Monday Morning Memo for December 18, 2017
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Long Beach man sentenced to 19 years to life in prison in fatal stabbing of his girlfriend
A Long Beach man who was convicted of fatally stabbing his girlfriend was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office officials announced Monday. Ngounsay Keo was found guilty of second-degree murder and making criminal threats last month. The incident occurred on April 13, 2016, when police responded to a home in the 1200 block of Stanley Avenue in Long Beach.
Death! Jury recommends execution for Palmdale boy’s torture-murderer
A jury recommended Wednesday that a Palmdale man be sentenced to death for the torture-murder of his girlfriend’s 8-year-old son, who was repeatedly shot with a BB gun, beaten and forced to sleep in a small cabinet with his hands and feet bound and his mouth gagged. The seven-woman, five-man jury deliberated for about seven hours over three days before recommending that Isauro Aguirre, 37, be put to death for the May 2013 killing of Gabriel Fernandez.
Chino Hills joins coalition against new laws
The audience inside Chino Hills city council chambers gasped Tuesday when they learned that crimes such as first degree burglary, battery with serious bodily injury, and rape-sodomy-oral copulation of an unconscious person are no longer considered violent felonies. Chino Hills Police Lt. Chris Ilizaliturri told the council and residents that state legislative changes have increased crime rates and the number of victims not only in Chino Hills but in communities across the state.
Realignment and recidivism in California
California has experienced significant changes in its criminal justice landscape since the 2011 implementation of public safety realignment-which shifted the management of lower-level offenders from the state prison and parole system to county jail and probation systems. The prison population has dropped dramatically, and though jail populations rose, overall incarceration levels have declined.
Sheriff addresses increased jail population
It’s no secret – the number of arrests in Plumas County isn’t decreasing; sentences are longer and everything costs more. The new jail will solve many issues, but the benefits won’t begin until the new correctional facility is completed in 2019 – a year-and-a-half to two years away.
The average length of stay used to be 37 days, said Sheriff Greg Hagwood. And then Assembly Bill 109 came along in 2011.
Beverly Hills or West Hollywood. Which is (getting) safer?
Where are you likely to feel safer? The City of West Hollywood? Or that WeHo-adjacent community known as Beverly Hills? According to a recently released compilation of 2010 to 2016 crime statistics, WeHo has Beverly Hills beat. The compilation by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice reports that Part 1 crimes (government jargon for serious crimes) fell 6.9% in West Hollywood during that period.
Judge Alex Kozinski
9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski could be investigated after sexual misconduct allegations
The chief judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals asked for an investigation Thursday into allegations of sexual misconduct against Judge Alex Kozinski. In a statement emailed to reporters, 9th Circuit Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas said he was acting “to ensure confidence” in the impartiality of any proceedings involving Kozinski.
Sources report 3 Kozinski clerks are out
Multiple sources report that three clerks for Judge Alex Kozinski have decided to leave. Calls to the Ninth Circuit’s public information office have not been returned as of this writing. We’re still waiting for the judge or the clerks themselves to confirm their departure. Since we haven’t talked to them, we can’t know the particulars of each decision to leave, though it’s a hell of a time to leave what was once considered one of the plummest clerkship opportunities in the country.
When judges prey on clerks
A few months after I graduated from Yale Law School in 2008, I started a clerkship for a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, Calif. Almost immediately, I heard rumors that Alex Kozinski, another judge whose chambers were in the same building, often made inappropriate sexual remarks to female clerks.
Court: ‘Making a Murderer’ defendant’s confession stands
A federal appeals court in Chicago narrowly overturned a ruling Friday that could have freed a Wisconsin inmate featured in the “Making a Murderer” series from prison, though one dissenting judge called the case “a profound miscarriage of justice.” The full 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed Brendan Dassey’s claims that investigators tricked him into confessing that he took part in raping and killing photographer Teresa Halbach in 2005.
California man freed after 15 years for shaken baby death
A California man who spent 15 years in prison for shaking his baby to death was freed Saturday, one day after a judge set aside his conviction. Zavion Johnson, 34, walked out of the Sacramento County jail, where he was being held while his court case was heard. He had been serving a sentence of 25 years to life at a state prison in Vacaville.
Supreme Court to weigh anti-abortion speech restrictions
The Supreme Court is wading back into the competing issues of reproductive rights and religious liberty. The court agreed Monday to decide whether a California law requiring pregnancy centers to post notices about publicly funded abortion and contraception services violates the free-speech rights of religious objectors.
