Monday Morning Memo for June 5, 2017

Conviction & Sentencing
Man charged with murder after baby is born, dies following car crash
A North Hills man with three prior DUI convictions has been charged with murder in connection with an alleged head-on DUI crash into a car containing a pregnant woman who gave birth to a baby girl who died soon afterward, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said Thursday. Julian Gutierrez, 25, is charged with one felony count each of murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury within 10 years of two other DUI offenses and driving with a 0.08 blood-alcohol content causing injury within 10 years of two other DUI offenses.
Legislation
Sacramento lawmakers want to blow up California’s bail system
We need to improve the way bail is administered in our state. However, any change to our bail system must prioritize public safety and make sure that people return for their court dates. Senate Bill 10 and Assembly Bill 42 fail on both counts. They would effectively eliminate, or severely limit, pretrial detention for everyone, including potentially releasing those being charged with murder, rape and child molestation.
Calif. lawmakers OK bill prompted by slaying of officer
The California Assembly has passed a bill tightening parole policies after a gang member with repeated probation violations was accused of killing a police officer near Los Angeles. The Assembly voted unanimously Tuesday to send the measure to the state Senate. The bill would require officials to evaluate an inmate’s entire criminal history when considering their release from prison.
Why does a California senator want to make it harder to catch bad doctors?
The prescription drug epidemic is a serial killer, claiming thousands of lives in the U.S. each year. Opioid pill mills, trading in dangerous narcotics like oxycodone, have been shut down in Southern California and beyond, but investigators say there’s more work to be done. Doctors have been arrested and prosecuted, including a Rowland Heights physician convicted of murder a year and a half ago in the deaths of three patients who overdosed on prescription meds.
California Assembly won’t renew contract with Eric Holder’s firm
The California Assembly will not renew its contract with Covington and Burling, the law firm of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder who Democratic legislative leaders enlisted earlier this year to help craft legal strategy to oppose Trump administration policies. “We have received valuable guidance from Covington & Burling over the past four months. We will continue to seek their guidance as the need arises,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, said in a statement Thursday.
Wilk Measure B oversight bill passes Senate, moves closer to law
A measure to create an oversight committee for Measure B funding in Los Angeles County, authored by Senator Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, passed the state Senate Thursday and will head to the California Assembly before making its way to the governor’s desk. Senate Bill 792 (SB 792) would increase oversight for Los Angeles County Measure B trauma spending.
Legislation to overhaul bail reform in California hits a hurdle in Assembly
An ambitious plan to overhaul the bail system in California stalled in the Assembly late Thursday, facing steep opposition from industry lobbyists and lawmakers concerned about the high costs it could impose on counties. The bill by Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) was the last proposal to be reconsidered for a vote and failed to make it out of the chamber near 11 p.m., with 36 lawmakers in favor and 37 opposed.
California bills target private business to help immigrants — California Democrats are expanding their efforts to resist President Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigrants in the country illegally with bills aimed at limiting how much private businesses can cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Democrats control all levels of state government, and leaders have vowed to resist Trump administration policies at every turn.
Prison & Jail
Lower bail amounts could be coming to a jail near you
Critics say bail in California is about money, not about ensuring that bad guys stay behind bars. The median bail amount in the Golden State is a whopping $50,000, meaning suspects have to come up with $5,000 bond no matter their guilt or innocence. That’s five times the amount found in the rest of the country, according to a recent analysis.
CA Fwd jail data helps counties secure anti-recidivism funds
Next month, millions of dollars in funding will be awarded by the California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) to counties across the state as part of the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, otherwise known as Proposition 47, passed by voters in 2014. In their funding applications, Riverside, San Bernardino and Santa Cruz counties included data from a jail analysis completed on their respective county by CA Fwd’s Justice System Change Initiative (J-SCI).
Old Folsom prisoners hunger strike for their 8th Amendment right – freedom from cruel and unusual punishment
“Administrative segregation” is prison bureaucratese for solitary confinement. On Thursday, prisoners in  solitary at California’s Old Folsom State Prison went on hunger strike for their Eighth Amendment right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment. Anthony Estrada, a prisoner writing for the strikers in the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, wrote, “Prisoners in B4 ASU are forced to sit or stand idle in their cells or yard cages without meaningful exercise, education or rehabilitative programs.”
