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.

Monday Morning Memo for June 5, 2017

Conviction & Sentencing
Man charged with murder after baby is born, dies following car crash
A North Hills man with three prior DUI convictions has been charged with murder in connection with an alleged head-on DUI crash into a car containing a pregnant woman who gave birth to a baby girl who died soon afterward, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said Thursday. Julian Gutierrez, 25, is charged with one felony count each of murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury within 10 years of two other DUI offenses and driving with a 0.08 blood-alcohol content causing injury within 10 years of two other DUI offenses.
Legislation
Sacramento lawmakers want to blow up California’s bail system
We need to improve the way bail is administered in our state. However, any change to our bail system must prioritize public safety and make sure that people return for their court dates. Senate Bill 10 and Assembly Bill 42 fail on both counts. They would effectively eliminate, or severely limit, pretrial detention for everyone, including potentially releasing those being charged with murder, rape and child molestation.
Calif. lawmakers OK bill prompted by slaying of officer
The California Assembly has passed a bill tightening parole policies after a gang member with repeated probation violations was accused of killing a police officer near Los Angeles. The Assembly voted unanimously Tuesday to send the measure to the state Senate. The bill would require officials to evaluate an inmate’s entire criminal history when considering their release from prison.
Why does a California senator want to make it harder to catch bad doctors?
The prescription drug epidemic is a serial killer, claiming thousands of lives in the U.S. each year. Opioid pill mills, trading in dangerous narcotics like oxycodone, have been shut down in Southern California and beyond, but investigators say there’s more work to be done. Doctors have been arrested and prosecuted, including a Rowland Heights physician convicted of murder a year and a half ago in the deaths of three patients who overdosed on prescription meds.
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.
Wilk Measure B oversight bill passes Senate, moves closer to law
A measure to create an oversight committee for Measure B funding in Los Angeles County, authored by Senator Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, passed the state Senate Thursday and will head to the California Assembly before making its way to the governor’s desk. Senate Bill 792 (SB 792) would increase oversight for Los Angeles County Measure B trauma spending.
Legislation to overhaul bail reform in California hits a hurdle in Assembly
An ambitious plan to overhaul the bail system in California stalled in the Assembly late Thursday, facing steep opposition from industry lobbyists and lawmakers concerned about the high costs it could impose on counties. The bill by Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) was the last proposal to be reconsidered for a vote and failed to make it out of the chamber near 11 p.m., with 36 lawmakers in favor and 37 opposed.
California bills target private business to help immigrants — California Democrats are expanding their efforts to resist President Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigrants in the country illegally with bills aimed at limiting how much private businesses can cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Democrats control all levels of state government, and leaders have vowed to resist Trump administration policies at every turn.
Prison & Jail
Lower bail amounts could be coming to a jail near you
Critics say bail in California is about money, not about ensuring that bad guys stay behind bars. The median bail amount in the Golden State is a whopping $50,000, meaning suspects have to come up with $5,000 bond no matter their guilt or innocence. That’s five times the amount found in the rest of the country, according to a recent analysis.
CA Fwd jail data helps counties secure anti-recidivism funds
Next month, millions of dollars in funding will be awarded by the California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) to counties across the state as part of the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, otherwise known as Proposition 47, passed by voters in 2014. In their funding applications, Riverside, San Bernardino and Santa Cruz counties included data from a jail analysis completed on their respective county by CA Fwd’s Justice System Change Initiative (J-SCI).
Old Folsom prisoners hunger strike for their 8th Amendment right – freedom from cruel and unusual punishment
“Administrative segregation” is prison bureaucratese for solitary confinement. On Thursday, prisoners in  solitary at California’s Old Folsom State Prison went on hunger strike for their Eighth Amendment right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment. Anthony Estrada, a prisoner writing for the strikers in the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, wrote, “Prisoners in B4 ASU are forced to sit or stand idle in their cells or yard cages without meaningful exercise, education or rehabilitative programs.”
Law Enforcement
17-year-old wanted in Denver homicide among 2 teens arrested in Torrance home invasion: Police
Two suspects, including a 17-year-old with an outstanding murder warrant in Colorado, were arrested Monday night after officers arrived at a violent home invasion in Torrance, according to police. Officers were called to the 3600 block of Sara Court around 10:40 p.m. by the 73-year-old victim’s neighbor, who noticed two men entering the woman’s residence and thought it was suspicious, according to Torrance Police Department Lt. Steve D’anjou.
