Monday Morning Memo for August 28, 2017
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No California bail reform this year, governor announces
Gov. Jerry Brown announced Friday that a California Senate bill to overhaul the bail system will be held this year as negotiations continue with lawmakers and court officials. Brown, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, state Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Los Angeles, and Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, intend to continue to work on Senate Bill 10 through the fall and revisit it early next year, the Governor’s Office said in a statement.
New Jersey is front line in a national battle over bail
Less than a year after New Jersey established a sweeping new law that all but eliminated cash bail, the state has found itself facing a challenge familiar to others that have overhauled their bail systems: an energetic legal attack from the bail industry. In June and July, two lawsuits were filed in Federal District Court in New Jersey challenging the statute, the Criminal Justice Reform Act, which took effect on Jan. 1.
Bail reform gets backing of Governor, Chief Justice, but is delayed to 2018
It’s a mixed bag for supporters of wide-ranging reforms to California’s money bail system: While lawmakers won’t vote on a bill until next year, backers won the support of Gov. Jerry Brown and Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye on Friday. The delay gives opponents in the bail industry more time to make their case against Senate Bill 10, which passed the Senate earlier this year.
On the ground floor of a deteriorating county courthouse, in a room outfitted with temporary office furniture and tangles of electrical wires, a cornerstone of America’s criminal justice system is crumbling. A 20-year-old man in a green jail jumpsuit appears on a video monitor that faces a judge. It is early June, and he has been arrested for driving a car with a gun locked in the glove compartment.
Judge, top prosecutor engage in shouting match over jailing of pregnant woman
A longtime Cook County judge and a top prosecutor repeatedly shouted at each other Monday at a tense hearing over whether a pregnant woman should have been jailed without bail for more than a month this summer. “I have every right to hold her,” said Judge Nicholas Ford, a former prosecutor known for imposing tough sentences.
Repeat offender arrested in botched attempt to burglarize Torrance clock store
A Huntington Park man with 10 felony convictions on his rap sheet was arrested shortly after he and a woman allegedly tried to break into a Torrance watch repair business, police said Tuesday. Jose Buenrostro, 37, and Elizabeth Delgadillo, 24, of Bakersfield were arrested early Saturday following the botched crime at Timemasters & More, 3131 Artesia Blvd., Torrance police Sgt. Ronald Harris said.
Modesto man stabbed his wife because she wanted a divorce. He’s been granted parole.
A Modesto man convicted of stabbing his wife five times because she wanted a divorce has been found suitable for parole. Catarino Santos Martinez, 49, was found suitable for parole at a July 12 hearing, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office announced this week. Prosecutors said Martinez had been denied parole six times in the past 13 years. State parole officials have 120 days to review the decision.
Why 2 Inland Empire convicted murderers are now eligible for parole
A drunken Paul Carrillo in February 1981 decided he wanted to ride around in a taxi one night without paying. So he and a friend summoned a taxi and struck driver Stanley Pace in the head with a 2-by-4 with nails. Pace died, and a Riverside County judge sentenced Carrillo to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
CONVICTION AND SENTENCING
Judge drops death penalty option in mass murder case tainted by misconduct
Scott Dekraai, a 47-year-old man who admitted to killing eight people at a beauty salon in the worst mass shooting in Orange County, California, history, will not face execution for his crimes because of law enforcement misconduct linked to a jail informant program, a judge ruled Friday. In a rare move, Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals excluded the death penalty as a punishment option.
No showing judge real is biased against Yagman’s ex-wife
The long-running personal conflict between U.S. District Court Judge Manuel Real of the Central District of California and then-attorney Stephen Yagman, now disbarred and working for his former wife as a paralegal, was at the heart of a motion to disqualify Real from presiding over a civil rights case handled by ex-wife Marion Yagman, with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals now holding that recusal was correctly denied.
PROPOSITIONS AFTERMATH AND CRIME
Walters: California’s uptick in crime has political repercussions
In the main, issues that dominate any session of the California Legislature reflect what the public and news media consider at the time to be the most burning. That’s why, for instance, the state’s acute housing shortage will receive much attention during the final month of this year’s session. During Jerry Brown’s first governorship four decades ago, the most burning issue was the state’s sharply rising crime rate.