Law Enforcement
17-year-old wanted in Denver homicide among 2 teens arrested in Torrance home invasion: Police
Two suspects, including a 17-year-old with an outstanding murder warrant in Colorado, were arrested Monday night after officers arrived at a violent home invasion in Torrance, according to police. Officers were called to the 3600 block of Sara Court around 10:40 p.m. by the 73-year-old victim’s neighbor, who noticed two men entering the woman’s residence and thought it was suspicious, according to Torrance Police Department Lt. Steve D’anjou.
In opioid crisis, a new risk for police: accidental overdose
As Cpl. Kevin Phillips pulled up to investigate a suspected opioid overdose, paramedics were already at the Maryland home giving a man a life-saving dose of the overdose reversal drug Narcan. Drugs were easy to find: a package of heroin on the railing leading to a basement; another batch on a shelf above a nightstand. The deputy already had put on gloves and grabbed evidence baggies, his usual routine for canvassing a house.
Deputies’ union asks L.A. County sheriff to publish additional data on use of force
After an oversight group pushed the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department last week to be more transparent about how often deputies use force and how often they’re punished, the union representing rank-and-file deputies says it wants the department to go even further. In a letter sent Tuesday to Sheriff Jim McDonnell, the Assn. for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs says the department should reveal how many times deputies could have lawfully used force but refrained from doing so, as well as how many times deputies are assaulted or handle suspects who resist arrest or disobey orders.
Why L.A. County is looking at tracking bracelets to help find Alzheimer’s patients who wander
Life changed fast for Kirk Moody when his wife, Nancy Paulikas, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in October 2015. The disease progressed so rapidly that, within months, Paulikas, a highly intelligent retired aerospace professional, had trouble communicating.
A year later, on Oct. 15, 2016, life changed again – this time in an instant. While the Manhattan Beach couple visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Paulikas became separated from her husband, walked out of the museum and vanished.
How LA County began to face its big problem with youth being sex-trafficked
Michelle Guymon is a hero in the world of child sex trafficking prevention. Seven years ago, she had no idea Los Angeles County had a child sex trafficking problem Now Guymon is director of the Child Trafficking Unit for the Los Angeles County Probation Department and is part of the group that aims to make LA’s efforts to combat child sex trafficking a model for the nation. Her connection to child trafficking began in November 2010.
LA County Crime Stoppers sees rise in anonymous tips as distrust of law enforcement grows
Something illegal was going on at the old warehouse on the 2900 block of Ana Street in Compton.An anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers last fall later confirmed it. Compton Sheriff’s investigators found 4,199 marijuana plants growing in neat rows under dim lighting inside the building as well as 200 pounds of finished product worth $7.5 million. Twelve people were arrested, all thanks to the nameless tipster.
LAPD uses spit from sidewalk to tie suspect to 2 killings
Authorities trailing a man suspected of sexually assaulting and killing two young women who disappeared from their Los Angeles neighborhoods used his DNA to tie him to the 2011 crimes after he spit on a sidewalk. Geovanni Borjas, 32, was identified as a suspect in the slayings of Michelle Lozano, 17, and Bree’Anna Guzman, 22, after investigators used a controversial DNA testing technique known as familial DNA testing, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said.
5 Inglewood cops are off the force, adding to the mystery surrounding fatal shooting of couple
Five officers are out at the Inglewood Police Department after a controversial shooting that sparked protests last year, the city’s mayor announced Tuesday. But many questions remain unanswered about exactly what happened when police shot two people sitting inside a car multiple times. Here’s a breakdown of what we know, and what we still don’t.
County may pay $3.3 million to family of unarmed man fatally shot by sheriff’s deputies
The L.A. County Board of Supervisors will consider on Tuesday a $3.3 million payment to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of John Berry, who was unarmed and suffering from a schizophrenic episode in his car when L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies shot and killed him in 2015, reports KPCC. Berry’s case highlighted two big issues concerning the sheriff’s department: its code of conduct when it comes to shooting at moving cars, and its handling of people suffering from psychiatric disorders.
SoCal law enforcement warned of new gang threat targeting officers
Law enforcement agencies in Southern California are being warned to remain alert amid an unspecified threat by street gangs to target officers. The warning issued by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department says the agency’s Homicide Bureau recently learned of “a potential threat by criminal street gangs against Southern California on-duty law enforcement officers.”
