Monday Morning Memo for June 19, 2017

Conviction & Sentencing
‘Monster’ rapist-kidnapper of teen girls in Lancaster never getting out: 100-year conviction upheld by high court
A “monster” convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting two 15-year-old girls about three weeks apart in Lancaster in 2015 lost his bid Wednesday to have the California Supreme Court review the case. Joseph Kenneth Cornett was sentenced in May 2016 to 100 years to life in state prison, with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Henry J. Hall saying that a “monster” had been stopped and he wanted the two teens to know that “none of this is their fault.”
Videos show rescue of rape victim, serial killer confessions
After hearing a woman’s screams inside a large metal container, investigators sawed and pried open the bin, rescuing the woman who had been chained inside for about two months by a serial killer, according to new videos released by prosecutors. The videos also show Todd Kohlhepp, in cold and emotionless detail, confessing to killing seven people in South Carolina. He pleaded guilty two weeks ago to avoid the death penalty and was sentenced to life in prison.
Death row convict back in court after former city attorney’s alleged flub
Barry Williams spent 30 years on California’s death row at San Quentin State Prison for killing a rival gang member in 1982. But now the South L.A. gang member is in Los Angeles County Jail, awaiting a July court date. Terry Thornton, a press deputy for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, says Williams is in the midst of a retrial.
Roman Polanski’s victim pleads to end case: ‘He owes me nothing’
Roman Polanski’s sexual assault victim made an impassioned plea Friday to end the fugitive director’s four-decade legal saga, saying she felt more abused by the legal justice system than by the man who she said drugged, raped and sodomized her when she was 13. “The trauma of the ordeal that followed was so great that, you know, the brief encounter with him that evening that was unpleasant just faded and paled,” Samantha Geimer said outside a courtroom in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Historic sentencing for gang member who killed transgender woman
A federal prosecution under a 2009 hate crime law resulted in a lengthy prison sentence last month for a Mississippi gang member who killed a 17-year-old transgender woman-and set an important precedent that could benefit other transgender victims. A judge sentenced Joshua Vallum to 49 years in federal prison under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.
Rental scam ‘mastermind’ pleads guilty to defrauding customers
The man who state authorities called the “mastermind” of rental scams pleaded guilty Wednesday to a felony charge of defrauding Southern California customers who were looking for affordable rental homes and apartments. As part of a plea agreement, Richard Rodriguez of Alhambra received a three-year suspended jail sentence and five years supervised probation in exchange for pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud customers of his rental listing business, Superior Consulting in Rowland Heights.
Legislation
Legislature needs to fix list of ‘violent’ crimes
Words matter, we often hear in these days of a president notorious for loose verbiage. They also matter in the California Penal Code, where the label “violent” is not applied to many crimes most people with common sense would unquestionably define as violent. Some examples: assault with a deadly weapon, soliciting murder, elder and child abuse, arson, human trafficking, plus some forms of rape and forced sodomy.
CA Senate Committee: Ms McGill’s false testimony should not go unpunished
The false testimony given by Kim McGill of the Youth Justice Coalition during recent testimony before the Senate Public Safety Committee is greatly disturbing. As detailed in a blog by Michele Hanisee and Eric Siddall, Ms. McGill gave her testimony before the Senate Public Safety Committee to attempt to “humanize” overturning California law adding mandatory prison time for using a gun in a crime.
Evidence lacking to estimate local government savings from California crime reform measure
While a California ballot initiative reducing penalties for some criminal offenses promised to save local governments money, quantifying such savings will require significant changes in the way local agencies track workloads, according to a new RAND Corporation report. Establishing better performance metrics to follow both the workload created by new policies and the consequences of such changes would allow policymakers to examine whether reforms such as those imposed by Proposition 47 are saving money, according to the report.
Legislature needs to fix list of ‘violent’ crimes: Thomas Elias
Words matter, we often hear in these days of a president notorious for loose verbiage. They also matter in the California Penal Code, where the label “violent” is not applied to many crimes most people with common sense would unquestionably define as violent. Some examples: assault with a deadly weapon, soliciting murder, elder and child abuse, arson, human trafficking, plus some forms of rape and forced sodomy.
How this new California law could help immigrants clear previous crimes, and avoid deportation
A new California law allows people who are no longer in jail to challenge old convictions, a move that could offer deportation relief to immigrants as President Donald Trump’s administration targets those with prior crimes. The law – known as “Criminal procedure: postconviction relief” – allows people who have claims of innocence, or people whose attorneys failed to warn them about the immigration consequences of a plea deal, a way of challenging those convictions.
