March 13, 2017

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