Even with ‘catch & release’ MPD arrests 2,087 yearly
Four years ago if police caught someone suspected of shoplifting from a Manteca store they’d be arrested and booked at the San Joaquin County Jail. They’d stay there until they posted bail or appeared before a judge, assuming of course, that the jail wasn’t overcrowded with suspects charged with more serious crimes. Today even if the jail isn’t overcrowded, the odds are a shoplifting suspect being booked or spending any time in jail is fairly slim.
State officials seeking public input on Prop 57
State prison officials are inviting public comments on regulations for the release of inmates under Proposition 57, which increased the number of inmates released on parole into communities around California. So this is your chance to weigh in and urge the state to make public safety the top priority when making releasing decisions. State Sen. Scott Wilk, whose district includes the Victor Valley, has urged prison officials to consider the full impact of these mandated prisoner releases.
Will Madyson Middleton’s accused killer go on trial as a juvenile?
A hearing began in a Santa Cruz courtroom Tuesday to determine how Adrian “A.J.” Gonzalez will go on trial in the brutal death of 8-year-old Madyson “Maddy” Middleton. Gonzalez was 15-years-old when the 8-year-old girl was sexually assaulted and murdered at the Tannery Arts Center community. District Attorney Jeff Rosell said Gonzalez, now 17, is a cold calculating killer who poses a threat to the community.
Rapper Common lobbies legislators on juvenile justice measures
Oscar- and Grammy- award winning rapper “Common” was on a tight schedule Tuesday, in an uncommon setting – the state Capitol. “There’s a lot of progress being made, he said. Progress, he says, in pushing lawmakers to reform the state’s criminal justice system, just a day after drawing thousands to his free concert promoting the cause. “We’re hoping to get prison reform in the right place, so juveniles won’t be sentenced to life without parole,” he said.
Transient-related crime at 5-year high in Victorville
Nuisance problems created by transients have long-irked business owners, particularly in certain parts of the city. But it can prove to be equally as frustrating for law enforcement. Only one of about every 18 transient-related calls in Victorville has generated a police report over the past three years, according to San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department data, usually because a victim wasn’t identified.
ACLU campaign highlights the positions of California district attorneys on crime and punishment ballot measures
Nearly 60% of California voters approved a ballot measure that reduced some drug and theft crimes to misdemeanors. But only two district attorneys out of all 58 counties across the state supported the measure. Nearly 65% of voters supported another ballot initiative to overhaul the state’s parole system. But only one district attorney out of 58 supported that proposition.
The cop who became a robber
Randy Adair was a familiar face in Rancho Santa Margarita. With a shock of white hair and a bushy white mustache, the 70-year-old grandpa was popular among the deep-sea fishermen at the harbor, where he’d pose for photographs holding 30-pound yellowtails. He had coached football players at Dana Hills High School, and he even appeared in court on behalf of boys who found themselves in trouble.
Palmdale mother, boyfriend sentenced to life in prison for murder of 23-month-old boy
A Palmdale mother and her boyfriend have both been sentenced to life in state prison for killing the woman’s 23-month-old son three years ago, prosecutors said Monday. The toddler, Anthony Wilson, was hospitalized after he was hit in the head five times by 27-year-old Brandon Williams. Anthony died 41 days later, on Oct. 5, 2014.
Glendora soldier found guilty of child abuse, rape
A Glendora man who was serving in the military on a tour of duty in Iraq when he was extradited back to the United States after he was charged with molesting a girl and raping a woman was found guilty of both crimes Monday, authorities said. Fadi Haddad, 40, was found guilty of five felony counts – three counts of lewd acts upon a child and two counts of forcible rape.
LA sheriff’s sergeant accused of groping female deputy
A Los Angeles County sheriff’s sergeant has been charged with sexually assaulting a deputy he supervised after telling her that she “owed him” for approving her time off-requests, officials said Monday. Sgt. Michael Spina was charged with sexual battery, false imprisonment and indecent exposure. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney who could comment on the allegations.
Federal grand jury in Fresno indicts 6 accused of using ‘dark web’ site AlphaBay
A federal grand jury in Fresno indicted six people suspected of selling illegal drugs on the “dark web,” in which sales of drugs and contraband over the internet are meant to be untraceable by law enforcement. It doesn’t always work that way. The suspects, all from the greater Los Angeles area, allegedly distributed illegal drugs or conspired to do so in Fresno County, among other places, or aided and abetted the illegal activities, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California said Thursday.
