Monday Morning Memo for January 9, 2017

Prosecution
Judge allows early testimony in Durst murder case from secret witnesses who prosecutors say fear for their safety
A judge in the murder trial of real estate heir Robert Durst agreed Friday to allow early testimony from at least two witnesses in the multimillionaire’s upcoming murder trial. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark Windham ruled that the witnesses can give their testimony on Feb. 14, before the trial even begins. 
Judge weighs removing Orange County D.A.’s Office from another high-profile murder case
The decision over whether to remove the Orange County District Attorney’s Office from another high-profile murder case is in the hands of an Orange County Superior Court judge after a public defender charged that local prosecutors can’t help provide her client a fair trial.
‘HOLLYWeeD’ prankster case could be presented to prosecutors
Days after a prankster scaled a fence and altered the Hollywood sign to read “HOLLYWeeD,” Los Angeles police detectives say they plan to submit their case to prosecutors for possible prosecution. Officer Aareon Jefferson said Wednesday that investigators are talking to a possible suspect in connection with the trespassing case, but declined to name the person.
Pardons
Jerry Brown has pardoned more felons than any governor in recent state history
“I made the worst mistake of my life.” “I had a drug and alcohol problem.” “I was just a kid with low self-esteem and felt hopeless.” Those are the words people convicted of felonies in California wrote to Gov. Jerry Brown in recent years, asking him to pardon their crimes. Their clemency applications describe bad decisions and reckless adolescences, lives of poverty and addiction.
Death Penalty
California rejects proposed new death penalty rules
Efforts to revive the death penalty in California were dealt another blow late last month when a state agency tasked with reviewing regulatory changes rejected a proposed new lethal injection protocol. The decision by the Office of Administrative Law came one day after the California Supreme Court blocked implementation of Proposition 66, an initiative passed by voters in November to expedite capital punishment, pending the outcome of a lawsuit.
Guns
California gun owners brace for shortages, price hikes under new ammo regs
Matt Ball isn’t the type of gun enthusiast who hoards ammunition – at least not normally. Ball, a 39-year-old banker from Roseville, is a casual shooter who spends a few days a year at the target range. Typically, when he’s running low on ammo, he swings by a local sporting-goods store and buys what he needs, or he orders online.
Law Enforcement
GOP congressman takes down colleague’s sponsored ‘art’ depicting police as pigs
A Republican congressman took matters into his own hands Friday and personally removed a painting depicting police officers as pigs that a colleague had allowed to be displayed at the U.S. Capitol complex. “I was angry,” Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., told FoxNews.com. “I’ve seen the press [reporting] on this for about a week or so. … I’m in the Marine Corps. If you want it done, just call us.”
Sleeping man in car with gun-shaped cell phone case prompts police standoff, lockdown at Alhambra Shopping Center
Police swarmed an Alhambra parking lot Friday and put a shopping center on lockdown for several hours after receiving calls about an armed man in a car possibly having a medical issue, but authorities later determined the man was asleep and had a cellphone case shaped like a gun on his lap.
Video of Simi Valley crash that killed LAPD officer under review
Simi Valley police continued to study video and conduct interviews Tuesday and were waiting for toxicology results in their probe of a collision that claimed the life of an off-duty Los Angeles police officer early New Year’s Day.
Local artists claim they created ‘Hollyweed’ sign
So who’s the prankster who altered the famed Hollywood sign on New Year’s morning to make it read “Hollyweed?” Indications Tuesday were pointing toward a local artist who goes by the moniker “Jesus Hands,” a name that was scrawled on one of the black tarps used to alter the sign.
Fatal shootings by police remain relatively unchanged after two years
Despite ongoing national scrutiny of police tactics, the number of fatal shootings by officers in 2016 remained virtually unchanged from last year when nearly 1,000 people were killed by police. Through Thursday, law enforcement officers fatally shot 957 people in 2016 – close to three each day – down slightly from 2015 when 991 people were shot to death by officers, according to an ongoing project by The Washington Post to track the number of fatal shootings by police.
Oakland hires its first female police chief, Anne Kirkpatrick
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has hired the city’s first female chief of police, as multiple news sources are reporting this morning, and that is Anne Kirkpatrick, a former chief of Spokane’s police department who most recently had been the head of the Chicago PD’s Bureau of Professional Standards after failing to land the top cop job there.
Family tells KCAL9 arrest has been made in Hyde Park hit-and-run that left father of 9 critical
The family of the victim of a hit-and-run accident in Hyde Park told KCAL9 Friday that an arrest has been made in the case. The family of 35-year-old Mikail Hasan told KCAL9’s Tom Wait the driver was taken into custody without incident. They also provided a photo of Hasan in his hospital bed via social media. Hasan, a father of nine, was critically injured in the accident.