How secretive money is influencing the Judicial System
Federal courts get the most attention, especially during the whirlwind, vetting-abandoning Trump Administration. But there is cause for deep concern about what is happening to the powerful yet less visible state judicial system. In a new report, we found that secretive interests have begun making unprecedented efforts to influence state supreme courts, with worrying implications for judicial independence and integrity.
Supreme Court will hear courtroom shackles case
The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will hear arguments in the United States v. Sanchez-Gomez case, which is looking at whether defendants should have to wear physical restraints, including shackles, when they appear in court. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the practice violated a defendants’ right that he or she be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and the use of shackles would be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Thousands freed from L.A. gang injunctions that controlled their movements, friendships, even dress choices
Thousands of Angelenos whose movements, clothing and even relationships were tightly restricted under gang injunctions were released from those court orders this year, marking a dramatic reduction in the use of a crime fighting tool once hailed as an innovative answer to the city’s violent street gangs.
LAPD cop hit by DUI vehicle: Major injuries as 405 freeway shut
A Los Angeles police officer was seriously injured when a man allegedly driving while impaired crashed into his patrol SUV on the shoulder of the San Diego (405) Freeway while he was outside the vehicle conducting a traffic stop on another motorist, authorities said Tuesday. The crash occurred at 11:47 p.m. Monday on the northbound freeway near Santa Monica Boulevard, California Highway Patrol Officer Tony Polizzi said.
Should a grand jury look at LA Sheriff’s deputies?
A leading Los Angeles criminal defense attorney is urging the county’s presiding judge to appoint a grand jury to investigate the controversy over sheriff’s deputies who’ve engaged in misconduct. Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Times published a secret 2014 list of nearly 300 of those deputies.
The government can track you on your cellphone. Doesn’t that invade digital privacy?
A case argued a few weeks ago in the United States Supreme Court provides a crucial vehicle to bring the law of privacy into the 21st century. Timothy Carpenter was suspected of committing a series of armed robberies. The FBI went to his cellphone company and got the cell tower records that revealed his location and his movements for 127 days. The FBI received this information without a warrant from a judge.
Jailers plan to force-feed, medicate man accused of killing 4-year-old and her mother in Long Beach
Authorities said they will soon start forcibly medicating and feeding an Oklahoma man who is refusing to eat while he awaits trial on charges that he ambushed and killed a 4-year-old girl and her mother in Long Beach. A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sergeant informed a judge of this decision on Tuesday during a hearing for Brandon Ivan Colbert Jr., 23, who is accused of gunning down 26-year-old Carina Mancera and her daughter, Jennabel Anaya, outside their Downtown Long Beach home last year.
Could a law to bring down the mob be used in Weinstein case?
The federal anti-racketeering law has been used since the late 1970s to bring down mob bosses. Could it be used to prosecute Harvey Weinstein? Lawyers for six actresses who say they were sexually assaulted by the movie producer filed a lawsuit Wednesday in New York arguing that Weinstein was, essentially, a racketeer who used a legion of assistants, casting agents, security firms, gossip writers and others to supply himself with a steady stream of unwilling sexual partners and silence their complaints.
L.A.-area cop didn’t abuse kids at Camp SLO boot camp, jury finds
Nearly four months after two Los Angeles-area police officers received jail time for abusing kids at a Camp San Luis Obispo youth boot camp, a third officer was acquitted of similar charges Tuesday, capping a two-week trial the jury foreman said shouldn’t have made it to court.
Anesthesiologist charged with murder of plastic surgery patient
An anesthesiologist was charged with the murder of an elderly patient earlier this year in Beverly Hills, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced. Stephen Kyosung Kim was charged yesterday with one count of murder, and is expected to be arraigned Thursday.
Nearly 50 arrested in Northern California gang crackdown
Nearly 50 people have been arrested in a crackdown on gangs in a troubled Northern California city that also netted nearly three-dozen firearms, the state attorney general’s office said Thursday. The sweep was aimed at members of some of south Stockton’s most notorious criminal gangs, with names like the MOB, Flyboys, East Coast Crips, Conway Gangsters, Sierra Vista Project and Glock Team.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti has been touring U.S. as he eyes presidential bid
At the moment, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti doesn’t have time to think about anything but battling fires in Southern California. But before the flames threatened his city, Garcetti was spending a lot of time out of it. He traveled to Wisconsin in June, where he spoke at the state’s Democratic Party convention; New Hampshire in August, where he helped campaign for Manchester mayoral candidate Joyce Craig; and Indiana in November, where he attended the inaugural meeting of a nonprofit for investing in innovation called Accelerator for America.
