adjacent walkway. Div. Two of this district’s Court of Appeal reversed Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Howard L. Halm’s grant of summary judgment to the City of Pasadena in an action on behalf of a child injured by an errant golf ball as his mother pushed him in a stroller on a walkway next to the 15th hole of the C.W. Koiner Course of the city’s Brookside golf facility.

Monday Morning Memo for May 1, 2017

Prosecution
Walgreens pays $10 million to settle California claim
Federal prosecutors say Walgreens has paid nearly $10 million to settle claims that it sought reimbursement from California’s Medi-Cal program without proper documentation. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento said Thursday that the state program pays for specific drugs used to treat certain illnesses for millions of Californians with low incomes and disabilities.
Flawed DNA test nearly pinned Spokane man for attempted rape in Beverly Hills
In October 2014, two Beverly Hills, California, detectives boarded a flight to Spokane to visit Mark “Woody” Merrifield at the Geiger Corrections Center. Local prosecutors were preparing to try him for drug possession, theft and possession of a stolen vehicle. The detectives hoped to add a few more charges to Merrifield’s rap sheet.
Veterans score major victory in Los Angeles
Justice was again served last week against the Veterans Administration – specifically, its LA office, which once again got slapped down in its efforts to squelch a critic. Exactly why federal prosecutors tried to work the VA’s will is a question Attorney General Jeff Sessions should be asking. For most of a decade, Vietnam-era vet Robert Rosebrock, now 75, has protested outside the VA compound in Los Angeles, charging that the agency doesn’t do remotely enough for homeless vets.
‘If anything ever happens to me, Bobby did it’ – the latest testimony from the Robert Durst murder case
Susan Berman was pacing nervously and biting her lip when her friend Miriam Barnes entered her apartment. “I’m going to tell you something, but I need you not to ask me any questions,” Barnes quoted Berman as saying. “I did something today.” Berman didn’t explain what she had done, only that it was a favor for a close friend of hers: New York real estate scion Robert Durst.
Judge gives prosecutors access to Durst’s papers for murder trial
A judge ruled Thursday that the Los Angeles district attorney’s office may pore through 60 boxes of Robert Durst’s papers for evidence to use in prosecuting the New York real estate scion for the murder of his close friend Susan Berman. Although Durst’s defense team said materials in the boxes could be protected by the attorney-client privilege, Superior Court Judge Mark Windham held that Durst had waived the privilege by sharing the boxes with the creators of a 2015 documentary about him.
Sessions: We’ll go after white-collar criminals too
In his first weeks as attorney general, Jeff Sessions has kept a relentless focus on his plans to crack down on illegal immigration and violent crime. On Monday, he said that doesn’t mean corrupt businesses will get a pass. “As we re-double our efforts to combat violent crime, we will still enforce the laws that protect American consumers and ensure that honest businesses aren’t placed at a disadvantage to dishonest businesses,” he said.
Local prosecutor wins prosecutor of the state after winning death penalty case
Felicia Nagle is the first woman in Kern County to win the prosecutor of the year award for the state of California. Nagle is being honored by the California District Attorneys Associations. She beat out prosecutors in all other large California counties, like Los Angeles and San Diego.
Nagle has been with the DA’s office since 1996 and has worked in nearly every unit, and has prosecuted numerous homicides and sexual assaults.
Conviction & Sentencing
Lee Baca’s attorneys say ex-sheriff’s dementia diagnosis is ‘sentence of its own’
Federal prosecutors say former Sheriff Lee Baca should be sentenced to more than four years in federal prison, but because of his age and mental condition, a two-year sentence is recommended, they wrote in court documents filed Monday. Baca was found guilty in March of obstruction and other charges in connection with an FBI probe into corruption and excessive use of force inside the Men’s Central Jail in downtown L.A.
Man sentenced to 15 years for starting massive Da Vinci blaze in downtown L.A.
A man charged with setting a roaring blaze at the partially built Da Vinci apartment complex in Los Angeles that caused millions of dollars in damage, melted freeway signs and shrouded downtown in smoke was sentenced Monday to 15 years in prison, prosecutors said.
Vietnam vet memorial wall graffiti attack in Venice: No contest plea to ‘horrible insult’
A second man pleaded no contest Wednesday to defacing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Venice just before Memorial Day last year in what one official termed a “horrible insult.” Luis Daniel Medina, 20, was immediately sentenced to 90 days of community service – 60 days of graffiti removal and 30 days with the Veterans Administration – along with 17 days already served behind bars and three years formal probation, according to Ricardo Santiago of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Legislation
Weighing the stakes between public safety and punishing the poor with state bail reform
As reported by Bay Area News Group, AB 42 would enable people to be released at no cost while waiting for trial. The bill will be heard Tuesday before California’s State Assembly Committee on Public Safety. Under the proposed legislation, judges would be able to decide whether individuals would need to be held until their court date.
Anticipating a shift to the right in the courts, the NRA begins its attack on gun controls in California
The state affiliate of the National Rifle Assn. on Monday filed the first in a series of planned court challenges opposing sweeping new gun control laws approved in California in the wake of the San Bernardino terror attacks. The flurry of legal action comes as Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s choice for the Supreme Court, takes his seat, returning a conservative majority to the nation’s highest court.
The hidden costs of gas-tax legislation
For the last three weeks this column has focused on both the policies and politics of the $5.2 billion annual transportation tax increase. In the unlikely event that some have forgotten – or were on another planet – the taxes include a substantial hike in the car tax as well as a 12 cent increase in the gas tax. However, as one might hear in a low-budget, late-night television ad, “But wait, there’s more!”