How to predict gentrification: Look for falling crime
Everyone has theories for why well-educated, higher-income professionals are moving back into parts of cities shunned by their parents’ generation. Perhaps their living preferences have shifted. Or the demands of the labor market have, and young adults with less leisure time are loath to waste it commuting.
2016 ended with 89 police shootings in LA County – 1 every 4 days
Police officers and sheriff’s deputies in Los Angeles County were involved in 89 shootings last year, according to the L.A. District Attorney’s office. The number includes people who were wounded and those killed by a police officer’s bullet. Eight-nine incidents in one year breaks down to approximately one shooting every four days in L.A. County. That tally is identical to 2015’s total, and it’s in line with totals from recent years.
Sheriff’s Department no longer providing fare enforcement on Metro trains, buses
More than 100 roving security inspectors supplied by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department are no longer working on Metro rail systems as of Jan. 1, said a sheriff’s department official on Thursday. The ubiquitous security assistants in green pants and white shirts who stood on light-rail platforms and boarded train cars in order to weed out fare-evaders throughout Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s rail system were cut out of a contract for Metro rail and bus policing services.
The biggest security threats coming in 2017
Whether it was a billion compromised Yahoo accounts or state-sponsored Russian hackers muscling in on the US election, this past year saw hacks of unprecedented scale and temerity. And if history is any guide, next year should yield more of the same. It’s hard to know for certain what lies ahead, but some themes began to present themselves toward the end of 2016 that will almost certainly continue well into next year. And the more we can anticipate them, the better we can prepare.
My son was killed by an illegal alien. I’m suing the Justice Department with one goal in mind.
The phone rings late at night; it’s San Francisco General Hospital delivering devastating news. Your son is dead, killed in a traffic collision. The driver of the car who struck and killed your son was a Honduran national, who had entered the country illegally in 1999. This is my story – and it’s just one of many.
Violent crime up for second straight year in Los Angeles
New data from the LAPD shows violent crime in the city of Los Angeles rose 10 percent in 2016. Violent crime, defined as homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults, jumped 38 percent over the past two years after a more than a decade-long decline. It’s important to note the numbers remain at historic lows, say police officials. There were 294 murders in the city last year – 11 more than the year before.
Legislation
So many new laws with more to come
As the new year begins, 900 statutes were added to California law books. If history is our guide-807 new laws last year, 950 the year before that-there will be hundreds of more laws added at the end of this year. Certainly, citizens can’t keep up with all these new laws, not to mention that lawmakers themselves often aren’t aware of all the details in the laws.
California law makes ransomware use illegal
It was nice to see the calendar turn over to 2017, for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that on Jan. 1 a new law went into effect in California that outlaws the use of ransomware. The idea of needing a new law to make a form of hacking illegal may seem counterintuitive, but ransomware is a case of criminals outflanking the existing laws.
New state laws could help some workers catch a few breaks
If you are among the Californians who make less than $15 an hour – more than a third of the state’s workforce – you can look forward to a raise. If you are a farmworker toiling long hours in the fields, you finally will become eligible for overtime. If you are a Latino or an African American earning less than a white colleague for doing the same job, you may be entitled to redress.
California Today: Should unaccompanied adults be barred from playgrounds?
There is no shortage of wonderful outdoor things to do in Los Angeles. But one thing is in decidedly short supply, particularly in the denser part of the cities: public parks. So a recent proposal by a Los Angeles City Council member to bar unaccompanied adults from children’s playgrounds has struck a nerve.
DMV reminds motorists of many new 2017 laws
With the New Year just around the corner, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) wants to inform the public of several new laws or changes to existing law that, unless otherwise noted, take effect on January 1, 2017. The following are summaries of some transportation-related laws taking effect.
Pensions
State court upholds 2013 law that cut buying pension credits
A state appeals court has upheld a 2013 California law that eliminated a pension benefit for hundreds of thousands of state and local government employees in an effort to reduce the pension system’s mounting deficits. The lawmakers’ action in eliminating the right of public employees to buy additional retirement credits was “wholly reasonable” and did not violate any binding promises made to the employees, the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco said Friday.
Reality penetrates public pension system
It’s very rare, but always welcome, when reality intrudes on political decision making. Thus, it’s noteworthy that overseers of the nation’s largest pension trust fund, the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), last month reduced – albeit reluctantly – its projection of future earnings by a half-percentage point.
Marijuana
Just because marijuana is legal doesn’t mean it’s safe
Asked whether marijuana should be legal for adults in California, voters answered with a resounding “yes” in November. But that doesn’t mean the matter is completely settled. And it definitely doesn’t mean voters support marijuana use by minors. Many questions remain about the drug – its effect on children and on drivers, to name just two – and the answers are only just starting to trickle in as researchers dig deeper into the public policy ramifications of making weed widely available.
