Monday Morning Memo for August 7, 2017
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ADDA’s Eric Siddall on FOX11 News
Watch Eric Siddall on FOX11 News discussing bail reform.
Details present problem for needed bail system reforms: Thomas Elias
There are plenty of problems with the kind of one-party government California now has, with every statewide office in the hands of Democrats, who also hold two-thirds majorities in both houses of the Legislature. It’s easier to pass taxes this way and budget discipline can be hard to find, to name just two. But the one-party dominance also allows for addressing some rank injustices after they’ve spent years as festering societal wounds.
SNEED: Eric Holder joins fight to make Cook County bail system fair
Ka-ching. It’s all about the money. Translation: Count former President Barack Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, among Cook County’s legal eagles labeling our bail bond system broken because it violates the rights of the poor. Retained pro bono by Cook County Public Defender Amy J. Campanelli to assess Cook County’s bail bond practices, Holder and his law firm, Covington & Burling, contends “it’s highly likely Cook County’s wealth-based approach to pretrial release violates the U.S. and Illinois constitutions as well as state law.”
Verify: Are Gavin Newsom’s bail reform claims accurate?
A bipartisan bill introduced by Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, is taking aim at the bail bond industry by providing incentives for states that replace cash bail systems. California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced support for bail reform efforts, stating that “today in America, most people are in jail not because they’ve been convicted of a crime, but because they can’t afford to pay pretrial bail.”
Bail: A fight to remove the price tag
Bail is supposed to make sure that a defendant returns for the court date, although critics say bail merely punishes people for being poor. Legislation is moving through the Capitol to try to resolve this issue, but it is fiercely opposed by the bail agents and bounty hunters who make their living assuring the courts that skittish defendants will show up.
Prosecutor’s grilling upsets witness in Durst murder hearing
In a final day of intense questioning and shaky memories, the wife of one of Robert Durst’s attorneys acknowledged on the stand Monday that her husband prompted her to modify her previous testimony that Durst had said he was in Los Angeles around the time he is accused of murdering his closest friend here.
Prosecutor misconduct taints convictions in Southern California courts, study says
The gavels had fallen, the cases appeared closed: Marsha Kay Esswein was found guilty of stabbing to death her 82-year-old husband in Riverside County. Christopher James Lloyd was convicted in Orange County of knifing a man in a hotel room. Roshawn Anthony Charles was found guilty in Los Angeles County of aggravated assault by a gang member.
Prosecutors: Ex-Compton mayor’s spending was purely personal
Ex-Compton Mayor Omar Bradley “understood the rules [of public spending] and that his spending had no public benefit,” said prosecutors last Friday, when for a second time, Bradley was convicted of misappropriating taxpayer funds. This is his second misappropriation conviction. The first, came in 2004 but was thrown out by a state appellate court panel in 2012.
Alleged serial car thief charged with six felonies
An Arroyo Grande man arrested last week following a rash of car thefts across San Luis Obispo County faces about 10 years in San Luis Obispo County Jail after prosecutors accused him of six of those thefts last week. Prosecutors on Thursday charged Zachary James Hamlin, 37, with six felony counts of vehicle theft, and misdemeanor charges of possessing burglary tools and obstructing a peace officer. He has not yet entered a plea and is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.
Former Janice Hahn aide charged in Compton marijuana store shakedown
A former field representative for Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn during her days in Congress was arrested Wednesday on federal bribery and extortion charges that allege he took $5,000 in a shakedown at a Compton marijuana store. Michael Kimbrew, 44, of Carson pleaded not guilty during an appearance in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles and was freed on $15,000 bond, prosecutors said.
Suge Knight indicted by grand jury for reportedly threatening ‘Straight Outta Compton’director
Suge Knight, the former rap impresario and founder of Death Row Records, has been indicted by a grand jury in Los Angeles County for making criminal threats. The violation cited on court papers obtained by Variety dates to Aug. 8, 2014, while F. Gary Gray was shooting the movie “Straight Outta Compton.” Knight is scheduled to be arraigned on Aug. 3.
Researcher who stopped WannaCry cyberattack arrested in Las Vegas
The security researcher credited with stopping the spread of a massive cyberattack earlier this year has been arrested by the FBI, federal prosecutors said Thursday. Marcus Hutchins, a 22-year-old England-based researcher who was hailed for finding a “kill switch” that halted the WannaCry malware assault in May, was detained Wednesday by FBI officials in Las Vegas for his role in hatching a banking virus, federal prosecutors said in a statement announcing the six-count indictment.