Federal-state marijuana policy: An uneasy peace
Cannabis industry entrepreneurs are used to navigating the obvious tension between state and federal law regarding the legalization of marijuana, particularly now that states like Colorado, Washington and California, among many others, have legalized recreational marijuana.  However, recent comments by Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicating intent to increase enforcement of federal prohibitions on marijuana have ratcheted up that tension.
Proposed CA bill could take some convicted sex offenders off registry
A controversial bill making its way through the California Capitol is aimed at removing some sex offenders from the online registry. California Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, introduced Senate Bill 412, which would limit the amount of time sex offenders are included in the online registry based on the seriousness of their sex crime and the risk they pose to others.
$155 billion a year in higher taxes and fees proposed in first four months of legislative session
In the first four months of the 2017-18 legislative session, California lawmakers introduced $155 billion in higher taxes and fees – a staggering amount that will give pause to every business owner when considering expansion, and cause families to reflect on California’s affordability.
District Attorney
Orange County District Attorney’s top investigator accused of sexting on the job
A new scandal has hit the Orange County District Attorney’s Office after one of its top investigators was accused of sexting while on duty. The department’s chief investigator, Craig Hunter, a former deputy chief at the Anaheim Police Department, was off the job after accusations of sexting while at work.
Prison & Jail
Two inmates found dead in separate cells at Salinas Valley State Prison
Two inmates were found dead inside separate cells at a state prison in Monterey County early Saturday, officials said. Authorities at Salinas Valley State Prison are investigating the death of Cedric J. Saunders as a homicide, saying the 22-year-old inmate serving a five-year sentence for robbery was found unresponsive inside his cell Saturday morning.
How ‘schools not prisons’ became a favorite rallying cry for criminal justice reformers
A bill winding its way through the Legislature proposes a creative way to fund early childhood education: imposing a tax on companies that do business with California’s prison systems.
A tax on the “privilege” of such contracts, as Assemblyman Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond) puts it, is an unorthodox policy prescription.
Deaths, ‘self-inflicted violence’ up in LA County jails
It’s shaping up to be a bad year for deaths inside Los Angeles County jails: 10 people died from natural causes through March 24, county Inspector General Max Huntsman said Thursday.  “There were a lot of deaths at the beginning of the year,” Huntsman told the new Sheriff’s Civilian Oversight Commission, which had requested the numbers. “If they continue at this rate, we will about double the rate of deaths from last year.”
Law Enforcement
After United clash, airport police brass warn officers to avoid such feuds
Police agencies that patrol U.S. airports have a message for their rank and file after Chicago officers dragged a United Airlines passenger off a plane: Don’t get involved in carriers’ civil disputes. It is one that police brass have relayed to officers in cities such as New York City and Atlanta in the wake of the April 9 incident at O’Hare International Airport when Chicago Department of Aviation officers pulled David Dao, 69 years old, from a seat after United had bumped him and three other passengers to make room for crew members due to fly the next morning.
Police report says passenger fought with officers before he was pulled from United flight
The Chicago aviation officers who forcibly removed a passenger from a United Airlines flight filed reports saying the traveler was “aggressive” when responding to requests to give up his seat and flailed his arms while fighting with officers.
Police chiefs: Speed safety cameras in San Jose, San Francisco can save lives
Last year 50 people in San José and 30 people in San Francisco tragically died due to traffic collisions. Each left behind a heart-breaking hole in their families and communities. The cities of San José and San Francisco both have adopted a commitment, known as Vision Zero, to end traffic fatalities in our cities.
LA Sheriffs: Cop videos not the whole story
In recent years’ videos of law enforcement in action have become commonplace. Departments have adopted video cameras to record their deputies and officers in action, bystanders have posted cellphone videos of police action, and surveillance cameras have captured images which have been replayed on local and national media.
BART takeover robbery: 40 to 60 teens swarm train, hold up riders
BART police are beefing up patrols at Oakland stations after dozens of juveniles terrorized riders Saturday night when they invaded the Coliseum Station and commandeered at least one train car, forcing passengers to hand over bags and cell phones and leaving at least two with head injuries.
Aero Bureau Noir: The strange case of the LASD’s missing helicopter engines
Part I: The Mystery of the Engines – Mike Stille stared grimly at the group of huge cans-metal barrels, really-that his transport guys had recently unloaded inside his Number 2 warehouse located in Peachtree City, GA. The cans themselves looked normal enough, but Stille did not have an upbeat feeling about what he was going to find inside the things.
Seven years later, shooting death of prominent SoCal attorney remains a mystery
Family members and investigators issued a call for help Tuesday in an effort to solve the 2009 killing of a prominent attorney who was gunned down outside his Rolling Hills Estates residence. Jeffrey Tidus, 53, was fatally shot on Dec. 7, 2009, after he returned home from a fundraiser in Redondo Beach, according to the sheriff’s department.
Cyber extortion demands surge as victims keep paying: Symantec
Hackers are demanding increasingly hefty ransoms to free computers paralyzed with viruses, as cyber criminals seek to maximize profits from large numbers of victims willing to pay up, according to cyber security firm Symantec Corp. The average demand embedded in such malicious software, which is known as ransomware, more than tripled last year to $1,077 from $294, and the pricing has continued to rise in 2017, according to Symantec.