Judge refuses to end Roman Polanski sex assault case
A Los Angeles judge on Friday denied the impassioned plea of Roman Polanski’s victim to end a four-decade-old sexual assault case against the fugitive director. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon ruled that Polanski must return to California if he expects to resolve charges of sexually abusing a teen. The Oscar winner fled the country on the eve of sentencing in 1978.
Reputed LA gang member faces 46 charges for allegedly firing at SWAT, wounding police dog
A reputed gang member who allegedly opened fire on SWAT officers during a search in South Los Angeles, shooting one officer in the helmet and wounding a police dog, pleaded not guilty today to nearly four dozen felonies. Jose Rauda, 34, is charged with 46 counts, including 19 counts of attempted murder of a police officer.
Nearly 100 alleged gang members indicted in ‘devastating blow’ to Mexican Mafia
Nearly 100 alleged gang members have been indicted in what law enforcement officials are calling a devastating blow to local gangs and leaders of the notorious Mexican Mafia, it was reported Wednesday. Among those named in one of several indictments unsealed Wednesday was Peter Ojeda, a Santa Ana native indicted in 2005 and currently in federal prison, the Orange County register reported.
Doctors split over mental state of accused California gunman
Doctors are split on whether a man charged with randomly gunning down three people on the streets of downtown Fresno earlier this year is mentally fit to stand trial. A second of three doctors on Tuesday found that 39-year-old Kori Ali Muhammad is not capable psychologically to help his attorney represent him in court. Authorities say that on April 18 Muhammad walked a neighborhood where he killed three people days after gunning down a motel security guard.
SCA-12, a Constitutional Amendment, could change L.A. County leadership
The Senate Constitutional Amendment is essentially aimed at Los Angeles County, which is the most populous county in the nation. The legislation calls for more seats to be added to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and also creates a three-term limit. It also calls on counties with more than 5 million residents to have a CEO who’s limited to two six-year terms.
Working to protect Orange County
Re: “Spitzer emails show he lacks temperament to be district attorney” [Opinion, July 9]: Steven Greenhut recently gave readers an individualized assessment of my temperament and suitability as the next district attorney of Orange County: “Spitzer is smart, savvy and energetic, but it wouldn’t be wise to trust him with subpoena power.” This raises a pertinent question: How should voters decide who to trust as the county’s top prosecutor?
‘A tricky area of philanthropy’: LA mayor solicits millions for his favored causes
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti – a longtime critic of big money in local politics – has set a surprising city record requesting large contributions, using a little-known and largely unregulated process called “behested payments,” KPCC has found. Since his election as mayor, records show Garcetti has used the mechanism to raise $31.9 million in large donations to his favored causes from individuals, businesses and foundations, some of which have won sizable contracts and crucial approvals from the city in recent years.
LA County strikes deal with cities to ‘streamline’ homeless services
Hoping to place thousands of homeless people into affordable housing regionwide, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to partner with all cities across the county that step up and help in the effort. A motion introduced by supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl will allow county officials to fund supportive services to all 88 cities that provide rental vouchers, for example.
White supremacist ‘cancer’ in California to be investigated, Senate leader says
The California Senate will hold a series of public hearings next month to explore the rise of white supremacy in California and to ensure that the state is prepared to deal with race-driven rallies in the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville, Va. “These issues cut to the heart of our society and our response will show what kind of nation we want to be,” said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León while announcing the hearings on the Senate floor on Monday.
Effort to increase number of LA County supervisors hits roadblock in Sacramento
A state effort to expand the number of seats on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors stalled in Sacramento Monday, but its backers remain hopeful. The constitutional amendment submitted in May by State Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, was heard on Monday by the Senate’s Appropriations Committee, but was later sent by members on a 7 to 0 vote to what’s called the suspense file for further consideration because of its potential fiscal impact.
Inside the audacious plan to eliminate traffic deaths in L.A.
Valentina D’Allesandro was 16 the night she died three years ago. A passenger in a Ford Mustang, she was partially ejected through the windshield when the driver ran a red light and crashed into a fence. The young man, who’d been traveling at more than three times the speed limit after challenging a former coworker to a race, served seven months in jail. That hasn’t made things any easier for D’Alessandro’s mother, even now.
City attorneys are responsible for protecting consumers. Give them the tools to do it
After The Times reported in 2013 that Wells Fargo stuck customers with hefty fees for accounts they never authorized, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer sued the bank. At first, San Francisco-based Wells scoffed, claiming that L.A.’s city attorney had no jurisdiction. The bank soon learned that it was mistaken, and it settled with Feuer and two federal agencies for $185 million.