Murder, torture, kidnapping – minors charged as adults might be tried as juveniles
Twin teenage girls a few months shy of their 18th birthdays, who authorities say kidnapped and tortured two men, originally were charged as adults. But a new law has sent their case to juvenile court, at least for now. Proposition 57, a ballot measure approved by California voters in November, increased parole and good behavior opportunities for nonviolent adult offenders, but it also shifted the authority to try a juvenile as an adult from the prosecutor to the judge.
Battle over changing California’s bail system wages on despite legislative setback
On those occasions when a judge in felony arraignment court sets a defendant’s bail at an especially high amount, at least a few gasps usually emanate from the spectator area.
It really is a stunning concept: that someone would be required to pay millions to get out of jail while his or her criminal case is pending, and that there are people who can and do pay those amounts (and I’m not just talking about high-profile entertainers and sports figures).
Questions answered on sanctuary state bill
The author of SB54 and a leading opponent of the measure appeared in a round-table discussion on Eyewitness Newsmakers. California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon describes the bill he authored “The California Values Act,” and says to describe it as a sanctuary state measure is a misnomer. He says the measure will prevent federal agents from rounding up undocumented prisoners in jails and deporting them, where they can return and commit more crime.
District Attorney
Contra Costa County district attorney resigns, pleads no contest to felony perjury
The district attorney of Contra Costa County pleaded no contest to a felony perjury charge then promptly resigned Wednesday, hours after being charged with using more than $66,000 in campaign funds to pay personal bills and to buy jewelry and other items. Mark Peterson entered his plea to a single count of perjury. A judge promptly sentenced him to three years’ informal probation and ordered him to serve 250 hours of community service.
Northern California prosecutor detained in corruption probe
State officials detained Contra Costa County’s district attorney and seized his phone and other items as part of a corruption investigation, court documents show. California Attorney General agents detained Contra Costa District Attorney Mark Peterson on Thursday and seized his seized his iPhone, iPad and appointment calendar, the East Bay Times reported Friday. The state attorney general in February opened a criminal investigation into Peterson’s illegal spending of campaign funds.
Investigating OC law enforcement: Orange County’s DA and sheriff are under rare scrutiny
Orange County’s top two law enforcement agencies, the District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Department, are under extremely unusual scrutiny from state and federal authorities over the use of jailhouse informants. The question now is, what, if anything, will result from the investigations. “Looking into a prosecutor’s office is very rare,” said Peter Joy, a legal ethics expert and law professor at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Mo.
Bank of America settles $1.9 million consumer protection lawsuit with Los Angeles County District Attorney
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced today that Bank of America, N.A., will pay nearly $2 million to settle a civil lawsuit alleging the company took too long to inform customers that their phone calls were being recorded. The Charlotte-based bank reached a settlement with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, as well as the Alameda, Riverside, San Diego and Ventura county district attorney’s offices.
Prison & Parole
Death row convict back in court after former city attorney’s alleged flub
Barry Williams spent 30 years on California’s death row at San Quentin State Prison for killing a rival gang member in 1982. But now the South L.A. gang member is in Los Angeles County Jail, awaiting a July court date. Terry Thornton, a press deputy for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, says Williams is in the midst of a retrial. Barry Williams spent 30 years on California’s death row at San Quentin State Prison for killing a rival gang member in 1982.
Social justice crusader Susan Burton talks about re-entry solutions for formerly incarceration women in America
In California, there are three state prisons housing women – Folsom Women’s Facility under the administration of Folsom State Prison; California Institution for Women in Corona; and Central California Women’s Facility, the largest female institution in the state, located in Chowchilla. According to the State of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s weekly population report as of midnight June 7, 2017, the three prisons, with a combined female population of 5,264, are over capacity by 138.3%.
Death Penalty
California should not speed up death penalty
Arkansas recently became an international spectacle by executing four men in eight days, having planned to kill twice as many in a rush to lethally inject prisoners with an expiring supply of an increasingly scarce drug. Now it’s California’s turn to consider a wrongheaded scheme to speed up the death penalty. Voters last fall narrowly approved Proposition 66, which sets a deadline for court review of capital-punishment appeals and takes other steps to restart a capital punishment machine that ground to a halt a decade ago.