Technology use by sex traffickers fuels debate between privacy and security
Sex traffickers are growing more adept at using sophisticated technology to exploit people, especially tools to hide their identity and encrypt data, fanning an ongoing battle between online privacy and security, a conference heard on Tuesday. Websites, chat rooms and virtual currency all are used by traffickers to hunt for child victims and sell them, said Kevin Gutfleish, a specialist in violent crimes against children at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
With gang crime up in the west San Fernando Valley, LA leader seeks more funding
While the west San Fernando Valley is not known for high rates of gang activity, a recent rise in gang-related crime in the area has prompted a Los Angeles city councilman to call for more funding to prevent the problem from getting worse. The Los Angeles Police Department’s West Valley Division has a fully staffed gang unit, but it does not receive any direct financial help from the mayor’s Gang Reduction and Youth Development program, a $25 million program distributed across 23 zones around the city to operate gang prevention and intervention services.
LA rapper who bragged about ‘flocking’ wanted in string of knock-knock burglaries
A Los Angeles street gang member who starred in a rap music video about “flocking” – a slang term for breaking into a home in order to steal – has been on the run for months after being charged by Ventura County prosecutors with four counts of residential burglary, authorities said.
After 27-year-old Darren King was arrested for the Simi Valley burglaries, he posted bail of $50,000 last August but failed to appear in court later that month, according to police.
Study raises alarm about drugged drivers
Driving under the influence of legal and illegal drugs is causing the same concern for motorists today that drunken driving caused 40 years ago and should generate the same response. That’s the conclusion of an updated study released Wednesday by the Governors Highway Safety Association, which called for greater enforcement of laws against impaired driving, improved training for police officers and increased educational programs to persuade drugged drivers not to get behind the wheel.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Crack down on prostitution aims at impounding cars of LA pimps and johns
Pimps and johns in Los Angeles could soon see their vehicles impounded after a state Assembly committee approved a bill Wednesday that aims to create a pilot program allowing the action by law enforcement in an effort to crack down on prostitution. AB 1206 was approved with a 6-1 vote by the Assembly Public Safety Committee and would create a 24-month pilot program in Los Angeles.
Plan to station deputies in Commerce gets initial look
When a 9-1-1 call goes out in Commerce, deputies assigned to the East Los Angeles Sheriff’s station respond with lights flashing and sirens blaring as they cut through traffic to reach crime victims and arrest the bad guys. Commerce pays the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department $7.5 million a year to protect its residents and businesses, but worries precious response time is being lost because deputies are stationed outside the city.
Death Penalty
California further delays lethal injection regulations
California corrections officials are delaying their new lethal injection regulations by four months, officials announced Monday, pushing back this week’s deadline until late August. The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation needs more time to update the proposed rules after an initial version was rejected by state regulators in December, spokeswoman Terry Thornton said.
California could finally resume executions next year
California has long been what one expert calls a “symbolic death penalty state,” one of 12 that has capital punishment on the books but has not executed anyone in more than a decade. Prodded by voters and lawsuits, the nation’s most populous state may now be easing back toward allowing executions, though observers are split on how quickly they will resume, if at all.
With executions in balance, Supreme Court grapples over role of experts
The Supreme Court struggled to decide on Monday whether criminal defendants who may be mentally ill are entitled to independent expert witnesses to help defend them, or whether court-appointed experts who report to both the prosecution and the defense are sufficient. The case concerns a death row inmate from Alabama, James E. McWilliams, but the issue in his case also figures in two of the eight executions Arkansas had hoped to carry out this month.
Meet the man leading the push for more executions in the U.S.
It’s been a decade since California’s last execution; the state now has 749 people on death row. Many of them have had that designation for decades; their execution seems increasingly unlikely. In November, Californians voted in favor of Proposition 66, which was billed as a “fix it, don’t end it” reform of the death penalty.
Immigration
California Today: A big swing on sanctuary cities
Not long ago, California Democrats were broadly opposed to so-called sanctuary policies that limit cooperation between local police and federal immigration agents. But times have changed. A poll conducted by U.C. Berkeley researchers in 2015 found that attitudes on sanctuary policies transcended political affiliation: 82 percent of Republicans and 73 percent of Democrats were opposed to them.
Once celebrated, special driver’s licenses stir anxiety among immigrants in California
Leticia Aceves remembers the fear of her first drive alone. She was pregnant and in the country illegally with no driver’s license, and little grasp of English or California’s traffic laws. She had a doctor’s appointment, so she drove on side streets and avoided Highway 49 — the town’s main road — hoping to lessen her chance of being pulled over by police.
Sanctuary cities ruling: When a judge quotes Sean Spicer, it’s not a good sign for the White House
When a long list of comments from President Trump, his surrogates and his spokesmen shows up in a federal court ruling, it’s fair to say it can only mean one thing: a constitutionally questionable executive order is about to get a judicial smackdown. That was true in March, when federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland suspended Trump’s travel ban, saying the administration had showed a clear animus toward Muslims, despite government lawyers’ claims to the contrary.
A new federal office will seek to assist victims of crimes committed by immigrants
In the latest Trump administration effort to spotlight crimes committed by immigrants in the country illegally, the head of Homeland Security on Tuesday launched a new office to help what he said are forgotten victims. The office, part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was given a toll-free hotline to report crimes and to offer support to victims, including local contacts with immigration officers and access to social services.
City Government
LA City Hall braces for retirement wave

It’s a statistic they’ve known for a while now, but it’s inching ever closer: More than 40 percent of the city of L.A.’s 45,000 employees will become eligible for retirement by 2018. The wave of retirement is mostly due to an aging workforce, something that’s happening all across the country, said Dr. Fernando Guerra, who runs the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University (and is a member of KPCC’s Board of Trustees).
Montebello council to consider placing sales-tax measure on November ballot
After relying for years on one-time infusions of cash to plug holes in the city’s budget, Montebello’s council could soon declare a fiscal emergency that would allow officials to put a sales tax increase on the Nov. 7 ballot. The city faces a $5.6 million deficit in City Manager Francesca Tucker-Schuyler’s $58 million budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year.