Sheriff boosts intel against Humboldt’s drug/crime plague
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office will launch a new tracking and intelligence network next year to battle highly interconnected criminals, gangs and multiplying “punk squads” county-wide. Sheriff’s deputies and law enforcement from Arcata to Fortuna and from Eureka to Humboldt State University will be linked in 2018 against what Sheriff William Honsal calls the twin crime and drug epidemics dogging the Redwood Coast.
Civilian panel says LA Sheriff needs more mental health teams
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell needs to dramatically increase the number of special teams that deal with people with mental illness, according to a report issued Thursday by the department’s civilian oversight panel. The report, the first independent look at the sheriff’s much vaunted Mental Evaluation Teams, said the department needs to move faster to train patrol deputies in distinguishing between someone who is dangerous and someone who is harmless but acting out because of a mental disorder.
Sex arrest of woman teacher at pricey Brentwood School: Alleged victim is 16-year-old student
A 45-year-old woman teacher at the exclusive Brentwood School was arrested for allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old student. Dr. Aimee Palmitessa was arrested by Los Angeles police, according to L.A. County jail records. She was booked on a felony statutory rape charge and released on $230,000 bail on Friday, according to jail records.
Police warn of increase in crimes involving paintball guns; public’s help sought ID’ing perpetrators
Police are asking for the public’s help in providing information on individuals who may be behind a recent increase in crimes involving paintball guns in South Los Angeles. Compressed-air guns normally reserved for use at a recreational paintball range are increasingly being used in robberies, aggravated assaults and vandalism, Los Angeles Police Capt. Lee Sands said in a Friday press conference.
California leaders call for hearings on white supremacy
California lawmakers will hold a series of hearings next month to assess the rise of white supremacy in the state and to determine if there are any laws needed to help control violent outbreaks at public rallies. State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, called for the hearings Monday as lawmakers returned to the state Capitol after a monthlong recess.
State Department issues new travel warning for Mexico over violence, crime threat
The U.S. State Department issued a new travel warning Tuesday for people planning to visit certain parts of Mexico. The State Department said U.S. citizens have been the victims of violent crimes – including kidnapping, carjacking, robbery and even homicide in certain Mexican states. Gun battles between rival gangs or with Mexican authorities have taken place on streets in public places and in broad daylight, the State Department warned.
California court rejects mandatory deadlines in death penalty cases
The California Supreme Court on Thursday said a ballot initiative that aimed to speed up death penalty cases could not impose mandatory deadlines on appeals, but it also rejected broader constitutional challenges to the measure. Voters narrowly passed Proposition 66 last year, while a companion measure that sought to abolish the death penalty failed.
Ex-LA Sheriff Baca denied a second bid to stay out of prison while awaiting appeal
Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has lost another bid to avoid prison time while his conviction on federal corruption charges is appealed, according to court documents. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that Baca did not show that the lower court erred in ordering the former lawman to begin serving his three-year prison term.
Attorney General Becerra: Court allows prosecution in sex trafficking Backpage.com case to proceed
Today, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Lawrence Brown overruled defense dismissal motions in the Backpage.com case, allowing the criminal prosecution by the California Attorney General’s Office against defendants Carl Ferrer, James Larkin and Michael Lacey to proceed on 25 felony counts.
Typographical errors in complaint can lead to liability
A law firm’s error, through inadvertence, in suing a man on behalf of a credit union for $29,916.08, when he actually owed $26,916.08, and misstating slightly the applicable rate of interest, can subject the firm to liability under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held Friday.
Alien’s use of false identity, birth certificate, might be forgivable
A citizen of Mexico who used the name and birth certificate of another in gaining permanent residency status here need not necessarily be deported based on his deception, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held, invoking a Supreme Court opinion handed down June 22. The precedent cited in Friday’s Ninth Circuit memorandum opinion is Maslenjak v. United States.
Appeals Court orders new hearing without specifying any flaw in first hearing
A man who pled guilty, pursuant to a plea bargain, to shooting at an occupied vehicle and possession of a firearm by a felon is entitled to a new evidentiary hearing on his motion to withdraw his guilty plea based upon his post-plea knowledge that the jailhouse informants who were to testify as to his inculpatory statements were members of the Mexican Mafia who were paid to be snitches, an appeals court has held.