Law Enforcement
New TV ads slamming sanctuary cities evoke California deaths blamed on immigrants in U.S. illegally
An television advertising campaign denouncing California’s so-called sanctuary cities launched this week in the San Diego area. The campaign, created by the group Californians for Population Stabilization, or CAPS, opposes local and state government policies that preclude full cooperation by law enforcement officers with federal immigration authorities.
An 8-year-old was taken off life support, his organs donated. Now, police are investigating
By the time Cole Hartman arrived at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, he was in grave condition. The 8-year-old had gone into cardiac arrest after nearly drowning in a washing machine at his Castaic home. Paramedics had gotten his heart beating again, but he remained in a coma and on a ventilator.
Counterfeit prescription drugs allegedly sold at Pacoima candy store
The owners of a Pacoima candy store faced a lawsuit on charges of selling counterfeit or mislabeled pharmaceuticals. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer along with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Monday announced a lawsuit filed against Narcisco Gamez and his daughter, Johana –  the owners of Dulceria El Venado on Glenoaks Boulevard.
LAPD detective’s messy extramarital affair: Falsely imprisoned her lover?
A Los Angeles Police Department detective who was accused of threatening an ex-boyfriend and filing a false police report claiming he’d sexually assaulted her was acquitted Monday of a charge of intimidating a witness, but jurors deadlocked on a false imprisonment count stemming from his arrest. Prosecutors said Christine Wycoff, 46, met the man through a Craiglist online personal ad in June 2014 and the pair had a sexual relationship that lasted several months.
More officers taking own lives
If you’re having thoughts about hurting yourself, it’s important to know, first and foremost, that you’re not alone. Many have traveled down the same path you’re on and have come out the other side healthy and happy. No matter how bad things seem, suicide is never the answer. Here are some facts, resources, and ways to help yourself through a difficult time.
Horror of 4-year-old boy shot in head by gang bullet: Heroism of life-saving deputies
Members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors are honoring three sheriff’s deputies who saved a 4-year-old boy who was shot in the head by a stray bullet fired during a nearby gang argument in Compton. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas commended the deputies’ heroism, saying they epitomized “the best in law enforcement.”
Oakland recruiting ex-cons to oversee cops
Former cops need not apply, but former inmates are being encouraged by the city of Oakland to apply for slots on the city’s new police commission. A notice recently posted on the city’s website for would-be commissioners says, “Must be an Oakland resident. Must be at least 18 years old. Formerly incarcerated individuals encouraged to apply.” Barry Donelan, head of the Oakland Police Officers Association, said recruiting ex-cons to help select the chief and discipline officers for misconduct was “extremely distasteful.”

San Francisco Chronicle

As opioid abuse grips nation, LA County sheriff deploys Narcan to reverse overdoses
Hoping to stem a national wave of opioid- and heroin-related deaths, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department announced Thursday that deputies from across the region will be equipped with a potentially life-saving nasal spray. Deputies from the Santa Clarita, La Crescenta and East Los Angeles sheriffs stations along with the parks and community college bureaus will be equipped with 1,200 doses of a nasal spray known on the market as Narcan.
2018 Election
Gas tax poll sends a tremor through the political landscape
A tremor ran through the 2018 California elections with the release of the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll that shows widespread disdain for the recently passed gas tax and vehicle fees-even before collection of the tax begins in November. The gas tax issue could sway California elections from the governor’s race on down, especially if an initiative effort to repeal the measure makes the ballot.
Stacking the deck on elections
A  budget bill has been introduced that would lengthen the time to qualify recall elections. One might say this bill came out of the blue-blue California, that is. Changing election rules to benefit their positions is becoming a habit with Democrats in the legislature. The presumed object of the bill, SB 96, is to forestall the recall election of Sen. Josh Newman, hoping to combine the election with the regularly scheduled June 2018 primary when a larger turnout of Democratic voters is expected.
Homelessness
How the Golden Motel could portend trouble for homeless strategy
It’s nearing 11a.m. at the Golden Motel – check-out time – and half a dozen doors are open to the courtyard. Men, women, and children scurry through the short walkway to the parking lot carrying stuffed animals, pillows, and trash bags full of clothes. “You have to move every twenty-eight days,” explained Lyrissa Balam, who’s holed up with two toddlers in a first floor room, the air conditioner blasting against the unseasonably hot morning.