Courts
10 Supreme Court cases to watch in 2017
The Supreme Court will return to the bench on January 9, 2017 as it starts a new calendar year. Here are cases to watch that the Justices will hear, or likely hear, before the end of April. Normally, the Justices wrap up arguments in cases in April, with the final decisions for a term announced in late June. However, with a vacancy on the bench to be filled in early 2017, it remains to be seen when some cases will be scheduled and heard in Washington.
Colonies judge should quash subpoenas of journalists
It’s almost surprising that the Colonies corruption case is actually going to trial this week, after nearly 15 years of legal wrangling. It is surprising that the prosecution has subpoenaed eight of this news group’s journalists and former journalists to testify. We would think San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos and his staff would know better than to drag journalists into court to testify.
Eleven wrong years in prison: DA demands judge toss murder conviction
Prosecutors will ask a judge Thursday to set aside a former security guard’s conviction for the shooting death of an 18-year-old woman in a Palmdale park-and-ride lot nearly 17 years ago. In a court filing this week, Los Angeles County Chief Deputy District Attorney John K. Spillane wrote that the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office agrees that Raymond Lee Jennings is entitled to relief “based on newly discovered evidence pointing to his factual innocence.”
Freddie Gray case: Judge allows malicious prosecution lawsuit against Mosby to proceed
A federal judge is allowing key parts of a lawsuit against Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby, brought by five of the six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, to move forward. U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis ruled that claims including malicious prosecution, defamation, and invasion of privacy can move forward against Mosby and Assistant Sheriff Samuel Cogen, who wrote the statement of probable cause.
California Attorney General
Attorney General Kamala D. Harris names Kathleen “Kate” Kenealy Chief Deputy Attorney General
Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today stepped down as California Attorney General and was sworn in to the United States Senate in Washington, D.C. Before resigning, Attorney General Harris named Kathleen “Kate” Alice Kenealy Chief Deputy Attorney General. Kenealy will lead the California Department of Justice as Acting Attorney General until such time as Governor Brown’s selected candidate, Congressman Xavier Becerra (D-LA), is confirmed by the state legislature as California’s next Attorney General.
California AG will not appeal ejection of Orange County DA in notorious mass-murder case
The California attorney general’s office will not appeal a decision that tossed Orange County’s entire district attorney’s office off a high-profile mass murder case over its involvement in a jailhouse informant scandal. “Our office has decided not to seek review,” said Kristin Ford, press secretary for the state’s AG office, in an email late Tuesday to The Huffington Post.

Other News
It’s still a mad, mad California
One reason for the emergence of outsider Donald Trump is the old outrage that elites seldom experience the consequences of their own ideologically driven agendas. Hypocrisy, when coupled with sanctimoniousness, grates people like few other human transgressions: Barack Obama opposing charter schools for the inner city as he puts his own children in Washington’s toniest prep schools, or Bay Area greens suing to stop contracted irrigation water from Sierra reservoirs, even as they count on the Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy project to deliver crystal-clear mountain water to their San Francisco taps.
Would Gavin Newsom represent another Brown term?
When the 2018 gubernatorial race warms up, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and his camp are likely to hammer home their point that it’s his time, that he’s earned the office, much the same way Hillary Clinton’s supporters said she deserved to be president. Apparently, most Californians would agree with Democrat Newsom, who first won the lieutenant governor’s office in 2010, was re-elected in 2014, and was twice elected San Francisco’s mayor after spending seven years on the city’s board of supervisors.
Presidential Transition
As AG, Jeff Sessions will restore police, Dept. of Justice relationship
Every day members of the law enforcement community come to work prepared for anything. They understand that they are the thin blue line between a safe public and criminal activity – and each moment presents a new challenge. Law enforcement understands the dangers of protecting their communities and go to work each day knowing they might be shot for their communities’ safety.
California Dems tap Eric Holder to fight Trump in court
Democratic leaders of the California state legislature have hired Eric Holder, the former attorney general during the Obama administration, to serve as outside legal counsel as they prepare for a series of court battles with President-elect Donald Trump’s White House. In a statement released Wednesday, California Senate President Kevin de Leon and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon — both Democrats — announced they had “hired outside legal counsel to advise on potential legal challenges with the incoming Trump administration.”
Trump’s deportation vow spurs California farmers into action
Days after Donald Trump won the presidential election vowing to deport millions of people in the country illegally and fortify the Mexican border, California farmer Kevin Herman ordered nearly $600,000 in new equipment, cutting the number of workers he’ll need starting with the next harvest. Herman, who grows figs, persimmons and almonds in the nation’s most productive farming state, said Trump’s comments pushed him to make the purchase, larger than he’d planned to buy otherwise.