Five things we already know about California’s races for governor and U.S. Senate
It’s still early in the 2018 races for California governor and U.S. Senate, but already we know five things: – In this stormy, polarized political climate, Republicans aren’t likely to vote for a Democrat even if there isn’t a strong GOP candidate on the ballot. – So the original theory behind Democratic state Treasurer John Chiang’s candidacy for governor that he could attract business-minded Republicans just isn’t working out.
Former Fresno police officer, chaplain convicted of manslaughter, now free on parole
Paul Hurth, a former Fresno police officer and chaplain who was jailed for the 2000 shooting death of his ex-lover’s husband, is free on parole after completing his sentence. Hurth was released on Tuesday in Calaveras County and will be on parole for three years, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation confirmed.
He stole a veteran’s classic cars, but now is released early from prison
A Fresno man who stole two classic cars from an Air Force veteran on Veterans Day in 2015 has been released early from prison under Proposition 57. Thomas Leo Cummings Jr. and Jennifer Carlton stole the two cars, a 1956 Chevy Bel Air and 1966 El Camino, from a barn near Kerman. Don and Faith Klein were storing the cars there for their grandsons after Don, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, restored them.
‘It was like dirty dancing’: Colleagues say Sen. Bob Hertzberg hugged them inappropriately
Three current and former female lawmakers say Sen. Bob Hertzberg inappropriately hugged and touched them, including an incident that one woman says crossed the line into what she considered assault. Hertzberg, a Los Angeles Democrat who served as Assembly speaker from 2000 to 2002 and was elected to the Senate in 2014 after a break from the Legislature, has long had a reputation for being physically affectionate.
Disney exec arrested on child sex abuse charges
Jon Heely, director of music publishing for Disney, is due in court next month to answer to several charges in connection with a child sexual abuse investigation, according to court records. Heely’s alleged crimes reportedly occurred more than 10 years ago, on June 19, 2006, according to court records. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed charges against Jonathan Blake Heely, 58, of Santa Clarita, on Dec. 6, according to court records.
‘Good Day LA’ anchor Steve Edwards fired amid sexual harassment allegations
Steve Edwards has been fired from his position as morning anchor of Fox’s ‘Good Day LA’ amid sexual harassment claims, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “We can confirm that Steve Edwards is no longer employed by KTTV,” a network representative said in a statement to THR on Monday, December 11.
Netflix fires exec who told Danny Masterson accuser “we don’t believe” rape claims
Netflix has fired the executive who told one of Danny Masterson’s alleged sexual assault victims that he did not believe the claims against the former Ranch star, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. Andy Yeatman, director of global kids content at Netflix, was let go from Netflix on Monday over his early December comments, made on the sidelines of a children’s soccer game.
LA County’s sexual harassment complaint system can be improved, leaders say
A report on how Los Angeles County handles complaints of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior among its more than 100,000 employees can be improved and its existence better promoted to the public at large, local leaders concluded Tuesday.
California’s chief justice: ‘I’ve had a few me-toos’
California’s chief justice said Monday she’s had her own encounters with sexual misconduct in the legal profession, and described the recent flood of harassment revelations as evidence of women’s persistent inequality in the workplace. “I’ve had a few ‘me-toos’ in the past, but I’m not telling them, at least not on the record,” Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said in her annual meeting with reporters.
‘Atomic Blonde’ producer David Guillod under investigation for alleged rape of former employee: report
“Atomic Blonde” producer David Guillod is reportedly under investigation by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office for allegedly raping a former employee in 2014. Guillod – who stepped down as co-CEO of Primary Wave Entertainment last month after actress Jessica Barth accused him of rape – is now the subject of an investigation for allegedly raping an assistant at a company retreat in wine country, according to The Wrap.
Could cascade of allegations send #MeToo movement off the rails?
The criticism came swiftly last week after the Atlantic magazine published a writer’s account stating that Sen. Al Franken “groped” her in 2009 by putting his hand on her waist during a photo op, “grabbing a handful of flesh” and squeezing at least twice. “I’m sorry, is that sexual assault now? To squeeze someone’s waist?” one Twitter user wrote.
LAPD probing new sex assault accusation against Roman Polanski, though the case can’t be prosecuted
The Los Angeles Police Department said it is investigating allegations that director Roman Polanski in 1975 molested a child when she was 10, even though the case cannot be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has expired.