Courts
Berkeley cell phone warning law upheld by federal appeals court
Berkeley can require retailers to warn their cell phone customers about the possible radiation effects of carrying switched-on phones close to their bodies, a federal appeals court ruled Friday. The cell phone industry sued to block enforcement of the ordinance, calling it an “inflammatory” message that violated retailers’ freedom of speech.
U.S. top court won’t review Houston police shooting ‘waistband’ defense
The U.S. Supreme Court, turning down a chance to test the limits of police use of force, declined on Monday to revive an unarmed suspect’s lawsuit accusing a Houston officer of unconstitutional excessive force for shooting him in the back after he reached for his own waistband.
California Supreme Court: An epidemic of misconduct?
Secrecy is power. Power tends to corrupt. Corruption destroys. The courts are the most secretive branch of government. The secrecy which the California courts enjoy has resulted in serious constitutional violations. While anyone may bring a video camera to record other public meetings, the law forbids the recording any judicial proceeding without the express, prior permission of the court.
Sotomayor sees ‘disturbing trend’ of unequal treatment regarding police, alleged victims
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote Monday that the court is developing a “disturbing trend” of siding with police officers accused of excessive force at the expense of their alleged victims, a notion disputed by two of her colleagues. Sotomayor was arguing that the court should have accepted the case of Richardo Salazar-Limon, who was shot in the back by Houston police officer Chris Thompson in 2010.
Pensions
Split roll property tax proposal is really a pension tax
When state Sens. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, and Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, introduce a split roll property tax to increase taxes on business property, you’ll hear arguments from advocates that the tax money is for the schools and local services such as libraries and police. In actuality, the measure is a tax to fund public employee pensions and health care costs.
Some common sense in California? 
The California Public Employees Retirement System, the largest public pension fund in the nation, rejected a proposal that it divest itself of stocks in fossil fuel companies because-yes, I can hardly believe it-it would harm the investment returns of the fund. Given than California’s unfunded liability for future public pensions is perhaps $800 billion or more, California’s investment managers need to get every cent they can from their portfolio.
Think public pensions can’t be cut? Think again.
As John M. Richardson, a pioneer in the study of system dynamics, once put it, “When it comes to the future, there are three types of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened.” That’s as good a way as any to describe what has befallen so many of our state and local government pensions systems, now facing a collective funding shortfall of $5 trillion.
L.A. Riots Anniversary
From Los Angeles to Ferguson: 25 years after Rodney King riots, ‘there’s a South Central in every city and every state’
The side streets between Normandie and Vermont Avenues are meticulously pleasant, nearly suburban. Children ride bikes down clean sidewalks, past tidy gardens of desert succulents. A toddler kicks a soccer ball into a fence. Old folks watch from the porches of small, well-kept homes.
5 ways South L.A. has changed since the riots
When the riots struck in 1992, South Los Angeles was mostly composed of poor and working-class neighborhoods. The community south of the 10 freeway was trying to recover from the 1980s crack epidemic and from disappearing manufacturing jobs that had supported families and sustained homeownership for decades.

Monday Morning Memo for April 24, 2017

Prosecution
New motions filed against Robert Durst in murder trial
Prosecutors have filed two new motions against New York real estate heir Robert Durst, who’s been charged with killing a friend in Benedict Canyon just before Christmas Eve 2000, the L.A. District Attorney’s Office announced Monday. Prosecutors objected to delays requested by the defense team, saying it was an attempt to “stall the inevitable.”
LA county sex crimes deputy DA facing felonies in Orange County
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.
US prosecutors are geared to target border crossers
Through Republican and Democratic presidential administrations, the top federal prosecutor on California’s border with Mexico has resisted going after people caught entering the U.S. illegally on their first try and instead targeted smugglers and serial offenders. That approach may face a day of reckoning under President Donald Trump. 
Conviction & Sentencing
Silicon Valley CEO pleads ‘no contest’ to abusing his wife-and is offered a deal for less than 30 days in jail
At Apple, Neha Rastogi worked on everything from Siri to FaceTime to Maps, sometimes seated beside Steve Jobs himself. She is clearly brilliant and dedicated as well as passionate about the happy interface between technology and the public. Nobody could have foreseen that she would someday be compelled to employ an iPhone to record harrowing moments of what she says was a pattern of domestic abuse during virtually her entire 10-year marriage to a man who is now CEO of a Silicon Valley startup.
District Attorney
District Attorney’s office warns against health care scam
Due to increased scrutiny over changing health care, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials are advising worried consumers to be wary of scammers offering false replacement coverage. “It’s happening across the nation,” said Jennifer Lentz Snyder, head deputy of the Health Care Insurance Fraud Division, and explained that the crime rates in Los Angeles County are difficult to track. “It’s hard to know because this is not something that people report often.”
Prison & Jail
Did California prison reform lead to an increase in crime?
More than a dozen states are considering prison reform measures to drastically reduce their inmate populations to save money. But law enforcement in California are blaming their reforms for a recent uptick in crime.  “The most recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice show violent crime rates in some California cities has increased by over 50 percent,” said Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys.
Religious tobacco protection in prisons uncertain
A California appeals court dealt a blow Thursday to a Native American prison inmate who petitioned for the right to use pure tobacco during religious ceremonies. A three-judge panel for California’s Fourth Appellate Division found that Imperial County Superior Court Judge Raymond Cota improperly ruled in favor of inmate Gregory Rhoades. Cota should have held an evidentiary hearing before handing down his decision, the panel concluded.