Gang member who allegedly killed LA tamale vendor over ‘street tax’ is extradited from Guatemala
A Guatemalan national suspected of murdering a tamale vendor in the Rampart area of Los Angeles in 2009 was extradited to the United States by the FBI’s Los Angeles Fugitive Task Force, it was announced today. Werner Rafael Francisco, a suspected member of a street gang, allegedly had been extorting a “street tax” from the victim and others, the FBI reported.
End prosecutors’ immunity from lawsuits
Misconduct by prosecutors in Southern California has led to dozens of criminal convictions being overturned on appeal – that’s the finding from a new study by Harvard Law School’s Fair Punishment Project, which looked at court rulings on prosecutorial misconduct across the country. These are not cases of errors, but of willful and serious misconduct, which can include the use of fabricated evidence, introduction of false testimony, and withholding of evidence that points to innocence.
CONVICTION & SENTENCING
Dad did it! Father admits first-degree murder in slaughter of son, 5, after Disneyland trip
A South Pasadena father pleaded guilty Tuesday to first- degree murder for killing his 5-year-old son whose body was found in Santa Barbara County after a roughly two-month search. Aramazd Andressian Sr., 35, faces 25 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 23 for the killing of Aramazd “Piqui” Andressian Jr. Prosecutors said Andressian killed his son in the midst of a bitter custody battle with his estranged wife, Ana Estevez.
These 100 interest groups spent the most trying to influence California officials
California lawmakers were busy in the second quarter of the year. So were the special-interest groups that lobby them. Between April 1 and the end of June, lawmakers in Sacramento passed a controversial gas tax, put the breaks on universal health care and began negotiations on a cap-and-trade deal to extend the state’s marquee climate change program.
DA Linn gathers signatures opposing release of YLP arsonist
Phil Lippner, a resident of Yosemite Lakes Park, found it unbelievable that his one-time neighbors, Kenneth Jackson and Alice Waterman, would turn out to be arsonists. Between May 11 and June 25 of 2013, Jackson and Waterman lit a string of 31 fires in the YLP area which left many people frightened for their lives.
Ex-Contra Costa County district attorney suspended from practicing law over alleged misuse of campaign funds
The State Bar Court of California announced Friday it has temporarily suspended a former Contra Costa County district attorney who pleaded no contest to perjury over his personal use of campaign funds. The association is also investigating whether Mark Peterson merits further punishment, including disbarment, the East Bay Times reported Friday.
Family says ‘no justice’ for unarmed man shot dead by security guard at his own apartment building
The family of an unarmed man who was fatally shot by a security guard in his own apartment complex is accusing the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office of offering too light a sentence and treating the private guard as if he were a police officer. Isaac Kelly was killed at around midnight on Oct. 3, 2015 at the Meadowview Apartments in Perris. Court records show security guard Steven Dillick told sheriff’s deputies Kelly was reaching for his waistband.
Attorney General, Sheriffs break up major human trafficking case
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell stood with Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra during a press conference on Thursday, July 27, 2017, at the historic Hall of Justice to announce recent joint efforts made in investigating and prosecuting one of the largest-scale human trafficking cases on the West Coast.
PRISON, JAIL & PAROLE
Opinion: Corrections department undermining will of voters on Prop 57
In 2016, California voters approved Proposition 57, also known as “the California Parole for Non-Violent Criminals and Juvenile Court Trial Requirements Initiative,” by an overwhelming margin of 64 percent to 36 percent. Among a number of other provisions, Proposition 57’s main objective was to increase parole chances for felons convicted of nonviolent crimes and provide them more opportunities to earn credits for good behavior.
Concerns about parole measure are coming true
Last November Californians voted for Proposition 57 with the promise that “nonviolent” inmates who “turn their lives around” in prison could earn early parole if they demonstrate they no longer pose a danger to the public. Voters undoubtedly supported this proposition because they want their justice system to reflect both measurable accountability and the opportunity for meaningful rehabilitation.
California voted to go easy on criminals – this is how crime is doing 3 years later
In 2014 the voters of California went to the polls and approved a proposition that would ease the overpopulation in jails and prisons by loosening law enforcement standards on crime. They were told this would have little effect on crime itself. That’s not what happened. Three years later, some local law enforcement officials are blaming proposition 47 for a drastic increase in crime in California.