Immigration
Fleeing gangs, Central American children face deportation as LA area-legal aid remains scarce
Wide-eyed but stoic, Cesar recounted making his treacherous journey to the U.S. last fall to escape gang violence in his native El Salvador. The then-17-year-old fled, he said, after two Salvadoran thugs beat him near school, leaving him bloodied and bruised, to coerce him to join one of the country’s “most dangerous and sadistic gangs.” After Cesar still refused to join, he said, they threatened to kill him and even come for him at his home.
Gun Control
California needs federal help to restrict use of guns, advocate says
California’s firearms laws, already among the nation’s toughest, have been further stiffened by legislators and voters in the past year with bans on high-capacity gun magazines and the sales of guns with so-called bullet buttons that enable speedy reloading, and a requirement, to take effect in 2019, of background checks for buyers of ammunition.
City, County & State Government
Recreational marijuana sales in California will total $5 billion, study predicts
California is on the verge of creating a legal market for marijuana worth more than $5 billion that will help make the state a destination for pot-loving tourists, according to a new state-sponsored economic study. But about 29 percent of all cannabis consumers may stay in the illegal market at first to avoid the cost of new regulations requiring marijuana to be tested, tracked and taxed at 15 percent of its retail value, according to the study by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center.
Americans’ attitudes about the news media deeply divided along partisan lines
Democrats and Republicans, who already tend to place their trust in different news sources and rely on different outlets for political news, now disagree more than ever on a fundamental issue of the news media’s role in society: whether news organizations’ criticism of political leaders primarily keeps them from doing things they shouldn’t – or keeps them from doing their job.
Kamala Harris puts her prosecutor’s skills to work in DC
Sen. Kamala Harris has no regrets about her very public dustup with senior Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee over her questioning of Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, saying there are times when “truth has to rise over decorum.” It was a tense moment for the rookie senator last week, with the whole nation watching as she asked Rosenstein if he would put in writing that special counsel Robert Mueller would have complete independence and authority in his probe into possible ties between President Trump’s 2016 campaign team and Russia.
More supervisors? No, L.A. County government needs more scrutiny: Guest commentary
A group of California state senators have proposed a constitutional amendment that would increase the number of Los Angeles County supervisors and create an elected executive officer. The intent: making the board more responsive to constituents. Los Angeles County has more than 10 million residents, an annual budget of $32 billion and a workforce of over 100,000.
LA County may use public health money to hire gang intervention workers
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday will consider shifting $190,000 from the public health department to parks and rec to hire eight gang intervention workers in South L.A. for the summertime Parks After Dark program. The intervention workers would initially staff Jesse Owens Community Regional Park and Ted Watkins Memorial Park. They would mediate conflicts, quash rumors and mentor at-risk youth.
Supervisors oppose bill to eliminate three of its members from Metro Board of Directors
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voiced its opposition Tuesday to a bill that would eliminate three of its members from the Metro Board of Directors, despite promises from the bill’s author to instead beef up the overall number of seats on the transportation board.
The bill, SB 268, was authored by Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, and is awaiting a vote by the state Assembly after being passed by the Senate.
Who’s funding the anti-Trump movement? We don’t know
The Indivisible Guide has become a 26-page must-read for people looking to oppose President Trump’s agenda. The guide – which has been viewed or downloaded more than 2 million times, according to the organization – also offers a supplemental section on how to demand copies of Trump’s tax returns.
Courts
Proposition 57 is not retroactive-Court
Proposition 57-enacted by voters last November to preclude the filing of criminal charges against minors directly in adult court-is not retroactive, the Court of Appeal held yesterday. This means that Jeremy Walker, who was 17 when he was charged in 2015 in adult court with two counts of attempted premeditated murder and was convicted, will be retried in adult court following a reversal of the convictions.
Judge Aviva K. Bobb had no need to make disclosure
The Court of Appeal for this district on Friday rejected the contention that a judgment confirming an arbitration award must be scrapped because the arbitrator-former Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Aviva K. Bobb-and opposing counsel, Marc L. Sallus, both play instruments in the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic and this relationship wasn’t disclosed. Metropolitan News-Enterprise
Judge to block LACBA election if a plaintiff is challenged
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge yesterday conditionally granted a preliminary injunction, effective Friday, barring the Los Angeles County Bar Association from continuing to conduct an election this month for officers and trustees-but only if someone files a nominating petition by tomorrow’s deadline challenging one of the three plaintiffs who is a candidate.