LA County Probation is hoarding $204.3 million earmarked for programs to help adults & kids-& Sup. Ridley-Thomas is not pleased
Los Angeles County Probation is hoarding money again, this time more than $200 million. Last week we reported that LA’s Probation Department was merrily spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for a second year in a row to pay the salaries of two deputy probation officers and a supervising DPO, who were supposed to case manage 240 at risk kids per year to help these youth access important services and activities from various community organizations.
Death Penalty
UAlbany launches project to digitize history of executions in the United States
The M. Watt Espy Papers, execution files on more than 15,000 legal executions in the United States since 1608, are getting a digital makeover. Hailed by the New York Times as “America’s foremost death penalty historian,” M. Watt Espy (1933-2009) devoted more than 40 years to cataloging each legal execution since the founding of the Jamestown Colony.
Union chief ‘disappointed’ OC sheriff won’t meet, but morale improves for deputies
The head of the union that represents Orange County sheriff’s deputies and Orange County District Attorney investigators Monday said the esteem in which his rank-and-file members view their bosses has improved since an annual report was started three years ago. Tom Dominguez, president of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs’ board, told City News Service, however, that he was “very disappointed” that Sheriff Sandra Hutchens will not meet with him and union representatives to discuss the annual Leadership Assessment Survey.
Is California ready for frequent executions?
There’s one item on my reporting bucket list I never did check off – witnessing an execution. I came very close once, even getting a tour of the gas chamber. The condemned inmate was David Lawson, convicted of shooting Wayne Shinn in the back of the head during a home break-in. I talked to Shinn’s family and covered Lawson’s news conference when he blamed depression for driving him to murder and urged other mentally ill people to get help.
California’s death row turning into home for seniors
California’s death row houses more senior citizens than most of the state’s nursing homes. Ninety California death-row inmates are at least 65 years old, corrections records show. The number of seniors on death row has grown by nearly 500 percent since early 2006, when the state housed 16 seniors. California has not executed a prisoner since 2006, largely due to legal challenges to its lethal injection protocol.
Arkansas execution flurry marks early test for new Justice Gorsuch
Newly appointed conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch helped clear the way for Arkansas to hold its first execution in 12 years, a sign of the challenges facing other inmates seeking to block their executions next week. In his first recorded vote, President Donald Trump’s pick for the court sided as expected with its renewed conservative majority. The justices voted 5-4 to reject an emergency application brought by several inmates before Arkansas executed convicted murderer Ledell Lee.
Law Enforcement
Liberal law enforcement policies spell danger for California residents
Spurring heated debates all over, California’s law enforcement policies, which have led to decreasing arrest rates and early prison releases, are being blamed for the sharp surge in crime rates. In a recent report, Fox News stated that a large majority are now blaming the liberal law enforcement policies for the surge in crime.
Is police misconduct treated differently in the cellphone video age?
In California, a police officer in Sacramento is under criminal investigation after he was captured on video throwing an accused jaywalker to the ground and punching him repeatedly. In Georgia, not one but two Gwinnett County police officers were fired less than 24 hours after cell phone videos surfaced of them punching and kicking a handcuffed motorist.
Growing political influence of police unions derails consent decrees
If there was anything that stood out about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement that his Justice Department would be reviewing comprehensive “consent decree” or reform agreements with civil rights-deficient police departments, it was the timing. Sessions’ troubling memo, one of the most significant shots across the collective bow of the civil rights community, was issued on April 3.
ATF’s focus on firearm sales by police may be tied to gun seizure at Pasadena officer’s home
letter from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to law enforcement agencies across Southern California warning about an “emerging problem” of officers engaging in unlicensed firearms sales came just weeks after a Pasadena police officer’s home was searched and guns seized.
Facebook Live reflects crime, societal ills
People are using Facebook Live for more than recording frolicking animals and family fun. Indeed, it mirrors the violence and tragedy of life. Police nationwide are on the lookout for Steve Stephens, 37, who randomly killed a Cleveland man, posting the video on Facebook, WOIO reported.  People have used Facebook Live to capture crimes such as rape, torture, child and animal abuse.
eBay consumers receive 160,000 fake computer memory cards
It’s a simple scam, take a low capacity memory card costing a few cents and reprint it with a higher capacity label and a globally recognized trademark. Sell the items as authentic products on eBay for up to $100.00 or more. The problem is that anybody, anywhere, can sell just about anything on eBay, including fake computer memory cards – items that don’t even exist in any manufacturer’s authentic product line.
eBay counterfeits remain despite lawsuit and complaints
Consumers should expect honest services and have confidence they will receive authentic and safe products presented in a clear and truthful manner when they shop on eBay – but that’s not what happens. eBay has migrated from the auction house of garage sale items and concentrated on its Marketplace of new items at a fixed price from unvetted global sellers.
Will Jeff Sessions police the police?
The dismay that the neophytes in the Trump Administration elicit tends to follow three stages: alarm at what they say, shock at what they do, and outrage at what they propose to do next. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is no political neophyte-he represented Alabama in the Senate for twenty years-but the pattern still applies. His confirmation hearing included a reminder of an indulgent jest he once made about the Ku Klux Klan.
Justice Department warns ‘sanctuary cities,’ with grant money at risk
The U.S. Justice Department has escalated its approach to so-called sanctuary cities, writing at least eight jurisdictions Friday to put them on notice they could be failing to cooperate with immigration authorities. Alan Hanson, the acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s grant-making arm, warned the cities that they’re required to submit proof that they comply with federal immigration law.