Prop. 47 a tough lesson in weakness of initiatives
Whereas the traditional legislative process is a dialogue, a ballot initiative is more of a monologue. California’s easiest-in-the-nation rules make it possible to pass an initiative without substantive discussion or broad consensus, as long as the proponent has the money to qualify one. Largely absent from the initiative process is the chance for opponents, experts, the public and the media to express their thoughts to the drafters and seek amendments.
Nevada County sheriff, district attorney discuss Prop 47’s effects
If laws are arrows in a prosecutor’s quiver, Proposition 47 removed a strong weapon used in fighting crime, local authorities said. Nevada County District Attorney Cliff Newell said that Prop 47, which reduced some felony drug charges and other crimes to misdemeanors, stripped a tool from his office that he said helped defendants receive rehabilitation.
California officials say prison realignment puts State on ‘right track’
A panel of California officials from across the criminal justice system agreed that the state’s nearly six-year-old “realignment” of inmates has led to a long list of improvements for crime victims and lawbreakers alike. The officials spoke yesterday at the opening session of the National Forum on Criminal Justice, which is being held this week in Long Beach, Ca.
Getting people out of jail. How’s that for a worthy bipartisan cause?
His face pale and marred by a ghastly scar above his eye, Sen. John McCain returned to Capitol Hill on Tuesday and sputtered what many Americans have been thinking for years. “We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues,” the Arizona Republican barked at his colleagues, “because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle.”
People are spending more time behind bars, thanks to “tough-on-crime” policies, especially for violent crimes
An Urban Institute report released this month makes the case for reforming sentencing and parole policies for violent crimes, not just low-level offenses. The report revealed that overall, people convicted of crimes are spending more time in prison, and the longest prison terms are growing even longer (especially in California). Moreover, violent crimes account for the majority of the increases.
Charges dismissed against USC student accused of drugging, raping fellow student
Charges were dismissed against a 20-year-old USC student who was accused of drugging and raping a fellow student in her campus dorm after video of her with the former suspect outside a bar showed her making a sexual gesture to a friend. Surveillance video shared for the first time Monday shows the interaction between the woman and Armann Karim Premjee inside the Banditos bar near the USC campus.
IE working to combat increase in car thefts
The Inland Empire has been seeing a spike in auto thefts in recent years, and the region now ranks fifth nationally in number of cases. Police are warning people that older cars are often easier to steal than newer models. “Some of the ignition systems are easier to put any key in there and turn it over because they’ve been worn out,” said Lt. Kevin Townsend with the Riverside police.
Sheriff McDonnell talks priorities and efforts with Lincoln Club
Regarding big-picture crime issues and plans for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Jim McDonnell spoke with the Santa Clarita Valley Chapter of the Los Angeles County Lincoln Club on Friday afternoon. Hunt Braly, chairman of the local Republican group, expressed his support of the department in the community.
Court decision further limits release of law enforcement officers’ records on sustained complaints
In early July the Second Appellate District Court ruled on a case involving the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS) v. Superior Court (with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, LASD, et al. as real parties of interest) which now prohibits California law enforcement agencies from disclosing personnel information to prosecutors, even in response to specific inquiry.
Impersonating police is easy with Amazon counterfeit badges
Are you talking to the real police? How would you know? Fake officers are targeting businesses, children and immigrants. Multiple incidents of phony badge use in rapes, robberies, assaults and by a child predator were identified by The New York Daily News. A group even formed a sham police precinct.
The real reason why America’s cops cheered President Trump’s Brentwood speech
Many years ago, after arresting a man in South-Central Los Angeles, I drove him to the old Parker Center Jail for processing. After completing the paperwork, the strip-search, the fingerprinting and what have you, I escorted him to the final stage of the booking process, the point at which we would part ways until meeting again in court. I ushered him into the holding cell and wished him luck, as I most often did when circumstances allowed, and as I was about to close the door on him he turned to me and said, “You’re the nicest po-lice I ever met.”
LA sheriff fears Trump ‘sanctuary city’ crackdown could cost county $132 million
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell says he has been lobbying President Donald Trump’s administration to avoid potentially losing out on as much as $132 million in federal law enforcement grants over the next three years due to the department’s immigration policies.
Sessions threatens to deny anti-crime aid to four sanctuary cities
The Justice Department on Thursday announced cities hoping to participate in a federal training program meant to combat violent crime will have to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement requests, the latest in the agency’s attempts to punish so-called “sanctuary cities.”