Church sued for gang activity at property owned by house of worship in Los Angeles
The City Attorney’s Office sued a South Los Angeles church Monday in an effort to halt alleged drug, gang and firearm activity at a home owned by the house of worship. The property in the 4800 block of Avalon Boulevard is across the street from Ebenezer Baptist Church, the defendant in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit that alleges violations of the Health and Safety and the Business and Professions codes.

Monday Morning Memo for June 12, 2017

Sentencing
Roman Polanski’s victim asks judge to end case against director
Roman Polanski’s sexual assault victim asked a judge Friday to end the 40-year-old case against the fugitive director, but there was no indication her plea would bring an end to the lengthy court saga. Samantha Geimer told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon that she wanted the case to end, either with an outright dismissal or by the judge sentencing Polanski without him being present. 
Businessman gets life in prison for shotgun murder of a woman on a Hollywood street
The last time Bernard Melvin heard from his daughter Carrie, she was calling him to wish him a happy birthday. It was the summer of 2015, and she was living in Hollywood and starting her own social media business. She told him she was the happiest she had ever been and loved her life. Weeks later, her father received unimaginable news.
Legislation
Political Road Map: Even before all the votes are counted, California ballot measures can become law
It’s a phrase only five words in length, long enshrined in state law but increasingly seen as a civic catastrophe waiting to happen. It purports to answer the most simple of political questions.
When does a statewide ballot measure approved by voters become law? “The day after the election,” according to the California Constitution. But then think about the way elections work.
Is California’s Legislature ultraliberal? Not so fast
It seemed like a sure bet for another display of California’s ultra-blue “Resistance”: Fresh with outrage over President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, the Democratic-dominated California Assembly considered a bill to curb both global warming and air pollution. But in a surprising twist that illustrated how California’s Legislature isn’t as knee-jerk liberal as the rest of the country thinks, the lower house rejected the closely watched climate bill late Thursday night.
Did California lawmakers give public enough notice on more than 90 bills?
Advocates for a voter-approved transparency measure allege that the California Assembly violated the law this week in votes on more than 90 bills. California voters approved a constitutional amendment in November that requires bills in the state Legislature to be published online in final form for at least 72 hours before a vote. This week, though, the Assembly voted on dozens of bills that had not been in print for three days.
CA lawmakers a step closer to finally getting thousands of rape kits tested
Justice has been delayed for thousands of rape victims because their cases -are literally sitting on a shelf. There are thousands of untested rape kits in California. It’s evidence, that could put rapists behind bars but right now, there’s no way to track the massive backlog. How many, where and why, no one knows, but Tuesday, in a Senate Public Safety Committee hearing, a proposal to change that got one step closer to becoming law.
District Attorney
Soros-funded activist deceives CA lawmakers
District attorneys in Los Angeles have accused a local activist of concocting “outright lies” to “grease the passage” of a bill moving through the California Legislature that could loosen sentencing for some gun crimes committed in the state. At one point in her testimony, Kim McGill of the Youth Justice Coalition (YJC) told lawmakers five provable falsehoods within a span of just twenty seconds.
District Attorney reviewing complaint that Downey councilman lives in Long Beach
Los Angeles County prosecutors plan to investigate an allegation that a Downey councilman doesn’t live in that city, but in a tiny coastal Long Beach neighborhood, according to a district attorney spokesman. The council member, Rick Rodriguez, said he does in fact live in Downey, a 12-square-mile city home to 114,000 residents and the world’s oldest McDonald’s restaurant still in operation.
10 attorneys, 6 others charged by O.C. District Attorney’s Office in what it calls a massive workers’ comp scheme
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office filed felony fraud charges against 10 attorneys and 6 others Monday in what prosecutors say is a massive workers’ compensation-referral scheme with more than 33,000 patients and an estimated $300 million-plus in insurance payouts received. DA Tony Rackauckas said the charges were the start of an investigation by his office and the California Department of Insurance, which scrutinizes the role medical providers played in an alleged fraud ring that targeted mostly Spanish-speaking communities.
Burbank Hospitality Assn. violated Brown Act, D.A.’s office says
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office determined last week that the Burbank Hospitality Assn. violated the Brown Act back in September when the organization decided to donate money to the Committee for Yes on Measure B without properly placing the request on its agenda. According to a letter written by Bjorn Dodd, deputy district attorney, dated May 30, which was sent to Burbank resident David Spell, the district attorney’s office agreed with one of Spell’s complaints, which alleged the Burbank Hospitality Assn., commonly known as Visit Burbank, had inappropriately discussed and given $50,000 to the Committee of Yes on Measure B without placing the issue on the agenda.