C.A. finds justification for controlling probationer’s place of residence
The Fourth District Court of Appeal has affirmed a “Don’t leave the state” condition of probation imposed on a man convicted of making two threats against a mixed-race couple living across the street from him and dissuading a witness, his daughter, from testifying. Under the condition, Dannie Michael Bradshaw may not foray beyond California’s boundaries or move his residence within the state unless he has the consent of his probation officer.
Suit claims California tosses thousands of ballots every election
California wrongly disqualifies tens of thousands of mailed-in ballots in each election because officials decide the voter’s signature on the ballot envelope doesn’t match earlier submissions, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a lawsuit Thursday. The decisions, the suit said, are made by untrained staff without prior notice to the voter.
C.A. rejects assault on Federal ‘dual sovereignty doctrine’
The Court of Appeal for this district has rejected an assault on the “dual sovereignty doctrine” under which both the federal government and a state may impose penal consequences for the same conduct, so long as non-duplicative crimes are charged. Div. Four, in an opinion by Presiding Justice Norman Epstein, on Monday affirmed the convictions of Astati Halim and her husband, Hendra Anwar, both Indonesian citizens, in connection with luring three young women here through false promises and keeping them as virtual slaves in the couple’s three residences.
Facebook avoids lawsuit by country rapper who wanted critical page taken down
In what is viewed as a victory for social media platforms, Facebook has been granted an Anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) motion, which also led to dismissal of a lawsuit brought by a country rapper. Jason Cross, who performs under the stage name Mikel Knight, sued the website in 2016 for several causes of action, including breach of contract and negligent interference with prospective economic relations.
State Supreme Court says digital cameras can’t be searched without a warrant
Some more good news on the Fourth Amendment front, even if it’s somewhat jurisdictionally limited: the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has (sort of) decided the Supreme Court’s Riley decision isn’t just for cellphones. In this case, the search of a robbery suspect’s backpack while he was being questioned yielded a ring, a digital camera, and other items.
Reporter Jill Leovy and admin assistant also let go by LA Times
Award-winning Los Angeles Times reporter Jill Leovy was fired on Monday along with four of the paper’s top editors, and the reason seems to be that Leovy is married to one of the axed editors. Leovy is the author of the bestselling book on South Los Angeles, “Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America,” and first made a big splash at the Times as the writer of the online Homcide Report blog, which under her watch endeavored to post a news item about every single murder in Los Angeles for more than a year.
California Sheriffs use bare-knuckle tactics against “sanctuary state” proposal
Earlier this year, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones invited Immigrations and Custom Enforcement chief Thomas Homan to a community forum. The event was advertised to the public as an opportunity to clear up misinformation around the immigration debate. In private, however, Jones confided over email to Homan and other ICE officials that he wanted to use the event help to derail Senate Bill 54, legislation proposed to create so-called “sanctuary state” protections in California.
LA sues Trump Administration over sanctuary city crackdown
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said Tuesday he has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice to block what he calls an unconstitutional effort to withhold crime-fighting grant funds from cities that fail to fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
“We’re suing to block the Trump Administration from unconstitutionally imposing its will on our city,” Feuer said.
Lawmakers considering creating statewide sanctuary
California lawmakers return Monday from a month-long break with a busy agenda that includes tackling bail reform and deciding whether to make California a statewide sanctuary for people living illegally in the U.S. Here’s a look at some of the high-profile issues the Legislature will tackle in the last four weeks of business this year. They reconvene in January for the rest of their current two-year session.
Applications for CA immigrant driver’s licenses declining as numbers near 1M
There will soon be a million California drivers who obtained their driver licenses under a state law that allowed unauthorized immigrants to apply for permission to drive legally. As of July, about 915,000 immigrants had obtained the special licenses that became available in January 2015. State Department of Motor Vehicles officials anticipate the million mark will be hit in the next few months.
Despite promises of growth, Border Patrol agent staffing on the decline
Five days after President Donald Trump took office, he signed an executive order that promised a swift, sharp crackdown on illegal immigration – immediate construction of a massive border wall, quick hiring of 5,000 new Border Patrol agents and stepped-up deportation of undocumented migrants. “Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders,” Trump declared at the Jan. 25 ceremony at the Department of Homeland Security, which controls federal immigration agencies.