In opioid crisis, a new risk for police: accidental overdose
As Cpl. Kevin Phillips pulled up to investigate a suspected opioid overdose, paramedics were already at the Maryland home giving a man a life-saving dose of the overdose reversal drug Narcan. Drugs were easy to find: a package of heroin on the railing leading to a basement; another batch on a shelf above a nightstand. The deputy already had put on gloves and grabbed evidence baggies, his usual routine for canvassing a house.
Deputies’ union asks L.A. County sheriff to publish additional data on use of force
After an oversight group pushed the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department last week to be more transparent about how often deputies use force and how often they’re punished, the union representing rank-and-file deputies says it wants the department to go even further. In a letter sent Tuesday to Sheriff Jim McDonnell, the Assn. for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs says the department should reveal how many times deputies could have lawfully used force but refrained from doing so, as well as how many times deputies are assaulted or handle suspects who resist arrest or disobey orders.
Why L.A. County is looking at tracking bracelets to help find Alzheimer’s patients who wander
Life changed fast for Kirk Moody when his wife, Nancy Paulikas, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in October 2015. The disease progressed so rapidly that, within months, Paulikas, a highly intelligent retired aerospace professional, had trouble communicating.
A year later, on Oct. 15, 2016, life changed again – this time in an instant. While the Manhattan Beach couple visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Paulikas became separated from her husband, walked out of the museum and vanished.
How LA County began to face its big problem with youth being sex-trafficked
Michelle Guymon is a hero in the world of child sex trafficking prevention. Seven years ago, she had no idea Los Angeles County had a child sex trafficking problem Now Guymon is director of the Child Trafficking Unit for the Los Angeles County Probation Department and is part of the group that aims to make LA’s efforts to combat child sex trafficking a model for the nation. Her connection to child trafficking began in November 2010.
LA County Crime Stoppers sees rise in anonymous tips as distrust of law enforcement grows
Something illegal was going on at the old warehouse on the 2900 block of Ana Street in Compton.An anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers last fall later confirmed it. Compton Sheriff’s investigators found 4,199 marijuana plants growing in neat rows under dim lighting inside the building as well as 200 pounds of finished product worth $7.5 million. Twelve people were arrested, all thanks to the nameless tipster.
LAPD uses spit from sidewalk to tie suspect to 2 killings
Authorities trailing a man suspected of sexually assaulting and killing two young women who disappeared from their Los Angeles neighborhoods used his DNA to tie him to the 2011 crimes after he spit on a sidewalk. Geovanni Borjas, 32, was identified as a suspect in the slayings of Michelle Lozano, 17, and Bree’Anna Guzman, 22, after investigators used a controversial DNA testing technique known as familial DNA testing, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said.
5 Inglewood cops are off the force, adding to the mystery surrounding fatal shooting of couple
Five officers are out at the Inglewood Police Department after a controversial shooting that sparked protests last year, the city’s mayor announced Tuesday. But many questions remain unanswered about exactly what happened when police shot two people sitting inside a car multiple times. Here’s a breakdown of what we know, and what we still don’t.
County may pay $3.3 million to family of unarmed man fatally shot by sheriff’s deputies
The L.A. County Board of Supervisors will consider on Tuesday a $3.3 million payment to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of John Berry, who was unarmed and suffering from a schizophrenic episode in his car when L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies shot and killed him in 2015, reports KPCC. Berry’s case highlighted two big issues concerning the sheriff’s department: its code of conduct when it comes to shooting at moving cars, and its handling of people suffering from psychiatric disorders.
SoCal law enforcement warned of new gang threat targeting officers
Law enforcement agencies in Southern California are being warned to remain alert amid an unspecified threat by street gangs to target officers. The warning issued by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department says the agency’s Homicide Bureau recently learned of “a potential threat by criminal street gangs against Southern California on-duty law enforcement officers.”