Prison & Parole
Man who kidnapped and killed 10-year-old child molestation victim denied parole 
The Board of Parole Hearings denied the request of Randy Cook, now 55, to be released on parole from his life sentence in state prison for kidnapping and killing ten-year-old Tami Carpenter in Avila Beach in July of 1979. In July 1979, ten-year-old Tami Carpenter was expected to testify against William Record in a child molestation case.
The lovable “non-violent drug offender”
You might have noticed that there is a concerted effort by many conservative groups in recent years to reduce the prison population. Groups like the American Conservative Union and Right on Crime have come out in favor of legislation that reduces the sentences imposed on criminals in federal prison. Recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions raised the hackles of some of these groups by issuing a directive that “could potentially ramp up criminal charges in cases involving nonviolent drug crimes,” according to CNN.
2018 Election
California’s 2018 governor’s race is going to be big. Find out who’s in and what’s next
At a time when California is the epicenter of the liberal resistance to President Trump, Democratic politicians looking to lead the state’s 39 million residents are laying the groundwork for what could shape up to be the most contentious gubernatorial contest in the state in nearly a decade. Voters won’t cast ballots until 2018, but candidates are already raising millions of dollars, and courting donors, key political leaders and activists as they chart their paths for a shot at leading the state that boasts the sixth largest economy in the world.
Law Enforcement
Prop. 57: Criminals far and wide love it
The ADDA and prosecutors throughout California have grown hoarse warning about the public safety disaster known as Prop. 57. But even we didn’t envision that it would actually incentivize crime by luring criminals here from other states. Yet that’s exactly what appears to be happening. As Torrance police arrested two suspects from Colorado late last month in a vicious home invasion robbery, a private citizen began filming the incident.
With an L.A. sheriff headed to federal prison, let’s not forget LAPD’s lesson in police reform
The beating of Rodney King in 1991 and the violence that followed a year later carved such deep grooves in Los Angeles’ collective psyche that it seemed only natural last year and again a few weeks ago to observe the 25th anniversaries of those events – and to reflect on how profoundly the city was wounded then, and to what degree it has or has not healed in the two and a half decades since.
NYPD officer faces murder charges for killing mentally ill woman in the Bronx
An NYPD Sgt. Hugh Barry was charged Wednesday for committing murder when he shot a mentally ill woman named Deborah Danner in October 2016 inside her apartment in Castle Hill neighborhood in the Bronx. Sgt. Barry’s indictment marked the first time since 1999 that a city cop faced a top homicide count. He became the first NYPD officer charged with murder on-duty since four police officers fired 41 shots at an unarmed West African immigrant Amadou Diallo in 1999.
L.A. sheriff’s deputies concede a point about transparency
For years now, a battle has gone on between government-transparency advocates seeking more data about law enforcement’s use of force, and officers’ unions arguing that telling the public too much endangers their members’ safety and privacy. In our area, the most interesting such battle has involved the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS), a tug-of-war intensified by the arrival of a sheriff elected to restore public trust and an inspector general and civilian oversight commission committed to scrutiny of the scandal-torn agency.
What we know about the mysterious 2009 killing of prominent South Bay attorney Jeffrey Tidus
In the last month, the investigation into who killed a well-known attorney in an execution-style shooting outside his Rolling Hills Estates home nearly eight years ago has gained momentum. New leads have surfaced, prompting detectives to release a composite sketch of a person of interest in the killing of Jeffrey Tidus. Here’s what we know so far:  What happened on the night of Dec. 7, 2009?
Los Angeles CEO is accused of asking alleged drug dealer to kill former business associate
Homeland Security investigators in New Orleans were listening to phone calls made by a suspected Los Angeles drug dealer last year when they heard a disturbing snippet of a conversation, according to court documents. Their target, who they believed to be a methamphetamine trafficker, told the person on the other end of the line that someone had asked if he could carry out a “hit,” court records show.
Lompoc Police chief ‘worried’ about future, effectiveness of department
Lompoc Police Chief Pat Walsh expressed major concerns about the future of his department during a presentation to the Lompoc City Council on Tuesday night. Walsh delivered a State of the Lompoc Police Department address early in the meeting. During the presentation, he touched on many of the challenges facing the department, including budget woes, an inability to retain personnel, difficulties with bringing on new employees, expected rises in crime and reductions in the services the department provides to the community.