Union chief ‘disappointed’ OC sheriff won’t meet, but morale improves for deputies
The head of the union that represents Orange County sheriff’s deputies and Orange County District Attorney investigators Monday said the esteem in which his rank-and-file members view their bosses has improved since an annual report was started three years ago. Tom Dominguez, president of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs’ board, told City News Service, however, that he was “very disappointed” that Sheriff Sandra Hutchens will not meet with him and union representatives to discuss the annual Leadership Assessment Survey.
Los Angeles County undersheriff Paul Tanaka and other LASD Officials allegedly wrongly-convicted
On September 27, 2011, the LA Times reported that the “FBI orchestrated an undercover sting” to smuggle a cell phone into an inmate at a Los Angeles County Sheriff Department (LASD) jail and about Sheriff Lee Baca’s public comments that the FBI’s actions were criminal. “Our review of the case shows the FBI may have engaged in misconduct and possibly committed a crime that endangered the lives of LASD deputies,” says Lamont Banks, Executive Director of A Just Cause.
Woman claims jail stay in Manhattan Beach, LA led to blindness
A 38-year-old woman who was arrested for drug possession in Manhattan Beach last year claims in a lawsuit that she went blind from an eye infection after she couldn’t remove her contact lenses for days in jail. Kathryn Krause is suing the Manhattan Beach Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for alleged negligence, medical malpractice and civil rights violations stemming from her arrest on June 25, 2016.
DA: California police justified in shooting caught on video
A California police officer acted lawfully when he shot and killed a legally blind man with schizophrenia during an encounter at a gas station in 2015, prosecutors said Tuesday. A report made public Tuesday by the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office said Fontana police officers were justified when an officer fatally shot James Hall on Nov. 22, 2015 after responding to a call of a possible robbery at a gas station.
Valley residents to weigh in on releasing LAPD body camera videos of police shootings
If a Los Angeles police officer shoots at someone, would you want that video released to the public? That is the question being asked by the Los Angeles Police Commission at a community meeting in Reseda on Thursday. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the ONE Generation Senior Enrichment Center, at 18255 Victory Blvd. Food and refreshments will be provided.
How MS-13, one of America’s most dangerous gangs, is funded
President Donald Trump is ready to crack down on the infamous, money-making MS-13 gang, after a violent quadruple homicide in Long Island, N.Y. last week left four teenagers dead and badly beaten. Trump is promising to remove the gang from U.S. streets “fast.” MS-13, a group that was started by Central American immigrants in Los Angeles in the 1980s, is known for its ruthless and violent tactics.
LAPD Chief Beck compares his long-haired days with the black experience
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck is taking jabs from critics on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the L.A. riots. A normally considerate speaker, Beck is being criticized for comparing his time as an undercover detective with “hippie hair” to the experience of African-Americans who are stopped by police. The top cop said he had been pulled over hundreds of times during those days in the 1980s because of his appearance.
Legislation
Weighing the stakes between public safety and punishing the poor with state bail reform
A bill to reform the way the state administers bail bonds making it’s way to Sacramento this week. As reported by Bay Area News Group, AB 42 would enable people to be released at no cost while waiting for trial. The bill will be heard Tuesday before California’s State Assembly Committee on Public Safety. Under the proposed legislation, judges would be able to decide whether individuals would need to be held until their court date.
No bail: A public safety concern?
The Kern County District Attorney’s office condemned a controversial bill that could effectively end bail in California. If passed, Assembly bill 42 will eliminate the money bail system, therefor reducing the number of people locked up because they cannot afford bail.  According to the District Attorney’s Office, all it will do is threaten public safety and burden an already short-funded court system.
Defining Moment: Will California end its money bail system?
A nationwide movement that began 53 years ago to reform the pretrial incarceration and money bail process has finally reached the legislative committees and political bargaining tables in Washington and Sacramento. Reform advocates – including legislators, prosecutors, attorneys, judges and grassroots organizations – contend that the use of a money bail system for pretrial release is unfair to the poor and unsafe for the public.
Bill seeks to enlist New York hotels to help fight sex trafficking
Though she had previously sponsored legislation in New York to combat sex trafficking, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin said she had not realized how big a role hotels and hotel workers could play in the fight until she met with two activists. “They made me aware,” Ms. Paulin said of Anneke Lucas, a sex-trafficking victim, and the Rev. Adrian Dannhauser.
Assembly Democrat stripped of committee chairmanship after voting against gas tax increase
Nearly two weeks after breaking with fellow Democrats to vote against a bill raising California fuel taxes, Assemblyman Rudy Salas of Bakersfield has lost the chairmanship of a prime legislative committee. On Monday, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced that he had removed Salas from his position heading the politically lucrative Assembly Business and Professions Committee, which handles consumer regulations, occupational licensing and product labeling bills.
California bill would make it harder to punish police officers who have been accused of lying
It would be more difficult for police departments in California to discipline officers accused of lying under under a plan proposed by a Los Angeles lawmaker. Democratic Assemblyman Miguel Santiago of Los Angeles believes current rules allow law enforcement agencies to unfairly target cops who simply make mistakes. His bill, which cleared its first committee hurdle on Tuesday, would raise the standard of proof in cases where officers were accused of lying.
Major taxes and fees introduced in the California Legislature
California lawmakers have proposed more taxes and fees in the first four months of the 2017-18 legislative session than in all of 2015 or 2016. If each proposal becomes law, the tax burden in California would increase by more than $155 billion per year. This comes at a time when state revenue continues to grow, and California is nearing its taxing capacity under the Gann Spending Limit.
Bill to shield recreational marijuana from federal crackdowns clears first hearing
California is considering another step to protect its interests – specifically, its weed – from Washington meddling. The proposal – the first of its kind in the nation – would prevent state and local police from helping federal agents crack down on marijuana activity that California has deemed to be legal. Despite objections from law enforcement, it cleared the Assembly Public Safety Committee Tuesday by a 5-2 vote.