The Crucial Art Of Reentry: 2 County supes determined to jump start long-needed LA reentry programs
A new motion by Los Angeles County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl demands, in the nicest possible way, that Chief of LA County Probation, Terri McDonald, in partnership with the Director of the Office of Diversion and Re-Entry, facilitate the creation of a series of new reentry centers-or hubs-to meet the reentry needs of probation’s adult clients.
How local law enforcement leaders and anti-immigration groups have joined forces to deport more undocumented immigrants
While the Trump administration this year has demanded stricter enforcement of immigration laws by local law enforcement, some county sheriffs across the U.S. had already been establishing closer relationships with anti-immigration groups in recent years.
Prosecutors’ dilemma: Will conviction lead to ‘life sentence of deportation’?
The drunken-driving case seemed straightforward, the kind that prosecutors in Seattle convert into a quick guilty plea hundreds of times a year: a swerving car, a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit, a first-time offense that caused no injuries. The only complication was the driver.
American attitudes about guns have become much more positive, but why?
When I was a kid growing up in Washington, D.C. during the 1950s, my two favorite places to visit were the NRA Museum and the FBI. I loved looking at all the old and historic guns at NRA headquarters because I was a gun-nut by the age of five, and I loved the FBI tour because the last stop was at the shooting range where one of the agents would fire a 45-caliber tommy gun and I could take home the empty brass.
CITY, STATE & COUNTY GOVERNMENT
War won by SoCalGas as Aliso Canyon launches operations: Court rejects LA County plea
With a state appeals court rejecting Los Angeles County’s bid to block renewed operations at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, Southern California Gas Co. officials announced Monday it has resumed the process of injecting gas into the basin. In a message to residents, SoCalGas announced that the company has “completed the steps necessary to safely begin injections” at the facility – the site of the largest methane leak in U.S. history.
Los Angeles makes deal to host the 2028 Summer Olympics
Los Angeles officials announced a deal Monday with the International Olympic Committee to play host to the 2028 Summer Olympics, giving up a bid for the 2024 Games to Paris and bringing the Olympics back to the United States for the first time since 2002. At a news conference Monday evening at StubHub Center south of Los Angeles, the city’s mayor, Eric Garcetti, set high expectations.
US Department of Justice suing LA, alleging city fraudulently obtained millions of dollars
The U.S. Department of Justice is suing the city of Los Angeles and its former Community Redevelopment Agency, alleging that they fraudulently obtained millions of dollars in federal housing grants by falsely promising to create accessible homes for the disabled. The complaint, filed late Monday in Los Angeles federal court, alleges that as recipients of millions of dollars in funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city and the CRA/LA – formerly the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles – did not comply with accessibility laws meant to ensure the disabled have fair and equal access to public housing.
SoCal Gas pushes back on L.A. county and Cal/OSHA safety demands
SoCal Gas this week sued California’s workplace safety agency and Los Angeles County to prevent them from imposing new safety standards that the company says are federal responsibilities under the U.S. Pipeline Safety Act. The company wants to shut down a county inquiry into how well gas operations mesh with the neighborhoods where they operate.
California seeks solutions to homeless sex offender rate
California has as many homeless sex offenders now as it did 2½ years ago, when a state Supreme Court ruling that overturned restrictions on where they could live was seen as a way to increase housing options and allow law enforcement to better track them. Sex offenders must register with the state and provide new addresses when they move.
Supreme Court asked to prevent email providers from hiding crime evidence on overseas servers
Attorney General Hector Balderas has joined a bipartisan coalition of 33 states and Puerto Rico to support the U.S. Department of Justice’s request in United States v. Microsoft, that the U.S. Supreme Court decide whether email service providers can shield evidence of a crime from law enforcement by storing data outside the United States.
New state rules on identifying suspects aim to avoid wrongful convictions
When a victim takes the stand to identify the person who committed a crime against them, the jury follows the witness’ pointed finger to the defendant, who is already flanked by attorneys and facing a judge. It’s dramatic but not scientific. A courtroom identification is not the first time a victim or witness has named the suspect for police but it’s likely the only ID a jury in New York has seen or heard – until July 1.
Court challenge to juvenile sex offender registration laws fails
Juveniles who are convicted of a sex crime in California and are sentenced to state custody can be required to register with police as sex offenders for life, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the death penalty and mandatory life sentencing laws cannot be applied to juveniles because of their lesser mental and emotional development.