March 20, 2017

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

Law.com

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