Walmart won’t stop selling counterfeits
Walmart has a counterfeit problem. Both Walmart, and third-party sellers Walmart allows to list on Walmart’s website, are selling counterfeit products. Walmart’s global name recognition and consumer perceived credibility provides a significant advantage in marketing (and profiting) from unaware consumers. Buyers place their confidence in, and rely on Walmart’s credibility to purchase authentic goods. Sometimes that confidence is misplaced.
eBay counterfeit memory card scam continues
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 it on eBay as an authentic items 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. However, it’s a fake and you are likely to lose your data, images, and you may damage your equipment.
No charges for LAPD officer who shot woman in South L.A., a killing that led to protests outside City Hall
Los Angeles police officer will not be charged for the fatal shooting of an African American woman in a South L.A. alley, a controversial killing that caused protesters to camp outside City Hall for weeks decrying the police. The decision from the district attorney’s office was made public Tuesday, nearly two years after Officer Brett Ramirez shot Redel Jones, 30, who authorities say was armed with a knife and suspected of robbing a nearby pharmacy about a half-hour before she was killed.
Creepy bathroom Peeping Tom? Patrons sue Sherman Oaks restaurant after one owner charged in hidden video camera, kiddie porn scheme
The co-owners of an Italian eatery in Sherman Oaks are being sued by two patrons who allege their images were recorded by a small video camera hidden in the women’s restroom by one of the restaurateurs, who was arrested last month. Nadereh Adeli and Remick Shaverdi Sapien brought the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Bahram Javaherian and Abe E. Siani, as well as their eatery, Cucina Bene in the 4500 block of Sepulveda Boulevard.
Gun Control
California gun fee upheld over NRA objections
California’s $5 fee on gun sales, which funds laws to take firearms away from criminals and mental patients, will remain in effect after a federal appeals court rejected a constitutional challenge from gun groups Thursday. The fee is part of a $19 charge that the state collects on each firearms sale to pay for background checks and notify dealers if the would-be purchaser is barred from owning a gun under federal or state law.
California bill would bar hate crime offenders from owning guns
New California gun legislation would ban anyone convicted of hate crimes from purchasing a gun. Current law bans criminals convicted of felonies from owning guns. The Disarm Hate Act would apply to misdemeanor hate crimes. Charleston. Orlando. San Bernardino. It doesn’t matter where the shooting happens, Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), says the motive is often the same: hate.
Proposition 47
LA to receive $36 million for programs to keep people out of jail
California voters passed Proposition 47 in 2014,  downgrading many drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, meaning offenders would no longer go to state prison. The authors of the initiative promised that it would yield savings from the state an that the money would be reinvested in programs designed to cut recidivism and prevent entry to the criminal justice system.
$103 million in prison savings awarded to 23 California cities, counties
When voters were asked to approve Proposition 47 in 2014 and reduce many drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, they were promised that the prison and jail savings generated would be spent trying to prevent future crimes. That promise was kept Thursday: A state board awarded $103 million to 23 cities and counties to provide services such as substance abuse and mental health treatment in their communities.
Less on prisons, more on prevention? California starts the shift
Two and a half years after 60 percent of Californians voted for Proposition 47, the initiative is coming to a head. The measure reduced nonviolent drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors and reallocated the money saved into programs for mental health, substance abuse treatment, victim services and truancy prevention. Now the money is finally going somewhere, and it’s a lot of money. $103 million, to be exact. What took so long?
City, County & State Government
California Assembly won’t renew contract with Eric Holder’s firm
The California Assembly will not renew its contract with Covington and Burling, the law firm of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder who Democratic legislative leaders enlisted earlier this year to help craft legal strategy to oppose Trump administration policies. “We have received valuable guidance from Covington & Burling over the past four months. We will continue to seek their guidance as the need arises,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, said in a statement Thursday.
LA County puts thousands of kids on “voluntary” probation for merely struggling with school
Marbella Munoz was a foster child for most of her life. As is true for many foster children bounced through multiple placements, she was frequently forced to change schools. Despite the repeated changes, Munoz said she managed to keep up her grades. When she was 17, school administrators told her she had been referred to a program called “school-based supervision.”