Immigration
Sheriff’s department memo clarifies deputies not allowed to ask about immigration status
As the debate continues over whether Los Angeles is a sanctuary city in practice if not in name, county authorities Monday sought to reassure those in the U.S. illegally that they would not be targeted by sheriff’s deputies. A memo released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department stated deputies are not permitted to ask about a person’s immigration status during traffic stops or other service calls.
California leaders to Sessions and Kelly: Legislature ‘will use all available means’ to defend state policies
California state leaders are asking U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly to identify the state’s statutes or ordinances that they perceive as designed to prohibit or obstruct the enforcement of federal immigration law. In a letter sent to the U.S. officials last week, a lawyer for Covington & Burling, a private firm hired by the state Senate and Assembly, said the Trump administration had repeatedly made unsupported accusations against California.
In debate over ‘sanctuary state’ bill, trust L.A. sheriff’s judgment: Guest commentary
Nothing has created more controversy in California politics than the issue of federal immigration enforcement within the state. A consensus has emerged among a large body of police departments that relationships with the immigrant community would be impaired if local police were seen not as guardians of the peace and enforcers of state and local law but as colluding with enforcers of federal immigration law.
Judge weighs arguments in SF, Santa Clara sanctuary cities case
A Trump administration lawyer told an apparently skeptical federal judge Friday that President Trump’s executive order against so-called sanctuary cities, such as San Francisco, doesn’t deprive them of federal funding – at least not yet – but merely encourages them to follow immigration laws. “There’s been no action threatened or taken against the cities,” Assistant Attorney General Chad Readler said at a hearing in San Francisco on a lawsuit by San Francisco and Santa Clara County.
Sessions on sanctuary city leaders: ‘We’re going to battle them every step of the way’
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Saturday it “makes no sense” that sanctuary cities want to fight the federal government to prevent detention of illegal immigrants. Sessions said that voters in those areas must hold their local government accountable to keep their cities safe. “We’re going to put pressure on these cities,” he said on “Justice with Judge Jeanine.” “We’re going to battle them every step of the way.”
The Trump era tests the true power of sanctuary cities
ver since Donald Trump became President, mayors and city council members in “sanctuary cities”-places where local law-enforcement officials limit their coöperation with immigration agents-have promised to resist the federal government’s crackdown on immigrants. The new Administration has responded with threats (to cut sanctuary cities’ funding), reprisals (like launching more raidsin specific jurisdictions), and accusations (that these cities are making the country less safe).
Senate Bill 54: Bad for the safety of Ventura County communities
Recent conversations surrounding federal immigration policies have caused fear among segments of the population and debate at all levels of government. One of the most recent and serious legislative entries in the immigration debate is California state Senate Bill 54. Local law enforcement has been repeatedly clear in spoken and written word: We have not and will not be involved in immigration enforcement in our communities.
City Government
Fraud? Perjury? LA city councilman implicated by his own attorney
Los Angeles City Councilmember Curren D. Price Jr. has been implicated for fraud and perjury, perhaps unwittingly, by his own attorney Stephen J. Kaufman. And that’s the least of Price’s problems.  The backstory is this: In a misdated 2012 affidavit, Price and his then-divorce attorney Albert Robles (who is the current Mayor of Carson, CA) claimed that Price’s first wife Lynn could not be located for the purpose of serving her divorce papers, although they repeatedly tried to serve her at her residence at 4519 Don Arturo Place in Los Angeles.
Could San Bernardino face bankruptcy again? City manager says he doesn’t see it happening
A new report by the investment firm Moody’s blasts the city’s bankruptcy exit plan, saying the city favors pension obligations over investors and might be at risk of returning to bankruptcy.
“The plan calls for San Bernardino to leave bankruptcy with increased revenues and an improved balance sheet, but the city will retain significant unfunded and rapidly rising pension obligations,” Moody’s Investment Services wrote Wednesday in a three-page analysis.
San Bernardino Sun
Government
What’s a Democrat to run on these days? In California: gays, guns, grass and government
Thanks to Hillary Clinton’s unexpected defeat last fall, Democrats face a quandary they weren’t expecting until the next decade: what does their party embody in a post-Clinton universe? One place to go seeking answers: California and an open gubernatorial seat in 2018 that’s a window into modern-day progressivism – or, at least, the Left Coast version of it.
How 2 California Republicans are thriving in Democratic Sacramento
The 80-member California Assembly has 55 Democrats and 25 Republicans. If the assembly were a voting district, it would be 68.75 percent registered Democrats. That supermajority means that, much of the time, legislation can pass through the chamber without any involvement from the state’s Republican assembly members.
Exit Calexit: California secession initiative folds
Frustrated by slow progress in securing petitions and undermined by bad publicity over a colleague’s strategic retreat to Russia, the chief organizer of the Yes California campaign to move the Golden State toward secession from the United States called it quits yesterday, as reported by the Los Angeles Times: Less than three months after being given the green light to start gathering voter signatures, the author of a closely watched effort to split California from the United States has decided to withdraw his proposal.
Courts
Drinking while jurying
In Canada earlier this month, the Court of Appeal for Ontario wrote of a criminal case in which jurors staged what was described as a “small mutiny” – demanding to drink. It was a Saturday night. The jury had just endured the stress of a 14-week murder trial in which a young woman had been shot and killed. Deliberations were to begin soon. An officer monitoring the jury cautioned that alcohol would be unwise.