Eyewitness News investigates costs of replacing decals on LA County sheriff’s patrol cars
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has temporarily halted a campaign to replace decals on its patrol cars after Eyewitness News began asking questions about the cost.For weeks, the department refused to answer basic questions about the total cost of the decal project and initially provided a misleading statement that put the material cost at $3.58 per vehicle.
Man convicted of killing Inglewood police officer released on parole
A man who served nearly 30 years in prison for the killing of an Inglewood police officer was expected to be released in San Francisco sometime Wednesday night as law enforcement efforts to keep him behind bars apparently came to an end, authorities said. Joevone Elster, 51, who was released on parole from Corcoran State Prison on May 23 but held in Los Angeles County jail on a misdemeanor forgery charge pending from 1986, was freed from custody when that matter was resolved Wednesday morning in Long Beach Superior Court.
California GOP mayor says attracting Asians and ‘the gays’ helps reduce crime
One Republican mayor in California has a plan to make his desert city great again: Bring in more Asian and gay people. In a recently published interview with Vice magazine, Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said that increasing the Asian population and “the gays,” as he called members of the LGBTQ community, can do a lot of good for a city like Lancaster, which, as Vice pointed out, is now known for its neo-Nazis and meth labs.
LACBA-Gate puts spotlight on good guys, bad guys
I remember cowboy shows on television in the early 1950s. As in western movies in the ’40s, the good guys (well, except for Hoppy) wore white hats and the bad guys sported black ones.
Then came a rash of adult westerns, starting with Gunsmoke in 1955. In those shows, there were lawmen with failings and outlaws with virtues. A cartoon appeared in a magazine (the Saturday Evening Post, if memory serves) with one little boy in cowboy attire saying to another tot, similarly clothed: “You be the good guy and I’ll be the guy with the problem.”
Immigration
Grieving father stars in TV ad slamming sanctuary city policies
A grieving father takes to the airwaves, to slam sanctuary cities. Don Rosenberg blames San Francisco’s immigration policy for the death of his son Drew. In new TV ads, he’s taking aim at sanctuary cities everywhere. Rosenberg lost his son six years ago when Roberto Galo, an undocumented immigrant, hit and killed Drew, who was biking home from law school in San Francisco.
Homelessness
L.A. County homelessness jumps a ‘staggering’ 23% as need far outpaces housing, new count shows
Los Angeles County’s homeless population has soared 23% over last year despite increasing success in placing people in housing, according to the latest annual count released Wednesday.
The sharp rise, to nearly 58,000, suggested that the pathway into homelessness continues to outpace intensifying efforts that – through rent subsidies, new construction, outreach and support services – got more than 14,000 people permanently off the streets last year.
Proposition 47
Strand: Increase in violent and property crimes since Prop 47
Ridgecrest has experienced a nearly 20 increase in Part 1 crimes since the passage of Proposition 47 in 2014. These statistics also include a rise in reported rapes, although these were not typically stranger rapes, according to Ridgecrest Police Chief Ron Strand. That was some of the information reported by Strand during a special budget hearing at City Hall Tuesday. Strand was on hand to present to council his department’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018.
Waiting for Proposition 47’s crime wave in San Diego
Last week the Mayor of San Diego’s media machine began beating the drum following the release of crime statistics for the first four months of 2017. Visitors should feel safer knowing the crime rate was the lowest it’s been since 1990, we were told.  “As we head into peak travel season, San Diegans and visitors alike can rest assured that our city remains one of the safest in America thanks to the tireless efforts of our police officers,” according to Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
City & County Government
Celebrity developer pleads no contest to Bel-Air mega-mansion charges. But what happens to the 30,000-square-foot estate?
Three years ago, Los Angeles city officials demanded that builders halt work on a colossal mansion in the rarefied hills of Bel-Air. The massive home being erected on Strada Vecchia Road was bigger and taller than allowed, city prosecutors said. It also included entire areas – bedrooms, decks and a vast IMAX theater – that the city says were never approved.
How LA County began to face its big, tragic problem with sex-trafficked kids
Michelle Guymon is a hero in the battle against child sex trafficking. Seven years ago, however, she had no idea Los Angeles County had a child sex trafficking problem. Now Guymon is director of the Child Trafficking Unit for the Los Angeles County Probation Department, and is part of the group that aims to make LA’s efforts to combat child sex trafficking a model for the nation.