Commentary: The crime debate continues, and bail reform will be next
California, which had led the nation in cracking down on crime in the 1980s and 1990s by locking up tens of thousands of felons, has dramatically reversed course in the last half-decade, to wit: Responding to pressure from federal courts to reduce prison overcrowding, Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature enacted “realignment,” which diverted low-level felons into local jails and probation, thus dropping prison populations by about one-third via attrition.
Why bail reform is the worst thing ever for public safety
As someone who has been deeply immersed into the bail reform debate for several years, I cannot tell you how much it irks me to hear bail reform advocates talk about “public safety.” Especially since the truth about bail reform results in the opposite of public safety (i.e. decreased accountability and rising crime rates).
ACLU launches national campaign to end money bail
The American Civil Liberties Union’s Campaign for Smart Justice is launching an initiative to end money bail and eliminate wealth-based pretrial detention. The initiative is a part of the campaign’s nationwide, multi-year effort to reduce the jail and prison population by 50 percent and to combat racial disparities in the criminal justice system by challenging the injustices that have helped make America the world’s largest incarcerator.
Fire at a homeless encampment sparked Bel-Air blaze that destroyed homes, officials say
The blaze that swept through the hills of Bel-Air last week, destroying six homes and damaging a dozen others, was sparked by a cooking fire at a homeless encampment in a nearby ravine, Los Angeles officials said Tuesday. The encampment was nestled in a canyon several hundred feet from Sepulveda Boulevard and the 405 Freeway, hidden from passing cars.
Wildfire damage hotline is up and running in LA: Call 2-1-1
The city and county of Los Angeles Monday announced activation of the 211 disaster hotline for homeowners, renters, and business owners to report damages caused by the Creek, Rye and Skirball fires. “We’ve started our recovery efforts in the Los Angeles County operational area,” said Jeff Reeb, director of the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management.
U.S. law can’t protect you from dangerous counterfeits on Amazon and eBay
Over the years that I spent in China I can remember numerous occasions where I would be shopping for something on Taobao or another Chinese e-commerce site and have a Chinese friend look over my shoulder and ask if I’d like some help. This offer usually wasn’t negotiable, they were basically saying, “You’re a foreigner and don’t know how to shop online in China and it’s my responsibility to save you.” More often than not, they were correct.
California prison rehabilitation programs should actually work
California has work to do to ensure that prison rehabilitation programs serve their purpose, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office recent reported. With about 130,000 people in state custody, tens of thousands of people are released every year from state prisons back into our communities.
Nearly a quarter of firefighters working Southern California’s big fires are inmates. Here’s how they’re helping
Roughly 8,700 firefighters were hard at work Friday battling six major wildfires ravaging Southern California, from Santa Barbara County south to San Diego County. They’ve traveled from all over to knock down the blazes, which have burned some 245 square miles and displaced more than 200,000 people.
Music and culture have become “powerful” tools for rehabilitation in California’s prison system
There are very few things that Tina Brown finds surprising in her day anymore. As a person incarcerated at the California Institution for Women, a general population prison in Corona, California, Brown’s days and nights are fairly regimented. But once in a while Brown, along with the rest of the women housed at CIW, get to experience something special: the sounds of being free.
FPC publishes guide to new California gun laws, upcoming changes
Today, civil rights advocacy organization Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) published a valuable new guide to California’s many new and changing gun laws. The article, entitled “California’s new gun laws: What every gun owner should know before Jan 1,” can be found at FPC’s Web site at FPCnews.org. “We want to help gun owners understand what they’re really up against,” explained FPC California Legislative Advocate and Spokesperson Craig DeLuz.
New gun restrictions are coming to California in 2018. Here’s what they mean to you
California’s more than 6 million gun owners are going to see new restrictions in 2018 stemming from sweeping regulations lawmakers and voters have approved over the past two years. But due to pending court challenges, shifting deadlines and contradictions in the laws, many gun owners say they’re unsure about new rules regulating where they can buy ammunition, what classifies as an assault rifle and whether it’s still legal to own high-capacity ammunition magazines.
How gun laws have changed in the 5 years since Sandy Hook
Shannon Watts, a mother of five who became a gun control activist in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, thought her advocacy work was going to be over shortly after it began. On Dec. 15, 2012, the day after 20 students and six educators were killed by a shooter in Newtown, Connecticut, she started a Facebook group that eventually became Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
California launches new online system to license the pot industry
California on Friday began accepting applications from businesses that want to operate in the state’s legal marijuana industry next year, a milestone for the emerging market. After months in development, an online system launched and will allow retailers, distributors and testing labs to seek state licenses, which are required to conduct business. Recreational pot sales start in California on Jan. 1, joining the long-running medical cannabis industry.