U.S. top court leaves intact ruling against Central America asylum seekers
The U.S. Supreme Court sidestepped a turbulent debate over illegal immigration on Monday, turning away an appeal by a group of asylum-seeking Central American women and their children who aimed to clarify the constitutional rights of people who the government has prioritized for deportation.
The People vs. George Gascon
People like George Gascon are hired or put in office for a reason. When it comes to the crunch they will bend for the agenda of the elite and last week he proved it by failing to bring charges against two cops in the killing of Amilcar Lopez-Perez. Gascon, the career politician and bureaucrat and former police chief carried the winning ball for the establishment.
Roman Polanski compares US justice system to Nazis’
After getting denied to be assured of no more jail time for the 1977 rape of a 13-year-old-girl, director Roman Polanski is not giving up on hopes to return to the US and has compared the country’s justice system to that of ?Nazis.’ As per the Hollywood Reporter, his attorney Harland Braun said, “The Court should consider why Mr. Polanski was not charged with unlawful flight by either the State or federal authorities. Mr. Polanski was as justified in fleeing this Court?s illegal conduct as he was to flee the Germans who invaded Poland.”
Judge hogties free speech lawsuit over Ferguson cops-as-pigs painting
A federal judge ruled against a lawsuit seeking redemption for the removal of a US Capitol painting depicting cops as violent pigs, stating the artist’s free speech rights were not violated when the painting was removed after protests by Republicans. US District Court Judge John D. Bates has rejected a lawsuit filed by US Representative William Lacy Clay (D-Missouri) that sought to challenge the January removal of the controversial painting from a display of works entered into the annual Congressional Art Competition.
Sweeping change at DOJ under Sessions
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has brought sweeping change to the Department of Justice. In just two months as the nation’s top cop, Sessions has moved quickly to overhaul the policies and priorities set by the Obama administration. He has rolled back protections for transgender students that allowed children to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity and rescinded plans to phase out the federal government’s use of private prisons.
A California court for young adults calls on science
On a cloudy afternoon in the Bayview district, Shaquille, 21, was riding in his sister’s 1991 Acura when another car ran a stop sign, narrowly missing them. Both cars screeched to a halt, and Shaquille and the other driver got out. “I just wanted to talk,” he recalls. But the talk became an argument, and the argument ended when Shaquille sent the other driver to the pavement with a left hook. Later that day, he was arrested and charged with felony assault.
A month after dismissing federal prosecutors, Justice Department does not have any U.S. attorneys in place
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is making aggressive law enforcement a top priority, directing his federal prosecutors across the country to crack down on illegal immigrants and “use every tool” they have to go after violent criminals and drug traffickers. But the attorney general does not have a single U.S. attorney in place to lead his tough-on-crime efforts across the country.
State can’t fleece defendants whose convictions are invalid, Supreme Court rules
The Supreme Court on Wednesday invalidated a Colorado scheme that forced defendants whose convictions have been tossed or overturned to jump through several legal hoops before they could get back any fines or restitution they may have paid out before they were cleared.
Under the Colorado regime, defendants who have been exonerated or have successfully appealed their convictions have to sue to get their money back and essentially prove in civil court that they’re innocent.
Judge threatens $1,000-a-day California mental health fines
A federal judge said Wednesday that she will fine California $1,000 a day if state officials don’t start providing swifter care for mentally ill inmates. U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller said she is fed up with the treatment delays that have plagued the prison mental health system despite two decades of federal oversight. She gave the state until May 15 to end a chronic backlog in sending inmates to state mental facilities.
County Government
LA County unveils $30 billion budget plan, but warns of fiscal hurdles ahead
An ambitious, $30 billion proposed budget for the next fiscal year was unveiled Monday by Los Angeles County officials that includes millions to fight homelessness, bulk up social services and medical care for the poor, and improve infrastructure. More than half of the funding for the 2017-2018 fiscal year would go toward health services and safety and protection, with another $8 billion toward assistance.
LA County details struggle to shut down illegal marijuana dispensaries
On Monday, the Los Angeles County Council released a long awaited report detailing the successes, ambitions and ongoing struggles of authorities to shut down illegal medical marijuana dispensaries in the county’s unincorporated cities. The report, which was initially expected in February, lacks specifics about the county’s enforcement strategy, saying that the LA District Attorney’s Office and the county counsel want to take an “aggressive, uniform and expeditious ‘surge strategy'” against illegal medical marijuana dispensaries, with the hope that they’ll all be shut down within the next four to six months.
LA County coroner cuts body backlog, but request for more funding rejected
A year after the Los Angeles County coroner abruptly resigned amid a backlog of bodies to be examined and hundreds of pending toxicology reports, some progress has been made inside one of the busiest morgues in the nation. However, the department’s request for additional funding was rejected Monday when the county released its proposed $30 billion budget. In March, 2016, 180 bodies were waiting to be processed.
Pensions
Another court setback for protectors of pensions
In another ruling allowing pension cuts, an appeals court last week overturned a state labor board ruling that a voter-approved San Diego pension reform was invalid because the city declined to bargain the issue with labor unions. The initiative approved by 66 percent of San Diego voters in 2012 gave all new city hires, except police, a 401(k)-style individual investment retirement plan instead of a pension and imposed a five-year freeze on pay used to calculate pensions.
Appeals court allows pension cuts, backs San Diego
In another ruling allowing pension cuts, an appeals court last week overturned a state labor board ruling that a voter-approved San Diego pension reform was invalid because the city declined to bargain the issue with labor unions. The initiative approved by 66 percent of San Diego voters in 2012 gave all new city hires, except police, a 401(k)-style individual investment retirement plan instead of a pension and imposed a five-year freeze on pay used to calculate pensions.

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.”