Huntington Park councilwoman’s fundraising business is a test of conflict of interest laws
The way a small-town politician used her relationship with city contractors to draw income could pose an important test of the state’s conflict of interest laws, good-government experts said.
Huntington Park Councilwoman Karina Macias raised money for a 2015 state Assembly candidate who never actually filed to run, and she was paid a commission based on a percentage of the total.
Montebello Unified sues L.A. County over 2017 election
The Montebello Unified School District is suing Los Angeles County and the Board of Supervisors after they voted earlier this year to require the district to hold an election in November, rather than postponing it to 2018 and extending school board members’ terms by another year. Barring a future approval of extending board members’ terms, the supervisors’ decision would also require the district to hold an election in November 2019 rather than postponing it to November 2020.
LA County renews contracts for deputies at public schools, but calls for more training
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted this week to renew contracts for deputies to police public schools, but asked Sheriff Jim McDonnell to better define their role on campus and provide more training. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas recommended training on adolescent development, childhood trauma, conflict resolution and de-escalating campus incidents.
Courts
California’s top court overturns convictions because prosecutor excluded Latinos from jury
For the first time in 16 years, the California Supreme Court has found that racial bias improperly tainted a jury selection, prompting the court to overturn three convictions – two for attempted murder. The unanimous decision, written by Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, appeared intended to send a clear signal to prosecutors, defense lawyers and the lower courts that charges of racially motivated juror exclusions must be taken seriously.
U.S. Supreme Court makes it harder to sue police for barging into homes
The Supreme Court on Tuesday made it harder to sue police for barging into a home and provoking a shooting, setting aside a $4-million verdict against two Los Angeles County deputies. The money was awarded to a homeless couple who were startled and then shot when the two sheriff’s deputies entered the shack where they were sleeping.
San Francisco courts test new approach to homeless crimes
Courts around the country tried to ease the burden of fines and fees in the wake of riots in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 that brought attention to a torrent of traffic and other minor citations that saddled people with debt and even sent them to jail. But legal observers say no court appears to have made as dramatic an attempt at reform as San Francisco, where judges no longer issue warrants to arrest people who fail to show up in court or pay tickets for infractions such as urinating in public, loitering or sleeping in a park – so-called quality-of-life crimes that advocates say target homeless people.
Court says essentially that Trump is not to be believed. Will Supreme Court conclude the same?
A substantial majority of the judges who sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond delivered a rather remarkable judgment last week: The president of the United States is not to be believed. Will the Supreme Court conclude the same thing? And by “Supreme Court,” we mean “Justice Anthony M. Kennedy,” whose name was invoked 23 times in the 205 pages of majority opinions, concurrences and dissents in the appeals court’s 10-to-3 rejection of President Trump’s revised travel ban.
Amazon wins U.S. Appeals Court OK to sell counterfeits
In a devastating blow to manufacturers and consumer protection, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a U.S. District Court decision by Judge Ricardo S. Martinez excusing Amazon from liability in the sale of counterfeit items on its website. Despite the outcome, Judge Martinez opined; “[The court] is troubled by its conclusion and the impact it may have on the many small retail sellers in circumstances similar to the plaintiffs. There is no doubt that we now live in a time where the law lags behind technology. This case illustrates that point.”
‘Unpleasant but not unduly gruesome’: Appeals court unmoved by Lancaster killer’s ‘photos’ argument
A state appeals court panel Tuesday upheld the conviction of a former Lancaster resident who was on probation for alcohol-related reckless driving at the time of a DUI crash in Palmdale that killed a motorist who was stopped at a red light. The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that the jury which heard the case against Jeffrey Cole Brooks should not have seen two photographs of the 21-year-old victim, Daniel Eduardo Orellana, at the crash scene and during an autopsy in light of videos it was shown of the crash scene and the victim’s vehicle in flames.
Dispute over Prop. 8 videos being hashed out in court
Videos of the 2010 federal court trial on the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry should not be made public because the trial judge promised to keep them sealed and because the passage of time hasn’t ended the likelihood of witness harassment, opponents of same-sex marriage told a federal judge Wednesday.