Eyewitness News investigates costs of replacing decals on LA County sheriff’s patrol cars
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has temporarily halted a campaign to replace decals on its patrol cars after Eyewitness News began asking questions about the cost.For weeks, the department refused to answer basic questions about the total cost of the decal project and initially provided a misleading statement that put the material cost at $3.58 per vehicle.
Man convicted of killing Inglewood police officer released on parole
A man who served nearly 30 years in prison for the killing of an Inglewood police officer was expected to be released in San Francisco sometime Wednesday night as law enforcement efforts to keep him behind bars apparently came to an end, authorities said. Joevone Elster, 51, who was released on parole from Corcoran State Prison on May 23 but held in Los Angeles County jail on a misdemeanor forgery charge pending from 1986, was freed from custody when that matter was resolved Wednesday morning in Long Beach Superior Court.
California GOP mayor says attracting Asians and ‘the gays’ helps reduce crime
One Republican mayor in California has a plan to make his desert city great again: Bring in more Asian and gay people. In a recently published interview with Vice magazine, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said that increasing the Asian population and “the gays,” as he called members of the LGBTQ community, can do a lot of good for a city like Lancaster, which, as Vice pointed out, is now known for its neo-Nazis and meth labs.
LACBA-Gate puts spotlight on good guys, bad guys
I remember cowboy shows on television in the early 1950s. As in western movies in the ’40s, the good guys (well, except for Hoppy) wore white hats and the bad guys sported black ones.
Then came a rash of adult westerns, starting with Gunsmoke in 1955. In those shows, there were lawmen with failings and outlaws with virtues. A cartoon appeared in a magazine (the Saturday Evening Post, if memory serves) with one little boy in cowboy attire saying to another tot, similarly clothed: “You be the good guy and I’ll be the guy with the problem.”
Immigration
Grieving father stars in TV ad slamming sanctuary city policies
A grieving father takes to the airwaves, to slam sanctuary cities. Don Rosenberg blames San Francisco’s immigration policy for the death of his son Drew. In new TV ads, he’s taking aim at sanctuary cities everywhere. Rosenberg lost his son six years ago when Roberto Galo, an undocumented immigrant, hit and killed Drew, who was biking home from law school in San Francisco.
Homelessness
L.A. County homelessness jumps a ‘staggering’ 23% as need far outpaces housing, new count shows
Los Angeles County’s homeless population has soared 23% over last year despite increasing success in placing people in housing, according to the latest annual count released Wednesday.
The sharp rise, to nearly 58,000, suggested that the pathway into homelessness continues to outpace intensifying efforts that – through rent subsidies, new construction, outreach and support services – got more than 14,000 people permanently off the streets last year.
Proposition 47
Strand: Increase in violent and property crimes since Prop 47
Ridgecrest has experienced a nearly 20 increase in Part 1 crimes since the passage of Proposition 47 in 2014. These statistics also include a rise in reported rapes, although these were not typically stranger rapes, according to Ridgecrest Police Chief Ron Strand. That was some of the information reported by Strand during a special budget hearing at City Hall Tuesday. Strand was on hand to present to council his department’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018.
Waiting for Proposition 47’s crime wave in San Diego
Last week the Mayor of San Diego’s media machine began beating the drum following the release of crime statistics for the first four months of 2017. Visitors should feel safer knowing the crime rate was the lowest it’s been since 1990, we were told.  “As we head into peak travel season, San Diegans and visitors alike can rest assured that our city remains one of the safest in America thanks to the tireless efforts of our police officers,” according to Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
City & County Government
Celebrity developer pleads no contest to Bel-Air mega-mansion charges. But what happens to the 30,000-square-foot estate?
Three years ago, Los Angeles city officials demanded that builders halt work on a colossal mansion in the rarefied hills of Bel-Air. The massive home being erected on Strada Vecchia Road was bigger and taller than allowed, city prosecutors said. It also included entire areas – bedrooms, decks and a vast IMAX theater – that the city says were never approved.
How LA County began to face its big, tragic problem with sex-trafficked kids
Michelle Guymon is a hero in the battle against child sex trafficking. Seven years ago, however, she had no idea Los Angeles County had a child sex trafficking problem. Now Guymon is director of the Child Trafficking Unit for the Los Angeles County Probation Department, and is part of the group that aims to make LA’s efforts to combat child sex trafficking a model for the nation.