Marijuana enters the buttoned-down mainstream – and pays taxes
During Simon & Garfunkel’s legendary concert in New York’s Central Park in 1981, Paul Simon took a moment to thank those who made the show possible: police and fire departments, parks commissioner, the mayor. Then he made special note of “people that never get recognized for doing good things for the city, a group of people that have donated half of the proceeds that they’re making tonight, the guys who are selling loose joints are giving the city half of their income tonight.”
California opens online system to license new pot industry
California on Friday began accepting applications from businesses that want to operate in the state’s legal marijuanaindustry next year, a milestone for the emerging market. After months in development, an online system launched and will allow retailers, distributors and testing labs to seek state licenses, which are required to conduct business. Recreational pot sales start in California on Jan. 1, joining the long-running medical cannabis industry.
New homes cost more in LA with fees to help the homeless?
Will Los Angeles force developers to pay extra for new structures to raise millions to help the homeless? That’s what the City Council will decide this week when members vote on a “linkage fee” that would require just such a payment. An affordable housing linkage fee has been one of the most hotly debated and controversial proposals to come through Los Angeles City Hall in recent times, and is now set to be voted on by the City Council in its last session of the year.
High-rise for the homeless could arrive in Los Angeles
The Weingart Center, one of the the many places on Skid Row where homeless men and women come for shelter, food and support, is expanding its mission into permanent housing and plans to reshape the skyline of L.A.’s most depressed neighborhood, it was reported Monday. Weingart has filed applications with the city to build three high-rise residences on the two blocks it shares with the homeless services providers Lamp Community, Union Rescue Mission, Volunteers of America and the Midnight Mission, the Los Angeles Times reported.
California Chief Justice expects more death penalty lawsuits
The California Supreme Court has largely upheld the new, expedited death penalty procedure voters approved last November through Proposition 66, but the chief justice expects more challenges. In a roundtable discussion with reporters, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye suggested two areas she thinks the court will likely have to rule: She says Proposition 66 puts competing pressures on the state’s pool of attorneys who represent death row inmates in a certain type of appeal, called habeas corpus petitions.
Thousands of state workers face criminal background checks, and some could lose their jobs
Thousands of public workers at nine state departments will undergo criminal background checks that could affect their employment, according to the state Human Resources Department. If the background checks turn up past criminal convictions, employees could be “non-punitively separated,” according to notices sent to labor unions.
California is No. 2 in ‘judicial hellhole’ ranks
For the second year in a row, California ranked second in this year’s “Judicial Hellholes” report by the American Tort Reform Foundation. In recognition of California’s long history as one of the most litigious states in the country, the report begins its discussion of the Golden State by likening state politicians and their plaintiff’s-lawyer donors to the Symbionese Liberation Army and voters to the Stockholm-syndrome suffering Patty Hearst.
‘Journalism for rent’: Inside the secretive firm behind the Trump dossier
Fusion GPS bills itself as a corporate research firm, but in many ways it operates with the secrecy of a spy agency. No sign marks its headquarters above a coffee shop in Northwest Washington. Its website consists of two sentences and an email address. Its client list is closely held. The small firm has been under intense public scrutiny for producing the 35-page document known as the Trump dossier.
Appeals court hearing sets stage for California rulings on altering pension benefits
Two members of a California state appeals court panel on Tuesday repeatedly questioned lawyers representing county employees and the office of California Gov. Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown Jr. about whether the lifetime pension benefits given to government workers at time of employment could be altered to instead provide “reasonable pension benefits.”
LACBA names CJA’s top administrator as its new executive director
The Los Angeles County Bar Association Board of Trustees has hired Stanley S. Bissey-presently executive director and chief executive officer of the California Judges Association-as the group’s executive director, effective Jan. 16. Action was taken Wednesday night at LACBA’s monthly board meeting. Bissey, 53, will receive an annual salary of $220,000.
California’s new ‘sanctuary’ law will aid some immigrants – but not all
One of the most controversial issues in Sacramento this year has been widely referred to as the “sanctuary state” law, which will take effect Jan. 1. It is intended to protect law-abiding immigrants from being set on a path to deportation after interactions with local police. But in immigrant communities and elsewhere, there is confusion about how the law will work and exactly what protection it provides.