No limit to California parties’ campaign money laundering: Thomas Elias
Just in case anyone wonders what the real issue was in the very close race between Eric Bauman and Kimberly Ellis over who would become the next chairperson of the California Democratic Party, it was money. No, not salary or other personal emoluments, although Bauman – the party’s longtime Los Angeles County leader – has received his share of payments from ballot initiative campaigns.
LACBA’s CEO to draw lower pay than Suchil
Rick Cohen, who is serving as the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s interim chief executive officer, has clarified the anticipated length of his employment and revealed that his salary is expected to be set at $195,000 per year. LACBA announced his appointment on May 19 and said that he would start work on May 22 and “serve through 2018.” Cohen told members of the Senior Lawyers Section Executive Committee Thursday night that he will actually be at the post for 12 months.
LA Board of Supervisors approves hospital as temporary shelter for domestic abuse victims
The  Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to offer temporary shelter to victims of domestic violence at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center campus as part of a Family Justice Center there. Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl proposed designating space on campus, free of charge, for the East Los Angeles Women’s Center and the Los Angeles Police Department.
Is $50 too much for a public defender in LA County? Some say make it free
A $50 fee charged to defendants who seek legal counsel from a public defender is expected to come under a vote Tuesday when the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will discuss whether the payment should be revoked. Dozens of states and counties across California charge defendants with the up-front fee, including Los Angeles. But a recent report by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California found that the fee can turn into a steep debt for low-income or indigent defendants, who may then be contacted by collection agencies.
Election violations, invalid ballots taint Commerce City Council race
A Commerce resident called Hews Media Group-Community News this week – after the second round of articles published by HMG-CN exposed even more election fraud in the City – saying “it’s like the Wild Wild West out here in Commerce, the election is corrupt and no one is doing anything about it!” Count District Attorney Jackie Lacey in that group as she is turning a blind eye to what is obviously a corrupt takeover of this tiny Southeast Los Angeles County city situated on the 5 freeway.
Critics say L.A. City Hall’s sanctuary game is all talk
In December, city and county officials announced that they were establishing a $10 million L.A. Justice Fund to help undocumented Angelenos ensnared in President Trump’s immigration crackdown to obtain legal representation. Along with tough talk from Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, who vowed to continue to leave immigration enforcement to federal authorities, the announcement amounted to a middle finger to an anti-immigrant Trump administration.
Courts
Justices skeptical about death sentence appeal deadlines
California Supreme Court justices considering whether a ballot measure to speed up executions is unconstitutional expressed skepticism Tuesday about a provision that would require death sentence appeals to be completed within five years. Several justices peppered a lawyer from the attorney general’s office about how the deadline could be met without radically altering the court system and whether there would be consequences for failing to meet it or whether it was merely aspirational.
Justices skeptical about death sentence appeal deadlines
California Supreme Court justices considering whether a ballot measure to speed up executions is unconstitutional expressed skepticism Tuesday about a provision that would require death sentence appeals to be completed within five years. Several justices peppered a lawyer from the attorney general’s office about how the deadline could be met without radically altering the court system and whether there would be consequences for failing to meet it or whether it was merely aspirational.
California Supreme Court expands taxpayers’ right to sue
The state Supreme Court broadened the right of California taxpayers Monday to file suits challenging local or state government policies that don’t affect them directly – harming the environment, for example, or conducting secret surveillance – ruling that such suits are not limited to property owners. The court unanimously overturned several decades of lower-court decisions that allowed only property taxpayers to sue for alleged waste of public funds, and said anyone who pays taxes in a city or county has legal standing to sue.
CJP admonishes judge over Facebook election post
The Commission on Judicial Performance yesterday publicly admonished an Orange Superior Court judge for an inappropriate Facebook post attacking a prosecutor who tried to unseat one of his colleagues in last year’s election. Judge Jeff Ferguson displayed a “knowing or reckless disregard for the truth” and violated several ethics rules in connection with his post about Deputy District Attorney Karen Schatzle, the commission said in a formal decision.
Plaintiffs invoke maxim in urging validation of election
Efforts to block a second election this year of Los Angeles County Bar Association officers and trustees is continuing, with plaintiffs-who are seeking a judicial validation of the first election-relying on an ancient maxim that equity regards as done that which ought to be done. The six plaintiffs, including two officers, two trustees, and a past president, are arguing that the March election should be deemed final although LACBA President Margaret Stevens refused to perform her mandatory, ministerial duty of causing the results to be certified.