Huntington Park councilwoman’s fundraising business is a test of conflict of interest laws
The way a small-town politician used her relationship with city contractors to draw income could pose an important test of the state’s conflict of interest laws, good-government experts said.
Huntington Park Councilwoman Karina Macias raised money for a 2015 state Assembly candidate who never actually filed to run, and she was paid a commission based on a percentage of the total.
Montebello Unified sues L.A. County over 2017 election
The Montebello Unified School District is suing Los Angeles County and the Board of Supervisors after they voted earlier this year to require the district to hold an election in November, rather than postponing it to 2018 and extending school board members’ terms by another year. Barring a future approval of extending board members’ terms, the supervisors’ decision would also require the district to hold an election in November 2019 rather than postponing it to November 2020.
LA County renews contracts for deputies at public schools, but calls for more training
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted this week to renew contracts for deputies to police public schools, but asked Sheriff Jim McDonnell to better define their role on campus and provide more training. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas recommended training on adolescent development, childhood trauma, conflict resolution and de-escalating campus incidents.
Courts
California’s top court overturns convictions because prosecutor excluded Latinos from jury
For the first time in 16 years, the California Supreme Court has found that racial bias improperly tainted a jury selection, prompting the court to overturn three convictions – two for attempted murder. The unanimous decision, written by Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, appeared intended to send a clear signal to prosecutors, defense lawyers and the lower courts that charges of racially motivated juror exclusions must be taken seriously.
U.S. Supreme Court makes it harder to sue police for barging into homes
The Supreme Court on Tuesday made it harder to sue police for barging into a home and provoking a shooting, setting aside a $4-million verdict against two Los Angeles County deputies. The money was awarded to a homeless couple who were startled and then shot when the two sheriff’s deputies entered the shack where they were sleeping.
San Francisco courts test new approach to homeless crimes
Courts around the country tried to ease the burden of fines and fees in the wake of riots in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 that brought attention to a torrent of traffic and other minor citations that saddled people with debt and even sent them to jail. But legal observers say no court appears to have made as dramatic an attempt at reform as San Francisco, where judges no longer issue warrants to arrest people who fail to show up in court or pay tickets for infractions such as urinating in public, loitering or sleeping in a park – so-called quality-of-life crimes that advocates say target homeless people.
Court says essentially that Trump is not to be believed. Will Supreme Court conclude the same?
A substantial majority of the judges who sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond delivered a rather remarkable judgment last week: The president of the United States is not to be believed. Will the Supreme Court conclude the same thing? And by “Supreme Court,” we mean “Justice Anthony M. Kennedy,” whose name was invoked 23 times in the 205 pages of majority opinions, concurrences and dissents in the appeals court’s 10-to-3 rejection of President Trump’s revised travel ban.
Amazon wins U.S. Appeals Court OK to sell counterfeits
In a devastating blow to manufacturers and consumer protection, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a U.S. District Court decision by Judge Ricardo S. Martinez excusing Amazon from liability in the sale of counterfeit items on its website. Despite the outcome, Judge Martinez opined; “[The court] is troubled by its conclusion and the impact it may have on the many small retail sellers in circumstances similar to the plaintiffs. There is no doubt that we now live in a time where the law lags behind technology. This case illustrates that point.”
‘Unpleasant but not unduly gruesome’: Appeals court unmoved by Lancaster killer’s ‘photos’ argument
A state appeals court panel Tuesday upheld the conviction of a former Lancaster resident who was on probation for alcohol-related reckless driving at the time of a DUI crash in Palmdale that killed a motorist who was stopped at a red light. The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that the jury which heard the case against Jeffrey Cole Brooks should not have seen two photographs of the 21-year-old victim, Daniel Eduardo Orellana, at the crash scene and during an autopsy in light of videos it was shown of the crash scene and the victim’s vehicle in flames.
Dispute over Prop. 8 videos being hashed out in court
Videos of the 2010 federal court trial on the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry should not be made public because the trial judge promised to keep them sealed and because the passage of time hasn’t ended the likelihood of witness harassment, opponents of same-sex marriage told a federal judge Wednesday.

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.